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Talent (was: [Conlangs-Conf] Conculture)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 24, 2006, 12:42
Thomas Hart Chappell wrote:
> Speaking of religious assumptions embodied in language. > > Is the English meaning of the word "talent" -- a natural gift, inborn > facility, or knack -- related to Jesus's "parable of the talents"?
> I am not able to guess an etymology from the Latin meaning "enough copper > to fill an oxhide", to the English meaning, that is independent of Jesus's > parable.
I don't know where you get that Latin etymology from. The word is not Latin in origin, and had nothing to do with oxen or copper. The Latin _talentum_ is borrowing from Greek _talanton_. It presumably happened via the spoken language at an early date - and is not a literary borrowing - as we see the /a/ in the second syllable weaken to /e/ under the influence the initial stress of early Latin (In the Classical period it would have been stressed on the second syllable). The original meaning of the Greek _talanton_ was "a balance, a pair of scales" <-- talant- "(to) swing, balance". And that meaning was still occasionally found in the writing of Classical authors. It came to designated anything weighed and, more specifically, to denote a definite weight: a talent. In the works of Homer it is always used of _gold_ in this sense. In post-Homeric writers it is used both of commercial weight and of the sum of money, represented by a talent of gold or a talent of silver (cf. the British 'pound' [money] which was original a pound of silver in weight). The Greeks, being Greeks, did not have a single standard; each city-state had its own 'talent'. In the Hellenistic period, however, it normally refers to the Attic talent of 60 minae (Greek: mnai). The silver mina (mna) was the equivalent of 100 Roman denarii. But, yes, the derived meaning of 'natural gift' etc is derived from the parable. -- Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY


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