"Species" the plural form

Robin Leech robinl at CONNECT.AB.CA
Wed Dec 1 19:48:49 CST 1999

Yeah!  Right!.  About that same time, I hope I am not encountering "datas"
as the plural of "data". Arrrgghhhhh.  I tell my students that when I see
"datas", I will quit pressing for the correct uses of "datum" and "data".
Robin Leech

----- Original Message -----
From: John Nelson <nelson at BIOL.SC.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 7:08 AM
Subject: "Species" the plural form

> WED 1 Dec 902am
> Friends:
>         My colleague and student of Anglo-Saxon linguism offers these
> on "Specie"/"Species", with an additional idea that anybody worried
> about this sort of thing ought to expect to see "specie" as the singular
> for "species" more and more in the future. And, that the word
> "specieses" may eventually arise as a plural of "species"!
>         later JOHN NELSON, USCH
> -------- Original Message --------
> From: "Scott J. Gwara" <gwaras at garnet.cla.sc.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Fwd: Specie - species]
> To: nelson at sc.edu
> John,
> The Latin word species is, like dies 'day', a fifth-declension noun,
> with a plural form species.  When borrowed into English in the late
> sixteenth century, the word was not fully assimilated.  By analogy
> (ignorance), commoners think that it's a plural form and that specie
> is singular.  In fact, specie is the ablative form of species borrowed
> from the prepositional phrase "in specie," and it entered English
> separately around the same time as species.  English generally forms
> plurals by adding <s> to the ends of words, and species falls under this
> rule, reinforced by the competing term specie, which seems to have a
> special function.  I think that, because scientists like to be
> linguistically accurate, they use the proper Latin form which represents
> a direct (ill-fitting) borrowing from Latin.
> S.

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