Wednesday, September 08, 2010

it's greek to me (no, seriously)

Can some kind soul translate the underlined word below?

I must say it's a little unkind of Mr. Hardy to spring this on me 300 pages into an otherwise monolingual novel.


  1. Apparently, it's the Greek for "it is finished".

  2. @kelvingreen
    doh! you beat me.

    I don't know greek, but google suggests 'tetelestai' is indeed greek for 'it is finished'. So I guess it's the end of their relationship.

    So sad.

  3. As a side comment, at least my college mathmatics courses were good for something... I can read the greek alphabet!


  4. I didn't recall there being random Greek in the book when I read it long ago, but I just checked one of the copies we have in the house, and it's there, with a footnote. So, you're welcome, but I can't claim much credit.

  5. Here is how it's used in Koine Greek:

    ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 19:30 (1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament)

    30 οτε ουν ελαβεν το οξος [ο] ιησους ειπεν τετελεσται και κλινας την κεφαλην παρεδωκεν το πνευμα

    or translated

    John 19:30 (King James Version)

    30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

  6. Thanks for the follow-up, Todd!

  7. Excuse my ignorance, but what novel is it?

  8. Not to get too picky or uber nerd, but I thought a small addendum was in order. While it does indeed mean finished, it is a derivation of the Greek word 'telos,' which has a whole host of connotations. Thanks for an awesome blog!

  9. Aos, it's from Far From the Madding Crowd.

  10. The previous commenters have not grasped the precise meaning of the word. It actually means "television". I weep for classical education these days.

  11. bob oboc9:33 PM

    according to Liddell & Scott's Greek-English Lexicon ( the standard for ancient Greek dictionaries) tetelestai is the 3rd person singular perfect passive form of teleo, an active verb meaning "to complete, to finish," etc. Technically the literal translation would be "it has been finished", but "it is finished" is a much nicer English colloquialism that is semantically equivalent.

  12. "it is finished", but with connotations of 'termination', or possibly 'foreseeable ending'.

    That's the problem with Greek; it's a double-jointed gymnast of a language which trails billowing clouds of hypertextual cultural referents.

  13. I'm currently reading Captain Blood, and Sabatini keeps dropping Latin phrases into the mix. So, I feel your pain.

  14. @ Chris

    Don't get me started on duals...

    Verification Word - Antatine

    Of or pertaining to the obscure heretic Antatinus