My last question received a comment from Joonas Ilmavirta that just made me think about a fantastical, if in any way true, possibility:

I would add that Greek tends to favor compound words far more than Latin, so it is not surprising that an idiomatic Latin expression takes up several words.

It is perhaps no coincidence that German, like Ancient Greek, having this linguistic feature in common, the ability of making complex words representing complex ideas and concepts out of "simpler" and "more [lexically] elemental" words, have both produced unparalleled philosophies in notional sophistication.

I am obviously not asking whether or not this feature of their vocabulary has had a role in the abundance of philosophically intricate texts written in these languages; I am rather asking whether or not this apparent coincidence has ever been studied from a linguistic perspective, confirming or altogether refuting any link between this particular feature of both Ancient Greek and German and the philosophy produced in them.

  • 1
    Compounds are very abundant in Sanskrit, and also in Persian. – fdb Jul 15 '17 at 9:00
  • 1
    What you're talking about is compounding, not agglutination (which is a type of inflectional strategy; IE languages aren't particularly agglutinating). – TKR Jul 15 '17 at 19:48
  • 2
    I doubt there's a significant connection, because Greek philosophical terminology isn't actually very compounding. The common philosophical terms I can think of aren't compounds (nous, noumenon, phainomenon, telos, arete, nomos, physis) or at best are compounds formed with a prefix, which is something that Latin and other IE languages do equally commonly (entelecheia, episteme, anamnesis, hypokeimenon). – TKR Jul 17 '17 at 23:42
  • I would suggest this might fit better on linguistics.stackexchange.com because it invites comparison with other languages. – Draconis Jul 19 '17 at 21:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.