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an answer to a very pertinent question
[firefly]-I can kill you with my brain
iamleaper wrote in wow_ladies
If you're like my guild and the people I usually hang out with, you've recently been having trouble with the plural of the word "necropolis".

Necropolises? Necropoli?

I don't know about you guys, but "necropolises" is terribly difficult for me to say. So, since this is a Greek word and having some Greek training myself (although it's been a while), I looked it up. I'm a certified linguist (see the shiny M.A. Degree) -- I like doing this stuff.

The Greek plural of necropolis is, in fact, necropoleis. The last syllable is pronounced like "lace".

That's not to say that you can't continue to use "necropolises" if you want to -- that's allowed by the rules of English loanword borrowing. But if you're like the people I know and you don't like how "necropolises" sounds and/or you want to sound fancy, feel free to borrow the Greek plural form too. This linguist says that you're allowed. ;)

(N.B. Some people that I know really like using "necropoli", which seems Latin. With no Latin training, I'm not sure how they would deal with Greek loan words like this. Perhaps a Latin-fluent wow-lady can help!)

Aw man, I've been saying necropoli. It'll take me a while to switch to necropoleis.

http://mw1.m-w.com/dictionary/necropoli

Main Entry: ne·crop·o·lis
Pronunciation: \nə-ˈkrä-pə-ləs, ne-\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural ne·crop·o·lis·es or ne·crop·o·les \-ˌlēz\ or ne·crop·o·leis \-ˌlās\ or ne·crop·o·li \-ˌlī, -ˌlē\
Etymology: Late Latin, city of the dead, from Greek nekropolis, from nekr- + -polis -polis
Date: 1819
: cemetery ; especially : a large elaborate cemetery of an ancient city

Edited at 2008-10-28 06:19 pm (UTC)

not to get all latin geek here, but thought the declension of the latin version of this noun (even tho its a greek word adopted into latin) would have gone "-is, -is, -ui, -um, -u" for the singular cases and "-is, -uum, -ibis, -is, -ibis" for the plural? er, I mean, if I remember? not like we decline the noun anymore, but that would make it "necropolis" for singular (ending syllable "iss") and "necropolis" (ending syllable "eeez") for plural?

lol I just crack myself up, like noun declension matters. ?.?

lol i am pretty sure when I was in Italy they called the Etruscan cities of the dead necropoli...that's all I know!

I am quite sure that necropoli is correct as well, as I know that with singular nouns that end in s (like cactus), the appropriate plural ends in an i.

Edit: Wow. Took me so long to try to find a secondary example that wasn't penis and gave up that someone else posted a dictionary listing. However, I would say that necropolises just doesn't sound right.

Edited at 2008-10-28 06:24 pm (UTC)

But I do like saying necropoleis, so I'll certainly add that into the rotation, too.

Thanks for this! I, too, was using necropoli, but something seemed a bit off. Kind've like the plural form of Nemesis.

From what I know of latin, borrowed greek words are still declined like greek words, and don't change to latin endings. Very confusing when you're trying to translate them :)

This would be correct! So it would still be necropoleis, not necropoli.

Thank you for sharing this! Not being formally trained, I still found it very interesting.

necropoli - and to be honest I am TIRED of seeing that word. I can't wait for people not to say that anymore *shudders*

Whenever I see it I think of the Etruscan cities of the dead I visited in Italy.

oh see now that sounds nice :) wtb trip to Italy!

I think the word is ruined on me because of people constantly saying "wheres the necropoli? which necropolis should we go to? Necropoli are popping up lets go! I'm waiting to see where the necropoli are to get the runes. I heard Blizz is going to make the necropoli pop up more often, you know when?" UGH!

The Latin is borrowed from the Greek "nekropolis" (nekro - dead, polis - city; lit. city of the dead).

So while the form "necropoleis" is an older accurate form, "necropoli" is also an acceptable pluralisation, as the Latinisation of Greek meant, of course, an adjustment to the formatting of words.

As a side note, "mortus" and "urbis" are the words for "dead" and "city" respectively in Latin, but I think even they recognized that the Greek words sounded a lot better. XD

As a side note, "mortus" and "urbis" are the words for "dead" and "city" respectively in Latin, but I think even they recognized that the Greek words sounded a lot better. XD

I don't know, I like the sound of a 'mortusurbis' myself. ;)

I need to live up to my LJ handle

dativesingular

2008-10-28 06:57 pm (UTC)

This reminds me of how technically the plural of octopus is octopodes.

As far as a general rule of the treatment of Greek words in Latin goes, t's tricky, and varies a lot, especially when you're trying to figure out whether or not the word's been Latinized from Greek or not (and if you throw medieval authors into the mix, it gets even uglier).

HOWEVER, necropoli *is* actually a word, according to Merriam-Webster, but was derived from a 19th century Latin neologism. I just checked the OED (which unfortunately I can't link to, subscription service) and the word necropolis itself appears to be a 19th century portmanteau.

So technically speaking, you're not *entirely* wrong in using the word necropoli, though the Romans themselves never would have.

(This is what happens when you have a Latin Geek WoW player who also happens to be a librarian.)

Of course, I'm completely open to being corrected, this is just the info I'm piecing together from some cursory research and my Latin which I haven't used in about two years (Unless you count excerpts of scholarly articles written in it). I don't consider myself a linguist, and I'm a rusty Latinist at the moment. :)

Edited at 2008-10-28 07:00 pm (UTC)

Re: I need to live up to my LJ handle

etherealdreamer

2008-10-29 12:01 am (UTC)

you get your nerd on, girl. woo.

Re: I need to live up to my LJ handle

dativesingular

2008-10-29 04:15 am (UTC)

Thanks J! ;)

Re: I need to live up to my LJ handle

red_jenn

2008-10-29 05:27 pm (UTC)

/sniffle
I miss the OED.
(Graduated, can't access the pretty info anymore. D: )

Re: I need to live up to my LJ handle

silent_claws

2008-10-28 07:21 pm (UTC)

I had trouble thinking of the word at first (too much Japanese drilling destroys my accessible english vocabulary , so I went from "Floating Undead Triangle" to "Floating Undead Pyramid", to "Necrolopus" "Necropolopolous", cos I think the latter sounds silliest.

Or you could just call em Zombie Shacks. :P

Re: I need to live up to my LJ handle

silent_claws

2008-10-28 07:22 pm (UTC)

er, that's "Necropolopolous", the way I pronounce it :)

Re: I need to live up to my LJ handle

jcaliff

2008-10-28 09:34 pm (UTC)

Sounds like somewhere for the Hiphopopotomous and Rhymenocerous to hang out.

Re: I need to live up to my LJ handle

metao

2008-10-28 10:33 pm (UTC)

They hang out in a metropolis, not a necropolis.

I'd always thought it was "necropoles."  What annoys me is that certain people insist on calling them "ziggurats," and calling anyone who says "necropolis" a n00b. 

And to ice the cake...just yesterday, someone insisted that the one outside SW was Naxxramas.

I've used "necropoli," but am partial to "necropoliseses." :P

I use necropoli, because it amuses me to. But Ill also quote Warren from Buffy and use "necropolises. necropolisees". I guess that is for the same reason, though.

So funny, me too! I have been calling them 'necropoli' (and sounding very pretentious) and wondered if it was 'necropolii' (which is even more pretentious) and now I can impress my guildies with the proper plural of necropolis. And can I add that I am tired of the meanies who summon all 5 of the shadows of doom and kill them all themselves? All at once? When there are obviously several others standing around! Others need them for the quest!

Sounds like our argument back in university about the proper pronunciation of the plural of Penis - Penises or Peni? We later determined that both are acceptable :P

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