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Tuesday, September 30, 2008


As most Latin students know, UNUS NAUTA is not just "one sailor" but the acronym U.N.U.S. N.A.U.T.A. It is taught as a mnemonic device to memorize the 9 special adjectives whose genitives end in -ius: unus, nullus, ullus, solus, neuter, alter, uter, totus, and alius.

In a recent post, I noted a problem with the adjective neuter. In the neuter form, my parser was not discovering the forms for nominatives and vocatives. I dug into this problem and discovered some interesting facts that I never really took to heart.

UNUS NAUTA is not one declension, as many Latin grammars would have us believe. It is actually composed of four different declensions: the normal UNUS NAUTA declension (unus, nullus, ullus, solus, totus), then the alius declension (which is unique because its genitive is alius instead of aliius as we would expect; and it has neuter-singulars in -ud), next the R-type declension (neuter, uter), and finally the ER-type declension (alter). I can see why Wheelock compressed his declensions, but it turns out that he didn't spend enough time pointing out the differences! To be sure, they are minor, but somewhat important if you're writing software to parse out the different forms!

So I created 4 unique declensions for the 9 different types of adjectives. Now, the UNUS NAUTA adjectives parse properly!

Update: I fixed indeclinable nouns, too. I had forgotten to add their (non-) paradigm.



  1. I'm glad to see that you have fixed this, Keith. Have you added in the syncopated perfect forms that we came across?

  2. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out a "system" that will cover all the syncopated perfects. There seem to be 5 or 6 different patterns. I've been keeping a list in Propertius, but I need more data.


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