There’s two types of modern expressions that present difficulty for speaking ancient languages:
- names for things they didn’t have
- expressions for things they didn’t say
In many cases (1) isn’t so bad. You just have to neologise. How do you say helicopter, television, mobile (=cell) phone, etc etc..? Even coffee, tea, present problems, but not insurmountable ones. For Latin, with its longer continual history, it’s often easier. For speaking ancient Greek modernly, various strategies can be used: adapting an ancient word with a similar meaning; using the Greek equivalent to a Latin word used for the same modern thing; deriving a (sometimes entirely fictive) ‘ancestor’ form for a contemporary Greek word.
The second issue is much more problematic. Consider the expression, “It’s interesting…”. In Latin, we can use phrases involving studium – studium me tenet, studium me excitat, and the like. Greek is, it seems, more tricky.
I asked my good friend Στέφανος about this, as I often do, and he proffered a few suggestions:
διαφέρει — it’s important
ἄξιον σπουδῆς — something worthy of zeal/esteem/effort
προσέχω τινὶ τὸν νοῦν, τὸν νοῦν ἔχω πρός τινα – expressions for paying attention to something.
None of these, as he recognised, quite fits. We want something for “here is a thing that is worth paying attention to/thinking about”.
But perhaps we can build off these. ἄξιον + infinitive makes a good impersonal structure for “worth doing X”. So…
ἄξιον τοῦ τὸν νοῦν προσέχειν – worth paying attention to
ἄξιον διαλέγεσθαι – worth talking about
ἄξιον ἐπὶ ᾧ νομίζειν – worth thinking on,
ἄξιον μελετᾶσθαι – worth contemplating
Take these out for a spin, let me know what you think.