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Popular etymology

(357 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] (also called 'folk etymology'), from the German 'Volksetymologie', a term coined in the mid-19th cent. (probably first in [1]) to refer to the conscious or unconscious interpretation of words and their subsequent modification by native speakers as a result of that interpretation (making them more similar to words presumed to be related). Many examples of words modified through PE are found in the vocabulary of the classical languages. It is generally believed that the vowels contained in the Greek κλόνις/ klónis ('tailbone'), which deviate from the Old Indo-…


(449 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] The basis of the system of numerals ( numeralia) in Indo-European languages is formed by the cardinalia (‘cardinal numbers’, e.g. Latin septem), to which correspond the derived forms of the ordinalia (‘ordinal numbers’, e.g. septimus) and multiplicatives (‘numeral adverbs’, e.g. septiēs). As elementary components of basic vocabulary, the lower cardinals are particularly resistant to replacement by borrowing or neologism and are therefore suited for proof of linguistic affinity. The first four Indo-European cardinal numb…


(184 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] Umbrella term for irregularities within a linguistic system. Anomalies within morphology (declension system) often arise through sound shifts; they tend to be removed by  analogy [2]. Thus the Greek-Homeric form Ζῆν, for instance, which as the acc. sing. of Ζεύς  diēus, which goes back to the proto-Indo-Germanic basic language through the effect of the so-called ‘Stang's’ law, could be ‘regularized’ in various ways to produce the form diēm: through ‘paradigmatic equilibrium’ according to the gen./dat. sing., Διός/Διί, the form Διά arose, throug…

Language contact

(566 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] Language contact (LC) occurs when two or more languages, usually geographical neighbours, collide through the mixing of the respective speaker communities, making communication across the language boundaries necessary or possible. A typical phenomenon of intensive LC is bilingualism, in which individual speakers have sufficient mastery of two (or more) languages and use them alternately ( Multilingualism), not to be confused with diglossia which refers to the change between diff…

Language change

(756 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] I. General A universal tendency of human language is perpetual change on all levels caused by external factors (e.g. Language contact) as well as internal ones (e.g. anomalies). Language change (LC) over a long period of time in any given language will first lead to dialectal diversification ( Language strata), then, esp. in cases of geographical separation, may result in a division into related yet independent languages. It is therefore reasonable to assume that not only languag…

Linguistic affinity

(492 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] The realization that various languages are genealogically related originated in antiquity. The works of Greek grammarians already show that Latin was not only known to them as a language different from their own but that they also reflected upon the mutual relationship of the two. In fact, the conclusion of Philoxenus [8] - that Latin was descended ‘from the Aeolic dialect of Greek because neither possessed a dual’ (Philoxenus in Hdn., GG 3,2, p. 791, l. 28-30) - was somewhat ak…


(852 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] A linguistic term for words which have been borrowed from one language by another (‘borrowing’) one. The term overlaps with that of a general foreign word, with the differentiation usually made being that a loanword shows extensive adaptation to the system of the borrowing language, which normally goes hand in hand with long-term usage. The existence of loanwords presupposes a certain degree of linguistic contact between the source and the borrowing language. The process may be t…


(226 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] Numerical category, which in contrast to the sg. (singular) and pl. (plural) denotes a (conjugate or accidental) duality. While the dual was used extensively in the Indo-European parent language throughout the whole inflection system for nouns and verbs, in most individual Indo-European languages it survives only in a more rudimentary form. The most extensive dual-system is preserved in Indo-Iranian, whereas in Latin, for example, the only vestiges of dual inflection are to be found in duo < duō ‘two’ and ambō ‘both’ (dat.-abl. duōbus, ambōbus). Dual forms occur …


(1,075 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] Blanket term for all types of differences between forms corresponding to a given stem (lemma). Inflection comprises declension of noun forms (substantive, adjective, and pronoun) and conjugation of verb forms. In the case of inflection various methods come to light that can be classified roughly as affixal and inflectional methods proper. In the Indo-European languages of antiquity, as well as in the modern age, both are represented equally. Affixal methods comprise prefixes (elements placed before), suffixes (elements placed after) and infixes (i…


(682 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
σύνταξις/ sýntaxis in Apollonius [11], Latin constructio in Priscian; it deals with the sentence as the basic form of meaningful utterances, and with its structure and constituents. [German version] I. Foundations Syntactic analysis is based on the differentiation between the parts of speech and their use as sentence elements or constituents, already developed by the ancient grammarians (μέρη τοῦ λόγου/ mérē toû lógou, Lat. partes orationis 'parts of speech': e.g. ὄνομα/ ónoma, Lat. vocabulum 'noun'; ῥῆμα/ rhêma, Lat. verbum 'verb'; in their use as sentence constituents: …


(1,091 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] The term designates the primary medium of human communication and the ability to communicate by means of it, as well as the specific occurrences of this medium of communication as adopted by individual speech communities (i.e. individual languages). In the former definition, language was already an object of scientific consideration ( Linguistic theory) in antiquity, Plato's dialogue ‘Cratylus’ being its most prominent product. Plato discusses, among other things, the question, if ‘names’ originated θέσει/ thései (i.e. ‘by fixation’ or ‘agreement’ of th…

Thematic vowel

(198 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] Vocalic element used (alone or in combination with preceding sounds) to form word stems (Greek θέμα/ théma). In Indo-European languages, TVs typically appear as e and o; they are characteristic of both nominal stems (e.g. the accusative singular Latin agrum, Greek ἀγρόν/ agrón, Sanskrit ájram, from the underlying stem * h2aǵ-r=o- ‘field’, known as the o-declension) and verbal stems (e.g. the present stem * h2aǵ-e/o- underlying Latin agite/agunt, Greek ἄγετε/ἄγουσι(ν) ( ágete/ ágousi(n)), Sanskrit ajata/ajanti ‘drive (imperative plural)’/‘they drive’). O…

Language strata

(763 words)

Author(s): Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main) | Binder, Vera (Gießen)
[German version] I. Overview From a synchronic point of view, ‘language strata’ (LS) represents a cover term for the different forms that a given language takes in its use by individual speakers (idiolect), by speaker groups defined by their social position (sociolect) or by geographically determined speaker communities ( Dialect); from a diachronic point of view, LS refers to the various historical strata of a given language that can be identified on the lexical (inherited and loan vocabulary), grammatical (syntactic or morphological) and phonological levels. The existence of L…


(1,979 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Richard L. (Ilmmünster) | Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
I. In the context of religious studies [German version] A. General remarks In a religious context, syncretism can be defined as the process of either a peaceable or a contentious mutual permeation of elements taken from two or more traditions [1]. Here 'tradition' is inevitably an ambiguous concept; in considering Antiquity, scholars traditionally distinguish between 'internal syncretism' and 'contact-based syncretism'. 'Internal syncretism' refers to the transfer of manifestations, names and epithets from one deity to another within a single polytheisti…


(895 words)

Author(s): Crubellier, Michel (Villeneuve d'Ascq) | Gippert, Jost (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] [1] Philosophical Ἀναλογία, ἀνὰ λόγον ( Analogía, anà lógon) designate originally the mathematical proportion, i.e., the correspondence of numerical or volume relationships (definition: Euc. 5, Def. 5 and 6; 7, Def. 20; Aristot. Eth. Nic. 5,6; 1131 a 6-b9 Poet. 21,11-14; 1457 b 16-30). The teachings about proportions were used in the first instance as a tool to solve problems; it soon developed, however, into a general theoretical construction, which Euclid presented in the fifth book of …