5

Why do some Latin names end with both an "us" and an "i"?

For example,

  • Ordericus Vitalis, or Orderici Vitalis,
  • Ekkehardus Uraguensis, or Ekkehardi

Compare this edition in Latin v. this edition in English.

Which form is correct?

10
  • Where do you see "Orderici Vitalis"?
    – Leaky Nun
    May 16 '17 at 12:33
  • "Ekkehardus Uraguensis" doesn't hit anything on Google.
    – Leaky Nun
    May 16 '17 at 12:34
  • They are medieval historian
    – turuncu
    May 16 '17 at 12:40
  • 1
    This is just Latin grammar. The name is probably rendered Odericus. Oderici is the genitive case, which means the book is a work of Odericus's
    – Rafael
    May 16 '17 at 12:51
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    @turuncu I added your links to the main body of the question, since they are why the question even arose.
    – cmw
    May 16 '17 at 13:44
8

Both! The -us ending is nominative, i.e. when it's the subject of a sentence. The -i is when it's in the genitive. Think of it like English's 's.

The first book reads Historiae Ecclesiasticae Orderici Vitalis, because it means Ordericus Vitalis' (notice the genitive marker) Ecclesiastical Histories. In Latin, were I to say, "Ordericus Vitalis wrote the Historiae Ecclesiasticae," I would have written it as so: Ordericus Vitalis Historias Ecclesiasticas scripsit.

The endings change depending on how you use it. The English translation accurately reflects his name in English, so use that if you want to e.g. cite him in a bibliography somewhere or write about him in an essay.

9
  • 51 seconds ....
    – Leaky Nun
    May 16 '17 at 12:52
  • @LeakyNun The more answers, the merrier!
    – cmw
    May 16 '17 at 12:53
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    I think it's worth mentioning the obvious point that the nominative is the correct form in an English sentence, if you are using the Latin version of the name. It's a pet peeve of mine when people quote Latin words and leave it in a non-nominative case.
    – brianpck
    May 16 '17 at 13:23
  • @brianpck In the comments of the original post, he links to an English translation that uses the nominative, so that's what I'm referring to in the last paragraph of this answer.
    – cmw
    May 16 '17 at 13:42
  • @brianpck In the comments of the original post, he links to an English translation that uses the nominative, so that's what I'm referring to in the last paragraph of this answer. I added them to the body of the question now, though, so hopefully it's clearer what I mean.
    – cmw
    May 16 '17 at 13:45
7

The nominative case is the form of the noun when it acts as the subject of a sentence.

There is another case, called the genitive case, which is used to show possession.

For example, "Marcus amat puellam" = "Mark loves a girl", and "Marcus" is in the nominative case, because it is the subject of the sentence.

To say "Marcus's dog", we say "Marcī canis", where "Marcī" is in the genitive case.


The Latinized name of the historian was, in the nominative case, "Ordericus Vitalis", and in the genitive case, "Orderici Vitalis".

You can view "Orderici Vitalis" as, in English, "Orderic Vital's".

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