I always kind of liked the obscure term hendiadys (hen-DYE-a-dis: two words linked by a conjunction to express a single complex idea), because the name is from a Greek phrase ἓν διὰ δυοῖν [hen diá duoín] ‘one through two’; what I didn’t realize, until I saw it at Memiyawanzi, is that the Germans borrowed the phrase just as it was, creating the magnificent word Hendiadyoin. It’s actually a good thing we didn’t do that in English, because I have no idea how we’d pronounce it, but I’m glad it exists.


  1. I knew the German word, but not exactly what it means (just like Anakoluth etc etc). I would have stressed the -dy, but my CD Duden says it’s Hendiady’oin. It also gives the “less frequent” form Hendiadys, but omits the stress mark. Great.
    Duden doesn’t say anything about Hendiadyoin expressing a “complex” idea. It gives only: 1) conjunction of two words in order to heighten the expressive force: “bitten and flehen” [request and plead], and 2) replacement of an adjective by a sequentializing combination using “und“, a device popular in antiquity, e.g. die Masse und die hohen Berge [the mass and the high mountains] for die Masse der hohen Berge [the mass of high mountains].
    Another departure from the notion of a “complex” idea is described at your hendiadys link:

    Hendiadys in the Bible is attested by many references, although not every case of two nouns linked by a conjunction is hendiadys. For example, Mark 2, 25 has “in need and hungry” which Richard Young considers hendiadys for “very hungry” but Wayne Leman suggests is instead an example of “semantic intensification due to Hebraic synonymous parallelism.”

    A convincing example of complexification is the “true example” there:

    Fowler says that try and … for try to … is a “true example” of hendiadys.

    Memiyawanzi sez: Hendiadyoin “once again demonstrates the 19th century German philologists were awesome and utilized cooler terminology than the Anglo-Romance Latinate tradition”. But is it real and true, this claim that Anglophone philologists were neglectful of G(r)eeky terminology ?

  2. Grumbly: German classicists, at least from the early 19th century, tended to favor direct transliteration (or Germanization) of Greek names and terms over latinization.
    Anglophone philology has moved a bit more in that direction too, but a word like hendiadyoin, which preserves the Greek dual number inflection, still looks pretty exotic to one trained in that tradition.

  3. Sorry, it should be capitalized in German, of course.

  4. Whoa, I got a shoutout from Mr. Hat. Awesome.
    @Stu: Yeah, I don’t mean to disparage Anglophone philology (they weren’t after all totally neglectful, we do have, as you say, anacoluthon/ἀνακόλουθον after all…), but as Alan points out, the really awesome thing is the direct borrowing out of the Greek preserving the dual gen.-dat. ending on the numeral δυώ (δυοῖν), as opposed to Hendiadys which comes to English through the Latin intermediary in turn then from Greek, losing the original inflection along the way.
    Blame my neogrammarian worship for that statement.

  5. The Wikipedia doesn’t make it clear enough that it isn’t just a “Latinized form of the Greek phrase,” but a Latin invention using a Greek phrase. Not that you can’t have hendiadys in Greek, but the Greek grammarians and scholiasts didn’t use the term.
    Various ways of rendering it in Servius occurred in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In English, Puttenham had endiadis.

  6. Nightstallion says

    FYI, in German we stress it as
    instead of the original Greek; at least, that’s the way we pronounced it in the Ancient Greek classes I had at school.

  7. Bill Walderman says

    The Latinized transcription that used to be more common in English would produce hendiadyoen, wouldn’t it? And that would probably be pronounced hen-dye-a-DYE-een, with stress on the penult according to the Latin rule for stress.

  8. I suppose it would, but it would be impossible for the uninitiated to even begin to deal with a cluster like -yoe-. English doesn’t need any more secret-handshake words.

  9. English doesn’t need any more secret-handshake words
    As long as the humankind exists, they will be constant need for new secret-handshake words for each emerging group of the initiated ones. True, in today’s English, these new verbal handshakes tend to take shape of TLAs (a.k.a. three-letter acronyms) but I’m sure the TLAzation is either just a fleeting fad, or we’ll stop recognizing them as “non-words” very soon. Is LOL a word LOL?

  10. Nightstallion: FYI, in German we stress it as hendi’ady,oin
    That wouldn’t have surprised me, had the words been written as a (Germanized) phrase: hen diá dyóin. I didn’t understand the purpose of the accents when I dabbled in Ancient Greek, and I still don’t. They irritate the hell out of me when they occur in the academic German stuff I read, although I understand that I am being initiated into the secret handshakes.
    They are clearly telling me to stress the syllables as indicated (although stress is not what it used to be all about, apparently. Grrr). Here are excerpts from Sloterdijk’s Du Mußt Dein Leben Ändern (S. 400-401 in the hardback):

    Der Meister des frühkatholischen Orientalismus ist ohne Zweifel Johannes vom Sainaï [sic], ca. 525-625, alias Climacus, etwa von 580 an Abt des Klosters auf dem heiligen Berg der Exodusvölker, der Verfasser der plákes pneumatikaí, zu deutsch: der Geistigen Tafeln, denen schon die ersten Abschreiber den Namen klimax, die Leiter, gaben, woraus in der lateinischen Wiedergabe die scala, will sagen die scala Paradisi, wurde. … In den psychagogischen Analysen dreht sich alles um die Aufdeckung und Zuspitzung des Sündenbewußtseins, den Kampf mit dem Hochmutswiderstand, die Vermeidung von Depression (akedia) und Gier (gastrimargía, gula) sowie die Genesung der Seele durch die völlige Ausrottung der pathologischen Furcht. Daß die Vollendung auch hier mit dem Ausdruck apátheia bzw. transquillitas animi bezeichnet wird …

    Notice transquillitas: is that an alternative form, or merely another instance of Suhrkamp’s careless proofreading ?

  11. MMcM: Great links, thanks. The derivation the dictionaries and Wikipedia give clearly glosses things over a bit. Your last link, and the Servius, suggest that the original Greek phrase had the indeclinable form duo (ie, hendiadyo, changed to hendiadys to give it a proper Latin noun ending). Then later some pedant came along and insisted on changing it to the “pure” Attic form with dual number inflection.
    That pedant may not have been German, but it’s the sort of “purity” that would have appealed to the German tradition.
    BTW I’m delighted by the term “twins” that Puttenham gives as an English name for the figure. Too bad that sort of nativizing of rhetorical terms didn’t persist.

  12. They are clearly telling me to stress the syllables as indicated
    In Ancient Greek they indicated a higher pitch (stress, as we think of it, was apparently on long syllables, as in Latin; at any rate, that’s the basis of Greek poetic meter). Sometime in the Hellenistic period vowel length disappeared as a phonemic factor and the accent switched from pitch to stress, which is how it is in Modern Greek.

  13. Thanks, so stress is OK. But what does pneumatikaí tell me ? Does it end on “ah-EE” ? Or “aee” (diphthong ?) ?

  14. As in δυοῖν, with squiggle instead of accent because οῖ is a diphthong ?

  15. In terms of initiation rites, it would probably be easier for me to become a Freemason than to learn how to scatter all that diacritical parsley just so.

  16. @stu if ai were not a diphthong in your example, there would (or maybe just should) be a diaeresis too (two dots, one on either side of the accent).
    This is the accentual system modern Greeks call polytonic, and involves a lot of memorization for them, since they just have a simple stress accent that doesn’t need all these specifications. They’ve dropped them a few decades ago.
    There’s a lot of info on this at the site in his sidebar that hat calls Helen’s steakhouse.

  17. @stu Conventionally, the prosodical markings—accent, breathing — are written over the second vowel of a diphthong, but they apply to the entire diphthong.
    The circumflex indicates that the pitch rises on the first part of the long vowel or diphthong, them falls on the remainder of the syllable. As a result, a circumflex can only appear on a long vowel or diphthong. But there are plenty of LVs and diphthongs that don’t have a circumflex.
    A long vowel or diphthong can also have an acute accent which indicates that it rises continuously throughout the vowel.
    A written grave accent indicates an acute accent that isn’t pronounced because of interword sandhi.

  18. Bill Walderman says

    “English doesn’t need any more secret-handshake words.” Then we should get rid of both hendiadys and hendiadyoen.
    “A long vowel or diphthong can also have an acute accent which indicates that it rises continuously throughout the vowel.” Just to complete the explanation, a rising (acute) pitch accent can also fall on a short vowel. But a rising and falling (circumflex) accent can only fall on a long vowel or diphthong.

  19. Bill Walderman says

    The “squiggle” is a circumflex accent.

  20. By golly, you folks have actually made this business pretty clear to me now. For this, much thanks ! Vor allem the revelation that the acute/grave/circumflex marks visually mimic rising/falling/rising-falling pitch !! How is it that I have never before encountered a statement of this simple mnemonic ???
    Of course I’ll stick with simple stress, but at least I now what up on the sunny side of the street.
    By the way, the lyrics to that song were written by Dorothy Fields. Who she ? Last week’s TLS reviews a book about her.

  21. … at least I know …

  22. Trond Engen says

    It’s actually a good thing we didn’t do that in English, because I have no idea how we’d pronounce it, but I’m glad it exists.
    Too bad you didn’t. It would’ve been a handy add-on.

  23. @stu at the Perseus Greek dictionary search form:
    there’s a handy display of the 14 ways an alpha can be decorated with accent, breathing and subscript. This applies to any vowel, except that iota, epsilon and ypsilon never appear in an environment that calls for iota-subscript.
    In their example text of the first line of the Iliad, note the double dot over the I in the patronymic of Achilleus, indicating that hia is three syllables.

  24. Bill Walderman says

    Strictly speaking, the grave accent isn’t really a falling intonation. It simply marks the absence of an acute accent when an acute accent would otherwise fall on the last syllable. In connected speech, the rising tone (acute accent) did not occur when followed by a word-break other than at the end of a sentence, and the grave accent was used to indicate this.

  25. Computer fonts seem to have circumflex accents that are squigglier than the inverted breve of CUP’s Porson that we all grew up with, though Richard Porson’s actual handwriting also had them asymmetrical like that. Is this a throwback to Aldine influence? GFS has a TT/OT Porson font.

  26. There’s some question whether the grave represented a complete omission of word-final acute or only a partial suppression. It’s easy to imagine that it could have varied, depending on intonational contour, the presence of pauses, etc. See Devine and Stephens, The Prosody of Greek Speech (partial page view on Google books)

  27. At least the orthography of the Greek pitch accent makes sense (unlike say, Lithuanian for example).

  28. I came across this while editing a German footnote recently, and corrected it to ‘hendiadys’, before thinking better of it and googling it to make sure.

  29. David Marjanović says

    Sloterdijk’s Du Mußt Dein Leben Ändern

    Uh, no. German doesn’t have separate capitalization rules for headlines. Du mußt dein Leben ändern.
    (Or of course musst in new spelling.)

  30. Right about the caps. But I spurn the “new spelling” and all its works.

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