I-Stems: Neuter Exemplāria [3/8]

In this post, I want to expand on a footnote in A&G, which lists a whole herd of neuter i-stems, but then offers them no definitions.

Sample i-Stem neuters:

(if given in the plural, singular is rare or non-existent)

in -al

  • animal, animālis, animal
  • Bacchānal, Bacchānālis, Bacchanalian orgy
  • bidental, bidentālis, sacred space struck by lightening
  • capital, capitālis, capital punishment
  • cervīcal, cervīcālis, pillow, cushion
  • cubital, cubitālis, elbow cushion
  • frontālia, frontālium, frontlet of a horse (What the hell is that?)
  • genuālia, genuālium, leggings
  • Lupercal, Lupercālis, cave on the Palatine Hill
  • minūtal, minūtalis, stew
  • puteal, puteālis, structure surrounding the mouth of a well
  • spōnsālia, spōnsālium, wedding
  • quadrantal, quandrantālis, unit of liquid measure (a cubic (Roman) foot)
  • toral, torālis, valance of a couch (What the hell is that?)
  • vectīgal, vectīgālis, tax

in -ar

  • altāria, altārium, fittings for burnt offerings (also, apparently now a Pokemon… *nostalgia*)
  • cochlear, cochleāris, spoon
  • exemplar, exemplāris, example, standard
  • lacūnar, lacūnāris, paneled ceiling (example)
  • laquear, laqueāris, (also) paneled ceiling
  • lūcar, lūcāris, actor’s fee
  • lūminār, lūmināris, window shutter
  • lupānar, lupānāris, brothel
  • palear, paleāris, dewlap (What the hell is that?)
  • plantāria, plantārium, sandals
  • pulvīnar, pulvināris, couch for image of deity
  • Sāturnālia, Sāturnālium, optimo diērumCatullus 14.15
  • speculāria, speculārium, window panes
  • tālāria, tālārium, winged sandals of Hermes
  • torcular, torculāris, wine press

The Essential AG: 68n1

I-Stems: Neuter Declension [p2/8]

As A&G note, “The i-stem was confused by even the Romans themselves.” There are a variety of variations with this stem present in all three grammatical genders, making it incredibly difficult to organize the data except in broad patterns and rote memorization. To that effective, I’m going to design a series of posts on the i-stem declension.

The basic neuter i-stem declension takes the stem (mari-) and converts the final i- to an e- in the nominative and accusative singular.

mare, maris (n.) sea

Picture 3

sedīle, sedīlis (n.) seat

Picture 4(photo credit: Wiktionary).

In this basic output, the neuter i-stem is far more regular than its masculine and feminine counterparts:

  • Nominative and accusative singular: -e
  • Ablative singular:
  • Nominative and accusative plural: -ia
  • Genitive plural: -ium

These are all regularized and there are no exceptions…except for the majority of nouns in the neuter i-stem declension, which don’t decline like this at all. Most neuter i-stem nouns have a consonantal base in -al or -ar, which is retained in all morphological forms. This causes only one change: these forms are animal, animalis, and not *animale, animalis. Everything else remains the same.

tribūnal, tribūnālis (n.) judge’s platform

Picture 5

There’s one feature that Wiktionary fails to capture in this chat. The -a- at the end of the stem is short in the nominative and accusative singular, but along everywhere else (see my lexical entry above). This is true of all i-stem nouns ending in –al or -ar.

calcar, calcāris (n.): spur

Picture 6

(Here they got the -a- right. Go figure.)

There you have it! The neuter i-stem declension. It’s fairly regular; it merely entails a large quantity of regular rules.

The Essential AG: 68-9