Translation - Μετάφραση

Translation Assistance => Other language pairs => Ancient Greek->English translation forum => Topic started by: bob144 on 29 May, 2006, 23:48:24

Title: λόγος → word, speech, discourse, reason
Post by: bob144 on 29 May, 2006, 23:48:24
Is there an older Greek definition translation of Logos, someone told me that logos also meant the thought and intent behind the written spoken "word" and that the spoken or written part that we refer to in Englilsh as "word" is only a fraction of what is implied and that there actually  is no English equivalent
In the beginning was the Logos
Title: Re: Logo English equivalent
Post by: banned8 on 29 May, 2006, 23:55:35
Here is the entry of the Oxofrd English Dictionary for Logos:

[Gr. λόγος| word, speech, discourse, reason, f. λέγειν to say.]
   A term used by Greek (esp. Hellenistic and Neo-Platonist) philosophers in certain metaphysical and theological applications developed from one or both of its ordinary senses ‘reason’ and ‘word’; also adopted in three passages of the Johannine writings of the N.T. (where the English versions render it by ‘Word’) as a designation of Jesus Christ; hence employed by Christian theologians, esp. those who were versed in Greek philosophy, as a title of the Second Person of the Trinity. By mod. writers the Gr. word is used untranslated in historical expositions of ancient philosophical speculation, and in discussions of the doctrine of the Trinity in its philosophical aspects.
1587 Golding De Mornay v. 52 We cal him Logos, which some translate word or Speech, and othersom Reason...

You'll find a more extensive treatment in the Wikipedia (
Title: Re: Logo English equivalent
Post by: billberg23 on 30 May, 2006, 00:16:21
Bob, you might also want to take into account that logos goes back to an Indoeuropean root "leg-," which has to do with selection, with picking and choosing.  Indoeuropean was probably an early trade language, and the words that had to do with trading or exchanging were the most important.  The root of logos may have meant something like a "deal."  In earliest Greek, logos may have referred to "the way things are laid out" on the table for final exchange.  Heraclitus (6th cent. BC) used logos to designate the universal "deal" -- the exchange of fire for everything else, its kindling and extinguishing, the incessant process that constitutes reality, a never-ending system of change and exchange.  So for him logos was a principle, a rationale, a complete system.  But it was also his system, his "word."  
In later Greek, logos (in the sense of "dictum") becomes more and more specialized in the two directions that Nickel outlines, including the spoken word, or dictate. And it never lost the meaning of "rationale," or "reason," as well.  This latter meaning it preserves in Greek even today.
Hope this is food for thought.  Good luck -- Bill
Title: Re: Logos → word, speech, discourse, reason
Post by: banned8 on 30 May, 2006, 00:45:35
It is probably a good idea to mention the range of current meanings of λόγος (good point, Billberg):

1. spoken word(s)
2. language, speech (as in "the spoken language", "parts of speech")
3. speech, address (as in "he made a speech")
4. discourse (e.g. the post-modernist discourse)
5. rumour, talk
6. advice
7. promise, word
8. excuse, justification
9. cause, reason
10. ratio, proportion
11. Logos, the Word
12. reason (as in "pure reason")

And these are not all! Quite a headache, isn't it?