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    #1

    ninja or ninjas? samurai or samurais?

    Dear all,

    I'd like to aske about the plural forms of ninja and samurai.

    Which you you use, two ninja or two ninjas?

    A lot of samurai, ora lot of samurais?

    I googles thse words, but I found both with "s" and without "s".

    Thank you!

    OP

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: ninja or ninjas? samurai or samurais?

    Use the -s suffix. I don't know how plurals are formed in Japanese, but I do know that trying to use foreign plurals in words borrowed into English usually causes problems - the Internet is peppered with mistaken Latinate endings (for example the ubiquitous syllabi), and similar hypercorrect parades of ignorance are best avoided by using English plurals.The user thinks s/he's showing off his/her greater knowledge, but at best s/he's making things unnecessarily complex, and at worst s/he's making him/herself look ridiculous. Use -s - that's what Fowler, for example, recommends.

    You could also avoid the problem by supplying a generic noun: 'ninja/samurai warriors'..?

    b

    PS If your teachers say 'syllabi' (as many of mine did) it may be politic to leave them be; or - if you're on good terms with them - you could (privately) observe that the plural is syllabus with a long U.
    PPS I was getting 'syllabus' confused with 'prospectus'. I am not correcting this here (and thus making the later discussion of my mistake confusing); see posts 4 and 5
    PPS Abject apologies to OP and 5jj, who I unwittingly invited to share in my error!
    Last edited by BobK; 15-Sep-2011 at 14:55. Reason: PSs added

  2. riquecohen's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: ninja or ninjas? samurai or samurais?

    The great Kurosawa film was presented in English-language countries as "Seven Samurai." Samurais is a word I had never seen until I found it here. Dictionary - Yahoo! Education
    I can't comment on ninja.

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    #4

    Re: ninja or ninjas? samurai or samurais?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post

    PS If your teachers say 'syllabi' (as many of mine did) it may be politic to leave them be; or - if you're on good terms with them - you could (privately) observe that the plural is syllabus with a long U.
    May I inquire what is so wrong with 'syllabi'?

    syllabus
    (ˈsɪləbəs)
    Pl. syllabi (ˈsɪləbaɪ) or syllabuses (ˈsɪləbəsɪz).
    OED

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: ninja or ninjas? samurai or samurais?

    I was getting it confused with 'prospectus', which - being a fourth declension noun - has the plural -ūs. Latinate plurals are easy to get wrong - as I've demonstrated. This supports Fowler's advice to use -s plurals in most cases (except where an irregular ending is widely used - as 'genii' is). Some dictionaries (e.g Syllabus | Define Syllabus at Dictionary.com ) give the -s plural first.

    b

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    #6

    Re: ninja or ninjas? samurai or samurais?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I don't know how plurals are formed in Japanese
    Basically, Japanese nouns don't have a plural form.

    I have heard ninja and samurai used with and without -s.

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