10

In German it was customary to decline Latin words used in German prose. One might, for instance, speak of performing a reductionem ad absurdum, using the the accusative form of the word reductio when it has the function of the direct object.

Are there any (relatively recent) examples of this in English litterature?

  • 3
    I have never once heard anyone perform a reductionem in German. It's always reductio. But that is really beside the point seeing how Modern English does not even have a dedicated accusative form for nouns, so it is exceptionally unlikely that any English speaker would even think of creating such a thing. If you perform a dance, never a dancen, then you perform a reductio, never a reductionem. – RegDwigнt Aug 31 '15 at 14:06
  • 1
    @RegDwigнt I think you are not doing this question justice. Perhaps Laurentius knows more about 12th-century German than you do? You didn't even ask which period he was thinking of. – Cerberus Aug 31 '15 at 14:12
  • 3
    "Once a word has been borrowed into a language, it adheres to the grammar for normal words in that language." Or can you tell me what the instrumental case of perestroika is? – RegDwigнt Aug 31 '15 at 14:19
  • 3
    There are no such phenomena in English. For one thing, unlike German, English has no case system. its speakers are unused to declension or even inflection and don't recognize it when they encounter it; hence they never imitate it. – John Lawler Aug 31 '15 at 14:19
  • 2
    I can find a jocular example of anything in any language. But my understanding is that this question is interested in finding out if this is done systematically and for reasons other than lulz. With that in mind, I would like to maintain the answer is "no, people do not do this in English" rather than "yes, people do this in Dutch". – RegDwigнt Aug 31 '15 at 14:32
4

You can still find Jesu, the vocative of Jesus in hymns and probably other liturgical texts (Wiktionary on this). Some examples (all are titles):

  • And that's one that I've heard is still used in Modern German as well. Is there a traditional Anglicised pronunciation of this, along the lines of /ˈdʒizju/ or something? When I see the word "Jesu," it looks foreign, so my first instinct is to try to pronounce it in church-Latin instead like /jesu/. But in that case, it's not clear that it really forms a pair with "Jesus" for me. – sumelic Sep 1 '15 at 6:50
  • @sumelic: Is there a traditional Anglicised pronunciation of this – I have no idea and, going by what I can find on the Internet, neither do most of the people who sings those songs. – Wrzlprmft Sep 1 '15 at 6:59
  • @sumelic Jesu is used in several other languages as well—in the Nordic languages (and I'm guessing in German as well), it's also the genitive. The full genitive of Jesus Kristus is Jesu Kristi. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 1 '15 at 7:27
2

reductionem ad absurdum, using the accusative form of the word reductio when it has the function of the direct object. Are there any (relatively recent) examples of this in English literature?

If you want a quantitative answer regarding 'reductio ad absurdum' then I refer you to Google Books.

Google ngram: reductionem ad absurdum,reductio ad absurdum

You can see that there is not a single instance using the accusative case.

If you want a general answer with regard to all possible Latin expressions then that is a research project. You may wish to try specific ones that you have in mind by using ngram yourself.

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.