3

A quick search suggests that status quos is most common pluralization of status quo. This form, however, is deeply unsatisfying. Clearly, status is the noun in this phrase, while quo is some sort of adverb or something. Statuses quo seems to me the most natural attempt to pluralize (but perhaps a different form of quo is necessary; I am not a Latin expert). Which plural form(s) are correct? Can I use statuses quo?

  • 1
    No, statuses quo is deeply unsatisfying. You must say statī quo. – Dan Bron Aug 23 '15 at 11:43
  • 2
    @DanBron Are you sure? I thought I'd use the standard English plural of status, but if we are to go with Latin, then this page claims the plural of status is status. – feersum Aug 23 '15 at 11:47
  • 1
    I was making a joke. The point was very much that in English we pluralize fixed phrases, especially foreign phrases, as though the phrase were an indivisible unit: a single word. Feeling "deeply unsatisfied" at this state of affairs and trying to analyze the components of such phrases quickly leads us to absurd places (like those jokers who insist the plural of octopus is octopi and such). And what "the plural" of status is in Latin depends on gender, declension, etc. – Dan Bron Aug 23 '15 at 11:51
  • 1
    @Dan: status has only one gender (it's a masculine noun), and in English we generally use the nominative for Latin plurals, so the Latin plural of status is statūs. Since neither English nor Latin usually used the long vowel mark in writing, the written plural would be status. This was probably actually used in English back in the days when all educated people had been taught Latin. – Peter Shor Aug 23 '15 at 11:54
  • 2
    I find 'status quos' quite acceptable if not deeply satisfying. Certainly better than other suggestions here. Would you object to 'Confetti is often thrown as the newlyweds emerge from the building' on historic grounds? 'Have-nots' on morphological grounds? – Edwin Ashworth Aug 23 '15 at 12:53
2

Here is an Ngram chart for the years 1900–2008 tracking "status quos" (blue line) versus "stati quo" (nonvisible red line) versus "statibus quibus" (nonvisible green line) versus "statuses quo" (nonvisible yellow line):

The red line, the green line, and the yellow line aren't visible because the matches for those terms are too few to register against the frequency of "status quos." At least until very recently, "status quos" was virtually the only plural form of "status quo" in use in English. I say "until recently" because of the fourteen verifiable Google Books matches for "stati quo" since 1943 (when the oldest match appears), seven are from the years 2000–2013; and of the fifteen matches for "statuses quo" since 1968 (the oldest), ten are from the years 1998–2015. So those two forms may be improving on their past very low level of popularity, though not by leaps and bounds. In contrast, statibus quibus appears in just two Google Books matches of English texts, one from 1836 and one from 1959.

A Google Books search finds matches for "status quos" going back to 1909. From William Bates, "The Japanese Our Coming Merchants and Carriers: The Apparent Intention of the "Status Quo" Agreement with Japan" (1909):

No President can validate it ["a suspension of trade regulations, made in pursuance of a compact for 'navigation laws'"] in favor of any foreign country; and Congress should immediately repeal it, and terminate all conventions under it. The country looks to CONGRESS to step into the arena and put an end to bartering away our shipping trade, with its invaluable national advantages, for "open doors," "status quos," or other illusive oriental benefits of limited usefulness.

There have been many instances of "status quos" in the years that followed, including 55 in the period 2006–2008 alone.

From these results it seems evident that most of the people publishing in English who are willing to hazard a plural form of "status quo" in print have adopted "status quos" as their choice, although some few have adopted "stati quo," presumably as a back formation from "status quo" via what they take to be the normal rules for creating plural forms of Latin words whose singular form ends in -us; and some few others have opted for "statuses quo," presumably on the model of "attorneys general" and "Eggs McMuffin."

Note: I didn't try to identify and count instances in which "status quo" was used as a plural form of "status quo," as discussed in comments above by Peter Shor and Janus Bahs Jacquet. I can't think of any way to separate the plural forms from the singular forms that doesn't involve examining each match for "status quo" individually, which I am not willing to do.

  • 1
    I can't decide which is the nonvisible red line and which ... – Edwin Ashworth Aug 25 '15 at 15:57
0

I needed a context. I looked at the first link provided by FumbleFingers and found this:

The HPS should consider the existing stati quo of the organisations involved (and interested) in harbour protection.

I would like it better like this:

The HPS should consider the existing status quo of the organisations involved

  • "stati quo" is just terrible... – sumelic Aug 25 '15 at 8:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.