Yesterday, in our first lesson about the Greek roots of English words, we talked about “pathos“. Πάθος, as described by Aristotle, is one of the three forms of the rhetoric. Today, we will study “logos”, which is one of the other two forms. Next time, we will talk about the last form of the rhetoric, “ethos”.
“Logos” appeared in the English language in 1587. It has a dual meaning, depending on context. In theology, the word “logos” describes God’s wisdom and is identified as the second person in the Holy Trinity. In philosophy, “logos” is the principle of reason and judgement.
“Logos” comes as is from the Greek word “λόγος”. In Greek, the word “λόγος” is one of the most versatile words. Depending on context, the word “λόγος” has no less than at least ten distinct meanings. Even if that seems daunting at first, it is not. In fact, the various meanings of the word have also infiltrated the English language, as we will see that many compound English words depend on the various meanings of “logos”.
“Λόγος” in Greek stands for 1. the ability of man to utter words and communicate thoughts, 2. the system through which communication is possible, ie. the language, 3. any form of communicated meanings, ie. word, sentence, phrase, 4. artistic expression in the form of literature, 5. long speech, lecture, 6. discussion or chat, 7. advice, 8. oath, 9. apology 10. reason, 11. in theology, the second person of the Holy Trinity, ie. Jesus Christ, 12. sermon 13. a relationship between/among items that obey a specific logic/reasoning.
In the English language, even if the word “logos” is not one of the more common words, compound words that depend on the word “logos” are used every day. In fact, any of the following words depends on “logos”: logo, logarithm, analogy, apology, astrology.