The Latin Dual

Don’t worry—it’s extinct! However, it’s insightful to see that ambō the long ō ending that is characteristic of Greek duals and dual-related adverbs: ἄμφω, δύω, κτλ.

The Essential AG: p.59, ftn.

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Uses of Ambō

Ambō is sometimes decline to match its respective noun, like a fully-functional adjective, but otherwise remains fixed as ambō

  • Ambās mānūs lavit: he washed both hands.
  • Consulēs alter ambōve prōgredientur: either one or both of the consuls will march on
  • ūna salus ambobus erit: both were healthy (this is Virgil—a very Greek declension!)

Effectively, there is no rule. Both A&G and L&S present freeform variation between the two options.

Cardinal Numerals, 1-10

There are four central aspects to the Latin numeral:

  • The cardinal: ūnus, duo, trēs, quattuor
  • The ordinal: prīmus, secundus, tertius, quārtus
  • The distributive: singulī, bīnī, ternī, quaternī
  • The adverb: semel, bis, ter, quater

From 1-10, only cardinals 1, 2, and 3 decline.

A few things to consider:

  • ūnus will often mean ‘only’ (cf. sōlus) and occasionally ‘the same’ (cf. idem)
  • where ūnus means ‘only,’ it may initiate a subjunctive clause of characteristic (the only man who may: ūnus cuī liceat.)
  • the compound ūnus quisque = every single one
  • the compound ūnus + superlative = the one most (the one most learned man, ūnus doctissiumus)
  • duo may also have the plural genitive duum
  • the word ambō (both, which retains the long ō of the lost Latin dual) declines like duo
  • the compound ūnus + superlative = the one most (ūnus doctissiumus, the one most learned man)

Here’s a chart I found showing the descendents of the Latin cardinals:

(courtesy N.S. Gill; http://tiny.cc/eoiqmw)(For those of you who are curious, there are between 30 and 40 standing Romance languages, but we’ll get to numbers above 10 next post…)

The Essential AG: 133-4