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Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day
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Thursday word: paucal

paucal (PAW-kuhl) - n., a grammatical number used when referring to more than two but less than many in number. adj., being inflected in this form.


English, like most languages, has two grammatical numbers for nouns: singular and plural. Some Indo-European languages, such as Ancient Greek and Old Norse, as well as Semitic languages such as Arabic have a dual form for two of an item (traces of which still appear in modern Icelandic). Beyond that, however, there are a couple languages, such as Hopi, that also have paucal forms for more than dual but less than plural. There are, apparently, traces of a paucal form in Russian genetive forms. In Arabic, the rule of thumb is that paucal covers from three to roughly ten, with other upper bounds in other languages. From Latin paucalis, few/little, the noun form of the adjectival paucus, which also gave us paucity.

Northern Kurdish, or Kurmanji, is the only known Indo-European language with paucal forms.

---L.
Tags: adjective, latin, noun, p
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