Re: Corpora: corpi

From: sheri lyn pargman (
Date: Sat Apr 07 2001 - 18:31:09 MET DST

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    Ramesh Krishnamurthy wrote:

    >1.9 "corpi" derives the plural form from the wrong Latin declensional
    >paradigm. But hey, we are participating in the creation of the English
    >of the future here, not correcting people's knowledge or ignorance of
    >Latin. If in 100 years' time, consensus use prefers "corpi", what's
    >the problem?

    I just wanted to add to Ramesh's very insightful words that the use of
    "corpi" as the plural of "corpus" is similar to the (common in the
    U.S.) use of "octopi" as the plural of "octopus" (the Latin plural is
    "octopodes"). You also sometimes hear in the U.S. "lexi" as
    the plural of the new coinage "lexus" (the car), and note that
    "syllabi" is the "non-historical" plural of "syllabus." The point here is
    that all of these plurals are the result of analogy, a very common form
    of morphological change. Thus, the morphological relationship between
    Latin forms such as

    focus : foci
    radius : radii
    nucleus : nuclei

    has been analogically extended in English to other Latin-sounding forms,
    such as

    octopus : octopi
    corpus : corpi

    As far as I can tell, these are perfectly fine plurals in English -- I
    seriously doubt that most native speakers of English would have trouble
    understanding that "corpi" is the plural of "corpus."

    -Sheri Pargman
    Ph.D. student in the Dept. of Linguistics at the (I hope still) "highly
    regarded" University of Chicago

    On Thu, 5 Apr 2001, PFranklin wrote:

    > I chose to hire a recent MA in Linguistics (BA, too) graduate from the
    > highly regarded University of Chicago as a substitute ESL teacher. On his
    > first day of work, he came up with "corpi." A few weeks later he left
    > without giving notice, and I can't say I was displeased.
    > Philip Franklin, Director,
    > Social Sciences Institute English Preparatory Program
    > Istanbul Bilgi University
    > Inonu Cd. No. 28 (Y 436)
    > Kustepe - Sisli
    > Istanbul 80310 TURKEY
    > tel: 90-212-216-2222 x 466
    > fax: 90-212-216-2536

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