Friday, January 25, 2008


More on Strictu Dictu

I expected An Odd Use of the Second Supine to be met with yawns and silence. But it provoked some emails.
Dear Michael,

I hope you're well! Thanks for your recent post on Maverick Philosopher's supination.

Looks like a contamination of "ADJ dictu" (are the ABL supines really only with ADJ's in "-ile"?) by "sensu stricto" 'in the strict sense'. If ABL supines freely occur with any ADJ, then it should be "strictum dictu", no?

My phonologist friend Kie Zuraw (UCLA) has worked on this sort of contamination and dubbed it "aggressive reduplication", such as in "sherbert" for "sherbet", "orangutang" for "orangutan", and "hari-kari" for "hara-kiri". (Cf. Aggressive Reduplication.)

Take care!

In response to Angelo's first question, I didn't mean to imply that all adjectives with dictu must end in -ile. The rarum in the title of Kroon's Glotta article is proper, as is strictum (in answer to Angelo's second question).

Another correspondent writes:
Nice piece on this Neo-Latin barbarism (or so I believe). Neither strictu nor stricte make any sense to me.

I can only surmise that after dictu had ceased to be sounded as a trochee, "strictu dictu" was heard as a "cool" pair of alliterative iambs.

That said, somebody will probably turn up "stricte dictu" in Juvenal and we will have to commit seppuku, which sounds like a good remedy for indigestion but really isn't.

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