Friday, July 25, 2014

Developing the Neo-Koine vocabulary

One of the great challenges for anyone wanting to speak some 'contemporary' Ancient Greek is that often there are simply not good vocabulary resources available. That is beginning to change, but slowly.

The past week I've been working on a little something that will help this along. Over at this site there is a 625 word list of common words. It's English based, but what we need in this case is a common word list of spoken language, and so this is as good as anything. We can acquire a good reading vocabulary through reading, but a speaking vocabulary needs words for everyday things.

I took that list and have been creating my own multi-lingual version of it, and the version we are interested in today is Ancient Greek. Here's the section on 'locations':

Greek English
πόλις, έως, ἡ city
οἰκία, ας, ἡ house
κατοικία, ας, ἡ apartment
ὁδος, ου, ἡ street
ὁδος, ου, ἡ road
ὁ τοῦ ἀέρος λιμήν airport
σταθμός, οῦ, ὁ train station
γέφυρα, ας, ἡ bridge
πανδοκεῖον, ου, τό hotel
καπηλεῖον, ου, τό restaurant
ἀγρός, οῦ, ὁ farm
δικαστήριον, ου, τό court
διδασκαλεῖον, ου, τό school
ἐργαστήριον, ου, τό office
οἴκημα, ατος, τό room
πόλις, έως, ἡ town
πανεπιστήμιον, ου, τό university
χορειοθηκή, ῆς, ἡ nightclub
καπηλεῖον, ου, τό bar
κῆπος, ου, ὁ park
σκηναί, ῶν, αἱ camp
πωλητήριον, ου, τό store/shop
θέατρον, ου, τό theater
βιβλιοθήκη, ης, ἡ library
νοσοκομεῖον, ου, τό hospital
ἐκκλησία, ας, ἡ church
ἀγορά, ᾶς, ἡ market
χώρα, ας, ἡ country
οἰκοδόμημα, ατος, τό building
ἔδαφος, ου, τό ground
οὐρανός, οῦ, ὁ space
οὖδας, οὔδεος, τό floor
τράπεζα, ας, ἡ bank
τόπος, ου, ὁ location

There are three types of words here. Some are indeed classical/Koine words already attested. Others are retro-engineered terms, which I derive by taking Modern Greek and working backwords. πανεπιστήμιον is one of those, though I suspect a better word might be found for "university". Thirdly there are terms that are neologisms of my own construction, for example χορειοθηκή is made up from χορειος - relating to dance, and θήκη - a case, but already used in βιβλιοθήκη, and related to latin thēca so not a big leap to χορειοθήκη.


James Tauber said...

any reason not to go with just ἀερολιμήν for airport?

bedwere said...

What I would like to have is a Greek version of this dictionary:

In the first part, Latin names are given corresponding images of concepts and things. In the second,
for each Latin name the translation is provided in 5 modern languages.
Then there are 5 more indices for each word in a modern language give the Latin version.

bedwere said...

Check also this list by

by Joan Coderch

James Tauber said...

I'm also wondering if Andrew Wilson's translation of Harry Potter would give helpful ideas for some of these.

bedwere said...

Here is the lexicon for Andrew Wilson's translation:

Seumas Macdonald said...

@ James

I'll think about ἀερολιμήν!

My copy of the Greek HP is about 10,000km away at present, but I'll look up the lexicon.

@ bedwere

I think I have the Vox Latina volume, but possibly also on another continent.

There are a few good Neo-Latin resources, sometimes I retro-engineer Greek terms from Latin ones.

James - I think I'd like to open up my own work on some platform, but not quite sure what would be best.

Thanks for the interest and speedy responses!