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From Eric temple Bell’s Men of Mathematics:

All this is familiar to anyone whose grammar-school education and learning ended not an ext than thirty or forty years ago, however some may have actually forgotten what they go in arithmetic as children, just as others could not decrease the Latin mensa to save their souls.

Mensa from Wikipedia:

Mensa, meaning table, have the right to refer come the following:

Mensa global is an company for persons v high IQs. Mensa is a southern constellation. Mensa is a term used by geologists to refer to an extraterrestrial mesa. Mensa (restaurant) is a type of restaurant that specialises in cheap food because that students.

I’m not sure whether any type of of this four interpretations can to the right the context. Probably mensa to be some sort of restaurant or college textbook?

I think the third definition below may make sense:

A table.A table the food; meal, course, feast.A sacrificial table, altar.vocative singular of mēnsa
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edited Sep 4 "13 at 3:52

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The declension of mensa is traditionally the very very first thing a Latin beginner would be taught. Bell is using it in that sense. It way table yet that's irregularity - it was the canonical example of a an initial declension noun.
Nov 14 "13 in ~ 9:52
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The recommendation "could not decline the Latin mensa to save their souls" is a recommendation to doing other which should be exceptionally easy. Mensa is a perfectly continual first-declension feminine noun, and declines in a set way:

CaseMajor UseLatinExamplelifwynnfoundation.orgEquivalent
AccusativeDirect Objectmensamtable
GenitivePossessivemensaeof the table
DativeIndirect Objectmensaeto/for the table
AblativeMeans or Mannermensaby/with the table
VocativeDirect addressmensaO table!

However, there were some who could not execute this also if their an extremely lives depended upon it.

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reply Sep 3 "13 in ~ 16:16

Andrew Leach♦Andrew Leach
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I think the meaning of mensa is not relevant here. In Latin, one deserve to decline a noun, by offering all the forms, one after ~ the other. Bell is saying that even those who learned to execute that earlier in school, might no much longer remember it.

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answer Sep 3 "13 at 16:17

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"mensa" right here is not lifwynnfoundation.org. That is accurate the Latin word mensa, which happens to translate to "table", but the lifwynnfoundation.org translate in is not relevant.

See more: How Do Contour Lines Show Steep And Gentle Slopes ? How Do Contour Lines Show Steep And Gentle Slopes

Rather, the word is used right here as an example of a very simple Latin word the an adult -- whose finding out as a schoolchild is forgotten -- can be totally unable to decrease (in the grammatical sense of "to inflect"), also if the salvation that his soul relied on making together a declension.

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edited Sep 3 "13 at 16:25
answered Sep 3 "13 at 16:19
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correct you're right but the allude is the mensa was the canonical example of a very first declension noun the a Latin beginner would certainly memorise. It's the very very first thing they would learn.
Nov 14 "13 at 9:51
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