Oikeiôs as designating 'familiarity' and not 'appropriateness' in Aristotle's creation of words

Maria Chriti


This article deals with the English translations of the adverb oikeiôs in Aristotle's texts. In chapter 7 of the Categories, Aristotle advises speakers to create words if necessary (7a5-7), on the condition that the new word is given oikeiôs. However, the English translations does not render in an accurate way what Aristotle wants to express regarding name-giving, since the adverb oikeiôs, deriving from the adjective oikeios, denotes 'property' and 'familiarity', the second meaning obviously originating from the first. Oikeiôs is crucial for us to comprehend Aristotle's concept of name-giving, since he combines it with forms of the verbs apodidômi ('to define') or legô, more than eight times in this particular chapter, where he is concerned with correct linguistic rendition. In sense of 'familiarity', oikeiôs sheds more light on the philosopher's semantic theory in On Interpretation, helping us to understand exactly how Aristotle conceived of conventionality, i.e., combined with familiarity.



Aristotle, oikeiôs, language, naming, translation

Full Text:



Ackrill, John Lloyd. Aristotle, Categories and De Interpretatione, translated with Notesand Glossary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968.

Arens, Hans. "Sprache und Denken bei Aristoteles". In Silvain Auroux et al (eds.). History of the Language Sciences/Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaften/Histoire des sciences du langage. Vol. I. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2000, 367-374.

Ax, Wolfgam."Aristoteles (384‒322)". In Wolfgam Ax and Farouk Grewing (eds.) Lexis und Logos. Studien zur antiken Grammatik und Rhetorik. Stuttgard: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2000, 48-72.

Bäck, Allan. Aristotle's Theory of Predication. Leiden, Boston, Köln: Brill, 2000.

Barnes, Jonathan. Aristotle's Posterior Analytics. Clarendon Aristotle Series, ed. by John Lloyd Ackrill. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.

Baxter, Timothy M. S. The Cratylus: Plato's Critique of naming. Philosophia antiqua 58. Leiden / Boston: Brill, 1992.

Benveniste, Emile. "Catégories de pensée et catégories de langue". In Problèmes de linguistique génerale 1, 63-74. Paris: Gallimard, 1966.

Blank, David. Ammonius on Aristotle's "On Interpretation" 1‒8, Cornell: Duckworth, 1996.

Blank, David. "The Organization of Grammar in Ancient Greece". In Silvain Auroux et al (eds.). History of the Language Sciences / Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaften / Histoire des sci-ences du langage. Vol. I. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2000, 400-417.

Christidis, Anastasios-Foivos, Maria Arapopoulou and Maria Chriti (eds). A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Chriti, Maria. "Neoplatonic Commentators on Aristotle: The 'Arbitrariness' of the Linguistic Sign". In Ancient Scholarship and Grammar. Archetypes, Concepts and Contexts, eds. Stephanos Matthaios, Franco Montanari, Antonios Rengakos.Trends in Classics 8. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2011a, 499-514.

Chriti, Maria. "Ammonius' Commentary on Aristotle's De Interpretatione: Language is both by Nature and by Convention", Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft 21.1 (2011b), 1-24.

Chriti, Maria. Aristotle as a name-giver: The Cognitive Aspect of his Theory and Practice. CHS Research Bulletin: A publication of the Center for Hellenic Studies, 23.05.2018 http://www.chs-fellows.org/2018/05/23/report-aristotle-as-name-giver/

Cooke, Harold P. and Hugh Tredennick. Aristotle. The Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics. The Loeb Classical Library. London: Heinemann. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1967.

De Rijk, Lambert Marie. Aristotle. Semantics and Ontology. Vol. I: General Introduction. The Works of Logic. Leiden, Boston, Köln: Brill, 2002.

Frede, Dorothea and Brad Inwood (eds.). Language and Learning: Philosophy of Language in the Hellenistic Age: Proceedings of the Ninth Symposium Hellenisticum. Cambridge: Cam-bridge University Press, 2005.

Giannakis, Giorgos, Vit Bubenik, Emilio Crespo et al. Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics. Vols. I-II. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Ildefonse, Frédérique& Jean Lallot. Aristote, Catégories. Présentation, traduction et commenta-ries. Paris: Vrin, 2002.

Irwin, Terence H. "Plato's Heracliteanism". The Philosopical Quarterly 27 (1977), 289-301.

Irwin, Terence H. "Aristotle's Concept of Signification". In Malcolm Schofield and Martha Nuss-baum (eds.), Language and Logos: Studies Presented to G. E. L. Owen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1982, 241-266.

Karamanolis, George E. Plato and Aristotle in Agreement? Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006.

Kotzia, Paraskevi. "Philosophical Vocabulary". In Anastasios-Foivos Christidis, Maria Arapop-oulou and Maria Chriti (eds.) A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late An-tiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 1089‒1103.

Kotzia, Paraskevi. Περί του μήλου ή περί της Αριστοτέλους τελευτής. Thessaloniki: Thyrathen, 2007b.

Kotzia, Paraskevi and Maria Chriti. "Ancient Philosophers on Language". In Giorgos Giannakis, Vit Bubenik, Emilio Crespo et al. Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics. Vols. I-II. Leiden: Brill, 2014, 124-33.

Lee, Henry D. P. Aristotle, Meteorologica. The Loeb Classical Library. London: Heinemann. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1962.

Louis, Pierre. Aristote, Météorologiques I. Vol. I et II. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1982.

Manetti, Giovanni."The concept of the sign from ancient to modern semiotics".In Giovanni Menetti (ed.), KnowledgeThrough Signs. Ancient Semiotic Theories and Practices. Semiotic and Cognitive Studies II. Bologna: Brepols, 1996, 11-40.

Membrez, Gregory. "Metaphor by any Other Name. A Cognitive Linguistic Reassessment of Aristotle's Theory of Metaphor". In Egle Mocciaro and William Michael Short (eds.), Toward a Cognitive Classical Linguistics. The Embodied Basis of Constructions in Greek and Latin. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019, 207-27.

Modrak, Deborah K. W. Aristotle's Theory of Language and Meaning. Cambridge: CUP, 2001.

Sorabji, Richard. The Philosophy of the Commentators, 200-600 AD: A Sourcebook. Vol.I, Psy-chology (with Ethics and Religion). Ithaca and New York: Cornell University Press, 2004.

Swiggers, Pierre and Alfons Wouters. Grammatical Theory and Philosophy of Language in Antiquity. Leuven, Paris, Sterling, Virginia: Peeters, 2002.

Weidemann, Hermann."Gründzüge der aristotelischen Sprachtheorie". In Peter Schmitter (Hrsg..), Sprachtheorien der abendlδndischen Antike. Tübingen: Narr, 1991, 170-192.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25180/lj.v21i2.194


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Labyrinth: An International Journal for Philosophy, Value Theory and Sociocultural Hermeneutics

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

PRINTED ISSN: 2410-4817

ONLINE ISSN: 1561-8927

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25180/lj

Creative Commons License

The online edition of Labyrinth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Published with the suppport of the Cultural Department of the City of Vienna 

Referat Wissenschafts- und Forschungsförderung der Kulturabteilung (MA 7) der Stadt Wien