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Indo-European languages

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] A. General, definition Since the beginning of the 19th cent. primarily outside the German language area (cf. French langues indo-européennes but German Indogermanische Sprachen) the common term for a group of related languages which in antiquity and in the Middle Ages stretched in a line running from the southeast to the northwest from India to Europe. This area of distribution gave its name to a family of ancient and recently attested, as well as extinct and still living languages. The Indo-European l…


(188 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] (πολυσύνδετον/ polysýndeton, 'bound together many times'). Repetition of a coordinating copulative or disjunctive conjunction (cf. Quint. Inst. 9,3,50: “schema, quod coniunctionibus abundat: ... hoc πολυσύνδετον dicitur”; also Rutilius Lupus 1,14: “ hoc schema efficitur, cum sententiae multorum articulorum convenienti copula continentur)”. This stylistic figure of speech concerns the co-ordination of single words or syntactical units (groups of words, clauses, sentences) and emphasises the weight of individual elements.…

Style, stylistic figures

(697 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] I. General definition Style (from Lat. stilus, 'stilt' > 'stylus' > 'writing style'; Gk. λέξις/ léxis) refers to the individual manner in which a person expresses himself orally or in writing. Its specific character is formed through the (more or less intentional) use of shaping elements such as stylistic figures during the process of turning thought concepts into language with the conscious or subconscious purpose of achieving certain situational effects. According to the Greek theory of rhetor…

Linear B

(1,104 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] A. Basics The Linear B script, deciphered in 1952 by M. Ventris and J. Chadwick, renders the earliest known Greek dialect, Mycenaean. As in the case of the older Linear A, the character signs of this writing system consist of lines ( Greece, writing systems). Plath, Robert (Erlangen) [German version] B. Find spots The concentration in three regions (a) Crete (Knossos = KN [1; 2; 7], Khania = KH [5; 6; 7], Armenoi = AR, Mallia = MA, Mamelouko = MAM [7]), (b) Peloponnese with Argolid (Mycenae = MY [4; 7], Tiryns = TI [4; 7], Midea = M…

Behaghel's law

(188 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] Summarizing term for the five principles of word order and clause order established by O. Behaghel (1854-1936) [2]. The best known of the five is the so-called law of increasing parts ( Gesetz der wachsenden Glieder): it is based on the tendency -- already apparent in antiquity -- to go from shorter to longer constituents [1. 139; 2. 6], see Demetrius Phalereus, De elocutione 18: ἐν δὲ τοῖς συνθέτοις περιόδοις τὸ τελευταῖον κῶλον μακρότερον χρὴ εἶναι. Cic. De or. 3,48: quare aut paria esse debent posteriora superioribus et extrema primis aut, quod etiam es…


(336 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] The common technical term since Graeco-Roman times (Greek: παρένθεσις/ parénthesis, παρέμπτωσις/ parémptosis; Latin: interpositio, interclusio, 'insertion'; cf. Quint. Inst. 9,3,23) for a unit inserted into a sentence that remains structurally independent of the entire syntactic surroundings.  The parenthesis can consist of a single word, a group of words, an entire sentence, or compound sentence.  In modern usage, in contrast to ancient texts, the parenthesis is identified by punctuation marks…


(262 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] (from τμῆσις/ tmêsis, ‘the act of cutting, separation’). An ancient term for the phenomenon of breaking up compound word forms (primarily verbal forms) by inserting or rearranging its constituents: cf. Serv. Aen. 1,412 “Figura tmesis est, quae fit, cum secto uno sermone aliquid interponimus” (“Tmesis is the rhetorical device that is formed by splitting up an expression and putting something in between”). This notion, however, does not reflect the historical linguistic development si…


(186 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] (πρόληψις/ prólēpsis, 'anticipation'; Latin anticipatio or praeceptio). Originally a technical term of forensic oratory (Quint. Inst. 4,1,49) denoting an addressing and rebuttal of opposing arguments before they have actually been formulated, the prolepsis as a rhetorical figure of syntactic inversion designates the anticipation of a nominal sentence constituent. A distinction is drawn between adjectival and substantival prolepsis: In adjectival prolepsis, the adjective attaches to a su…

Hapax legomenon

(305 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] (ἅπαξ λεγόμενον; hápax legómenon, ‘said only once’, also referred to as ἅπαξ εἰρημένον/ hápax eirēménon): in the strictest sense, hapax legomenon is a technical term for a word that is attested in only one place within the entire textual corpus of a language (literature, inscriptions, i.a.). One must distinguish between the following: (a) actual creations of new expressions, that is, forms created poetically, esp. those supported through the metre, (b) words that only appear once due to the nature of the sources (mainly spec…

Greece, systems of writing

(568 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] The history of  writing shows that throughout the world there are fundamentally only three ways of transcribing the spoken word: pictograms, syllabic scripts and phonetic alphabets (in that order). All known scripts use either one of those techniques or a combination of them. Only the last of the three is suitable for an adequate representation of sound patterns. The consonantal script that was adopted mainly in the East constitutes a special form of phonetic script. In Hellas and the Aegean the oldest textual evidence comes from Crete [2]: the hieroglyp…

Indo-Aryan languages

(324 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] The Indo-Aryan languages (IL) comprise the majority of those  Indo-European languages that have been spoken on the Indian sub-continent since the immigration from the north-west in the 2nd millennium BC. Together with the  Iranian languages, they form the Indo-Iranian branch of this family of languages. Old Indo-Aryan (less precise: Old Indian) begins just before 1200 BC with Vedic and continues in Sanscrit [1. 16-48]. As an ancient and early-attested Indo-European language, it ha…


(838 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] Mycenaean is the term for the form of Greek occurring in Late Bronze Age ( c. 1420-1180 BC) texts written in Linear B. This syllabic script (Greece, systems of writing) is suited only to a limited extent to recording the forms of spoken words: thus the male name e-u-po-ro can be read as / Ehupōlos/Εὔπωλος, / Ehuporos/Εὔπορος, / Ehuphoros/ Εὔφορος or / Ehuphrōn/Εὔφρων. Hence the phonematic translation of Mycenaean syllabic sign sequences is based on often combinatorial consideration of later linguistic material from the 1st millennium BC and …

Apo koinou

(142 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] (σχῆμα ἀπὸ κοινοῦ ‘a figure created through what is common’, cf. Apoll. Dysk. syntax 122,14). Unlike the ancient [1; 3.5-9] imprecise understanding of this, still common today [2], as a generally one-off formation of an element common to two sentences (or clauses) ( Ellipse,  Zeugma), apo koinou is now understood to mean ‘the logical and grammatical-syntactic relationship between one sentence element and two others’ [3.12]. The element that is used several times usually stands between the affected units. Examples: εὕδει δ' ἀνὰ σκάπτῳ Διὸς αἰετός (Pind. Pyth. 1,…


(554 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen) | Wagner, Jörg (Tübingen)
[German version] [1] Figure of speech (ζεῦγμα/ zeûgma, 'connection', in this case an 'incongruous combination'). A rhetorical and stylistic phenomenon of word economy, considered to be one of the figures, a special form of ellipsis: two or more syntactically coordinated substantives are connected as objects or subjects by a verb whose manner of use essentially matches only one of them (cf. Quint. Inst. 9,3,62 est per detractionem figura ..., quae dicitur ἐπεζευγμένον/ epezeugménon, in qua unum ad verbum plures sententiae referuntur, quarum unaquaeque desideraret ill…


(210 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] (Greek ἔλλειψις; élleipsis: ‘omission’, Lat. ellı̄psis: Quint. Inst. 8,6,21, cf. 9,3,58); in contrast with brachylogy, it refers to the actual omission of a syntactically essential constituent of a sentence, which can, however, be restored verbatim (not merely in its meaning) from context and situation (cf. Donat. 4,395,11: e. est defectus quidam necessariae dictionis). Some examples from everyday language: Καλλίας ὁ Ἱππονίκου (sc. υἱός), Pl. Ap. 20a; ad Dianae (sc. fanum or aedem), Ter. Ad. 582. As an element of rhetorical style, ellipses serve to r…


(269 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] (< Latin labium ‘Lip’ and velum ‘sail’). Stop simultaneously articulated with lips and velum. The labio-velars kw gw gwh , along with the velars k g gh and the palatals ǵ ǵh form the group known as the gutturals and belong to the proto-Indo-European phoneme system, which is continued in all Indo-European languages, but does not remain unchanged in any of them. Originally, the labio-velars were retained in the centum languages. In Greek they are preserved as such in the Mycenaean of the 2nd millennium BC an…


(519 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] Sixth letter of the Greek alphabet representing the sound value /u̯/at the beginning of a syllable (bilabial pronunciation as in water). The name digamma (‘double gamma’, i.e. ‘one gamma above another ’, cf. ὥσπερ γάμμα διτταῖς ἐπὶ μίαν ὀρθὴν ἐπιζευγνύμενον ταῖς πλαγίοις, Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 1,20,3) refers to the appearance of the letter  and unlike other letter names was coined by the Greeks themselves. The model for the digamma was the consonant wāw /u̯/ of Phoenician [3]. The digamma stands for …


(147 words)

Author(s): Plath, Robert (Erlangen)
[German version] (ἀσύνδετον). ‘Unconnected’, cf. Aristot. Interpr. 17a 17 or Rh. 1413b 29; Latin correspondences: dissolutio (Quint. Inst. 9,3,50) or solutum (Aquila Rhet. 41). Conjunctionless stringing together of at least two coordinated syntactic constructions (individual words, groups of words, parts of a sentence or sentences) that are related to each other from the point of view of content and logic. Accordingly, differentiation is made between the word and the sentence asyndeton anthithesis:  polysyndeton. F…