Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Review of BHQ

John Hobbins gives an extensive review of BHQ here.

8 Comments:

D Jongkind said...

"A massive number of variants from a variety of sources are collected in its apparati, with limited discussion thereof."

This raises the question what the plural of apparatus is. Apparati is definitely wrong. The plural of the Latin fourth declension yields apparatus, but this plural would create a lot of confusion for English readers. Should we go for the ugly apparatuses? Or perhaps the word is not countable, as advice, and we should write 'levels / layers of apparatus.

As often in life, the ugliest option will probably win.

John said...

Dirk's comment raises the question of how one decides something is definitely wrong in such matters.

In my view, usage is the final arbiter. The dictionaries on my shelf list "apparatus" and "apparatuses" as possible plurals of apparatus. But if you put "apparati" into Google scholar, you discover that a number of text critics (and many others) use this plural. Including one Peter Head, if memory serves me.

John Hobbins

Anonymous said...

John Hobbins:

"In my view, usage is the final arbiter. The dictionaries on my shelf list "apparatus" and "apparatuses" as possible plurals of apparatus. But if you put "apparati" into Google scholar, you discover that a number of text critics (and many others) use this plural. Including one Peter Head, if memory serves me."

John, did you check your dictionaries and Google scholar before or after you have given the _wrong_ plural away for publication? If before, why did you opt for raising the figures of bad usage?

Ulrich Schmid

John said...

I chose apparati over the alternatives out there - apparatus, apparatuses - because apparatus is confusing and apparatuses is ugly.

I was also influenced by Italian (I'm bilingual), in which the plural apparati to the sg. apparato is used (in text-critical contexts also).

As Dirk said, the Latin base is fourth declension, but that did not stop the Italian language from forming the plural (of this noun and generally) as if it were second declension.

Such are the vagaries of language.
I am not impressed by the argument that a dictionary determines what is good and what is bad usage.

John Hobbins

Christian Askeland said...

Even in Latin 4th declension nouns encounter this sort of confusion. Fructus appears in both the 4th and 2nd declensions.

Anonymous said...

John Hobbins:

"I was also influenced by Italian (I'm bilingual), in which the plural apparati to the sg. apparato is used (in text-critical contexts also).

As Dirk said, the Latin base is fourth declension, but that did not stop the Italian language from forming the plural (of this noun and generally) as if it were second declension."

As you say, in Italian the singular is 'apparato' and it would be considered wrong to contruct a plural 'apparate' just because this happens to be another plural ending that's around in contemporary Italian. If you opt for 'apparatus' in the singular, then you opt for a version of that stem that does directly relate to Latin and not through any intermediary vernacular. The way you construct your wrong plural even betrays that wannabe Latin.

If you are not impressed by dictionaries, you may concede an aesthetical point: apparati (not just apparatuses) is ugly, too. It really hurts!

Ok, here's a concession from my side. These days native speakers of the English language must be pretty tolerant about the vagaries of language. With so many non-native users (including myself, of course) who produce a lot of bad usage of language, you have to train yourself to not feeling hurt (too much). You really have my sympathy - seriously. Therefore, I recess to my garden and keep grumbling privately (for some time, at least).

Ulrich Schmid

Peter M. Head said...

I think if Peter Head has used apparati in a published work then that settles it for me.

John said...

After reading Ulrich's last post, I lapsed into a moment of vicarious suffering and decided, on the principle that causing unnecessary linguistic anguish among one's readers is best avoided, to do away with 'apparati.'

I replaced it with 'a four-tiered apparatus' and a 'five-tiered apparatus,' respectively. I thus treat the word as not countable, like 'advice' to use Dirk's example.

Ulrich, you can come out of your garden now.