Date: Mar 18, 2013 3:16 PM
Author: James Waldby
Subject: Re: Maths pedagaogy / etymology of "dialogue"

On Mon, 18 Mar 2013 12:59:12 +0000, Frederick Williams wrote:
> wrote:
>> [...] I'm sure I'd have lots of questions and that would open up a great multilogue (meaning a dialogue but extended to more than two views)
> It pleases me to be able to report that the "di" bit of "dialogue" has
> nothing to do with two people. A conversation beteeen many is also a
> dialogue. The Greek "dia" means various things, "two" is not one of
> them. It is "di" (or "dis") that means two, but that is not the prefix
> here. It is "duologue" that means conversation between two parties.
> [Meanwhile, I'm thinking "dia" = "made of", "though", etc, which is it?
> "Made of" I suspect, because "logos" (among other things) means
> "speech", so a dialogue is made of speach. Hmm... I shall check. If a
> linguist comes along and says otherwise it is (s)he whom you should
> believe, not I.]

I don't have access to a current Oxford English Dictionary, the which
usually is regarded as an authority on matters like this, but the entry
at <> agrees closely
with an older OED I looked at (except etymonline uses Roman alphabet for
Greek terms, where OED has Greek letters). etymonline says,

dialogue (n.): early 13c., "literary work consisting of a
conversation between two or more persons," from Old French dialoge,
from Latin dialogus, from Greek dialogos "conversation, dialogue,"
related to dialogesthai "converse," from dia- "across" (see dia-) +
legein "speak" (see lecture (n.)). Sense broadened to "a
conversation" c.1400. Mistaken belief that it can only mean
"conversation between two persons" is from confusion of dia- and di-
(1). A word for "conversation between two persons" is the hybrid
duologue (1864).

Also see etymonline's entry for dia-, at
<> :

dia-: before vowels, di-, word-forming element meaning "through,
thoroughly, entirely," from Greek dia-, from dia "through,
throughout," probably from the root of duo "two" (see two) with a
base sense of "twice."