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350                The Loom of Language

including plural formation; (&) vagaries of the definite article and of the
pronoun; (t) verb flexion

Of the Romance dialects dealt with, English-speaking people find
Spanish easier than French Italian is more easy than either This is so
for several reasons (i) the sounds of Spanish (or Italian) are much more
like those we ourselves use, (u) the spelling conventions of Spanish and
Italian are much more consistent than those of French, (in) the Latin
origin of the older—and therefore many of the more familiar—French
woids is hard to recognize, and they are therefore difficult to identify
with English words of Latin origin (p 238), (iv) the entire apparatus of
noun-adjective Sexion is immensely more regular in Spanish and in
Italian tfrgn in French Thus the rules ior plural formation of nouns
admit less exceptions^ and, what is more important* It is easier to
detect the gender-class of a noun from its ending Apart from the greater
regularity of their flexions, there are other teatures which bring Spanish
or Italian into line with Anglo-American usage One is a peculiar durative
construction, equivalent to our own m expressions such as / was waiting

The only flexion of the noun now left in Romance languages marks
distinction between singular and plural In comparison with that of
Teutonic languages other than English, plural formation of any Ro-
mance language is remarkably regular On paper the typical plural
ending of Spanish^ Portuguese, and French nouns and adjectives ts -s, as in
English This is partly due to the mastery (p 327) of the oblique, in
competition with the subject, case-form Otherwise the masculine
singular form of French nouns might also end in -s, as do a few sur-
vivors, e g fils (son) and some proper names such as Charles.
Luckily for anyone who intends to learn the language, the regularity
of Italian noun-adjective concord approaches that of Esperanto
Whether singular or plural, native Italian nouns end in a vowel The
subject case (see p 327) of the Latin noun is the one which has sur-
vived in both numbers Thus most Italian singular nouns end in
-a, if feminine, or -o (cf rmro on p 327) if masculine, according as
they come from Latin ones of the first and second declensions Most of
the remainder are survivors of the third, and end m -e In the PLURAL,
-a changes to ~e (Latin -ae) and -o or -e changes to -i These rules
admit very few exceptions The only notable ones are*
(a) Three common nouns have irregular plurals- uomo-uomini (man-
men), moghe-mogli (wife-wrves), bue-buot Cox-en)
(£) Masculine nouns of which the singular ending is an unstressed