A. KARANIKA: Etymologizing Ancient Games

Andromache Karanika (University of California Irvine, United States)


Etymologizing Ancient Games: Performance and Theory of Etymology

Play and etymology are deeply intertwined.  This paper focuses on the lexicography of games and, in particular, on Pollux’s Onomasticon. While for the majority of entries in Pollux there is no conscious attempt to etymologize, this is not the case with the section on games; most are given by names with a basic etymological analysis which also describes the nature of the game itself. Most of the games have a suffix -ινδα, which seems to be characteristic of words denoting games (such as διελκυνστίνδα, κρυπτίνδα “hide and seek” etc. which is not easy to trace within Greek and Indo-European phonology, as already observed by Pierre Chantraine, 1933:277).  This paper analyzes the semantic range that shapes the marked naming and can help us understand Pollux’s practices in choosing his entries. By focusing on different names of games, most notably on the chelichelone game, I further explore the associations between performance and etymology.