GREEK WORDLE AND TZETZES.

Nick (aka opoudjis) over at Illinistefkondos took such a long break from posting I stopped visiting, and now when I finally get around to checking in I find all manner of goodies, which we can divide into two categories:
1) Wordle applied to the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. His first post eliminates more and more stop words from the word cloud until you get a readable cluster (most common remaining word: θεός [theós] ‘god’). At the end he says “What’d be useful is to split up the corpus, say BC and AD, and see how they differ,” and this is what he does in his next post; here‘s the word cloud for BC texts, and here‘s the one for AD texts, which (as you will immediately notice) talk about God a lot more. After showing the clouds he gives fascinating breakdowns by proper nouns, common nominals (including adjectives), verbs, and so on. I eat up sentences like “Language change accounts for βαστάζω and ἀνέρχομαι replacing φέρω and ἄνειμι, and I assume καταδικάζω for ‘condemn’ replaced what came to look like more generic verbs, in καθαιρέω or καταγιγνώσκω.”
2) He delights me with a couple of posts featuring my man Tzetzes. (I really enjoyed writing that post, and was glad he found it.) This one mainly discusses other matters (including country matters, as represented by the etymology of the common, not to say vulgar, Greek noun μουνί), but it finishes up with an excursus on “The curious editorial fate of Tzetzes’ Theogony.” This is followed up by his latest post, which quotes the Kazhdan translation of the multilingual Tzetzes appendix from my post and annotates it to a fare-thee-well, even unto providing the reconstructed Proto-Ossetic for what Tzetzes calls the language of the Alans. (It turns out that Tzetzes’ “Scythian” is Cuman and his “Persian” Turkish.) Wonderful work, and don’t go away for so long next time, Nick!

Comments

  1. Trond Engen says:

    such a long break from posting I stopped visiting
    Thanks, me too. I’m on my way over.
    (He might consider opening the comments to the blogless, though.)

  2. John Emerson says:

    On your old Tztetzes post: Tzetzes’ polyglot passage is reminiscent of something by Rabelais and another thing by John Skelton. Rabelais faked it on one or two languages, and Skelton more than that; Skelton resented the humanists and was hoisting them with their own petard, or trying to.
    Classical, Byzantine, and medieval ethnonyms for steppe peoples were often geographic and generic. “Scythian”, “Hun”, and “Turk” were interchanged pretty freely, especially of course by classicizers. This doesn’t really mean that they were unaware of differences, just that they used a generic in certain contexts, the way an Arab might call someone a Frank in certain contexts even though he knew better, or the way a Latin American might call an American Southerner a Yankee. (Rashid al-din speaks of Mongols as a kind of Turk.

  3. opening the comments to the blogless
    That’s probably my cue to mention how easy it is to get a free WordPress blog (no, they don’t pay me).

  4. Thanks for the linklove! Not to second guess your selection of links, but the more interesting Wordle, thanks to a suggestion from Helma Dik, is the Log-Likelihood metric of how the vocabulary has changed between the two periods, rather than trying to squint at the relative sizes of the words. As you can see, more God, but a *lot* more Christ. And curiously, less geometry, less inferencing (and more explication); and a lot less antithesis.
    I’m making a rod for my back, but ok, opening comments to anon. It’s not like the Chinese spammers haven’t already found me. I reserve the right to change my mind, though…
    And yes, WordPress is better—I use it for my day job blog. I’m sticking with blogspot out of a desire for persistence in my URLs, and because I can customise the templates…

  5. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. All I need now is some meaningful comment to make. But I didn’t mean to ask for a right to be anonymous. I’d be perfectly happy with “name + working e-mail”.
    (It didn’t strike me until now, but I probably could use the URL to my (ridiculously pretentious) Amazon wishlist, or to my (almost empty) Wikipedia user profile.)
    And Nijma’s advice was meant for me. But the reason I’m reluctant is not that it’s too difficult to get a blog but that it’s too easy to lose a life!

  6. Trond; Ok, understood. The URL is an arbitrary anchor, as you rightly point out.
    You’re right about losing your life. (Why do you think I took a couple of months off?) I fumed at the quote :
    “Writing a regular personal blog is hard work, especially if you want to keep it interesting enough for other people to keep reading [...] Suddenly something you do for fun is starting to look suspiciously like work”
    from… a (newspaper) blog (on Young People Today switching to Facebook); but it’s true enough.

  7. marie-lucie says:

    the blogless
    Pretty soon “the blogless” will be like “the great unwashed”.

  8. Yes, I was needling Trond. I didn’t really think he would want to start a blog. So far AJP in Norway, Siganus in Mauritius, and Paul in France have started blogs that are much more interesting – and more language-oriented – than mine, after I mentioned the possibility to them. People who want to start blogs know who they are. Sometimes all they need is someone to tell them it can be done. Yes, it can be time-consuming, but it can also be an interesting experience.

  9. I can’t help it if goats talk a lot, Nij.

  10. It’s a good thing they do. There are so few blogs I want to read these days, the best way of finding one is to get someone else to start it.

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