διαβάλλειν - diaballein

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
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Brichtje
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Joined: November 24th, 2016, 11:53 am

διαβάλλειν - diaballein

Post by Brichtje » November 24th, 2016, 2:53 pm

διαβάλλειν (dia-ballein) Dia means through (by the way of; or from one end or side of something to the other (across); or between) and Ballein means throwing.

Now online there are two discriptions that i found most often to describe the meaning of this word:

throwing across; slander, accusing
to cast apart; to throw apart, or to scatter.

Looking at the pure etymology of this word; how did these meanings? What makes through throwing accusatively or mean something which is divided?

Jason Hare
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Joined: June 2nd, 2011, 5:28 pm
Location: Rehovot, Israel
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Re: διαβάλλειν - diaballein

Post by Jason Hare » November 26th, 2016, 1:08 pm

Brichtje wrote:διαβάλλειν (dia-ballein) Dia means through (by the way of; or from one end or side of something to the other (across); or between) and Ballein means throwing.

Now online there are two discriptions that i found most often to describe the meaning of this word:

throwing across; slander, accusing
to cast apart; to throw apart, or to scatter.

Looking at the pure etymology of this word; how did these meanings? What makes through throwing accusatively or mean something which is divided?
Try not to look at "pure etymology." No such thing exists. Compare similar uses of δια- as a prefix to verbs.
Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: διαβάλλειν - diaballein

Post by Stephen Hughes » November 26th, 2016, 1:43 pm

Hi. Welcome to B-Greek. Interesting question. Not because it is a new question, but because it marks a point in your learning.

Pure etymology, while easy enough to "mechanically" construct meanings from, is often not enough - as your question indicates that you are on the point of realising. Besides etymology, there are other meanings, which are culturally determined and seemingly subjective (creative) art, also seemingly very ellusive to second language learners like ourselves. Part of learning is the progressive construction of new and modified models of knowledge that work for us to both analyse and integrate new data and concepts into our existing skill and knowledge. As Jason says, you are at the point where you need more and better theories of word meaning - either by compaison, by theory, or by extensive exposure to the language. A moment of real growth in your knowledge.

Assuming that human beings are in large measure the same, despite the culture and era of our lives, let me ask you how you process the phrase, "He ate up the last of the pumpernickel for lunch."? There are three prepositions there. I think that most people would not associate the "up" of "ate up" with the direction. The "for" of "for lunch" is basically formal too - there is no great benefit to be derived from pondering the many meanings of "for" in different contexts, or even knowing metalinguistic terms to describe what type of "for" it is. In some respects Greek is like that too.

How would you react to somebody learning one of your languages, and asking questions like, "Where is the true meaning of 'up', when you say, 'stop up', or 'shut up'?" You might imagine that a Greek speaker might display a similar range of reactions.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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