Last = τελευταίος vs τελικός ?

Helleno File

Senior Member
English - UK
I think I have some of the distinction between τελευταίος and τελικός right in my mind but want to check here as it still bothers me. They both share a root in τέλος (end) and can translate Eng "last". The WR dictionary entries for both words are helpful.

This stems from an incident several years ago painfully fixed in my memory when I caused considerable confusion by my mistake. (I know, I know it's how we learn languages!) I was in a small shop in the tiny village where have spent our seaside holidays for 25 years. I wanted to tell the shopkeeper I had just taken the last bottle of our favourite ouzo - in the hope it would be restocked for later on in the fortnight. So I confidently said "αυτό είναι το τελευταίο μπουκάλι στο ράφι". To my surprise this was met with complete incomprehension, complicated questions which I could probably answer much better now and the shopkeeper checking the shelf herself.
I now think I should have said "το τελικό μπουκάλι".

My guess now is that τελευταίος means last in a series, although that may be implied. Alternatively it could be that you are thinking that something is last now but not necessarily always so.

Ήμουνα τελευταίος στα μαθηματικά - I was last - informally, "bottom" - at maths.

Άκουσες τα τελευταία νεα; - Have you heard the latest news?

Τελευταία - recently (I think! = πρόσφατα)

Ο τελευταίος όροφος - the top floor.

Το αμάξι μου είναι στα τελευταία του - my car is on its last legs, suggesting it's been ok up to now.

I am not sure but does that mean that τελικός is last when English can also say "final" i.e. when you are focussing on there being no more of something?

Το τελικό του Παγκόσμιου Κυπέλλου - the World Cup Final.

Am I on the right track here? Or can anyone correct me before I cause more confusion! :eek:
 
  • διαφορετικός

    Senior Member
    Swiss German - Switzerland
    I find this an interesting question. Probably it is best clarified by a comparison of example phrases (such as those which you have already provided, Helleno File). A good source of such phrases is this dictionary:
    Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής
    Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής

    αυτό είναι το τελευταίο μπουκάλι στο ράφι
    I have found the following information in the «τελευταίος» λήμμα of the dictionary:
    • "ό,τι απομένει από ένα σύνολο: Ξόδεψε και τα τελευταία του χρήματα."
    Therefore, I think your quoted sentence is correct / meaningful.
    My additional question: would the phrase "αυτό είναι το τελικό μπουκάλι στο ράφι" have the same meaning, or is it simply wrong?
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    @Helleno File
    All your sentences in Greek are correct and meaningful :thumbsup:, except "αυτό είναι το τελικό τελευταίο μπουκάλι στο ράφι". διαφορετικός is right.
    Ιt's "ο τελικός (αγώνας) <<the final match>> του Παγκοσμίου Κυπέλλου. Or "οι τελικοί"/"τα τελικά".

    Sometimes "τελικός" means "τελευταίος", sometimes not. In the second case, you could translate it "final" or "definitive".
    "final solution" - "τελική λύση"
    "final decision" - "τελική απόφαση"
     

    dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    I cannot come up with an example where "τελικός" means "τελευταίος", really. Can you help me here, Perseas?
    I believe that "τελευταίος" means "last" and "τελικός" means "final".
    (The phrase 'The Last Judgement', that in Greek is usually referred to as 'H Δευτέρα Παρουσία' [=The Second Coming] but could also be translated as 'H Tελική Κρίση', is an 'anomaly' in English, I think: isn't that, in fact, the "final" judgement?)
     

    dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Yes!
    You are absolutely right!
    Can this be translated (apart from the obvious 'last letter') as "the final letter' in English?
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    I believe that "τελευταίος" means "last" and "τελικός" means "final".
    ↑↑
    Of course, those are the primary equivalences.
    I just thought of a few cases where "τελευταίος" and "τελικός" could replace each other.

    Also, speaking about antonyms, I'd say: πρώτος ǂ τελευταίος and αρχικός ǂ τελικός.
    (first ǂ last , initial ǂ final) ?
     

    διαφορετικός

    Senior Member
    Swiss German - Switzerland
    Can this be translated (apart from the obvious 'last letter') as "the final letter' in English?
    I am not an expert for the English language, but I would say yes.

    I would guess that τελευταίος mainly describes a position in a series, whereas τελικός (additionally) says something about completeness. Even in the cases where they are synonyms, there might be a slightly different meaning. Example:

    garden (κήπος)
    garde: "e" is the τελευταίο / last letter, but not the τελικό / final letter
    garden: "n" is the τελευταίο / last and the τελικό / final letter

    Do you agree (at least for the Greek words)?
     
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    dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    I'd say you are right, as we say 'το τελευταίο γράμμα του θέματος' (λέγ-ω) and 'το τελικό -ς/-ν' (κήπος / τον).
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    @Helleno File
    All your sentences in Greek are correct and meaningful :thumbsup:, except "αυτό είναι το τελικό τελευταίο μπουκάλι στο ράφι".
    Thank you all for your reassuring comments.
    It looks like I was on the right lines in my general analysis about τελευταίος and my original statement in the shop was actually what Greeks would say. So the only thing I can conclude was that my Greek was correct and the shopkeeper's reaction was in relation to the unexpected gap on the shelf!

    I think in English we would more often say "the last letter" in a word but final would be ok. On the other hand you could only say e.g. "words with a final e/vowel/etc" . In that context" last" is definitely wrong. We can say either in "words with the stress on the last/final" syllable". Final would be more likely in a e.g. a grammar.
     
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