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  1. #1
    MsNyree is offline Member
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    Syllabus vs. Syllabi


    I know that syllabus is singular and syllabi are plural. How would I write someone having two syllabuses?

    Which one is correct?

    My English teacher passed out two syllabuses.

    My English teacher passed out two syllabi or syllabi’s.

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    Though technically the plural is syllabi, the accepted plural is syllabuses. I would stick with it.

  3. #3
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    Quote Originally Posted by MsNyree View Post
    I know that syllabus is singular and syllabi are plural. How would I write someone having two syllabuses?

    Which one is correct?

    My English teacher passed out two syllabuses.

    My English teacher passed out two syllabi or syllabi’s.
    Anglika is right. If you want to use "syllabi" though, remember that it is already in plural form, so you would not add an "s" (as you did above)!

  4. #4
    Mr. Morrison is offline Newbie
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    Both are in common usage therefore both are correct. However, since syllabus is derived from Greek, just as octopus and hippopotamus are, the prescriptive grammarian would prefer syllabuses just as they would prefer octopuses and hippopotamuses. If the etymology had been Latin, then just like alumni and foci, the answer would have been syllabi. Nevertheless, English grammar is descriptive rather than prescriptive and since there are two ways of saying it, you can decide. Unfortunately, whichever word you choose, you are likely to irritate someone who uses the other version and is convinced that his or her version is the only correct one.

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Morrison View Post
    ... If the etymology had been Latin, then just like alumni and foci, the answer would have been syllabi. ...


    I've no idea where this 'syllabi' monstrosity comes from - well, I have, really. Most latin nouns ending in -us are in the second declension, and have the plural -i. Syllabus is in the fourth (because, as you say, it is derived from Greek), and has the plural syllabūs: Latin Nouns of the Fourth Declension - Endings, AskOxford: What are the plurals of 'octopus', 'hippopotamus', 'syllabus'?

    Fortunately for my blood-pressure, the erroneous syllabi is becoming less common because of the rise of 'syllabuses'. Use that, and in the presence of Latin scholars, if you must, use syllabūs.

    b

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    L'envoi

    Birdeen's Call has found two interesting links, but as this thread is closed she couldn't add them:


    http://epectasis.blogspot.com/2010/0...istory-of.html
    http://epectasis.blogspot.com/2010/0...ory-of_23.html

    I'm not persuaded. His statement at the beginning of the first link (that he's no longer sure) is at odds with the unquestioning certainty in his conclusion #1 at the end of the second. Either way, my preference for 'syllabuses' is reinforced.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 04-Jul-2012 at 14:17. Reason: Links fixed

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    I've just tried those links and found this message:
    Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist.

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    Strange. They did for me this morning. I'll try to fix it.

    b

  9. #9
    BobK's Avatar
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    Done - but I feel a little uncomfortable about saying 'Yes, but...' in a closed thread, so I'm opening it again.

    b

  10. #10
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    Re: Syllabus vs. Syllabi

    Fascinating! I love those two blog posts. Great detective work, great writing and great humour.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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