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Re: VMs: "Terceirus"

On Sun, 22 May 2005, Francisco A. Violat Bordonau wrote:
> ?Terceirus? is NOT an Spanish modern word:  ?tercero? (the third man or
> thing) and ?tercera? (the third woman or thing), but never ?terceirus?,
> because the ending ?-us? is a ancient ending lost (for evolution of
> language) in the modern Spanish, Portuguese or French.

My apologies.  I was obscure.  I meant that a word like tercerius was not
Latin, or at least a common word, but that the root sequence tercer- (with
-o or -a gender markers attached) was found in Spanish.  In Spanish I
believe tercer-o/a involves an evolution of the Classical form terti-us/a.

Actually, I think that tercero came from adding the Spanish ordinal
formant -er- (as in primero) to terti-, ie., tercero is probably from a
reformulated *tertierus and not directly from Latin tertius.  The original
Latin form tertius would lead to tierzo, I think.  (Or maybe terzio?  I'm
not all that familiar with Romance sound laws!)

The c in tercero is a "soft" one, and derives from *ti, which I think
became first *ts and then theta (spelled with z, or with c before e or i),
which merges with s in Andalusian and in Andalusian-based American
Spanish.  Compare the shift of Latin -tion- to Spanish -cion, e.g., Latin
traditio (nominative singular loses final -n), plural traditiones vs.
Spanish tradicion (restores -n by analogy)/tradiciones.

In Latin, however, c is always hard, and a Latin form tercerius would be
pronounced terkerius.  Although Latin c (k) before i and e also becomes ts
and then theta in Spanish, I don't think any Latin root terker- in any
sense is attested.

Jeff tells me that his dictionary lists tercerius in the sense of 'third'
as first attested in the 1400s.  I suspect it may be a Hispanism, a
drafting into Latin of a contemporary Spanish (or Portuguese or Catalan)
form from the 1400s, onto which a Latinate ending -ius has been grafted in
place of "vernacular" -o in order to render the form suitably Latinate.
This is the sort of thing that happens to a classical language when it is
being used by a population at least as familiar with its vernacular
descendents, i.e., not just in Post-Classical Latin, but also in
Post-Classical Sanskrit, Greek, Old Church Slavonic, Hebrew, and others.

Another thing that happens is that the syntax of the classical language is
replaced by that of the vernaculars.  For example, the syntax of modern
Hebrew is essentially Yiddish or Slavic, or so I've been told, and while
early Classical Latin tends to be SOV in word order, I think later and
especially Medieval Latin are mostly SVO.

These two factors work together.  Since later Latin is in many ways a
scholarly substitution code for the Romance vernaculars, it's easy to drag
in actual words from the these, e.g., tercerius instead of tertius.  A
certain amount of adaptation of endings and undoing of sound changes might
occur, but complex sound changes might not be undone, especially when they
involved substantial changes in spelling.  For that matter, maybe in the
1400s tercero was still pronounced tertsero.  Writing c for ti, i.e.,
tercerius for tertierius, might seem like a trivial spelling variation, if
both c and ti were pronounced ts.

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