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Σεισμός, λιμός , λοιμός και καταποντισμός (Earthquake, famine, plague and sinking)

January 25, 2010

When two words have the same sound , in Greek we call them ομόηχες .. (ομός, όμοιος > the same or the similar , ήχος > sound). So λιμός and λοιμός are two words ομόηχες , but with a different meaning. Of course all iσ in Greek have the same pronunciation (ita, iota , ypsilon , epsiloniota, omikroniota and ypsiloniota> η, ι, υ , ει, οι, υι), unless there is a punctuation, which makes the things more  complicated.But there is not such a thing like an easy language. Even those which were created to have a simple structure are getting complex in the course of their evolution.

So let us check the meaning of each word of the title. Firstly λιμός:

μεγάλη πείνα που οφείλεται σε παρατεταμένη έλλειψη τροφής. (λεξικό Κριαρά) > Great famine due to prolonged lack of food. ( we can produce also the adjective λιμασμένος , meaning the person starving to death).

On the other hand λοιμός, known in Greek also as πανούκλα :

κάθε επιδημική, μολυσματική και θανατηφόρα νόσος (λεξικό Κριαρά) > Each epidemic, infectious and fatal disease

So we have already two disasters in the same phrase and it seems to continue …Σεισμός is the earthquake, a noun that derives from the ancient Greek verb σείω-σείομαι (moving back and forth).

Think the combination of the disasters above ( if you hungry, ill and  an earthquake under your feet) ..Is there any worst?

Actually , for Greek there is…if you just add another catastrophe. Καταποντισμός….What the hell does it mean?

Καταποντίζω means sink something completely , so that it will reach the bottom of the sea.

If you think that it is not the worst thing that may happen   and  following the Murphy’s law you can propose something worst than that, please just leave a comment below.  Tell us  which is your stronger combination of disasters …

Best regards , Glaucous

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2010 6:27 am

    Just F.Y.I., ομόηχες in English are homophones, which is of course also from Greek.

    • January 26, 2010 9:08 pm

      Welcome Laura and thank you for the tip..The prefix ομο- seems to get transliterated to homo- in English and other European languages ….
      Though Ομόφωνος in Greek refers to the person who is consent with an opinion. We say par example

      Η απόφαση αυτή πάρθηκε με ομοφωνία

      ….which means that the decision is taken with unanimity (same voice means same opinion, because one should express his opinion loudly). I can not guess why it is transliterated in English as homophony instead of homosound or homosony….or something like that ….

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