Thursday, November 18, 2010

Verbum Hodiernum: DUO

Today's word is a number, DUO. You can see that it is etymologically related to the English word "two," reflecting the shared Indo-European heritage of both Latin and English - not to mention the fact that we also use "duo" as a word in English, too! The reconstructed Indo-European root of the word is *dwṓu, and you can see a list here of the derived forms of this root in the various Indo-European languages.

In Latin, the ending -o reflects the old dual plural. In the most archaic form of Latin, as in Indo-European, there was the singular form and the plural form - but also the dual form, which was used for things that came in pairs. If you have never read about the grammatical dual form, you might enjoy this Wikipedia article. You can see the same dual -o ending in the Latin word ambo, which also refers to something that comes in a pair.

The form duo is used for masculine and neuter nominative nouns, and there is a form duae for feminine nouns. For the genitive, you will see the familiar plural forms duorum and duarum, and for the dative and ablative, duobus and duabus. For the accusative, even the Romans were a bit uncertain whether to use the dual or plural form, so you will sometimes see duo for the masculine accusative, and sometimes duos. (The neuter accusative is the same as the nominative, as is always true for neuters.)

Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs; for more information, see the page at the Scala Sapientiae, which contains notes on some of the proverbs cited below, as well as additional proverbs:

Mundus non capit duos soles.

Nos duo turba sumus.

Unus nihil, duo plurimum possunt.

E duobus malis, eligendum est minus.

Duobus dominis ne servias.

Nemo potest duobus dominis servire.

Nemo potest dominis digne servire duobus.

Nemo potest dominis pariter servire duobus.

Noli pugnare duobus.

Uni cum duobus non est pugnandum.

Una domus non alit duos canes.

Duobus malis resistere, difficillimum.

Deficit ambobus, qui vult servire duobus.

Duo illa nos maxime movent, similitudo et exemplum.

Nemo potest dominis simul inservire duobus.

Bonum est duabus niti ancoris.

Duos insequens lepores, neutrum capit.

Ne Hercules quidem adversus duos.

Unicum arbustum haud alit duos erithacos.

Plus Federicus uno oculo vidit quam ceteri principes duobus.

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