2002-12-07

pseudomenon

Also known as The Liar's Paradox, common forms of which are the statements "This sentence is false" and "I am lying".

pseudomenon is from the Greek. While I have not been able to locate an authoritative etymological statement on this word (not even in the Oxford English Dictionary!), decomposing the word into two parts: "pseduo-" and "-menon" suggests a derivation...

  • The prefix "pseudo-" is well-known to mean "false".
  • The remainder of the word ("-menon") has one relative in common usage: "phenomenon". It turns out that the construction "-menon" corrsponds to the Greek -μενον, which appears as the suffix of the present participle passive form for verbs that have infinitives ending in -ειν (English equivalent "-ein").

Putting these two facts together suggests that pseudomenon comes from the present participle passive conjugation of the verb ψευδειν) (which means "to deceive"), resulting in a literal translation of something like "the deception".

Some other "-menon" words are:

  • theologoumenon - a theological statement.
  • prolegomenon - learned preface or preamble.
  • paregmenon - a term from the field of rhetoric: repetition of a word or words with related derivation in a short sentence (such as "Sense and sensibility").
  • noumenon - introduced by Kant in contrast to "phenomenon": An object of purely intellectual intuition, devoid of all phenomenal attributes.
  • hapax legomenon - a word or form of which only one instance is recorded in a literature or an author. Such words are often nonce-words (made up for the occasion).

More information at MathWorld.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

look at the greek word meno or menos

Anonymous said...

I talked to my dad who studied classical greek in high school a long time ago.

I can't spell the word but psuedomenon in old greek just means lie, deception, illusion. It's a lie.

There is no word menon but menome means 'I stand alone'