Does modern Greek still have Latin prefixes and suffixes?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-31 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

Evangelos Lolos’ answer to Does modern Greek still have Latin prefixes and suffixes? gives the prominent Latin affixes of Modern Greek.

No, I’m not going to cite them here. You’re going to have to go over there and upvote him yourself.

The suffixes Evangelos quotes are vernacular; they aren’t part of the whole apparatus of scholarly Latinate terminology.

Greek has had a very, very long history of calquing Latin terms with Greek affixes and stems. In fact, Greek even translates Linnaean binomens (or it used to; I’m pretty sure they’ve given up now). Then again, a whole lot of Classical Latin terms were calqued from Greek anyway.

So there is no precedent, or appetite, for using Latin prefixes or suffixes in Greek. Hybrid terms like automobile or television end up rendered as Greek only terms: autokinēton, tēleorasis. Modern coinages get calqued: amphiphylophilos (‘both gender loving’) for bisexual, metapoikiakos for post-colonial, diapanepistēmiakos for inter-university. The international Latin scientific vocabulary was never going to be a match for Greek cultural pride.

It’s only very, very recently that Greeks have stopped calquing; hence transexoual is much more common than diemphylikos ‘across-in-gender’. (There’s a nice subtlety in em-phylos ‘in-gender’ being a gender you were born with—the analogy is with innate; so that diaphylikos ‘across-gender’ is reserved for ‘intersex’.) But, as Christina-Antoinette Neofotistou, the trans woman involved in the coinages herself conceded, the Greek coinages don’t have the positive connotations that the English loans do, and she’s ended up just saying trans or transdzender and intersex, and dismissing the Greek coinages as pedantic.

I’ll admit to wincing when I saw her write, a bit further down, transfovia. That’s the kind of hybrid word Greek was never ever ever supposed to accept. But like I said: things have changed. At least (thank God) she said ousiokratia instead of esentsialismos.

Yes, of course we calqued essentialism.

See also: A cis lament for the Greek language by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile

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