Wordplay with Greek Roots

Gregorius

Civis Illustris
It's amazing where my mind will wander if left idle long enough! Here's a joke I randomly thought up while eating dinner. Fair warning: it does require some knowledge of ancient Greek (or at least the origins/derivations of the words "hippopotamus" and "democracy").

Q: Why are all horses hypocrites?
A: Because if they ruled the world, it'd be hippocracy (hypocrisy).

As a somewhat obvious extension,...

Q: And in this world ruled by horses, why would any holder of public office need a medical degree?
A: Because public officials would have to take the Hippocratic oath.
 

Nikolaos

schmikolaos
Staff member
These are jokes that nine out of ten people wouldn't understand without explanation :p
 

deudeditus

Civis Illustris
A perfect example of Hippocracy in action are the Houyhnhnms.
I've posted your hippocracy joke on my facebook. We'll see how many people get it by midnight.
 

Nikolaos

schmikolaos
Staff member
We all are just a bunch of Yahoos in the end - a "hippocracy" would probably be an improvement.
 

JaimeB

Civis Illustris
Just one thing though about the Hippocratic oath. It's named for the ancient physician Hippocrates, to whom it is ascribed. I have always read (and assumed it's true) that Hippocrates's name in Greek means "horse ruler," but in the sense not of a horse that rules (as in "hippocracy"), but rather as in a ruler of horses.

Hippocracy (a rule by horses) wouldn't seem to square with that notion of the name Hippocrates, or by extension with the Hippocratic oath.

I guess the real question has to do with word-order typology of ancient Greek. I guess Greek is generally SVO (Subject-Verb-Object), but the forms ending in -ocracy seem to imply the morphological pattern AVO (Agent-Verb-Object), which is usually typical of ergative languages (which Greek most definitely is not).

Incidentally, maybe somebody who knows more about ancient Greek than I do can clue me in whether the word-order and morphological typologies of ancient Greek are seen as predominantly SVO or if they are of a more mixed type.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
JaimeB dixit:
I guess the real question has to do with word-order typology of ancient Greek. I guess Greek is generally SVO (Subject-Verb-Object), but the forms ending in -ocracy seem to imply the morphological pattern AVO (Agent-Verb-Object), which is usually typical of ergative languages (which Greek most definitely is not).
I would just form the word in analogy with words like democracy, aristocracy, oligarchy, etc. (which can be found in Ancient literature already ... well, obviously not with their English spelling :p) I don't really see the problem with that

Incidentally, maybe somebody who knows more about ancient Greek than I do can clue me in whether the word-order and morphological typologies of ancient Greek are seen as predominantly SVO or if they are of a more mixed type.
The usual word order in Ancient Greek is subject - a million participles - and a finite verb hidden somewhere in between.
 

JaimeB

Civis Illustris
Well, in English, we have compounds like "house-painter" (OV) and the others like "pickpocket" (VO), but the latter type is no longer productive.

In Spanish, they're all the VO type (tocadiscos, sacapuntas, tragamonedas). Some languages do them all the same way, and others do both kinds.

My question was, what are they in ancient Greek? VO, OV, or both?
 

deudeditus

Civis Illustris
two people got it.

i'm not so sure that the word has to be constructed perfectly. joke and all.
 

JaimeB

Civis Illustris
@ deudeditus:

Thanks for that link. From what I could see in the examples, Ancient Greek looks like it pretty consistently follows an OV rule for noun-verb compounding..
 

JaimeB

Civis Illustris
Nikolaos dixit:
These are jokes that nine out of ten people wouldn't understand without explanation :p
You say that like it's a bad thing...
 
Top