A tip for learning nouns

Gregorius Textor

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

It is easier to learn the gender of a noun by pairing it with an adjective than to learn the gender separately. For example, learn bonum nomen, magna navis, bonus pons, instead of nomen, n.; navis, f.; pons, m.

-- William G. Most, Latin by the Natural Method, First Year (3rd ed., 1964), p. 22.

Of course, it is easier for dictionaries to list the words with m., n., f., because it takes less space.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima

  • Civis Illustris

  • Patrona

In languages that have gender-specific articles, the same is sometimes, and more concisely, done with articles. E.g. der Mann, die Frau, das Essen (masc., fem., neut.—granted, the first two are especially easy to remember anyway :p ) in German.

Latin has no articles, but something that comes close is demonstrative adjective-pronouns. I've seen Latin grammarians use hic, haec, hoc that way when making a point about grammatical gender, like here in Varro:

"Hypocorismata semper generibus suis unde oriuntur consonant, pauca dissonant, velut haec rana hic ranunculus, hic unguis haec ungula, hoc glandium haec glandula, hic panis hic pastillus et hoc pastillum," ut Varro dixit: "haec beta hic betaceus, haec malva hic malvaceus, hoc pistrinum haec pistrilla, ut Terentius in Adelphis, hic ensis haec ensicula et hic ensiculus: sic in Rudente Plautus."
 
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Gregorius Textor

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

That could work too, couldn't it?

I was thinking the main reason for knowing the gender of a Latin noun is to use it with the same-gender adjective. But Pacifica, which do you think is the more common construction in Latin, adjective + noun or demonstrative + noun? I just did a quick scan of the beginning of De bello Gallico, and it seems to me that Caesar uses adjectives much less than I thought, and demonstratives even less.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima

  • Civis Illustris

  • Patrona

which do you think is the more common construction in Latin, adjective + noun or demonstrative + noun?
Probably adjective + noun, but I've never considered the question. It doesn't seem relevant to the mnemonic technique, though. A demonstrative or an adjective with three distinct gender endings will tell you the gender of the noun equally well.
 

Godmy

Sīmia Illūstris

  • Censor

I did it with adjective and noun for some while*... but then, I simply learnt the nom. plural with the nom. singular (instead of the genitive), which immediately singled out the neutra for their unique -a ending (and it makes sure you won't make mistakenly the plural with -ēs in the future when forming sentences) and later on, I also observed some regularities when it came to individual endings (=some endings are mostly masculine, others are mostly feminine + exceptions for each group). An age ago, I made a post about the 3rd declension endings here... [and likely, I wasn't the only one]

*it seemed as more fun and more meaningful than either pronouns or [if they existed in this language /hypothethical] articles
 

Dumnorix

New Member

An age ago, I made a post about the 3rd declension endings here... [and likely, I wasn't the only one]
Was that post about the ERROR, SOX, LANCET rules? Nouns in the 3rd declension that end in er or or tend to be masculine; those that end in s, o, or x tend to be feminine; those that end in any of the letters in lancet tend to be neuter. Those are the rules I learned, to be applied after natural gender. Naturally there are exceptions, like mons and pons. And there are several neuter exceptions in -us, -ris, like corpus.
 

Terry S.

Quaestor

  • Quaestor

  • Patronus

I don't know whether this would work for Latin. For learning the gender of Irish nouns I recommend memorising the pronoun along with the noun since, for various reasons, the adjective doesn't always indicate the gender of the noun it qualifies. It's also useful because Irish has only two genders and you have to remember which gender-specific pronoun goes with which inanimate noun.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima

  • Civis Illustris

  • Patrona

There are of course patterns to the gender of nouns in the third declension. But they tend not to be taught formally to students, probably because it's simpler to learn each individual noun with its gender as you go, until you know enough to naturally figure out the patterns on your own. I mean, this is probably seen as simpler than to have a student memorize a long list of patterns with exception warnings.
 

Dumnorix

New Member

Absolutely, I agree that the gender should be memorized with the noun. But, it's easy enough to remember ERROR, SOX, LANCET, and, if you are sitting an exam and just can't remember a noun's gender, it can come in handy.
 

Notascooby

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

There are of course patterns to the gender of nouns in the third declension. But they tend not to be taught formally to students, probably because it's simpler to learn each individual noun with its gender as you go, until you know enough to naturally figure out the patterns on your own. I mean, this is probably seen as simpler than to have a student memorize a long list of patterns with exception warnings.
But it's simple, for example if we remember. Third nouns feminine we class/ endings is, x, aus, and as/ s to consonant appended/ es in flection unextended.

If we remember that little jingle it's a very simple process to remember the exceptions, all one need remember is. Amnis, axis, caulis, collis/ clunis, Crinis, fascis, follis/ fustis, Ignis, orbis, ensis/ panis, piscis, postis, mensis/ torris, unguis, and canalis/ vectis, vermis, and natalis/ sanguis, pulvis, cucumis/ lapis, casses, manes, glis.

Mostly masculine we find/ sometimes feminine declined/ callis, sentis, funis, finis/ and in poets torquis, cinis.

I spent ages memorising all the rhymes and I fear I may have forgotten a few of them. Latin doesn't have to be difficult:oops:
 
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