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Old Latin bouerum and Iouerum from a Diachronic Point of View

Krzysztof Tomasz Witczak



The aim of this article is to discuss two Old Latin aberrant genitive plural forms in -erum, namely bouerum «bouum» (Cato, Agr. 62) or Iouerum «Iouum» (Varro, Ling. VIII 74), on the basis of the morphological and semantic considerations. It is hard to imagine how the regular third declension forms bouum and Iouum could be changed into bouerum and Iouerum. In his commented edition of Varro’s De lingua Latina (2019) Wolfgang de Melo, following Roland Kent, explains them as «analogical formations», influenced by iu – ge˘ rum n. «an acre; jugerum (of land)» (→ bo˘ ue˘ rum) and gen. pl. Ve˘ne˘ rum «of statues of Venus» (→ Io˘ ue˘ rum). This explanation should be
rejected for at least two reasons: semantic and morphological. The innovative genitive plural in -e–rum, I will argue, was based on old nominative and accusative dual forms with additional plural morphology: cf. *boue– nom.-acc. du. «two oxen», gen. pl. boue–rum «of oxen» (originally «of two oxen»), *Ioue– «two Jupiters» (here in elliptic use: «Jupiter and Juno»), gen. pl. Ioue–rum «of Jupiters» (originally «of two Jupiters; i.e., Jupiter and Juno»).


dual number; elliptic forms; genitive case; Old Latin; forme ellittiche; genitivo; latino antico; numero duale

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/erga-2023-002-witk

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