Is Greek the most exact language?

Are you learning Koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament and most other post-classical Greek texts? Whatever your level, use this forum to discuss all things Koine, Biblical or otherwise, including grammar, textbook talk, difficult passages, and more.
Textkit Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:40 pm
Location: oupou

Post by yadfothgildloc » Sun Oct 31, 2004 1:16 am

I've read "wetware" in sci-fi contexts.

And I gotta agree with Emma de re "offline."

Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3399
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 4:55 pm
Location: Madison, WI, USA

Post by annis » Sun Oct 31, 2004 1:43 pm

Democritus wrote:One legacy of computers, in language, will be to leave behind a long list of terms that will be used metaphorically, in ways that are not related to the original technical sense.
Including all that amusing talk about serial vs. parallel monogamy.
William S. Annis —
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

User avatar
Textkit Fan
Posts: 251
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:15 am

Post by cweb255 » Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:58 pm

Binary is the most exact language ever. Then assembly. Then C.

As for evolved languages, the main problem with English is it's use of one word to convey several meanings. Love in English could mean eros, philos, etc... But this is a problem in every language, including Chinese, when words can mean more than one thing.

Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2004 6:02 am
Location: Singapore

Re: Is Greek the most exact language?

Post by cole » Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:54 pm

Rocky Pyle wrote:Greetings and Salutations:

I have often read and heard that Greek (specifically thinking of Ancient or Koine) is the most exact language ever created. {snip}
I heard that many times too. I now know that it's untrue, and it's based on a poor understanding of linguistics. And many times people believe it because of it's "feel good" factor: "God chose Greek to convey the message of the NT because it was the most exact language."

A good book to read might be Exegetical Fallacies by D. A. Carson.
Or better still, Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek by David Black.

P.S. cweb255: binary, assembly, and C are all equally exact, IMO. You mean there are ambiguities in C?

User avatar
Global Moderator
Posts: 1605
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2003 1:48 pm
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: Is Greek the most exact language?

Post by klewlis » Fri Dec 10, 2004 4:16 pm

[quote="coleA good book to read might be Exegetical Fallacies by D. A. Carson.[/quote]

excellent book.

Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2003 4:32 pm

Post by JauneFlammee » Fri Dec 10, 2004 10:58 pm

I would say that greek is extremely exact in the area of ideas. Take a look at some of the early church controversies (for example the monothelite controversy). You can't even hardly discuss the issues in english without using transliterated greek words.
I would also say a significant advantage to greek is the ability to stack existing words together into one new word (There must be a technical term for this?). This allows one to discuss complex things without being wordy, among other things.
(Also, I wouldn't describe the Koine version as the most exact language ever - look at the whole objective vs subjective genitive controversy regarding (faith in/of jesus) in galations 2:20, and large portions of Romans chapter 3. )

User avatar
Textkit Fan
Posts: 251
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:15 am

Post by cweb255 » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:24 am

If that were the case, Sanskrit is far more precise than Greek, well, maybe not far, but close to it. I don't know, there really isn't a totally precise language that is a lingua natural...

User avatar
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 2:38 am
Location: Kanpur, India

Post by installer_swan » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:47 am

If that were the case, Sanskrit is far more precise than Greek,
I don't know much about greek but I would agree that in terms of grammar Sanskrit is precise(I don't know whether more or less), but it has its own share of ambiguities, the biggest being that its vocabulary is highly ambiguous/metaphorical, in the sense that verses often have (literally) dozens of meanings and interpretations. In fact I still keep finding newer interpretations of shlokas I've heard since my childhood and I consider this to be an important part of the language's and composition's beauty. This is due to the fact that all ancient compositions in Sanskrit followed very strict meters, in order to fit into which several words were contracted.

I think you can never talk of the exact language. It's just a matter of what is the most appropriate language for expressing what you want. And nearly all ancient languages (which were luckily not butchered by the internet) have a fairly consistent set of syntactical rules, thus being more or less equally exact. And then it's just a matter of what fields of philosophy/relegion/science etc. was can be better explained in which language.

The only alternative is more mathematical artificial/constructed languages see Lojban, for example.


Post Reply