[LMB] OT: University Stickers (WAS OT: Language)

Pamela Weber pp.weber at gmail.com
Fri Jul 19 16:42:28 BST 2019

Alert: lengthy Latin grammar divagation!

Sorry to put in my 2 cents after months of quiet lurking, couldn't resist
the rare chance to apply the 4 years of latin I endured 35 years ago.

Actually *Alumni* has its merits:

1) Assuming the sticker means: *I am/was* a student of Big University (BU),
it should be *alumnus* for male and *alumna* for female (nominative
singular). In this enlightened age it's really bad form to assume that only
males can be (ex) uni students. So there should be two versions of stickers.

2) On the other hand, the sticker might mean: *we are/were* students of BU.
In that case *alumni* is actually correct (nominative plural) as long as
you don't mean an all-female BU in which case it would be *alumnae*.
English is not very gender-sensitive, but Latin is and so are many other
languages (Spanish and German I can attest to), and using the plural
masculine is the usual compromise for mixed gender groups. According to
that, *alumni* would be correct. That's actually changing and I won't go
into the numerous ridiculous alternatives new (Chilean) generations come up
with. *AlumnX* or *alumn@* spring to mind. Old Cicero would have had
conniptions. Cesar might have been more pragmatic.

3) Now, a case could be made that the sticker is meant to say: *I *(the
sticker or what it's sticking to)* belong to* a singular (ex)student.
In this case, you have to use a genitive singular: *alumni* for male and
*alumnae* for female, and yes, same endings as in the case before
(nominative plural) but completely different meaning. Latin is complicated.
Imagine four years of that! I'm ashamed to say I was actually good at it.

So, really: *Alumni* has its merits if only that you can just *pick one*,
print an equal-opportunity sticker *and* *be done with it*!!!

And all of you that didn't have latin in school, be very very glad.

Brian Ross Ashley <brashley46 at gmail.com> wrote:

> The bumper sticker could have signified that the driver was _among_ the
> alumni of Big Honking Uni ...

Sorry, Brian, that would be *inter alumnos* since *inter* calls for
accusative because in this case the students would be the direct objects...
unless I'm wrong and a dative is called for, in which case it would be *inter
alumnis.* In either case you'd have to fit in the word *inter* and alumn*i*
would be wrong.

Going back to lurking. I think everyone will be very relieved 😂.

Cheers, Pamela

(and yes, I had to refresh my memory using San Google but hey, at least I
knew what I was looking for).


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