Picture of Cub Cubbettee
by Cub Cubbettee - Thursday, 6 January 2011, 11:04 PM
Good Day Fellow Posters,
I have a quick question in using the dictionary.
Here is an example when I searched for a word:

Το λεξικό βρήκε 1 λέξη.
The dictionary found 1 word.

weird = αλλόκοτος, απόκοσμος
allokotos, apokosmos

What is the difference between the two words--is it a gender thing  or just two ways of saying the same thing?
Picture of Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
Re: Dictionary
by Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets - Friday, 7 January 2011, 06:14 AM
  It just means that the English word "weird" can, according to this dictionary, be translated by the Greek words αλλόκοτος or απόκοσμος.This does not mean that they are necessarily synonyms: the English word "weird" covers all kinds of connotations that are not necessarily covered by a single word in Greek. There's never a one-to-one correspondence between words of different languages.

I personally find that the best way to handle a dictionary search returning more than one match is to do an inverse search on the words found. Taking your example, this means doing a search on both αλλόκοτος and απόκοσμος. If you do that, you'll find:

αλλόκοτος = baroque, bizarre, odd, quaint, queer, whimsical
απόκοσμος = unearthly, unworldly
Clearly, while they are both indeed good translations of "weird" in specific contexts, they are also clearly not synonyms of each other, and cover different connotations of "weird" (αλλόκοτος is "weird" as in "bizarre", απόκοσμος is "weird" as in "out of this world"). They are thus not "just two ways of saying the same thing" and can't be used interchangeably. So when you want to translate the word "weird", you first need to think about what kind of weirdness you are talking about before you know which word to use in Greek.
Picture of Cub Cubbettee
Re: Dictionary
by Cub Cubbettee - Saturday, 8 January 2011, 12:02 PM
Hi Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,
True words will never align themselves in languages
Thanks for the information.
It is a good idea to try to reverse it into the dictionary.
So I tried it with the word "second", as in length of time. Both Greek typed words yielded the same result. So does that then make them interchangeable or can it be a gender thing?
Picture of Guest User
Re: Dictionary
by Guest User - Tuesday, 11 January 2011, 05:44 AM
  Hi Cub Cubbettee,

I suppose you are referring to the following results:

δεύτερος, δευτερόλεπτο
defteros, defterolepto

If this is the case, then δεύτερος means second in something (in line, in command, etc.)

Δευτερόλεπτο on the other hand referes to a time fraction. So we say that 60 seconds is 1 minute or that 60 δευτερόλεπτα είναι 1 λεπτό (minute).

In english they are both translated as "second", so you need to place the word in a specific context to give it a meaning.

Kind regards,

Picture of Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
Re: Dictionary
by Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets - Tuesday, 11 January 2011, 11:32 AM
  As Dimitris showed you, "second" doesn't only refer to a length of time, but also to an ordinal number, which in Greek are translated differently. So once again, no, the Greek results are not interchangeable.

Dictionary search is tricky, and you need to have a good understanding of both the source and the target language to get it right. Even reversed search doesn't always help (although cases like "second" are relatively uncommon).

As for your comment "or can it be a gender thing?", I don't understand where you could get the idea that it could be a gender thing. Dictionaries normally don't list gender alternatives as separate words, except when they are completely different words like "uncle and "aunt", but you would expect those to appear only with words referring to people (like γιος: "son" and κόρη: "daughter"), in which case English most often has separate words too (actually more often than Greek). You wouldn't expect such gender differences to show up for a noun like "second" (as in length of time, why would such a noun have gendered alternatives?) and especially not for an adjective like "weird" (where gender alternatives are grammatical, and thus normally not listed in a dictionary. You need to know you are looking at an adjective, and guess its type and gender forms from its ending. A dictionary will only list the masculine form).

Just like dictionaries don't list the past tense of verbs as a separate word from the present tense, they don't list gender alternatives either.