> λόγος

speech [of speech, discourse, reason]

To discuss the term ‘Λόγος’ (Logos) I make use of the sophists’ use of the term ‘logos’ which can be translated as ‘discourse’. Considering that discourse can be both verbal and written alongside the fact that ‘logos’ relates to the speech itself, I feel like I can discuss ‘logos’ as ‘spoken discourse’.

Etymologically, the word discourse comes from the Latin discursus (running to and from). Running from one place to another. It is actually a ‘running’ of ideas expressed through words or verbal expressions. ‘Logos’ therefore in relation to language is more dynamic; it implies movement within the system.

According to Bussmann (p.320):
discourse is a term with various differences in meaning: 

– connected speech (Harris, 1952); 

– the product of an interactive process in a sociocultural context (Pike, 1954); 

– performance (vs ‘text’ as a representation of the formal grammatical structure of discourse) (van Dijk, 1974); 

– conversational interaction (Coulthard, 1977); 

– ‘language in context across all forms and modes’ (Tannen, 1981). 

All these approaches can be also applied to the Greek term ‘logos’; ‘logos’ as the use of language, the dynamic use of already existing systems, as objects, for the composition and structuring of concepts. ‘Logos’ is therefore a tool that allows interaction within the institutional systems. Consequently, systems are not in absolute isolation, they are interconnected discursively.

In Greek though the term ‘logos’ means also ‘logic’, a meaning that is not contained in the term ‘discourse’. This suggests that the connections, the links, between the systems are not arbitrary but instead they are happening through logical, reasonal associations. Logic is what permits and at the same time restricts ‘logos’.

Bussmann, H. (1996). Dictionary of Language and Linguistics. London, New York: Routledge

Author and translator: Stella Dimitrakopoulou