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αδερφός vs αδελφός

αδερφός vs αδελφός
They both mean "brother", but is one more correct than the other? And why, if so?

What happens with ξάδερφος vs ξάδελφος (male cousin)?

That might sound totally irrelevant, but looking at this subject from a statistical point of view, I googled the words and got around 81.200 results for αδερφός, 177.000 results for αδελφός, 17.800 for ξάδερφος and 12.900 for ξάδελφος. Also, 1.160 for εξάδερφος and 961 for εξάδελφος.

In my own dictionary both αδερφός and αδελφός are considered correct, while ξάδερφος is the modern form of the ancient εξάδελφος.

Edit: I posted this at linguaphiles too, so there might be more replies there.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
In my search on the subject, I also found the following, if it's any relevant (last paragraph):

Ioannis Psycharis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ioannis (or Yannis) Psycharis (Greek Ιωάννης (Γιάννης) Ψυχάρης, French Jean Psychari, 1854-1929) was a philologist, author and promoter of Demotic Greek.

Psycharis was born to a Greek family in Odessa, Ukraine, Imperial Russia on the coast of the Black Sea. Nicholas I of Russia still reigned at the time of his birth and his government exercised censorship and other controls over education, publishing, and all manifestations of public life.

Psycharis lived most of his adult life in Paris where he was employed as a professor.

Psycharis is famous for his coinage of the term diglossia, which describes the split between the prestige dialect and lower-prestige dialects of the same language.

Psycharis also proposed an innovative orthography for Greek which never really caught on, despite being the focus of several serious attempts at implementation continuing into the late 20th century. A beginning Modern Greek textbook for foreign students, Ellinika Tora (Greek Now), employs some of his suggestions such as substituting "lambda" for "rho" when the pronunciaton of the glide is conditioned by the other sounds around it - thus αδερφός (aderfos) instead of standard αδελφός (adelphos). While this and other of his suggestions more accurately reflect true pronunciation, they seem to have little chance of being adopted.

Dec. 2nd, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
The originals are αδελφός and ξάδελφος, however it is quite common in Greek to substitute the lamda for a rho, I'm not sure why that is, but my dad said that it happens in words such as "watch" rholoi becomes lorhoi as well. Go figure.
Dec. 7th, 2006 02:11 pm (UTC)
There are a few different answers to your question, I'm afraid. :)

From the point of view of a classicist and/or purist, the correct forms are 'αδελφός' and 'εξάδελφος'.

That much is documented, clear and easy. On to the difficult bits.

The initial 'ε' in 'εξάδελφος' is easy to drop. This does happen a lot when a language sees as many centuries of use as Greek. Think of the name Κατερίνα and its actuall form Αικατερίνη (another leading vowel dropped). Or 'εχθές' (/e 'χθes/, yesterday) and its more common form 'χτες' (a consonant mutation here too, just like εξάδελφος -> ξάδερφος).

The λ-to-ρ mutation is easily attested in some Greek accents, as is the ρ-to-λ mutation. I've heard γρήγορα (/'γri γο ρα/, quickly) pronounced 'γλήγορα' (/'γli γo ra/).

Most people our age will pronounce (and write) 'αδερφός' and 'ξάδερφος'.

Depending on a person's linguistic (and, regrettably, political) affiliations and depending on whether or not they're writing formally or informally, you may see αδελφός (more formal and classical) or αδερφός. Both are equally attested. Both are equally 'right'.

There's no such thing as 'right and wrong' with language, (un)fortunately -- it's only a question of what you're going for.

You can see the very same in English. People say 'can't', 'won't', 'isn't'. Unless you're playing an alien in a Hollywood film, you'll always use such contractions. And it's even right to write them. But try using them in, say, an academic paper, and you'll find it's frowned on: you're expected to use cannot, will not, is not.

I'd also suggest that Google page counts are a poor indication of anything at all. The statistical samples aren't at all representative.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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