So how do you go about finding/using words for new-er things in ancient Greek? It’s a conundrum, and it’s more a conundrum in Greek than Latin, but here are a few of my working principles:
- I look at English>Greek dictionaries. Woodhouse, Yonge, Fradersdorff. These usually require trying to think of a 19th century way of expressing something.
- I look at how Latin, especially contemporary Latin, expresses things, using the English>Latin at Latinitium (Smith and Hall, primarily), as well as the Neo-Latin Lexicon. I then consider what Greek words might correspond to the Latin well, including using a Latin>Greek lexicon.
- I look at how Modern Greek expresses the idea or term. If it’s a derivation from an ancient word, I reverse engineer the etymology where appropriate.
- Ask other contemporary speakers of ancient Greek what they are using. I have a few go-to friends who are good for this.
- In all these steps, I’m trying to figure out
- Is there an ancient attested word that could reasonably be extended to represent the new thing?
- Is there an obvious neologism that would be transparent to an ancient speaker, and generally conforms to ancient usage?
- Does modern Greek and/or contemporary Latin use a loan word or calque, and would the same strategy work for a ‘new’ ancient word?
In all this, my principle is basically “be as linguistically conservative as possible”, because I’m still trying to speak an ancient Greek in a modern context.
Apologies too, I couldn’t resist the title.