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RfV discussion for Anglicised plural form — RfV failed[edit]

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Plural form of accusatrix. Zero Google Book Search Hits. Non-standard if extant.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 03:20, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

No scholar hits, no news hits, no groups hits. Books would have been the best shot. OTOH, MW3 shows it. DCDuring 05:15, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
MW3? Remember that secondary sources do not count towards attestation.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 13:00, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Weird, the MW website doesn't seem to recognise it. For that matter they don't recognise accusatrices either. It is possible no one before has ever tried to use the plural form, but if they did I think accusatrices would have to be the word. Widsith 14:38, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
I'd go for the Latin approach, but I took 4 years of it and have used the words "matrices" and "codices" in spoken sentences. I was using an old print edition of MW3. I may have misinterpreted their notation. Maybe they assumed that their readers understood pluralization morphology or had read some appendix on it.
[finds entry; reads "Plurals" section.]
The entry has "pl -ES", the source of my statement above. The "Plurals" section mentions the rule (#4 in their sequence) that words ending in s, z, x, ch, sh form plurals by adding -es. Rule #18.1 mentions Latin plurals and gives six "x" examples, which of course have the "-ces" endings. They do not present a good algorithm for how to apply their rules. Furthermore the opening paragraph says, more or less, that you can get away with -s and -es. No wonder so many were scandalized when MW3 came out. Of course, they have a disclaimer about the completeness of the 23 "rules" that they present.
I think MW3 must have been attempting to reflect the practices of a population of American English speakers (and English teachers!), very few of whom had or would have much education in any foreign language, let alone the Classics. Of course, such a population would be unlikely to use a word that required and unconventional plural and gender specification when a shorter word conventinally pluralized, gender-neutral word like "accuser" was available. DCDuring 15:28, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
In any event, the facts of usage seem to say that the few folks who have ever used the word form the plural "-ices" in accord with a good Classical education. DCDuring 15:28, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

I assume “MW3” means “Merriam–Webster [Third Edition]” or somesuch… I maintain that the use of accusatrixes would be wrong. MW3 are prescribing ignorance. The -rix-rices rule is one of the easy ones — it’s not like ceilidhean, nexūs, corgwn, imprimantur, fiaschi, sögur, or mujtahidūn. One does not need a Classical education to be familiar with the -x-ces rule — it’s fairly common in well-formed, formal English. (I don’t have a Classical education.)  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 21:38, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Merriam-Webster's Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (1993) is a handy source for ways in which US English may have differed and still differ from UK English. In this case, I think their editorial work was sloppy in that they only showed one plural form. They show both "apexes" and "apices", "appendixes" and "appendices", "codex" and "codices", "executrixes" and "executrices", "indexes" and "indices", "matrixes" and "matrices. DCDuring 00:28, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Part of the solution that my fellow Americans have found is to simply not use -ix nouns. A female executing a will in most legal documents will be an executor. They'll avoid plurals that make them uncomfortable. And they will impose their will on words they may want, like apex, appendix, and index. DCDuring 00:37, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

  • Putting aside the colorful xenophobia of all the comments above, I think all that has been established so far, is that "accusatrix" is not a word. Certainly, the word you are looking for in Modern English is accuser. The first error above, is in the twisted thinking that suggests accusator is a word at all - in modern usage, it is not. The second fallacy is that gender could (in Modern English) be then applied in an even more archaic fashion to the more archaic variant or that obsolete term, in modern usage - it is not. It is perhaps reasonable to think that if it is a word, a plural could be formed from that. A devoted historic linguist might, at that point look to the etymology. But mere mortals do no such thing, choosing instead the nearest rule that applies in their language. The fact that it doesn't appear to be a word comes as no surprise then. But it is nothing short of erroneous, at that point, to then take a pluralization rule, not from the language it was borrowed from, no, no, from yet another language...then to suggest - at that painfully stretched point - that the end result is Modern English. Well, it's not.
  • It is far and beyond, a disservice to our readers to mislead them into thinking that accusator is a word in modern use. Of course we should tell readers what language it is and what the Modern English translation of it, is. Asserting then, that the derivative term accusatrix is a word, is the error; not the prescription of a normalized plural (should the word somehow resurface by other means.) If you would remove the normalized plural formation from our already misleading entries, it would be very reasonable to demand that the two-languages hop-skip-and-a-jump plural accusatrices be removed at the same time. But perhaps it is more important to not list those variants as ==English==. Certainly, attestation can be found from obscure tomes if one digs deep enough - but the only purpose for doing so is to mislead readers? Why not simply identify what the language really is? ==Middle English== almost certainly saw those terms in regular use...obviously in greater proportion than they occur today. None of the three errors, compounded to arrive at accusatrices, are productive in Modern English - why mislead readers into thinking they are? --Connel MacKenzie 14:27, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
This form looks like it will fail RfV. The words accusator, accusatrix, and accusatrices would all seem to be able to meet RfV. They are occasionally used in works of history and legal history and more rarely in fiction. Their usage seems to be declining. Do we have objective criteria for marking such entries appropriately? I don't think that many of our users are likely to use WT to help them select a word. IMHO, they are more likely to use WT to understand something they've read. IMHO, they might also even look for whether a given usage is "correct" to help them assess the overall quality and credibility of the work they are reading. It would be interesting, albeit time-consuming, to also mark all senses and all inflections of all entries that are no longer used in current writing. Sadly, we seem to have no way of knowing whether doing so would be of much value to our users. DCDuring TALK 16:45, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

"Second, unknown" sense[edit]

The second sense cited here seems to be a species of moth or butterfly. I found references to "Tinea accusatrix" and "Symmachia accusatrix". This would fit with the fact that accusatrix is italicized in the Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand citation, since species names are often italicized. Mike Dillon 21:46, 19 January 2008 (UTC)