How to Pronounce “Logos” in “Logos Bible Software”

by Aug 19, 2011Bible Software, Humor, Tech10 comments

LogosBibleSoftware

How do you pronounce “Logos” in “Logos Bible Software”? Are the O’s long or short? Should it be LAH-GAHS or LOW-GOESS? Or maybe both? LAH-GOES? LOH-GAHS?

I have the answer.

It’s “LAH-GAHS.” Both O’s are short. There. Debate over. Make this post a Wikipedia footnote, somebody.

You want reasons? Okay.

  1. Usage determines pronunciation. Most evangelical Christian pastors, Bible teachers, and students (the people who buy Logos products) know at least a few Greek words—words which, effectively, have become English words (among Christians, anyway). Ἀγάπη (agape) is one. Λόγος (logos) is another. It appears most famously in John 1, where Jesus is said to be the divine logos, the Word who was “with God” and who “was God.” Christians know that logos means “word,” and this is clearly what “Logos Bible Software” is getting at: putting you in contact with the words of Scripture. All Christians in my admittedly less-than-universal experience pronounce this word with two short O’s: LAH-GAHS.*
  2. The reason Christians do this is that their pastors did. The reason pastors do it is that their Greek teachers did. The reasons Greek teachers have for doing it are multiple, and one of them I admit I’m a little unclear on: as best I can tell after searching and reading for several years, no one knows for certain how Koine Greek words were pronounced in the time of the New Testament. So English-speaking Greek teachers have adopted the wholly salutary practice of distinguishing between omicron (Ο) and omega (Ω) by making the first short and the second long. This distinction aids learning, because students would no doubt substitute English pronunciation rules otherwise and would confuse the two letters. It’s possible that we shouldn’t be so arbitrary but should make an earnest attempt to speak Greek as Paul and Peter did. Might some exegetical or textual-critical tangle be solved by appealing to pronunciation? Perhaps, but I have almost never seen it done.
  3. And this gets us back to the first reason: it doesn’t matter how the Greek word was pronounced in the first century. What matters for pronunciation is what people say now. Admittedly, in the language of the non-Christian world—around which Christian theological terminology hovers on the fringe—Logos is pronounced LOH-gahs. But very few people outside the church know or care about Logos Bible Software; I say we should use the pronunciation current in the only usage community relevant to the discussion, American conservative evangelical Christianity.
  4. There are a few possible homonyms which, on balance, it might be best to avoid since we can: Logos is clearly not the plural of logo, as in a little image that a company uses on their signs, so LOW-GOEZ is out. It’s also clearly not the former capital of Nigeria. No LAH-GOESS.
  5. Dale Pritchett said it’s LAH-GAHS. (No matter that Bob Pritchett said the opposite. Honor your father.)

All that said… There’s no rule against having more than one pronunciation for a given word. I just find it a little odd that the company itself is divided… Even the two founders are. Perhaps, if Logos did an internal study, they would find that people more loyal to Dale Pritchett follow his pronunciation while others follow Bob’s. Perhaps we’re looking at a future company split, sort of like a church split, but one that rips in half the libraries of pastors everywhere! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! This problem must be solved!

*If I’m wrong about what most Christians say, then this whole post pretty much goes out the window. Perhaps I am guilty of hearing only East-Coast Christians, sort of like assuming that everyone says “pop,” unaware of the regional variations in names for soda. I think this would make a great undergraduate linguistics statistics paper.


Major Update: I wrote this post almost exactly four years before I began working at Logos Bible Software (now Faithlife) myself, something that was not on my career plan at the time. I am now a “Logos Pro,” and I became aware very quickly that there is no standard pronunciation of “Logos” here. The same person may change pronunciations in the course of a sentence. What do I make of this situation? What should people say?

Here’s my answer, and I wrote a piece on it at the Logos Blog: people should say what best suits their ends and meets the needs of their audience. If the people to whom you’re speaking know Greek and learned it in a seminary which used a pronunciation system in which omicron is a short o (such as in the word not), then say LAH-GAHS.

But—and here’s a piece of wisdom I picked up my first day—people who don’t know Greek at all, or who haven’t been exposed to the churchified, anglicized use of the word logos, will not know by hearing it how to spell Logos unless you use two long o’s. So I’ve picked up the habit of saying LOW-GOESS, at least when it’s useful.

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10 Comments

  1. David

    Wouldn’t it be closer to LAW-GAWS? LAH-GAHS makes me think it’s a short “a” as is “bat,” but I think you mean it’s a short “o” as in “lot.”

    Somebody ought to come up with an international phonetic alphabet, so questions like this don’t arise.

    Reply
    • Felma Roel R. Singco

      𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘮𝘺 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘪𝘤𝘦, 𝘪𝘧 𝘸𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘎𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘬 𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘤𝘳𝘰𝘯. 👍

      Reply
      • Mark Ward

        Ah—but what is the “correct” pronunciation of the omicron? Which region of the Greek-speaking world, and which era of Κοινή Greek do we appeal to? Or which tradition of Greek instruction do we appeal to? Reality is that, just as in English and Spanish, different people in the same town may pronounce a given vowel differently. My six-year-old says “sence” instead of “since.” This is a common shift in another dialect of American English I’m aware of, too. Maybe just maybe he got it from there. I don’t know. I can still understand him just fine. Which of us is “right”? I am because I’m the dad, right? =) But millions of people who speak that other dialect aren’t “wrong,” are they? I say: use the pronunciation that will best suit your communicative ends given your audience. In front of pastors, LAH-GAHS; in front of laypeople, LOW-GOESS.

        Reply
  2. DPierre

    I came across this site when Googling “how to pronounce logos”!

    But I also came across another site, where *everyone*, which included people from around the globe, pronounces it as LOW-goes (two long o’s):
    http://www.forvo.com/word/logos/

    For what it’s worth …

    Reply
  3. Joel Arnold

    Nice. Always been bugged by the long O but this is the first time I’ve ever read anything about it.

    Reply
  4. Richard Stephens

    Just a footnote for DPierre’s mention of the http://www.forvo.com site. I use that site often as an informal reference resource and enjoy it. The reason I say “informal” is because it is neither authoritative nor exhaustive (nor was it meant to be). It is a collaboration website where anyone from a Rhodes scholar who majored in Linguistics to a primary-school dropout can freely make a submission. The claim that “everyone” pronounces it LOW-goes is a bit of a stretch; there are only 6 submissions as of this date: 3 for English an d 1 apiece fro French, Turkish, and Ancient Greek.
    I enjoyed Mark’s explanation which had many useful and/or entertaining points.

    Reply
  5. Rick Brooks

    I think the article is right on target, relieves me from stress thinking I’d always said it wrongly, and yes, it should be universally adopted. Tickled to finally have it settled forever…. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Duncan Johnson

    When I’m feeling cheeky, I pronounce it this way: SLOW-GOES.

    Obviously, this pronunciation has nothing to do with orthography, and everything to do with my biggest pet peeve with my Logos experience since I became a user sometime around 2010.

    Reply
  7. Charlie

    Morris Proctor pronounces it “LAH-GAHS”. That should settle it 😉

    Reply

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  1. How to Pronounce “Logos” and Other Important Evangelical Words | LogosTalk - […] I came to serve the church as a Logos Pro at Faithlife, I wrote a post on my personal…
  2. Episode 124: Mark L. Ward, Jr. - Logos Bible Software 7 [podcast] - The Shaun Tabatt Show - […] How to Pronounce “Logos” in “Logos Bible Software” […]

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