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κλέπας vs. Baltic + δασύς collocated with clouds in D.S.

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κλέπας vs. Baltic + δασύς collocated with clouds in D.S.

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:40 am

This ramble arises after flipping through the (then, 1978) Recent Developments in Historical Phonology. While any data is better than no data, an un-Greeked, or un-LSJed reader might not be able to rate the relative values of Greek lexical data presented in LSJ. In that case, the data set for comparative linguistics can become something of a pot-luck. Take this for example,
Page 436 wrote:Lith. šlapias, Latv. slapjš 'wet' : - : : Gk. klépas 'wet'

At face-value, those words have seemingly equal attestation or support, but actually? From 5 years study of (and relatively little progress in) Latvian, I know that we can expect that every 3 - 5 year old Latvian speaking child comprehends and uses slapjš. It is core childhood vocabulary word generally describing the state of things affected by water. Perhaps the meaning is narrower in Lithuanian or perhaps not, but I myself wouldn't trust what I might say about it. κλέπας is given in LSJ, in what I assume is a verbatim quote from Hysechius:
κλέπας: νοτερόν, πηλῶδες: ἢ δασύ, ἢ ὑγρόν, Hsch.


While one might be tempted to ammend δασύ to a form of δροσόεις when the apparent mis-match in the 'wet' set is noticed, another (perhaps more preferable) solution is possible too. The LSJ entry for δασύς contains reference to a later writer:
I.3 wrote:3. generally, rough, thick, “μαλακαὶ καὶ δ. νεφέλαι” D.S. 3.45.

i.e.
Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 3.45.6 (part),7 wrote:ἡ δ᾽ ἑξῆς χώρα κατοικεῖται μὲν ὑπὸ Ἀράβων Ἀλιλαίων καὶ Γασανδῶν, οὐκ ἔμπυρος οὖσα καθάπερ αἱ πλησίον, ἀλλὰ μαλακαῖς καὶ δασείαις νεφέλαις πολλάκις κατεχομένη: ἐκ δὲ τούτων ὑετοὶ γίνονται καὶ χειμῶνες εὔκαιροι καὶ ποιοῦντες τὴν θερινὴν ὥραν εὔκρατον. ἥ τε χώρα πάμφορός ἐστι καὶ διάφορος κατὰ τὴν ἀρετήν, οὐ μέντοι τυγχάνει τῆς ἐνδεχομένης ἐπιμελείας διὰ τὴν τῶν λαῶν ἀπειρίαν. [7] τὸν δὲ χρυσὸν εὑρίσκοντες ἐν τοῖς φυσικοῖς ὑπονόμοις τῆς γῆς συνάγουσι πολύν, οὐ τὸν ἐκ τοῦ ψήγματος συντηκόμενον, ἀλλὰ τὸν αὐτοφυῆ καὶ καλούμενον ἀπὸ τοῦ συμβεβηκότος ἄπυρον. κατὰ δὲ τὸ μέγεθος ἐλάχιστος μὲν εὑρίσκεται παραπλήσιος πυρῆνι, μέγιστος δὲ οὐ πολὺ λειπόμενος βασιλικοῦ καρύου.
The next tract of land that I'd like to consider - that ihabited by two Arab tribes, the A. and the G. - is not scorched like the adjacent lands, but it is quite frequently filled throughout by soft and moist clouds. These produce periods of rain and seasonable winter storms, resulting in a mild climate during summer. [Goes on to talk about the beneficial effects of the rain]

The main idea of the passage is that rain from moist clouds makes a difference. Presumably, the type of clouds described by DS are nimbostratus clouds - with their prolonged periods of rain.

Not mentioned in the LSJ entry for δασύς, but suggested by association in the word list given by Hysechus for κλέπας, and plausible in Diodorus Siculus, the meaning 'wet' in a broad range of senses is similar to the range of meanings that the Latvian slapjš is the meaning 'wet'.

We usually think of Hesychus as the authour of lists of obscure words, but here is a word with quite a range of meanings; νοτερόν (the wet or moist whatever that is itself, but now the wet version), πηλῶδες the muddy (ground, path or field): ἢ δασύ (the water-ladden clouds - if my analysis of the DS passage is sound), ἢ ὑγρόν (the moist whatever that changed from solid or gaseous to "liquid" by the addition of water). Rain-bearing clouds are typically not as translucent (sunshine blocked) as non rain-bearing clouds, because are they are "thick", and that "thickness" comes about they are laden with (condensed) rainwater ready to fall.

If we do not explain away κλέπας (with its neuter adjectival ending -ας) as the record in Greek script - using kappa to represent a palatalised silibant - of an exotic word akin to Lithuanian šlapias, brought by a wandering (or enslaved) Balt, then we are left with the problem of explaining an "obscure" Greek word, with a very broad range of meanings. I think Hesychius or one of his predecessors may have had to have seen it in at least 3 or 4 different contexts to make that entry.
I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the daedal Earth,
And of Heaven -- and the giant wars,
And Love, and Death, and Birth, --
(Shelley, Hymn of Pan)
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Re: κλέπας vs. Baltic + δασύς collocated with clouds in D.S.

Postby jeidsath » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:23 pm

I'm not sure that "moist" is a good description of δασείαις in your quote. I studied at a college that did a lot of atmospheric physics. Clouds were described by characteristics that you could identify from the ground. Rough or thick or fluffy are all great descriptions for a cloud. "Moist" is not, because you can't tell that from the ground. (And all clouds are moist, of course.)
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Re: κλέπας vs. Baltic + δασύς collocated with clouds in D.S.

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:51 am

jeidsath wrote:I'm not sure that "moist" is a good description of δασείαις in your quote. I studied at a college that did a lot of atmospheric physics. Clouds were described by characteristics that you could identify from the ground. Rough or thick or fluffy are all great descriptions for a cloud. "Moist" is not, because you can't tell that from the ground. (And all clouds are moist, of course.)

Yes. That "moist" doesn't really express observable phenomena or my reasoning about the contextualisations of meanings either.

The question boils down to whether the meaning implied by the core meaning has become a meaning in itself. "Good humoured" or "humorous" is an internal balance, but we take it in a social context to mean what we do take it as.

Describing a cloud in terms of itself - observed and measured scientifically in isolation, as your college mates did, then I agree, the cloud needs to be distinguishable from other cloud types to identify it. In broader contexts, however, things become a little different.

Wheen describing the fecundity of the land way D.S. is saying, "That's a cloud that will give us some decent rain for the crops." That is to say, a cloud seen from the agricultural point of view that DS was speaking from, the implied meaning is deeper or more involved than the description of the external physical attributes of whatever of our 5 senses we use to identify something.

That thinking is along the lines of if somebody out on a picnic say a tree is δασύ, they are thinking that the tree is "shady" or "shade-producing". Of course, of itself the tree would be descibed as leafy", but the implication in the context of a summer picnic is "shady", a winter's day "evergreen", acid rain or insect infestation "healthy", or bush fire aftermath "lucky".

Either Hesychius is not differentiating between core meaning and implied meaning OR δασύς somehow acquired the meaning "moist", "wet" by the 5th or 6th century. The only ready example I can find that makes either or both of those true is the description of clouds from an agricultural or farmer's point of view.

As for a translation that might capture that, "ready to drip water", "dark", "blackening the land under it" are descriptions closer to the LSJ description of a tree canopy full and verdant as your "thick" is too. Describing the characteristics of the surface as your "rough" or "fluffy" do, leave the rain-bearing qualities of the cloud to the background knowledge if the observer.
I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the daedal Earth,
And of Heaven -- and the giant wars,
And Love, and Death, and Birth, --
(Shelley, Hymn of Pan)
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Re: κλέπας vs. Baltic + δασύς collocated with clouds in D.S.

Postby mwh » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:58 am

Hesychius used multiple sources (as had his sources), so this κλεπας entry, like others, could well represent more than one. η “or” in his entries sometimes reflects what stood in the source he was drawing on but often indicates use of diverse sources. Here νοτερον, πηλωδες presumably belong together and make it look as if the word in its original context referred to terrain or something of the kind. It may be that υγρον has the same reference, and possibly δασυ too. That may seem rather unlikely but ancient interpretations of unusual words are often wildly discrepant (see Apollonius Sophista, for instance, one of Hsch's main sources), and there is no other testimony for the lexis.

You draw a connexion between DS’s δασειαι clouds and Hsch’s δασύ (was the noun νέφος, do you think?) It seems rather a long shot to me, with or without the alleged Baltic cognate of κλέπας. But who knows?

Many of Hsch’s entries are terribly corrupt (they’ve come through multiple stages of transmission). Everything’s been cut down and garbled. I don’t have Latte’s edition to hand (he makes hundreds of emendations), but according to Schmidt’s, which is older, νοτερόν is a conjecture for the manuscript’s πρότερον.

I see Hsch. also has a κλεπος entry, which includes νοτερόν, δάσυ among its glosses (thereby validating νοτερον for προτερον). That’s clearly somehow related to our κλεπας one (simple contamination?, κλεπας/ος variant reading?, copying error?). The initial gloss on κλεπος is ὑψηλόν, and Schmidt points out ad loc., pertinently or not, “κλέτας ὑψηλόν verba sunt Lycophonis 703” (I haven’t check or investigated). So you can see how horrendously complex and fragile all this is.

Systematic examination of Hsch’s lexicographical sources might throw more light—or it might not.
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Re: κλέπας vs. Baltic + δασύς collocated with clouds in D.S.

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:34 am

Anyways, interesting to explore possibilities in. Even without consistency or coherence it's still fun to shoot so long as it's not tending towards borderline bovine.

I take Hesychius' neuter as agreeing with κλέπας or that he's just using it as a default (non-agreeing) form.

I'm not convinced by the apparent certainty of being in print with the same typeface that Hesychius' evidence as used by Winter (and his sources) in that (1978) volume hold the same weight as the contemporary Baltic evidence does.
I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the daedal Earth,
And of Heaven -- and the giant wars,
And Love, and Death, and Birth, --
(Shelley, Hymn of Pan)
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