HolokaustoS or holokaustoN?

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Augur
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HolokaustoS or holokaustoN?

Postby Augur » 2020-06-23, 18:15

Hello, I came across this word and according to wikipedia both spellings are correct. Anyone know which one is correct?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_(sacrifice)
A holocaust is a religious animal sacrifice that is completely consumed by fire. The word derives from the Ancient Greek holokaustos (ὁλόκαυστος from ὅλος "whole" and καυστός "burnt", with rough breathing), which is used solely for one of the major forms of sacrifice. This form of sacrifice is also known as a burnt offering.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_Holocaust
The word "holocaust" originally derived from the Greek word holokauston, meaning "a completely (holos) burnt (kaustos) sacrificial offering," or "a burnt sacrifice offered to a god."

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Re: HolokaustoS or holokaustoN?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-06-23, 23:29

It depends what you're looking for.

If it's the name of the Holocaust in Modern Greek, this is actually Ολοκαύτωμα (Holokautoma), a different derivation from the same stem as "Holocaust".

If it's the Greek etymon of "Holocaust", this is ὁλόκαυστον, with -n. That's because it's a neuter substantivised adjective. In English, we can only freely treat adjectives as nouns in the plural (e.g. "the rich", "the lost"). In the singular, we use a placeholder like "one", e.g. "the rich one", "the lost one". In other languages, it's often possible to simply use the adjective by itself.

Why is the substantivised form neuter in this case? Presumably because the fuller version would be something like ὁλόκαυστον θύος (holokauston thyos), literally "fully-burn sacrifice"). The word θύος (thyos) "burn sacrifice" is neuter despite ending in -s, so the adjective agrees with it. But the citation form (the default form used when referring to them) of Greek adjectives is the masculine singular nominative. So that's why the first article gives ὁλόκαυστος (holokaustos) as the ultimate source of "Holocaust". They could even go further and break it down into its component parts, i.e. ὅλος (hólos) “whole”) + καίω (kaeō) "I burn".
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Re: HolokaustoS or holokaustoN?

Postby Augur » 2020-06-29, 15:11

Thank you for such an exhaustive answer. English is not my native language so I don't think I really grasp all that you have written. If we simplify it: holókaustoN has the same meaning as the word holocaust we use today and also it translates to burnt offering?

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Re: HolokaustoS or holokaustoN?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-06-29, 15:18

Augur wrote:Thank you for such an exhaustive answer. English is not my native language so I don't think I really grasp all that you have written. If we simplify it: holókaustoN has the same meaning as the word holocaust we use today and also it translates to burnt offering?

No, the Greek word ὁλόκαυστον (holókauston) translates to "burnt offering". This is one meaning of "holocaust" in English, but not the most common one and not at all the meaning of "Holocaust" with a capital H. As I said above, the Modern Greek (there is no Ancient Greek word because the Holocaust is a recent occurrence) word corresponding to "Holocaust" is actually Ολοκαύτωμα (Holokautoma).
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: HolokaustoS or holokaustoN?

Postby Augur » 2020-06-29, 16:33

OK, I see. I read that the word Holocaust is derived from the greek holokauston, meaning a burnt sacrifice offered whole to god so I thought the modern word holocaust meant "burnt whole" but on a much larger scale as in genocide/extinction.

If the modern word Holocaust didn't come from Holókauston, how did Holocaust came to mean mass destruction/death by fire? Was it an entirely new word with a more "symbolic" meaning?

So the word Holokautoma is more akin to mean mass destruction by fire?

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Re: HolokaustoS or holokaustoN?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-06-29, 17:25

Augur wrote:OK, I see. I read that the word Holocaust is derived from the greek holokauston, meaning a burnt sacrifice offered whole to god so I thought the modern word holocaust meant "burnt whole" but on a much larger scale as in genocide/extinction.

It can ("nuclear holocaust" is a common collocation), but it doesn't have to. Genocide or extermination by other means can also be called a "holocaust".

Augur wrote:If the modern word Holocaust didn't come from Holókauston

It did.

Maybe you're getting confused by the use of "Greek" to refer to two different languages? "Ancient Greek" and "Modern Greek" are as different from each other as Latin and Italian. A word used in one isn't necessarily found in the other.

Both ὁλοκαύτωμα and ὁλόκαυστον exist in Ancient Greek and both were borrowed into Latin. But holocaustum was used way more often in Latin than holocautoma ever was; in Greek, it was the opposite. The English word holocaust was borrowed from Latin, not directly from Greek (Ancient or Modern).

Augur wrote:So the word Holokautoma is more akin to mean mass destruction by fire?

From what I can tell, ολοκαύτωμα/holokautoma has basically the same range of meaning as English "holocaust" and ὁλόκαυστον (holókauston) is not used in Modern Greek.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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