The noun ἅδρυνσις ‘[the] coming to maturity’ is a derivation of the verb ἁδρύνω ‘to ripen, mature’, which is in turn a derivation of the adjective ἁδρός ‘thick, stout, bulky’. The adjective can refer to both people, animals, and fruit or crops.
You can display the derivation as follows:
Although it is not unheard of that I get excited by Greek vocabulary, this particular word, ἅδρυνσις, caught my attention. Why is that? Normally, it is the unexpected realization of a vocalic nasal or laryngeal that excites me, but this time it was the cluster -νσ-. As far as I was aware, it should not be there: either the nu (ν) or sigma (σ) normally dissolves in such clusters between vowels (with or without lengthening of the preceding vowel).
Skimming through Buck (1933; 150-152), you learn that there are two results of this cluster between vowels (you can consult Buck’s Comparative Grammar for yourself):1
If the cluster is original, that is from Indo-European, Proto-Greek or a loan, the sigma disappears with compensatory lengthening (the vowel becomes long) of the preceding vowel:
The sigmatic aorist (1st singular) loses its sigma (and then becomes pseudo-sigmatic, obviously): ἔ-κρῐν-σα > ἔ-κρῑν-α ‘I decided’; or ἔ-νεμ-σα > ἔ-νειμ-α ‘I stayed’.
If the sigma in the cluster is not original, because historically it used to be a *t, the nu disappears with compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel:
*-ti̯- (the iota is a consonant before a vowel: yod) becomes -σ-:
παντ-ι̯α > πανσ-α > πᾶσα ‘all, everything’ (nominative singular feminine).2
*-ti- (the iota is a vowel) becomes -σι-:
*φερ-οντι > *φερ-ονσι > φέρ-ουσι ‘they carry, bear’ (Attic present indicative 3rd plural).3
Or *dental stop (τ, δ or θ) + σ, where the sigma assibilates the dental stop:
*φεροντ-σι > *φερον-σι > φερου-σι ‘to the bearing (men)’ (Attic dative plural masculine of the participle).
I would have expected ἄδρυνσις to have been ἄδρῡσις, as the neo-Platonist Simplicius (in the commentary on Epictetus’ Encheiridion p. 32) would have spelt it in the 6th century CE, but Aristotle (Metaphysica 1065b20) spelt it with a nu in the 4th century BCE. Why is that? Buck (1933; 151) for example says “Att. ὕφανσις (ὑφαίνω) etc., were formed later and retained ν”.
The historical, or maybe theoretical, formation of the word seems to explain why it has not lost its nu as well. A quick search on the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae shows that, while the cluster -νσ- is reasonably well attested in the whole period of ancient (Attic) Greek (until 1453 CE), the greater part of the attestations are Latin loanwords, foreign place names, or compounds starting in ἐν-, παν-, or συν- that have restored their nu (cf. Buck 1933; 151 ad 3a). Besides words similar to the construction of ἅδρυνσις, the cluster is otherwise very rare in the corpus of the TGL.
In the following two blogs I will delve more deeply into this cluster, and the type of words related to ἅδρυνσις. Next time I will try to make sense out of other words with the cluster -νσ-. In the final blog, we will trace the attestations of ‘real’ Greek -νσ-clusters down to the sources.
Compare Helmut Rix’s Historische Grammatik des Griechischen (1992, pp. 77-79 and 89-91) for all exceptions to these general rules. (Available on Google Books) ↩
Masculine παντ-ς > παν-ς > πᾶς loses the nu because it is a final cluster. Neuter παντ > πάν loses the final tau because Greek does not permit final clusters. ↩
The development of *ti and *ti̯ are essentially the same. ↩
I attended the Digital Humanities conference for the Benelux, held at the IISG in Amsterdam, 7–8 June.
This was my first DHBenelux conference and my second DH conference overall.
During DHd2018 (for the German-language area, held in Cologne) I got the hang of tweeting out my conference and that’s the way I’ll discuss what I saw this year. I couldn’t tweet everything I saw, so please look at the conference program to see what the other tracks talked about.
First conference day, 7 June
Currently, I’m working on a project that works with Linked Open Data, CTS and CapiTains, so this presentation was a great opener.
CTS and CapiTainS enable the easy integration of canical texts (like from Greek or Latin literature) in a website, that work with unambiguous passage identifiers and web APIs.
The fragility of web resources is something that comes back time and time again in this field.
Just as I’ve given a guest workshop to a group of Archiving students, the example server broke.
I saved some pages from my cache, but it was less than ideal to demonstrate to a group of students.
Trismegistos was presented as a great base to link data for the ancient world.
It creates stable IDs for items that partner institutes give to them.
There is however no API available, no data downloads and no clear license.
Above tweets came from a round table discussion about the role of libraries in DH and data science research.
The live polls were a nice touch to not only involve the audience passively, but also have a point to start talking about in the discussion afterwards.
The questions asked and the propositions by the presenters were strongly-worded to spark discussion.
The conference dinner concluded the first day of DHBenelux.
Second conference day, 8 June
This round-table “Applying DH techniques to a cultural heritage environment” was a really nice one.
I saw examples of projects working with Sparql and RDF, that first provide an API, on which other institutes, projects and people can build.
This seperation of concerns helps the sustainability of the data (a recurring issue even in this report :laughcry:).
This session about Linked Open Data gave some clear examples how the Open aspect of LOD enables cross-referencing between projects.
Next came the poster and software demo session.
It was unfortunate that the demos were in a side-room and that I had too little time to talk about all posters (e.g. the one about Syriaca).
Nevertheless I saw a demonstration of ‘Example Based Search’, a way to search through text corpora by means of an target sentence.
That target sentence is parsed and the user indicates what parts of that sentence are relevant to the query: the part-of-speech, the literal word, the case or nothing at all.
I think it’s an inspirational way of searching through data, that especially makes searching in text corpora easier.
Oh wow I can only say the closing keynote blew my mind.
Unfortunately, what was presented was still under wraps, so all I can say is:
I had no idea that [REDACTED] was possible to this extent.
At the Lowlands music festival, both presenters will show off their rap flow work for a live audience.
Go and see that!
I’ve met a lot of people working in the Benelux digital humanities area, which was exactly the reason I came to DHBenelux.
There were really cool presentation, both professionally useful for me and simply technologically amazing.
The food was good, I made some friends and I can’t wait for the next (DH2019 in Utrecht?).
Many other people have also tweeted with the official™ hashtag #dhbenelux. Take a look at those for the other tracks, as well as the blog posts about the conference below. If there are more, please let me know.
Last time, we saw that many varieties of Artemisia were used in a medicinal context, for example to fight tired feet. This association with travel was continued in a later name, Saint John’s weed, because the saint protected people on the road.
It is also explicitly mentioned in the Bible, and by some it is believed that one of these passages prophesized the Chernobyl disaster. In Revelations 8.10-11 it is said that:
10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— 11 the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
Although the Greek probably refers to another kind of Artemisia, namely A. absintha (“the name of the star is Wormwood” → καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ ἀστέρος λέγεται Ἄψινθος) rather than the A. vulgaris, it is not difficult to see why people found this particular passage as a compelling prophesy: the nuclear meltdown as the blazing star, the polluted water, and the people who died from it.
Whether you believe in prophesies or not, this shows that in popular imagination, the toponym of was still related to the herb we have been discussing in the last few posts. I found it interesting to see that the toponym was still associated with its original meaning, and that it played a role in giving the nuclear meltdown meaning.
In my experience, some people tend to see etymology as an academic fancy, because they suppose that historical meaning is not experienced in daily life: only synchronic meaning matters. Here we have a clear example that for people, etymology does matter.
Here I speculate a bit (but hey, it’s my blogpost!), but I can image that for its inhabitants, Chernobyl must have referred mainly to the place, not the herb. Still, a way to process this disaster was to attach it to a historical authority, to a meaning not really there. Delving into the (intellectual) history of a word helps to deepen our appreciation of a word today.
Language Science Press publishes high quality, peer-reviewed open-access books in linguistics. All publications are free for both authors and readers.1
For them, I’ve worked on the conversion of a manuscript that was a descriptive grammar of a pidgin language, with many interlinear glosses.
The original Word document was converted to a LaTeX document that was marked up according to LSP standards.
Sebastian Nordhoff of LSP did a preliminary conversion of the manuscript.
Language Science Press is an innovative and community-owned publisher, with a completely digital workflow. In the below video, you can see how the workflow goes.
This website is the third rewrite of rdmr.eu.
Its precursors were two static hand-coded HTML pages and a short-lived WordPress site.
The current version is written with Jekyll, with the code hosted at GitHub.
Jekyll is a static site generator, which means that pages are not rendered by a server-side process.
This ensures durability and resilience.
A lot of custom programming went into the multiple language support, along with privacy sensitive loading of external content. Tweets, images, videos from other websites are embedded with locally hosted metadata and only load when requested by the website visitor.
Inspired by the talk by Ronan Berder of WiredCraft at the Berlin Static Sites Meetup, I also made this website trilingual with English, German and Dutch content seperated.
To make the Jekyll setup more usable, a Makefile provides shortcuts for new posts, to run a developer server and to upload a new version of the site.
The website is hosted on a small PHP server, so that some interactive server-based options are available, as well.
The CSS is made with Tachyons, a ‘functional’ CSS framework.
I was surprised how quickly I could draw up pretty and useful prototypes.
For new front-end projects, I try to work with Tachyons.