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Re: [ASRG] 0. General - Etymology trivia: "virus"

2003-12-11 20:55:37
I think it may be important to understand in which context it is presented.
Coming from a Chemical Engineering background,  I recall the usage of the
word "viri" as the plural of a virus to the hard core anal retentive
scientist in a presentation to other scientist.  To the layman and the
common usage, viruses is used,

Similarly, in my mail business experience for the last ~20 years across many
different environments,  I was often challenged to use the word "fora" as
the plural of "forums" in a technical context.  But in the layman context,
it is far more meaningful to have in your support

                "To create forums, go to ............."

rather than say:

                "To create a fora, go to ............."

Imagine if the IETF has on their web site:

                "The IETF offers the following standards fora:"

The layman might see that to mean a singular public discussion area, when in
fact it means "forums"

Same ergonomic considerations are made today with virus and viruses vs.
viri.  I doubt Anti-Virus software vendors will have marketing material
saying: "Our software is designed to protected you from viri." <g>

-- Hector

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mark" <admin(_at_)asarian-host(_dot_)net>
To: <asrg(_at_)ietf(_dot_)org>
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2003 9:41 PM
Subject: Re: [ASRG] 0. General - Etymology trivia: "virus"

On Fri, 12 Dec 2003 00:51:55 +0100, Markus Stumpf observed:

I don't know if I am a "k00l VXdudez", but I had 5 years of Latin in
school and the correct plural of "virus" is "viri" (not "viruses" and
in no way "virii" ;-). The plural form was very rarely used in written
text, so some people say is doesn't have one in Latin, which is wrong.

I remember it differently. :)

The Latin "virus" is of a rare form (2nd declension neuter nouns in -us),
and begot its "us" ending probably because, in its meaning of venom, it is
cognate to the Greek "ios" = poison. Neuters of the 2nd declension have no
plural. Which would make "viruses" the correct English plural.

I am open to evidence to the contrary, of course.

- Mark

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