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Old 01-21-2003, 12:45 PM
lindsay.reid lindsay.reid is offline
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plural of curriculum

I am wondering about the plural of "curriculum" in English. I had always assumed that the English word "curriculum" used the Latin plural, "curricula". However, I said "curricula" the other day, and one of my friends started laughing. He insisted that "curricula" sounds funny, and the plural in English is "curriculums". I looked it up at dictionary.com, and both plural forms are listed. However, I'm wondering if they are both equally valid. Is one form is used more often than the other? For example, is "curriculums" replacing "curricula" as the proper plural form?
  #2  
Old 01-21-2003, 12:55 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Most foreign words go through a period of normalization. Curriculum is finally going through this period. Like it or not, irregular verbs and nouns (particularly words borrowed from other languages) get changed to regular verbs and nouns over time, particularly if they are not part of the core vocabulary that we use every day. This is why you (probably) accept agendas as a plural for agenda, even though agenda technically is already plural. In time, only trivia experts will know that curricula is an acceptable plural, the way only trivia experts know that kine is an acceptable plural of cow.

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-21-2003, 01:03 PM
UDS UDS is offline
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Acceptability is a matter of usage. There is a regular cycle at work here; when a Latin word is first introduced to English everybody recognises it as a Latin word and treats it accordingly. Over time, however, it comes to be treated as an English word. The words "data", "agenda" and (increasingly) "media" are nowadays treated as singular words, not plural, and I suspect if you could find a context in which to pluralise "agenda" people would expect you to use "agendas" as the plural. I myself would pluralise "curriculum" as "curricula", but I couldn't say that "curriculums" was wrong.
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Old 01-21-2003, 01:59 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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FWIW, I've always said and heard "curicula."

Reminds me of Caligula. Heheheh.
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Old 01-21-2003, 02:40 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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My Latin I finally comes in handy!

First declension Latin nouns take take their plurals as such:

A masculine noun ends with "us," and forms its plural by replacing the "us" with an "i."

Example:

One alumnus, two alumni.

A feminine noun ends with 'a," and forms its plural by replacing "a" with "ae."

Example:

One alumna, two alumnae.

Finally, a neuter noun ends with "um," and forms its plural by replacing "um" with "a."

Examples:

One medium, two media.
One curriculum, two curricula.
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Old 01-21-2003, 02:44 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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In every education textbook I've copyedited in the past eight years (all seven of them), the author used curricula.

That piece of information plus fifty cents will pay two days' fines on your overdue library copy of Strunk & White.
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