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Chapter Summary

For over 2500 years many of the most learned and eccentric scholars of the Greek language have concerned themselves with the topic of etymology: the science of words - their origin and their development. The most productive source of difficult words was Homer's 28,000 or so verses of epic poetry. Yet, many Homeric words still lack attestation in Linear B, recognizable cognates in other Indo-European languages and of these many even lack a family of related words, derived independently of Homer, within the later Greek language itself. In short, even after over 2500 years of close examination by the world's most astute grammarians and lexicographers, the meanings of scores of words in the Homeric epics remain inexplicable. Moreover, in an oral culture, when the words of a phrase were misunderstood and resegmented, they were likely to remain uncorrected, hence generalized and incorporated into the language's lexicon.

Keywords: Greek language; Homeric words; lexicon



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