Tuesday, May 6, 2008

“haudquaquam similis,” inquam.

“Not at all similar,” I say.

Philolog wonders:

Have you ever noticed how similar the words agnostic and antagonistic are?

Just a thought from me as I write an article about spirituality and somehow type antagonistic instead of the word agnostic. A Freudian Slip perhaps?

Agnostic comes from Not know, in Greek, of course.

Antagonistic comes from Latin? I'll look it up and let you know.

Let's not hold our breath waiting for the response. Rather, a very quick look allows us to begin by saying that the two are in no way etymologically connected. We must secondarily observe that this is a pretty poor etymological analysis of these two words.

Agnostic does indeed come from Greek. And while such words as the verb ἀγνοέω- “to fail to know, to be ignorant” have evolved, the more basic predecessor is the negative prefix α- + γνῶς, the aorist participle of γιγνῶσκω- “to know.”

Antagonistic can be traced to Latin anti- “against” + agere- “to lead, to drive.” But it goes back to Greek as well. Much as γνοω, the verb ἀνταγωνίζομαι- “to struggle against” developed. The root is found in ἀντί- “against” + ἄγω- “to lead, to drive.” Thus the Latin came directly and virtually unaltered from the Greek, and then, perhaps, we borrowed it from them.

I also stumbled upon this interesting bit, albeit strictly for my fellow serious nerds. At Living Epic, a classics professor explores connections between video games, gamer culture, and the world of classical antiquity. The hot topic of late has been Grand Theft Auto 4.


bretty8s said...

That Philolog post is worthy of a Xanga entry. It provokes the same response: Why do people bother putting such inconclusive, useless musings on the Internet? Don't look it up later; look it up before you write the post, dummy. Maybe the writer just couldn't resist the opportunity to let everyone know, within an innocuous, whimsical context, that he hates agnostics.

Anonymous said...

Now I understand why you were complaining. Just because two words look or even sound vaguely familiar does not mean they are related. Wow.