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simple vs. complex

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Do you have any non-Latin equivalent or translation in your language?

    Dutch has:
    - simpel, but also eenvoudig (lit. onefold, so lit. the same as sim-plex)
    - complex, but also ingewikkeld (liit. en-velopped --- see : ontwikkeld,de-veloped)
    There seems to be a parallel between voud (< vouwen, to fold), and wikkel (< wikkelen, to (en)velop)
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  2. Yondlivend Senior Member

    American English
    My two cents for English, since simple can have many meanings depending on the context:

    Simple:
    - Homely can, in some cases, mean simple (Merriam-Webster's definitions 3a) "unaffectedly natural; simple", 3b) "not elaborate or complex." The Oxford English Dictionary has "simple and unpretentious" as does the American Heritage Dictionary. Collins Dictionary also has "unpretentious.")

    - Unfussy which, according to those dictionaries, means uncluttered or uncomplicated. Collins has "not characterized by overelaborate detail."

    - Onefold does exist but it just means "consisting of one part/element/undivided whole."

    - Bare refers to things that are plain, unadorned, very basic and clean.

    - Straightforward means something that is to the point and easy to understand/follow.

    If you'd like, I can include sentences with the word simple and then show how these words could be used in place of it. I can work on synonyms for complex later, but hopefully these are something like what you were looking for.
     
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Good Lord, I had not realized 'simple' could be that... complicated.

    I must say I had been thinking of the 'ordinary' meaning 'easy', 'unaffectedly natural', not complicated. My focus is on Germanic/... English equivalents, non-Latin, though. Your words do refer to clutter for complex, and plain, clean and home, maybe straight (not crooked ?) for simple; that is certainly interesting, I had not thought of that, had focused mainly on this layer/fold vs. envelop/clutter root meaning.
     
  4. apmoy70 Senior Member

    Greek
    In Greek:

    Simplex: «Απλός, -ή, -ό» /a'plos a'pli a'plo/ (masc. fem. neut.) from the Classical «ἁπλόος/ἁπλοῦς, ἁπλόη/ἁπλῆ, ἁπλόον/ἁπλοῦν» hă'plŏŏs [uncontracted]/hā'plous [contracted] (masc.), hă'plŏē [uncontracted]/hā'plē [contracted] (fem.), hă'plŏŏn [uncontracted]/hā'ploun [contracted] (neut.)--> single, simple, plain from PIE base *sem-, together, same > *sm̥-pl-os, one, together.
    Complex:
    a) «Πολύπλοκος, -κη, -κο» /po'liplokos po'liploci po'liploko/ (masc. fem. neut.) from the same Classical adj. «πολύπλοκος» pŏ'lŭplŏkŏs--> tangled, complex; compound, prefix adv. and adj. «πολυ-»--> many, much (PIE base *ple-/*plā-, much) + fem. noun «πλοκὴ» plŏ'kē /plo'ci/ in modern pronunciation--> twining, twisting, interweaving (PIE base *pel-/*plēk, to weave, plait).
    b) «Περίπλοκος, -κη, -κο» /pe'riplokos pe'riploci pe'riploko/ (masc. fem. neut.) from the same Classical adj. «περίπλοκος» pĕ'rĭplŏkŏs--> entwined; compound, prefix and adv. «περι-»--> around, about, beyond (PIE base *per-, through, across, beyond) + «πλοκὴ» (see above).
    c) «Πολλαπλός, -πλή, -πλό» /pola'plos pola'pli pola'plo/ (masc. fem. neut.) from the Classical adj. «πολλαπλόος/πολλαπλοῦς» pŏllă'plŏŏs [uncontracted]/pŏllā'plous [contracted]--> multifold, multicompound; compound, prefix adv. and adj. «πολυ-/πολλα-»--> many, much + «ἁπλόος/ἁπλοῦς».
     
  5. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, Apmoy. Isn't there a -plos element in 'aplos' as well ? Could you associate this weaving with layers as well ? (Het Latin 'plex'...)
     
  6. Yondlivend Senior Member

    American English
    It's funny, isn't it? Merriam-Webster has 10 main definitions for simple, though, including "innocent", "modest", and "stupid."

    I don't really know of all many words using that idea in English, but it's there in the suffix -fold and probably in other adjectives.

    Anyway, onto the next list.

    Complex:
    - Tangled is taken to mean complex by all of the dictionaries I used for the previous list. "Complicated", "exceedingly complex", "confused and chaotic" occur in Collins, Merriam-Webster, and Oxford respectively.
    - Mazelike (possibly written as two words), Mazy, or similar derived terms from maze could potentially have this meaning, as a definition of maze as a noun is "a confusing mess of information", "something confusingly elaborate or complicated" or a "complex network of paths" (Oxford, Merriam-Webster, and Collins respectively). As a verb, maze means to perplex.
    - Bewildering is a form of the verb to bewilder, meaning to confuse, especially by complexity.
    - Knotty is similar to tangled. Oxford and Collins have "Extremely difficult or complex/intricate." Merriam-Webster describes something so full of complications to the point of being unsolvable.

    There are probably others, but these get the basic idea of it. Fussy does not really have a sense of complex as unfussy has a sense of simple; it just means too detailed or decorated, but not necessarily complicated. One thing I find interesting about this thread is how complexity seems to be strongly linked to woven/tangled things. I wonder if languages outside the IE group have similar associations?
     
  7. apmoy70 Senior Member

    Greek
    Yes you are absolutely right, the productive suffix «-πλόος/πλοῦς» (-'plŏŏs [uncontracted]/-'plous [contracted]) suggests a fold
     
  8. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, Apmoy and Yondlivend!

    As for the synonyms you refer to, Y: quite amazing again. I suppose the main distinctions are one-fold/ manyfold (literally), straight/ skewed, maze-like, under control/wild, loose/ knot.

    But indeed, my focus was on the layers especially but maybe the weaving aspect is equally interesting (whereas that is in itself not negative: texts, textiles --- if kept under control ;-)), the twining. I suppose tying leads to knots, among which also Gordian ones, the ones we get stuck into, or something. The plos in Greek refers to folding and weaving, so it seems. I think the straight/ skewed... aspect is important too.
     
  9. Yondlivend Senior Member

    American English
    Manifold (as you said literally many-fold) for whatever reason does not have a sense of complex, but diverse.

    Do you have a compound such as manifold in Dutch? I took a quick look in wiktionary and found a noun veelvoud. Dutch veel (if that's how it's spelled) is a cognate to English fele, which was used in OE (as fela) but probably only exists in certain dialects now if at all. Interestingly OE had felafeald along with maniġfeald and missenliċ, but as far as I know only manifold survived.
     
  10. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    You're right, but many-fold reminded me of ingewikkeld, lit. envelop(p)ed, and I got carried away a little... Interesting this fele...
     
  11. Yondlivend Senior Member

    American English
    The only word that doesn't seem to mention the patterns you listed above is bewilder. It has a connection (just by the sound of it I'm sure people already see it) to wilderness, so perhaps the idea is getting lost in the woods. I understand the idea of confused, but I'm not sure what semantic developments (is that the right term?) led it to be associated with complexity. Maybe the woods were like a maze? :D
     
  12. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I think so, you know: I associate wildness (and 'wild forests') with uncontrollability and therefore complexity...
     
  13. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    German has einfach, as in Einstein's famous version of Occham's razor "so einfach wie möglich, nur nicht einfacher" (as simple as possible, only not simpler). So is fach German for plex/fold?
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  14. AutumnOwl

    AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden, Finnish
    Swedish:
    Enke
    l (from a Gothic word meaning alone) - simple, single
    Sammansatt, flerdelad (put together, many parts/layers) - complex
     
  15. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks for these. Nothing more German than kompliziert?
     
  16. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks for these. Nothing more German than kompliziert?

    I also found vielschichtig, verzwickt, verwickelt, meaning respectively: multi-layered, and then two neg. verbs containing ver-, one parallelling the Dutch ingewikkeld, the other containing a verb like 'to pinch' (zwicken). Just like knifflig, I now understand, another synonym, I think, which adds another verb meaning to complex, namely pinching, though it's not quite clear to me how the two can be combined. Or: natural vs. forced ? [I don't know anything about the use of the different synonyms in German though]
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  17. AutumnOwl

    AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden, Finnish
    There are many synonyms to complex in Swedish: invecklad, komplicerad, svårförstådd, svåröverskådlig, krånglig, knepig, mångfacetterad, tilltrasslad, intrikat, besvärlig and so on.
     
  18. hui Senior Member

    Finnish
    Finnish:

    yksinkertainen (one-fold)
    monimutkainen ("many-curved")
     
  19. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Tagalog: 1.) simple= payak/isahan/ madali/ tuwid /may kababawan 2.) complex= Masalimuot/ maramihan/ magkapatong/patung patong/ may lalim/ dagandagan
     
  20. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Why so many words? What is the ma- element ? What does may mean ?
     
  21. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    1.)payak directly mean simple/ isahan = only one/ madali= easy/ tuwid= straight/ may kababawan=( may= there is) (kababawan= shallowness?) i think in different cases these words will give the meaning "simple" or not complex. 2.) Masalimuot= (ma= prefix(contracted "may" added to salimuot= many ways/routes) , maramihan= by group or in many series , magkapatong= double as in double standards, patung patung= with different/several layers or levels or systems, may lalim= there is depth, dagan dagan= same as patung patung but not in order or scrambled files. (as in scrambled files= dagandagang patas) all these words are saying more than 2 are described and it is complex.
     
  22. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    There are some very remarkable things in your notes, M!
    - I see straight turn up (see my question at the C Café)
    - I see the idea of layers turn up at 'complex'
    There might be more, but I'd need more information... I'll be back, I think...
     
  23. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    Most words that aren't concrete nouns in Chinese are Sinitic (even words like 'Internet' and 'email' are Sinitic), so it shouldn't be surprising that our words for 'simple' and 'complex' are Sinitic. (The only Latinate words that I can think of (except concrete nouns) in common usage are 邏輯 and 幽默.) Anyway,

    (All are TC/SC. Morphemes meaning 'simple' and 'complex' are in boldface.)

    Simple - 簡單/简单 jiǎndān (簡/简= simple, compare 簡體字/简体字, 'simplified characters'; 單/单 = single);
    Complex - 複雜/复杂 fùzá (複/复 = multiple, complicated; 雜/杂 = miscellaneous, messy);
    繁複/繁复 fánfù (繁 = complicated, cumbersome, compare 繁體字/繁体字, 'traditional characters'; 複/复= multiple, complicated)
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  24. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Great, though I don't understand it all. But is there a literal sense of 'layered-ness' implied ? Your simple focus on the singleness, which could refer to that. Is there any metaphoric meaning implied? I suppose not...
     
  25. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    I can't think of a Chinese word for 'many layers' that could mean complicated. There are a couple of ways to say 'multi-layered', but that's what they mean: 'multi-layered'. :)
     
  26. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    What about the idea of folding or duplicating?

    In Japanese, I suppose that would be the ori of origami.
     
  27. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    Chinese 重疊/重叠 (chóngdié) only refers to overlapping (both of the senses in English).
     
  28. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    In Arabic:
    Simple = basīṭ بسيط connected with the verb basaṭa “to spread out, flatten”
    Complex = murakkab مركب passive participle of the verb rakkaba, originally: “to mount (a person on a horse)”, then: “to set (a stone in a ring), to assemble (the components of something)”.
     
  29. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Great hint, FdB. I just wondered how one moves (leaps...) from mounting to setting, assembling - or do they have to do with putting simply?
     
  30. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    No, the basic meaning of the root r-k-b is "to ride an animal". The causative stem (rakkaba) is thus basically "to make some one ride an animal, put him on horseback". Then: "to set a stone" (as if making the precious stone ride horseback on the ring). And finally: to assemble any "complex" object out of "simple" elements.
     
  31. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I see, i see, thanks !
     
  32. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    Yes, we do.
    simpel = egyszerű < egy (one)
    complex = összetett < össze- samen + tett (Gerund of the verb tesz doen), something like "samengedaan".
     
  33. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    But the doing is not like a layer, I suppose. However, I do recognize the idea of a 'many' concept...
     
  34. e2-e4 X Senior Member

    Русский
    In Russian there are two antonyms, "простой" and "сложный", that correspond to the two English words, "simple" and "complex", and their underlying meanings correspond to those of the English words. That is, being "простой" refers to not having structure, not having parts, whereas the adjective "сложный" refers to having a more complex structure; it looks to be a passive verbal adjective, formed from the verb "сложить" ("to put", "to assemble", "to put together", "to pile"; the corresponding regular past passive participle is "сложенный").

    Of course, in Russian there is also a lot of other words that have related meanings, like "tangled" or "artless", and that can, in certain contexts, play by extension the role of words "простой" or "сложный", but they are just that — words with related, yet differing, meanings.

    The words "простой" and "сложный" can also describe things, that are easy or hard to understand or to operate upon in some other way. And there is also another couple of words that have these meanings, namely "лёгкий" and "тяжёлый" (they are related to weight).
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
  35. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Interesting notes, thanks. What would be root of /proston/(?) and /sprosivi/ (????). Not having structure especially: is that one word?
     
  36. e2-e4 X Senior Member

    Русский
    The word "простой" is a simple word in modern Russian, this adjective means what it means (well, of course it has extended meanings, too). The root is "прост" ("prost"), the rest is a case/number ending.
    I am not sure I understand the question. I already said it looks to be formed from a verb, which in some way means "creating structure", that is, with putting together things. The verb has a root ("лож") and a prefix ("с"), that mean more or less "put" and "together", correspondingly (the root "plex", by the way, appears instead to mean a net). The adjectival suffix "н" is used to form the adjective. Overall, the stem of the adjective is "сложн", which is transliterated differently by different people, one variant is "slozhn" (where "zh" means that consonant).
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
  37. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Perfect answer, e2 zx 5 ! ;-)
     
  38. arielipi Senior Member

    Israel
    Hebrew
    Hebrew:
    simple is pashut
    complex is murkav
     

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