Proper Plural for Prius

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by Plain_jim, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. Plain_jim

    Plain_jim New Member

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    Mods, feel free to move this post if you feel it's misplaced; I didn't see a better place for it.

    OK, all, here's the deal. I own a Prius, and my wife does, too. So the issue has arisen about the proper plural form of the word "Prius". If "Prius" is an English word, there are two likely possibilities: either the regular for "Priuses", or the use of the singular-for-the-plural (i.e., the same word "Prius" is used for the singular and the plural). I confess I hate the word "Priuses"; it looks both unfinished and unnecessarily gaudy at the same time.

    Now, I've also seen the word "Prii" used for the plural. This suggests that the word "Prius" is a second-declension Latin noun (it's clear from the contexts that users are simply using the nominative case form without regard to placement in the sentence in their English-language posts, a habit that has a long and respectable academic history). However, if "Prius" is a fourth-declension Latin noun, then it's masculine in gender (regular users of Latin know that there is neither rhyme nor reason to the assignment of gender among nouns in that august tongue), and the plural form is the same as the singular: "Prius". (Of course if the plural is "Prius", we may never know of the word is a fourth-declension Latin noun, or simply an English word with an irregular plural form.)

    What is the sense of the meeting on this burning issue? In the words of the young John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, "My ear is open like a hungry shark/To catch the tunings of a voice divine" (a wonderfully wretched couplet to come from such a great poet).

    ===

    The "goose/moose/mongoose" reference in the subtitle refers to the way these three words, with the same ending, make plurals differently: goose/geese, moose/moose, mongoose/mongooses. My second-year classical languages teacher regaled us one day with the story of the movie producer who needed two mongooses for a scene, but knew he didn't know the proper plural form. He called the wranglers and said, "Send me over a handler and a mongoose. In fact, while you're at it, send along another mongoose." As you can probably guess, you'll not be seeing that classical languages prof on Comedy Central any time soon.
     
  2. hycamguy07

    hycamguy07 New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Plain_jim @ Sep 7 2006, 05:44 AM) [snapback]315621[/snapback]</div>
    I would think it's Prius's would do... I wonder how the English would pronounce the word Prius.. :mellow:
     
  3. KMO

    KMO New Member

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    Hi Jim.

    Actually, in Latin, prius is mainly a comparative adverb (in which case it's invariant) or a third-declension comparative adjective, meaning "earlier" or indeed "prior".

    The adjective can be used as a noun, in which case it means something like "forefather" or "predecessor". Being third declension, "prior" is the common nominative singular, "prius" is the neuter nominative singular, and "priora" is the neuter nominative plural.

    So if you want to be Latin (which I personally don't), it's Prius/Priora. "Prii" is nonsense :rolleyes: .

    For me, it's "Priuses", anyway, in speech. It's a bit of an affectation to use Latin plurals in English. If writing, it looks ugly, so I'd try to avoid using the plural (this is Toyota's usual approach).
     
  4. Oxo

    Oxo New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(priusguy04 @ Sep 7 2006, 04:59 AM) [snapback]315626[/snapback]</div>
    No! This is known as "the greengrocer's apostrophe" and is generally regarded as a solecism. Why not use 'Prius' as both a singular and plural? Many English words come from foreign languages but that doesn't mean we have to adopt the plural conventions of those languages. If you don't like Prius as a plural, just say "I have two Prius cars on the drive".
     
  5. KMO

    KMO New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Oxo @ Sep 7 2006, 11:27 AM) [snapback]315632[/snapback]</div>
    I was assuming he was joking, so didn't dignify it with a response. :p

    While we're on the Latin lesson, I'd like to point out that not only is "prius" part of the Latin word "prior" that went straight into English, it also has the superlative form "primus", meaning "first", which of course gives us "primary", "primordial", etc. Fascinating, eh? B)
     
  6. prius2go

    prius2go Member

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    Since we're talking English rather than Latin the plural will be Priuses
    similar to buses
    However in some countries it's busses so Priusses :rolleyes:

    Or you could avoid the plural altogether as in a shoal of fish, or a herd of sheep (hence sheep herd) now flock of sheep....

    A pair of Prius
     
  7. dragonfly

    dragonfly New Member

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    You guys are all too smart for your own good! :p
    Prius is a name, like Jones. We're going driving with the Joneses in our Priuses.
     
  8. Plain_jim

    Plain_jim New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(KMO @ Sep 7 2006, 06:17 AM) [snapback]315630[/snapback]</div>
    I REALLY like "Priora"; it suits my taste for pedantry and unnecessary complication. But 1) I doubt anyone else would ever go for it, and 2) I doubt anyone, anywhere, would know what I was talking about without a bunch of longwinded explanation and patronizing glances. As for eyerolls, this would be just the thing to cause more of them, and I get at least two a day from my wife as it is.
     
  9. KMO

    KMO New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Plain_jim @ Sep 7 2006, 12:59 PM) [snapback]315642[/snapback]</div>
    Thought you'd like it. :D Don't think I could actually use it with a straight face. I just keep mentioning it in various fora :)lol:) because whenever people start talking about the Latin, they get it wrong, and I just can't stand leaving misinformation uncorrected...
     
  10. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    I wholly agree with those posters above who point out that we are speaking English, and therefore it makes no sense to try to use foreign plural forms. Also that "Prii" looks bad in writing and sounds wrong in speaking.

    I am gratified by the OP's explanation that "Prii" is wrong even in Latin (I deeply regret that my generation was not taught latin in school.)

    Since we are speaking English, I use "Priuses" or sometimes "Prius" as the plural. Since Prius is not even a word in English, but rather a proper noun foisted upon us by the Japanese, there is no "correct" answer. But the fact that these same Japanese have chosen to avoid the plural entirely suggests that there is not a separate plural form, and that the convention to follow, in their opinion, is that of "moose."

    Nobody would ever dream of saying, "Look sweetheart: there's a moose in the garden. No, wait! There are two mii."

    It is quite acceptable in English, and it sounds best, to say, "Today I saw three Prius on the road, all in a row."
     
  11. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(KMO @ Sep 7 2006, 06:40 AM) [snapback]315633[/snapback]</div>
    I'm sure he's not joking. Tacking an "s" on with an apostrophe as in Prius's is definitely using "the greengrocer's apostrophe" an not in good form. The practice is so bothersome that some people carry white-out for fixing signs on the spot. Not that I would ever do anything like that. :rolleyes:

    Tom
     
  12. glenhead

    glenhead New Member

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    Sweet fairy princess mother of pearl - fourth declensions. Aaaaaaugh!

    It is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that the plural of Prius is Priwe (pronounced (of course) pree-wee) if the group includes your car, or Prithey (pronounced pree-they) if your car is not in the group.

    QED

    Fer pete's sake, people.

    Now you know.
     
  13. Proco

    Proco Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(glenhead @ Sep 7 2006, 09:54 AM) [snapback]315679[/snapback]</div>
    How does the WeePri fit into this? :)
     
  14. withersea

    withersea DNF is better than DNS

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    Prius²

    P²
     
  15. Renocat

    Renocat Member

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    cactus--cactii
    Prius--Prii
    ;)
     
  16. rufaro

    rufaro WeePoo, Gen II

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Proco @ Sep 7 2006, 07:08 AM) [snapback]315688[/snapback]</div>
    In a very small space. B)
     
  17. KMO

    KMO New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Renocat @ Sep 7 2006, 03:40 PM) [snapback]315701[/snapback]</div>
    Er, yes, but it's "cacti", and anyway in Latin, not all things ending in "us" pluralise the same way. So...

    2nd declension: cactus--cacti
    2nd declension: gladius--gladii (couldn't think of any English words ending in -ius directly nicked from Latin)
    4th declension: census--census (with a long u in the plural, but this board won't let me draw a macron on top)
    3rd declension: Prius--Priora (because the stem is "Prior")

    The 2nd declension is most common, the 4th less so. Prius is a bit of an oddity because it's really a comparative adjective rather than a real noun; 3rd declension nouns don't usually end in "us".

    Now, you could argue that it's become a convention for Latin words in English to be pluralised with -us becoming -i, regardless of Latin grammar, but I don't think it has, really. English pluralisation is correct (cactuses, stadiums, forums), but some people try to show off by using Latin plurals (cacti, stadia, fora). And then, they shoot themselves in the foot with "censi" or "Prii".
     
  18. KMO

    KMO New Member

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    Ooh, just found a good article - What is the plural of "penis"?. That goes into the subject in great detail, covering lots of words. Choice quote:

     
  19. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    I remember this from philosophy class. A Priori knowledge, right?

    A bus is not a buss.

    The smallest WeePri is the Wee-est Prius. The largest is called Biggus Prius. Or Priapus, if you ask Tony.
     
  20. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(KMO @ Sep 7 2006, 12:18 PM) [snapback]315756[/snapback]</div>
    Gads! Now they are going to start discussing the declension of a penis! I won't even go there (oops, I already did :p ).

    Tom
     
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