the weblog of Alan Knox

Question about Greek Vocabulary

Posted by on Jan 4, 2010 in NT Greek | 5 comments

I primarily write these posts about New Testament (or Koine) Greek for people who are just starting to learn Greek, or for people who are thinking about learning Greek. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help some people who are struggling to learn the language (either in a class or on their own) and who are struggling to use it.

For now, think about Greek vocabulary. In a previous post (“Memorizing Vocabulary“), I explained the way that I study vocabulary. In the post, I said that I made cards for each Greek vocabulary word, putting the Greek word on one side and a gloss (or several glosses) on the other side. Why did I say “gloss” instead of “definition” or “meaning”? Well, because there’s a big difference.

And, this is important for people to understand as they are learning vocabulary for any language. I’m working on a series of posts in which I will discuss the differences (and connections) between a word’s definitions, glosses, and referents. I will also discuss why it is important for us (even new students of Greek) to recognize the differences.

For now, I ask you this question: What is the difference between a definition, a gloss, and a referent?


5 Comments

  1. 1-4-2010

    Here’s my kick at it: a definition expresses what a word means, as opposed to a gloss, which is a word in the target language which shares some overlap in meaning with the word in the source language. A referent is the thing that a word is referring to in a given usage.

    So for the word εκκλησία, the definition might be “a community of people”, a gloss might be “community” or “church” or “assembly”, and a referent might be a mob in Ephesus or the group of Christ’s followers in Corinth.

  2. 1-5-2010

    Mike,

    I agree, and believe it or not, I’m using the word εκκλησία in my posts on this subject.

    -Alan

  3. 1-5-2010

    And of course, don’t forget etymology, which always trumps meaning :( Or, at least it preaches better…

    James

  4. 1-5-2010

    Alan – I look forward to it!

    Mike

  5. 1-5-2010

    James,

    Yes, of course, etymology (and whatever preaches best) is MOST important.

    Mike,

    I look forward to your response to those posts. :)

    -Alan

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Assembling of the Church | Greek Vocabulary – Definitions - [...] few days ago, in a post called “Question about Greek Vocabulary,” I asked the following question: What is the …
  2. The Assembling of the Church | Greek Vocabulary – Glosses - [...] few days ago, in a post called “Question about Greek Vocabulary,” I asked the following question: What is the …
  3. The Assembling of the Church | Greek Vocabulary – Referents - [...] few days ago, in a post called “Question about Greek Vocabulary,” I asked the following question: What is the …

Leave a Comment