Saturday, December 4, 2010

Verbum Hodiernum: UNUS

Today's word is UNUS, the Latin word for "one." In English, it is sometimes hard to appreciate that numbers really are adjectives. With this Latin word, though, you can see clearly that it is an adjective: unus, unum, una. Watch out for the special genitive form - unius - and dative form - uni (the ablative forms are just what you would expect, uno and una).

There are obviously VERY many English words that derive from this Latin word - starting with the name of the country where I lived: the United States. Notice that in English words the un- that comes from Latin unus is pronounced with a "y" sound: "United," "university," "unanimous," etc. Contrast this with the negative prefix un- in "unfriendly," "unappealing," "unbelievable, etc." Does anybody know just how English got in the habit of pronouncing those unus words with the initial "y" sound? I would be very curious to know that!

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:

Ex uno multa.

Unius dictum, dictum nullius.

Unus vir non omnia videt.

Vir quidem unus, nullus est.

Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno.

E pluribus unum.

Hoc unum scio: me nihil scire.

Unus amicorum animus.

Vox unius, vox nullius.

Hoc unum certum est: nihil esse certi.

Cuncti gens una sumus.

Anima in amicis una.

Unus Deus, sed plures amici parandi.

Ex uno disce omnes.

Una arbor non facit silvam.

Unus nihil, duo plurimum possunt.

Roma non fuit una die condita.

Roma non uno condebatur die.

Natura uno ad plura utitur.

Omnes una manet nox.

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