Four-legged snake 1 – Latin 0

News just broke about a sensational discovery: a four-legged ancestral snake. Truly fascinating stuff.

Its name? Tetrapodophis amplectus, apparently.

τέτταρες (tettares) ~ “4”.

πούς (pous) ~ “foot”.

ὄφις (ophis) ~ “snake”.

But … what exactly is amplectus supposed to mean?

How the snake tried to overcome the rules of the Latin language. (Artist's impression) - Image source: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Minories-Eagle-and-Serpent-c-MOLA-Andy-Chopping.jpg

How the snake tried to overcome the rules of the language of the Romans (Artist’s impression). – Image source http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Minories-Eagle-and-Serpent-c-MOLA-Andy-Chopping.jpg.

Assuming that the name-givers intended to say ‘hugging’ (as the news pages suggest), then surely they should have followed the rules of the Latin language and called it amplectens?

You can't just randomly stick '-us/a/um' onto Latin verb stems, says Eutyches: It's a big NO-NO!

You can’t just randomly stick ‘-us/a/um’ onto Latin verb stems, says Eutyches: It’s a big NO-NO!

O tempora, o modi, as Cicero used to say (kind of).

About Peter Kruschwitz

Berliner. Classicist. Scatterbrain.
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