Questions tagged [greek]

A Hellenic language principally spoken in Greece.

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25
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4answers
27k views

What are the historical origins of terms for north, south, east and west?

In the course of researching the etymology of the word "Australia", I was trying to find the Latin words for north and south (the cardinal directions). I found some websites that translate north as "...
23
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3answers
3k views

What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?

The ancient Greeks and Romans had no concept of historical linguistics or of the Indo-European language family. However, it would have been noticeable to anyone who spoke even a little of both Greek ...
21
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2answers
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Why did some Hebrew words beginning with Yod become transliterated into Latin as “hi?”

This is something I noticed when reading some different older English bibles. Often times, it seems there was originally & traditionally a digraph (I guess) ⟨Hi⟩ where now the more proper letter ⟨...
17
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6answers
16k views

Why are many ancient languages so complicated compared to many modern languages?

Many ancient languages have a structure that is more complex than that of the "respective" modern languages. Modern languages like English have simpler structure, without case, gender or declination, ...
15
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2answers
929 views

Did Georgian ever have a native word for “dolphin”?

During my time in Georgia one word came to puzzle me and I'm still thinking about it: დელფინი (delp'ini) "dolphin" Wiktionary says this comes from Greek via Russian. The thing is Georgia is on ...
15
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3answers
1k views

Did Ancient Greek have a rising intonation for questions?

Unlike English, Ancient (e.g. Attic) Greek does not reorder words to formulate a question. The particle "ἆρα" does modify a statement into a question, but is not always present. In that case, I ...
15
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3answers
2k views

Is there a relationship between Arabic ka'b and Greek kybos?

This is a complete layman's question. Online etymology dictionary says about kaaba: 1734, Caaba, cube-shaped building in the Great Mosque of Mecca, containing the Black Stone, the most sacred site ...
13
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1answer
1k views

Why was the name תאומא transliterated as Θωμᾶς (Thomas) rather than Τωμᾶς (Tomas)?

Thomas derives from Aramaic תאומא (cognate with the Hebrew תאום). My understanding was that Aramaic, like Tiberian Hebrew, had the fricative [θ] as a conditioned allophone for the plosive [t], and ...
13
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1answer
3k views

Why does Greek “ναι” mean “yes” while it comes from a PIE root meaning “no”?

According to Wiktionary, the Greek word ναι comes from Ancient Greek ναί, which is a variation of νή, which comes from Proto-Indo-European ne, which means no. Why can a word have the opposite ...
12
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2answers
2k views

How did Greek loanwords with 'ae' come to be pronounced [i] in modern English?

There are a bunch of Greek loanwords in English that orthographically include the vowel sequence 'ae'. Examples include: aegis aether aeon The 'ae' vowel here is pronounced [i] in English, but at ...
10
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2answers
3k views

Why can “autarchy” be spelled with an “k” while other words not? [closed]

English has a set of words with "ch", coming — more or less directly — from the Greek language. They all have a /k/ sound. character charisma psychology choreography archive Just to name a few. All ...
10
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3answers
2k views

Descendants of Latin vs. Greek?

From Latin there descend half a dozen (or more) modern languages. Greek, by contrast, has simply changed over time but without branching into separate languages. Why the difference? Both were spoken ...
10
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2answers
4k views

Did Eureka lose its H?

Archimedes famously proclaimed Eureka, I have found it, but should the word itself proclaim I have lost my H? According to wiktionary and wikipedia, Eureka simply comes from the greek εὕρηκα, perfect ...
10
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3answers
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Why is “Aurora Borealis” from Greek, but “Aurora Australis” from Latin?

In astronomy we have the Aurora Australis in the south and the Aurora Borealis in the north. According to Wikipedia, auster is in fact the Latin equivalent of the Greek νότος, or southern wind. ...
10
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4answers
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How does the initial consonant in “Jupiter” and “Zeus” come from the “d” in PIE “*dyew-”?

Jupiter, is from Proto-Indo-European *dyew- (“sky”) (whence also Latin diēs). Cognate with Ancient Greek Ζεύς (Zeus), Hittite 𒅆𒍑 (sius), Sanskrit द्यु (dyú). The nominative Iuppiter comes from ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Why is Greek alphabet left-to-right?

The Greek alphabet and all of its child systems such as Roman, Cyrillic, and Gothic are conventionally left-to-right writting systems. But why is that, considering it comes from the Phoenician ...
9
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3answers
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Is دشمن (“enemy” in Persian) borrowed from δυσμενής (“hostile” in ancient Greek)?

A couple of years ago I encountered the world δυσμενής, meaning hostile, in an ancient Greek text I translated. If I recall correctly, this can be pronounced as "dusmenè". This always intrigued me, ...
9
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1answer
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Why did Greek never develop into other languages like Latin?

The Hellenization of the classical world is one of the biggest events in ancient history, similar to the conquests of Rome in later centuries. Greek rulers held Egypt, Mesopotamia, Turkey, even places ...
9
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2answers
813 views

Two questions about Sappho's name

The Greek poeter Ψάπφω/Ψάπφα beared an interesting name, probably not Greek. I have two questions, about the first and the last letter of her name : (1) what was the value of the initial Ψ ? This ...
9
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1answer
280 views

Quantitative metathesis in other languages than Ancient Greek?

The Attic-Ionic dialects of Ancient Greek underwent a sound change whereby, in a sequence of a long vowel followed by a short vowel, the quantities were switched: -V:V- became -VV:-, e.g. -e:o- > -eo:-...
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3answers
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Why are there words meaning both “breath” and “life/spirit” in so many languages?

In Ancient Greek, πνεῦμα (pneuma) can mean "breath" as in "a breath of air" (literal) or "divine breath of inspiration" (figurative); it can also mean "life", "spirit", and "vitality" as demonstrated ...
8
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3answers
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How many Latin words have Greek roots?

I was wondering how many Latin (both Classical and Medieval varieties) words have Greek roots. Is Greek the common root of most IE languages?
8
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2answers
317 views

Why are the scripts of Crete known as “Linear”?

Two famous, apparently related scripts now known as Linear A (which encoded an as-yet undeciphered language) and Linear B (used to write Greek) were discovered on the island of Crete. Why are these ...
8
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1answer
505 views

What is the approximate time of the loss of the intervocalic /s/ in Greek?

Teachers of Ancient Greek at my university have always been emphasising the importance of being aware of the loss of the intervocalic sigma in the language's history, because it helped to understand ...
8
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3answers
632 views

Why does word-initial upsilon always have a rough breathing?

How did a rough breathing develop before all words starting with an upsilon in Ancient Greek? This is a commonly noted fact about the distribution of these sounds (or rather spellings), but I’m having ...
8
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2answers
505 views

Feelings about formerly more civilized foreigners' words

Is there a name for the phenomenon described below, whereby even after centuries of development into erudite thinking, people feel that words that come from formerly more civilized foreigners are more ...
7
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2answers
213 views

Reverse-etymology resources

Are there any resources which, given a Latin or Greek word, reference modern English words derived from the word? I find it much easier to remember a root when I know a word derived from it. For a ...
7
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2answers
1k views

Are There Ancient Greek Words Descended From Sumerian?

Does the lexicon of Ancient Greek contain words believed to be of Sumerian origin? If so, can some estimate of their number be provided? Thanks
7
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5answers
283 views

Is the second “ρ” in “διάρροια” from “διά” + “ῥέω” due to an assimilation?

Or which phenomenon is causing this? Is there a known reason or rule behind this?
7
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4answers
572 views

Unaugmented contract imperfect in Ancient Greek?

Since unaugmented forms are ancient verbal forms (found by example in Homer), older than the augmented ones, and since vowels contraction is still a "work in progress" at homeric times and will be ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Why did English borrow more from Latin and Greek than, e.g., German did, in scientific and philosophical subjects?

Is there any known reason why the scholars of the time didn't think it easier to use calques, as for instance the Germans did for the names of some of the basic chemical elements?
7
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2answers
145 views

When did the concept of constituent movement arise?

As far back as the mid 1700s, William Ward considered the following phrase in An Essay on Grammar applied to the English Language. the flowers which a lady sitting on the seat in a garden views with ...
7
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1answer
385 views

How do we know that Ancient Greek didn't have ejectives?

Ancient Greek had a three way contrast between voiced, unvoiced, and aspirated stops. It seems to be assumed that the unvoiced stops were pulmonic, but how do we know this? A fact that may or may not ...
7
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3answers
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Why do Spanish and Greek have such a similar phonology?

Is it just a matter of coincidence or did the two language influence each other in some way?
6
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3answers
2k views

Why is “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” transliterated with a Chi in Matthew and Mark?

In Matthew 27:46 (Mark 15:34), Jesus says "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani (σαβαχθανί)", which is translated "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?". Why is this supposedly Aramaic word ...
6
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2answers
530 views

Are there any proposals for a spelling reform of Modern Greek?

The orthography of Modern Greek is to a great extent historical and, therefore, complicated. There are multiple spelling variations for the [i], [e] and [o] sounds, and awkward digraphs to represent ...
6
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2answers
727 views

Was there a Greek or Latin name spelled “Jesus” or similarly before the advent of Christianity?

Many of the originally Barbarian names in history were Christianized. Many Christian saints with Slavic/Germanic names were given similar-sounding Greek and Latin names. In this way "Kuzma" (...
6
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2answers
628 views

Sources for etymologies of Ancient Greek proper names and placenames?

There are good etymological dictionaries for Ancient Greek: if you're searching for the origin of a word, you'll probably find information in Frisk, Chantraine, or Beekes. But if you're looking for ...
6
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2answers
468 views

The accentual (Tone) system of Ancient Greek

This question is presented with the help of the sources from Wikipedia. The Greek diacritics were introduced by Aristophanes of Byzantium, which became standard in the Middle Ages. My question is: ...
6
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1answer
345 views

Can a syllable be open before a lenghtened consonant?

This thread (related to this problem) can be split into two questions, the first one being restricted to Ancient Greek, the second one being more general. (1) Let's be, by example, two syllables, the ...
6
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2answers
622 views

geminate or long consonants in Ancient Greek?

I can't decide whether Ancient Greek had "geminate" or "long" consonants. In other words did γλῶττα stand for [glˈɔːt̪.t̪a] or for [glˈɔː.t̪ːa] ? The difference between geminate and long consonants is ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Pronunciation of P in Latin, versus Ph in Greek

In Latin, it seems some sounds that are pronounced like an "F" in Greek, are pronounced like a "P", why is this? For example, we have the Greek word Phoenicians, and this word ...
5
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2answers
195 views

How do we get from Greek τρόπος to French trouver?

The French verb trouver (to find/think) can trace its ancestry back to the Greek word τρόπος, which means a turn, manner, style, or figure of speech. Is there any logic to this seemingly disconnected ...
5
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1answer
259 views

Which came first in Greek: λήθη, or Λήθη the proper noun?

i.e. λήθη: a noun meaning oblivion or concealment, and Λήθη: a proper noun referring to a river in Greek myth. My question is this: is this noun a reference to the mythological river, or was the name ...
5
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3answers
430 views

Meaning of suffix -tai in Greek

In Ptolemy's Geography, two people are mentioned by the name of Thamyditai (6.7.4, pg 402 of this book) and Oaditae (6.7.21, pg 406 of this book) Here's the scanned mention of Thamyditai Here's the ...
5
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2answers
437 views

Why does Greek have 'aorgesia' and 'aorist' rather than 'anorgesia' and 'anorist'?

The Ancient Greek words ἀοργησία aorgesia "a defect in the passion of anger" and ἀόριστος aoristos "without boundaries" both start with the "alpha privatum," the negative prefix cognate to English un- ...
5
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3answers
379 views

Etymology of Ancient Greek interrogative particle ἆρα

The Ancient Greek interrogative ἆρα is strikingly similar to modern Persian āyā. Both words exclusively signal yes/no questions, and almost always begin the sentence. There is an accent on the first ...
5
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1answer
610 views

How are dead languages reconstructed?

I'm really interested in Biblical studies, so I've often wondered this about the languages in the Bible. Namely, Greek (Koine), Hebrew, and Aramaic. I've tried looking into it, but I've never really ...
5
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3answers
307 views

Did the Greek adverb for “late” evolve into a preposition meaning “after”?

The Greek work opse meant late in Homer. By the time of Philostratus (3rd c. A.D.) it sometimes had the meaning of too late. Of course, if someone arrives too late for an event, they arrive "after" ...
5
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2answers
149 views

Why do some languages distinguish between “identical” and “indistinguishable”, and others don't?

In some languages, there's a very prevalent distinction between different meanings of the English word "same" as in "These two items are the same". For example German: dasselbe / das gleiche Greek: ...