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Re: virus detection

also sprach Sean 'Shaleh' Perry (on Mon, 05 Feb 2001 04:59:57PM -0800):
> > To get _really_ picky: it is from the Latin, is 5th declension,
> > not 2nd (like most of the "-us" and "-um" words), and while the
> > singular and plural look identical, in the plural, as I recall
> > (it's been a long time since my last Latin class), the emphasis is
> > on the second syllable, and it is pronounced more like veeroos.
> > The plural should have a bar over the "u".  Try to portray _that_
> > in mutt. Viruses works fine for me, too.

mh. i hate to interrupt. virus is latin, that's right, but it is one
of the very few neuter words from the 2nd declinition. sorry to get
picky here too, but it's declination, not declension. at least that's
what is used in latin grammars (yes, those written in latin, i have

so back to the topic, virus is 2nd declination and neuter, a
combination which is, to my knowledge, is only shared by the words
virus (some poison), pelagus (the sea, usually poetically), and vulgus
(the crowd). there may well be others. now, the latter two aren't
regular nouns, they are uncountable, and the same applies to virus.

so the simple conclusion is that the word virus (yes, pronounced
veeroos or better yet, just virus without the nasal anglistic
undertone and complete alienation of the latin sounds for 'i' and 'u')
has no plural. virii is wrong because the singular word would then
have to be virius, which doesn't exist. viri already means men, virora
(following the 3rd declination) makes no sense (c.f. tempus ->
tempora), and vira was the name of a region now within switzerland, i
highly doubt they would have called themselves multiple poisons.

so we conclude that there exists no plural of virus because while the
word is latin, it wasn't ever used in the plural. so we resort to the
way of making it plural that's most common to our language, and for me
as a german, that would be "viren", for you english that would be
"viruses", and the french have the best of all, because the word
doesn't change. "virus" is just about plural as singular in french.

my two cents,

[greetings from the heart of the sun]# echo madduck@!#:1:s@\@@@.net
may the bluebird of happiness twiddle your bits.

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