"viral" (was RE: Licensing options for firmware)

Benjamin Rossen b.rossen at onsnet.nu
Wed Apr 6 23:13:21 UTC 2005

On Wednesday 6 April 2005 22:53, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Benjamin Rossen (b.rossen at onsnet.nu):
> Feh.
> http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/faq/plural-of-virus.html
Yes, but that reference is about English. In Latin, the plural form would be 
viri (in the nominative case) but it is a neuter noun following the second 
declension in a form that is usual for a masculine word, which has some odd 
effects. John Cowan pointed out to me that there are no known occurrences of 
this in the extant Latin literature. That might be because "man", which is 
'vir' gives "men" which is also 'viri', as well as the the possessive (gen. 
singular), meaning "of the man" or the "man's". Most Latin dictionaries show 
the following: 

virus, -i n. (nonnisi sing.num.) i.q. sucus noxius et venenatus serpentis

This means
virus is the singular
-i indicates that viri is the plural
n. indicates that it is neuter
(nonnisi sing.num.) means that if it is not singular it cannot be enumerated, 
in the same way that one cannot enumerate 'waters' in English, although one 
can have "waters of the oceans" or "holy liturgical waters" and similar. 
i.q. noxious fluid and venom of serpents. 

But I do suppose we are drifting off topic. The relevant point is this: we 
generally understand virus by its English meaning to be an infective agent 
that replicates itself. This is not a useful analogy for a license. It is for 
software when the software is an agent of infection (which is exactly why it 
is used for computer viruses) but not for the kinds of software we find 
arising from Open Source Projects that have licenses. These do not infect. We 
select. A nourishment analogy might be more apt. 

Benjamin Rossen 

More information about the License-discuss mailing list