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    Re: Obscure Nautical Almanac star
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2020 Dec 29, 17:02 -0800

    John Clements, you wrote:

    "As it happens, my father (Robert M. Clements) is a Latin teacher. His reply to my version of this question:

    Argo (a Greek word) was absorbed into Latin as a fourth declension noun, perhaps because ship names were all fourth?  That's a guess.  But tree names (quercus, pinus, etc.) are all fourth, and ships are made of wood…  A bad guess, probably.  But it is fourth, and the genitive in the 4th ends is ūs.  That line is a macron.  Does that help?  It would indeed make the genitive Argūs navis, of the ship Argo.

    So that's the typographical piece of the question, anyhow."

    Aha. That's terrific! Thank you, and please pass along my thanks to your father. That makes excellent sense. The small amount of Latin I studied over the years never employed the accents for long and short vowels, and I had forgotten all about those macron signs. But it fits perfectly. This even corresponds well to the version of the anglo-latin pronunciations that I heard for η Argūs when I was a teenager in the late 1970s. Those navigators were old enough to have learned some Latin in school, and they would have pronounced a "long u" just as it's pronounced in English, which means like the "u" in "argue". Other Modern Latin traditions would render it differently, yielding something like "Argoose" :). Fortunately, since the constellation is now dead and buried, we don't have to worry about the pronunciation of this one, but it's nice to know where the typography originates.

    Frank Reed

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