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Old 07-12-2009, 05:30 PM
bwn bwn is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 10
Default News for the ancient Greeks

Around minute 7, Esther explains to us the difference between mazes and labyrinths. She argues what the ancient Greeks referred to as a labyrinth in the myth of the minotaur was actually a maze. That is, the ancient Greeks - who as far as I know came up with the entire concept of mazes/labyrinths - were using the wrong word.

She's taking a modern distinction made by American scholars and projecting it back millennia and onto Greece. I have no idea whether the ancient Greeks distinguished between labyrinths and mazes, but even most modern languages do not, in the sense that they don't have two distinct words for those two structures. English can afford to make the distinction because it has a wealth of synonyms, and in this case it takes labyrinth from Greek (via Latin) and gets maze from Old English and its Germanic roots.

Maybe I'm being picky, but is it too much to ask that instead of saying "People confuse these two concepts and that confusion began among the ancient Greeks," she say, "Nowadays, for the sake of expressing ourselves more exactly, we've assigned these two words specific, distinct meanings"? I know that the choice of words doesn't necessarily reflect the accuracy of her broader arguments, which I find interesting. But when she takes the jargon of her environ as the gold standard and attributes confusion to those who first came up with the concept she's discussing, it makes me wonder about the other assertions she makes.
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