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First, to begin, I'm a hobbyist with no formal background whatsoever in Latin. I only know what I can manage to successfully google and read on my own.

Anyway, I've read that Latin can't use nouns as adjectives. So if you want to say a word like, 'chicken soup,' then you would likely need to place the word chicken into the genitive case or create an adjective and use this word instead.

But while looking up words on Wiktionary I came across this entry, dēfēnsor cīvitātis.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/defensor_civitatis#Latin

I swear, that's just two nouns back to back. Can anyone explain what I'm seeing and what rule of Latin grammar I'm missing?

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2 Answers 2

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Civitatis is actually in the genitive, so it fits the rule you mentioned.

The base noun is civitas, which is what civitatis is linked to on Wiktionary.

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    lol well that's egg on my face, I didn't notice when I clicked on civitatis that it took me to civitas. Thank you! I thought I was going crazy. Now I'm debating on leaving this question up or not. Maybe it'll help someone else out, but it's also now a testament to my lack of attention to detail. Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 15:26
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    Hey, you never know whom it might help in the future! I hope you stick around and ask more questions as you progress in Latin!
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 15:27
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    @fdb : I don't see any mention here of such a "rule". Was it mentioned in a comment that has been deleted?
    – MPW
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 13:24
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    @fdb that rule doesn't say the first component must be a case form though. It just states that case forms and derived adjectives are generally used instead of noun adjuncts. Chicken going into the genitive is just an example, and the rule as given by Jack gives no explanation as to why chicken and not soup is the one to go in the genitive; the idea that it must be the first component is nowhere mentioned
    – Tristan
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 15:52
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    @fdb Civitatis is not a bare stem and follows defensor. I don't think what you've mentioned is what the original question was talking about.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 18:29
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You are asking about nominal compounds, whereby the non-final components appear as bare stems, without case endings. These are very common in ancient Indo-European languages like Greek or Sanskrit, but also in many modern IE languages like German. They are less common in Latin, but certainly exist; take for example su-ove-taurilia “sacrifice of pigs, sheep and cattle”, manu-pretium “wages”, not to mention Greek borrowings like hippo-dromus.

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    There are also cases where a kind of connective vowel is used like in Greek, such as sacrilegium, parricida, pontifex, but perhaps those are considered to be based on verbal stems?
    – Cerberus
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 23:49
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    Oh, really. I wonder, then, how many i-nouns were used in this way to give rise to the analogy.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 1:32
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    @fdb I don't see why we'd need to invoke analogy. This would be the expected reflex of an *e in this position, and not unexpected even for an *o, so having it just be the regular thematic vowel (or, for coinings that obviously postdate vowel reduction, analogy to compounds of thematic stems) seems more parsimonious
    – Tristan
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 15:50
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    @Tristan Weiss's discussion is a bit vague but FWIW (p. 264): "In some cases the i could theoreticaly continue an old Proto-Italic i ... But in most cases i is the weakening product of some other vowel ... In some cases the vowel *-i- has been generalized to form an interfix between consonant-final first members and consonant-initial second members."
    – TKR
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 19:32
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    @Tristan Michael Weiss, Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin.
    – TKR
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 16:38

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