Feminine forms of "mīles" and "eques"

MarqFJA87

New Member
How do you derive feminine forms from Latin mīles ("soldier") and eques ("horseman, knight")? I would also appreciate knowing if there are any sort of general rules/guidelines for deriving such forms from words that traditionally lack them.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Miles and eques can work as feminine too, unchanged. Only miles is actually attested in the feminine, but we can safely assume that the same could be done with eques and simply doesn't happen to occur in the surviving literature. Many third-declension nouns of functions/professions are common gender, i.e. they can be masculine or feminine depending on whom they're referring to. The most notable exception is agent nouns in -(t)or, which change their ending to -trix in the feminine (e.g. doctor/doctrix, "teacher").

As for second-declension nouns, you just need to replace the -us masculine ending with the -a feminine ending (or the -er ending with -ra). For instance, for a female doctor you'd turn medicus into medica.

Specifically feminine forms of eques and miles were made up in medieval Latin: equitissa and militissa (and also comitissa for comes and principissa for princeps and probably others); but this -issa ending isn't classical.
 
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Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
Cognates with other Italic languages were probably common also. The Venetic term seems to follow as such.
 

MarqFJA87

New Member
For some reason, I didn't get any email notifications about the replies to this thread, despite the options being already enabled; and no, I checked my spam folder. How odd.

Miles and eques can work as feminine too, unchanged. Only miles is actually attested in the feminine, but we can safely assume that the same could be done with eques and simply doesn't happen to occur in the surviving literature. Many third-declension nouns of functions/professions are common gender, i.e. they can be masculine or feminine depending on whom they're referring to. The most notable exception is agent nouns in -(t)or, which change their ending to -trix in the feminine (e.g. doctor/doctrix, "teacher").

As for second-declension nouns, you just need to replace the -us masculine ending with the -a feminine ending (or the -er ending with -ra). For instance, for a female doctor you'd turn medicus into medica.

Specifically feminine forms of eques and miles were made up in medieval Latin: equitissa and militissa (and also comitissa for comes and principissa for princeps and probably others); but this -issa ending isn't classical.
Interesting. Every resource that I could get my hands on insisted that miles and eques are strictly masculine; the only deviations were that miles has specifically feminine senses of "woman on her first childbed" and as a descriptor for nymphs attending on Diana (i.e. Artemis), the goddess of the hunt.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
For some reason, I didn't get any email notifications about the replies to this thread, despite the options being already enabled; and no, I checked my spam folder. How odd.
The email notification function has been kaput for months.
the only deviations were that miles has specifically feminine senses of "woman on her first childbed" and as a descriptor for nymphs attending on Diana (i.e. Artemis), the goddess of the hunt.
Those aren't really "specifically feminine senses"; they're just poetic/figurative uses of miles meaning "soldier". If you don't find any example of a female miles in the absolutely literal sense of a soldier in the military, it's because such a thing was very uncommon back then.
 

Serenus

legātus armisonus
Those aren't really "specifically feminine senses"; they're just poetic/figurative uses of miles meaning "soldier". If you don't find any example of a female miles in the absolutely literal sense of a soldier in the military, it's because such a thing was very uncommon back then.
It continues to be sufficiently uncommon today that I, a native Spanish speaker, don't really know a feminine form of el soldado 'soldier'. I think I've come across la mujer soldado before though, which would have the plural mujeres soldado. Soldiers are more frequently talked about in the plural anyway, so it just doesn't come up much. In some languages the plural even shows up shorter than the singular due to this reason, e.g. in Arabic: jund 'soldiers', jundii 'a soldier', numbered plural junuud '(five, twenty...) soldiers'.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
It continues to be sufficiently uncommon today that I, a native Spanish speaker, don't really know a feminine form of el soldado 'soldier'.
I was precisely thinking, the other day when I last posted on this thread, that I felt awkward about a feminine form of the French word soldat, too. La soldat, with the word unchanged, sounded weird. I felt tempted to say la soldate but wasn't sure if soldate was supposed to be a word. Now Google tells me that it is, and I'm glad of it!
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

KarlaUK

Active Member
With current PC mindset in English (cf Actor subsuming Actress into a single category, Actor), I see the Press having a massive effect on the use of language as is Politics, and the use of sex distinction disappearing when it refers to the person.
 

Serenus

legātus armisonus
The RAE says it's la soldado, a feminine noun ending in -o, like la miembro 'member' (feminine of el miembro). Googling for news articles I find that all four of la mujer soldado, la soldada, la soldado and la soldado mujer are in use, but I'd say they're all fairly uncommon due to practical reasons.

I'd like to clarify that Arabic otherwise doesn't normally have plurals that are shorter / more basic than singulars. Usually it only does this for entities that in the real world are particularly talked about in groups, particularly lower animate ones like animals and foods (and also grain-like things): Arabs, soldiers, cows, ants, bees, ducks, chickens, flies, pigeons, butterflies, trees, wings, eggs, apples, pearls, rocks. Contrast al-ʕarab 'Arabs' (with generic article, cf. French les arabes) and ʕarabii(yun) 'one Arab' versus biljiikii(yun) 'one Belgian' and al-biljiikiiyuun(a) 'Belgians' (les Belges).

With current PC mindset in English (cf Actor subsuming Actress into a single category, Actor), I see the Press having a massive effect on the use of language as is Politics, and the use of sex distinction disappearing when it refers to the person.
I know someone who talks about there being two schools of thought when it comes to political grammatical gender reform. On the one hand, there's the (perhaps older) "French" school, which insists in creating separate feminine words because existing words have a masculine connotation (due to men being the ones who'd perform most activities outside the house), which erases the contributions of women. This school insists in creating feminine forms of all human nouns (e.g. with -a in Spanish), alternating the gender of generic singular nouns at random (un niño podría... una niña diría... un niño pensaría...), and listing both the masculine and feminine forms in conjunction in the plural (las niñas y los niños). On the other hand, there's the "Swedish" school, which aims at erasing gender distinctions of masculine and feminine words using either gender-neutral terms (e.g. la criatura in Spanish instead el niño and la niña), or in written language gender-neutral punctuation (e.g. l@s niñ@s, lXs niñXs), or more recently applying novel morphology (le niñe, with innovative gender-neutral -e). The schools are named after countries they are particularly prominent in.

In the English-speaking world, the "Swedish" school is practically the only one that exists, probably due to English having hardly any gender distinctions as it is already, aside from personal pronouns and very exceptional nouns like "actor/actress". It's not surprising personal pronouns are such a huge topic among Anglos. In the French-speaking world, the "French" school has been more prominent, and curiously it has had greater success in Quebec than in Europe, particularly France, even though Quebec is in Canada so you'd expect a stronger influence of the "Swedish" school. In the Spanish-speaking world we have both (see the examples in the previous paragraph), and the "French" school is perhaps just slightly stronger than the "Swedish" one. Neither school has been all that successful in Spanish, and for what it's worth the Spanish Royal Academy (RAE) adopts only some of the ideas of the "French" school.
 
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KarlaUK

Active Member
Informative, thank you.
I find it frustrating to lose the few distinctions we have. The language paints a muchless vivid picture as a consequence.
In similar vein, Newspapers announcing weddings used to divulge the ages of both parties. It was a great way of peeking into social history, spotting the trends. Now, no ages are recorded and I no longer bother reading the announcements.
 
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Serenus

legātus armisonus
I find it frustrating to lose the few distinctions we have. The language paints a muchless vivid picture as a consequence.
In similar vein, Newspapers announcing weddings used to divulge the ages of both parties. It was a great way of peeking into social history, spotting the trends. Now, no ages are recorded and I no longer bother reading the announcements.
Personally, I would think it's nobody's business to know my age and my spouse's age, and naturally I wouldn't announce my wedding on a newspaper either. After a mere week that's something that probably only a historian would care about again anyway, in most cases.

And both are completely dumb.
Eh, I think they do have a good point in a number of areas. The Germanic gender-neutral "man" became ambiguously neutral or masculine after the disappearance of "were" (as in werewolf, i.e. man-wolf), much in the same way Latin vir disappeared creating ambiguity in homō in Romance languages: 'person' > 'man, person', which led to the use of 'mask' for the sense of 'person'. The gradual replacement of the derivational suffix -man by -person or an unrelated synonym (mailman > letter carrier) is pretty much what you'd expect as "man" continuously narrows as a masculine word, especially in a culture where women can do a very large number of activities. "Man" as a pronoun (no article) was used for "humanity" until fairly late in the 20th century, but that usage is now largely gone (in Spanish el hombre < hominem is sometimes used that way still, but it's going away). To say nothing of the older generic "he". I find these asymmetries very annoying. Feminists couch these language changes in terms of morality and guilt-trips, but it doesn't have to be that way.
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
(or the -er ending with -ra).
Logically, by this, the feminine equivalent of puer should be pura. That sounds a bit funny, though it also has a nice potential for puns, as it suggests that the girl is a virgin, a question the ancient Romans were quite interested in. ;) Yet it doesn't seem to be attested even as a rare variant, and neither does puera, which sounds a bit less weird. Apparently, though, puer, in its original sense could refer to children of either gender.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Logically, by this, the feminine equivalent of puer should be pura.
Sigh, there always has to be an exception that just doesn't occur to you in the moment.
Yet it doesn't seem to be attested even as a rare variant, and neither does puera, which sounds a bit less weird.
Puera is attested.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I'm not sure where I first saw it; maybe just in a post on the forum long ago, but anyway, you can find citations here.
 
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