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A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

The Hidden Troves of Etymology

Credit: Gettyimages

What are the origins of the name Europe?

Often, we do not ask ourselves for the origins of words that we use on a daily basis. That is especially valid, for the most common ones like the names of days, months, and countries? That applies to the same degree when speaking about the continents although they are only seven. Today, we are going to take a look at a name we all have heard – Europe.

 We find it recorded first in a Homeric hymn to Apollo from 522 B.C.E. or earlier. It says: "Telphusa, here I am minded to make a glorious temple, an oracle for men, and hither they will always bring perfect hecatombs, both those who live in rich Peloponnesus and those of Europe and all the wave-washed isles, coming to seek oracles." 

But what are the etymological roots of the word? It is widely considered that, as above-mentioned, Europe derives from the Ancient Greek language. It consists of two morphemes: urys "wide" + ops "face," or "eye", literally "broad face," or "wide-gazing" as a suitable description of Europe's mainland and broad shoreline as seen from the shipboard perspective of the maritime Greeks.

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Thoughts to reflect on

Credit: Wikipedia

Euripides

"Human misery must somewhere have a stop; there is no wind that always blows a storm; great good fortune comes to failure in the end. All is change; all yields its place and goes; to persevere, trusting in what hopes he has, is courage in a man. The coward despairs."


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Do you know how many words for love had the Ancient Greeks?

Credit: The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli c. 1485–1486 , Wikipedia



Our language defines the limits of our soul

The more we engage our minds with something, the better we fathom the depths of it, its infinity. We expand our understanding about something and when we reach its momentary limits we define it, we coin a word. Thus, we materialize our consciousness and mark its achievements for future generations. Our thoughts, our perception of the world, our actions, are in direct causal link with the language we have in use. As the Austrian-British philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein once said: "The limits of my language define the limits of my world." Well, it seems that ancient Greeks had a lot more interest in the different forms of love than us because these are not only synonyms but words of various perspectives towards the phenomenon of love. What about our contemporary culture? Which are the concepts that we develop the most? It's a pretty long topic, that we could discuss some other time. However, you could ponder over it and share your thoughts with us.

Below you can take a look at the richness of Ancient Greek concepts for one of the most important aspects of what we call humane.

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