long

larshgf

Senior Member
Danish
πολύς (πολλή/ πολύ) 01|much 02|(pl) many 03|long
μακρύς-ιά-ύ 00|long

I wonder what is the difference between these two words when πολύς is used in the meaning "long"?
 
  • Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Another excellent question larshgf - especially your examples! I've found this difficult too and still have some things I am unsure about. While we wait for the native speakers...

    I think μακρύς is for real physical length that you can measure. Μεγάλος is most other things where you aren't focussed primarily on the physical length but have a sense being, well, big! Otherwise likely πολύς. So in your examples

    Ένας μακρύς δρόμος (Remember in the famous poem with its now old-fashioned stress markings: νὰ εὔχεσαι νά ῾ναι µακρὺς ὁ δρόµος)

    Ένα μεγάλο ταξίδι

    Πολλή ώρα/πολύς χρόνος/πολύς καιρός - "time" has its own complications, depending on how long you see it as being.

    So I think a long break, flight, holiday, book, film, even απόσταση and διαδρομή would all be μεγάλος and φούστα, σκοινί and νύχια are μακρύς. I suspect a long breath or a long life would also be μεγάλος ?? I have a feeling that there could be examples which none of the above fit with English 'long'.

    Additionally if you are asking how long something is it's πόσο μήκος έχει... where μακρύς would be the adjective but πόσο μεγάλος, πόση ώρα etc for the others.

    (I can't imagine how you do this from Danish via English to Greek!)
     

    Apollodorus

    Senior Member
    English UK
    μακρύς seems to be often used in contexts relating to space, whereas μεγάλος more when a word relates to time:

    ένα μακρύ γράμμα (“a long letter”)

    η Μαρία έχει μακριά μαλλιά (“Maria has/wears long hair”)

    δέκα πόδια μακρύς (“ten feet long”)

    το καλοκαίρι οι μέρες είναι πιο μεγάλες (“in the summer the days are longer”)

    η αδελφή μου είναι μεγαλύτερη από εμένα (“my sister is older than me”)

    But also:

    μακροζωία (“long life”)

    μεγάλη ζωή or μεγαλοζωία would be more like “great/big life”.
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Are you asking about Modern Greek, larshgf? Which dictionary gives this?
    πολύς (πολλή/ πολύ) 01|much 02|(pl) many 03|long
     

    larshgf

    Senior Member
    Danish
    Are you asking about Modern Greek, larshgf? Which dictionary gives this?
    πολύς (πολλή/ πολύ) 01|much 02|(pl) many 03|long
    Yes, modern greek. The above is from my danish-greek dictionary:
    Rolf Hesse: Σύγχρονο Ελληνοδανικό Λεξικό (Nygræsk-Dansk Ordbog) ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ ΠΑΤΑΚΗ 2018
    I understand that πολύς is seldom used in the meaning "long".
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Last edited:

    Apollodorus

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The above is from my danish-greek dictionary:
    Rolf Hesse: Σύγχρονο Ελληνοδανικό Λεξικό (Nygræsk-Dansk Ordbog) ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ ΠΑΤΑΚΗ 2018
    The Oxford Greek-English Dictionary also has πολύς for “long”, but it specifies that it is used with words denoting time.

    So, one could form sentences like:

    “We waited a long time” (“Περιμέναμε πολλή ώρα”)

    or

    “I won’t stay/remain here a long time” (“Δεν θα απομείνω πολύ χρόνο εδώ”),

    “Will I need a long time to learn Greek?” (“Θα χρειαστώ πολύ χρόνο για να μάθω ελληνικά;”), etc.

    The main problem seems to be that where Germanic languages (German, Danish, English, etc.) use “long”, others (e.g. Romance) tend to use terms like “much”, e.g., Spanish “mucho tiempo”. Similarly, Greek happens to use "πολύς" ("many", "much") in the examples above. Otherwise, it’s “μακρύς”, “μεγάλος”, etc., depending on the context.
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    μακρά/μακριά νύχτα, μακρύς χειμώνας?
    We also say μεγάλη νύχτα: Οι νύχτες είναι μεγάλες το Δεκέμβρη. But of course, μεγάλη νύχτα can also mean 'big night'.
    The famous film 'The Longest Day' was titled Η πιο μεγάλη μέρα του πολέμου in Greek.
    A popular, though pessimistic song says «Τα καλοκαίρια μας μικρά κι ατέλειωτοι οι χειμώνες»
    Οι μέρες μικραίνουν / μεγαλώνουν.
    And in any case, 'short', said of a length of time, can only be μικρός or σύντομος (=brief), never κοντός.
     
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