Greek language

Last updated

Greek
ελληνικά
Pronunciation [eliniˈka]
Region Greece, southern Mediterranean
Ethnicity Greeks
Native speakers
13.4 million (2012) [1]
Early form
Dialects
Language codes
ISO 639-1 el
ISO 639-2 gre  (B)
ell  (T)
ISO 639-3 Variously:
ell    Modern Greek
grc    Ancient Greek
cpg    Cappadocian Greek
gmy    Mycenaean Greek
pnt    Pontic
tsd    Tsakonian
yej    Yevanic
Glottolog gree1276 [2]
Linguasphere
  • 56-AAA-a
  • 56-AAA-aa to -am (varieties)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Greek (Modern Greek: ελληνικάelliniká) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. [3] Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. [4] The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Modern Greek refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, and includes Standard Modern Greek. The end of the Medieval Greek period and the beginning of Modern Greek is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic modern features of the language arose centuries earlier, between the fourth and the fifteenth centuries AD.

Indo-European languages language family

The Indo-European languages are a language family of several hundred related languages and dialects.

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a sovereign state located in Southern and Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

Contents

The Greek language holds an important place in the history of the Western world and Christianity; the canon of ancient Greek literature includes works in the Western canon such as the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey . Greek is also the language in which many of the foundational texts in science, especially astronomy, mathematics and logic and Western philosophy, such as the Platonic dialogues and the works of Aristotle, are composed; the New Testament of the Christian Bible was written in Koiné Greek. Together with the Latin texts and traditions of the Roman world, the study of the Greek texts and society of antiquity constitutes the discipline of Classics.

Western world Countries that identify themselves with an originally European shared culture

The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often including at least parts of Europe, Australasia, and the Americas. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world. It is often correlated with the Northern half of the North-south divide.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Ancient Greek literature Literature written in Ancient Greek language

Ancient Greek literature refers to literature written in the Ancient Greek language from the earliest texts until the time of the Byzantine Empire. The earliest surviving works of ancient Greek literature, dating back to the early Archaic period, are the two epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, set in the Mycenaean era. These two epics, along with the Homeric Hymns and the two poems of Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days, comprised the major foundations of the Greek literary tradition that would continue into the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.

During antiquity, Greek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean world, West Asia and many places beyond. It would eventually become the official parlance of the Byzantine Empire and develop into Medieval Greek. [5] In its modern form, Greek is the official language in two countries, Greece and Cyprus, a recognised minority language in seven other countries, and is one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. The language is spoken by at least 13.2 million people today in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Albania, and Turkey and by the Greek diaspora.

Classical antiquity Age of the ancient Greeks and Romans

Classical antiquity is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome known as the Greco-Roman world. It is the period in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.

Lingua franca languages used to facilitate trade between groups without a common native language

A lingua franca, also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language is a language or dialect systematically used to make communication possible between groups of people who do not share a native language or dialect, particularly when it is a third language that is distinct from both of the speakers' native languages.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Greek roots are often used to coin new words for other languages; Greek and Latin are the predominant sources of international scientific vocabulary.

A root is a word that does not have a prefix in front of the word or a suffix at the end of the word. The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family, which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents. Content words in nearly all languages contain, and may consist only of root morphemes. However, sometimes the term "root" is also used to describe the word minus its inflectional endings, but with its lexical endings in place. For example, chatters has the inflectional root or lemma chatter, but the lexical root chat. Inflectional roots are often called stems, and a root in the stricter sense may be thought of as a monomorphemic stem.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

International scientific vocabulary (ISV) comprises scientific and specialized words whose language of origin may or may not be certain, but which are in current use in several modern languages. The name "International Scientific Vocabulary" was first used by Philip Gove in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1961). As noted by Crystal, science is an especially productive field for new coinages.

Idealised portrayal of Homer Homer British Museum.jpg
Idealised portrayal of Homer

History

Greek has been spoken in the Balkan peninsula since around the 3rd millennium BC, [6] or possibly earlier. [7] The earliest written evidence is a Linear B clay tablet found in Messenia that dates to between 1450 and 1350 BC, [8] making Greek the world's oldest recorded living language. Among the Indo-European languages, its date of earliest written attestation is matched only by the now-extinct Anatolian languages.

Balkans Geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe

The BalkansBAWL-kənz, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), in the Rila mountain range, Bulgaria.

Linear B Syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek

Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing dates to about 1450 BC. It is descended from the older Linear A, an undeciphered earlier script used for writing the Minoan language, as is the later Cypriot syllabary, which also recorded Greek. Linear B, found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae, disappeared with the fall of Mycenaean civilization during the Late Bronze Age collapse. The succeeding period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, provides no evidence of the use of writing. It is also the only one of the Bronze Age Aegean scripts to have been deciphered, by English architect and self-taught linguist Michael Ventris.

Clay tablet Writing implement

In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age.

Periods

Proto-Greek-speaking area according to linguist Vladimir I. Georgiev Proto Greek Area reconstruction.png
Proto-Greek-speaking area according to linguist Vladimir I. Georgiev

The Greek language is conventionally divided into the following periods:

Proto-Greek language proto-language

The Proto-Greek language is an Indo-European language. It is assumed to be the last common ancestor of all known varieties of Greek, including Mycenaean Greek, the subsequent ancient Greek dialects and, ultimately, Koine, Byzantine and Modern Greek. The unity of Proto-Greek would have ended as Hellenic migrants, who spoke the predecessor of the Mycenaean language, entered the Greek peninsula sometime in the Neolithic or the Bronze Age.

Geography of Greece

Greece is a country in Southern Europe, bordered to the north by Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria; to the east by Turkey, and is surrounded to the east by the Aegean Sea, to the south by the Cretan and the Libyan Seas, and to the west by the Ionian Sea which separates Greece from Italy.

The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.

Distribution of varieties of Greek in Anatolia, 1910. Demotic in yellow. Pontic in orange. Cappadocian Greek in green, with green dots indicating individual Cappadocian Greek villages. Anatolian Greek dialects.png
Distribution of varieties of Greek in Anatolia, 1910. Demotic in yellow. Pontic in orange. Cappadocian Greek in green, with green dots indicating individual Cappadocian Greek villages.

Diglossia

In the modern era, the Greek language entered a state of diglossia: the coexistence of vernacular and archaizing written forms of the language. What came to be known as the Greek language question was a polarization between two competing varieties of Modern Greek: Dimotiki, the vernacular form of Modern Greek proper, and Katharevousa, meaning 'purified', a compromise between Dimotiki and Ancient Greek, which was developed in the early 19th century and was used for literary and official purposes in the newly formed Greek state. In 1976, Dimotiki was declared the official language of Greece, having incorporated features of Katharevousa and giving birth to Standard Modern Greek, which is used today for all official purposes and in education. [12]

Historical unity

The distribution of major modern Greek dialect areas Modern Greek dialects en.svg
The distribution of major modern Greek dialect areas

The historical unity and continuing identity between the various stages of the Greek language is often emphasised. Although Greek has undergone morphological and phonological changes comparable to those seen in other languages, never since classical antiquity has its cultural, literary, and orthographic tradition been interrupted to the extent that one can speak of a new language emerging. Greek speakers today still tend to regard literary works of ancient Greek as part of their own rather than a foreign language. [13] It is also often stated that the historical changes have been relatively slight compared with some other languages. According to one estimation, "Homeric Greek is probably closer to demotic than 12-century Middle English is to modern spoken English," [14] (Greek has seen fewer changes in 2700 years than English has in 900 years).

Geographic distribution

Greek language road sign, A27 Motorway, Greece A27 Motorway, Greece - Section Kozani-Ptolemaida - Kozani-North interchange (A2) - 02.jpg
Greek language road sign, A27 Motorway, Greece
Spread of Greek in the United States Greek USC2000 PHS.svg
Spread of Greek in the United States

Greek is spoken by at least 13 million people, mainly in Greece, Albania and Cyprus, but also worldwide by the large Greek diaspora. Historically, there were traditional Greek-speaking settlements and regions in the neighbouring countries of Albania, Bulgaria, and Turkey, as well as in several countries in the Black Sea area, such as Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, and around the Mediterranean Sea, Southern Italy, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya and ancient coastal towns along the Levant. Particularly in Albania due to the immigration wave towards Greece today a significant percentage of the population can speak the Greek language, or at least has some basic knowledge of it. The language is also spoken by Greek emigrant communities in many countries in Western Europe, especially the United Kingdom and Germany, Canada, the United States, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Africa and others.

Official status

Greek is the official language of Greece, where it is spoken by almost the entire population. [15] It is also the official language of Cyprus (nominally alongside Turkish). [16] Because of the membership of Greece and Cyprus in the European Union, Greek is one of the organization's 24 official languages. [17] Furthermore, Greek is officially recognised as a minority language in parts of Italy and official in Dropull and Himara (Albania) and as a minority language all over Albania, [18] as well as in Armenia, Romania, and Ukraine as a regional or minority language in the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. [19] Greeks are also a recognised ethnic minority in Hungary.

Characteristics

The phonology, morphology, syntax and vocabulary of the language show both conservative and innovative tendencies across the entire attestation of the language from the ancient to the modern period. The division into conventional periods is, as with all such periodisations, relatively arbitrary, especially because at all periods, Ancient Greek has enjoyed high prestige, and the literate borrowed heavily from it.

Phonology

Spoken Modern Greek

Across its history, the syllabic structure of Greek has varied little: Greek shows a mixed syllable structure, permitting complex syllabic onsets but very restricted codas. It has only oral vowels and a fairly stable set of consonantal contrasts. The main phonological changes occurred during the Hellenistic and Roman period (see Koine Greek phonology for details):

Morphology

In all its stages, the morphology of Greek shows an extensive set of productive derivational affixes, a limited but productive system of compounding [20] and a rich inflectional system. Although its morphological categories have been fairly stable over time, morphological changes are present throughout, particularly in the nominal and verbal systems. The major change in the nominal morphology since the classical stage was the disuse of the dative case (its functions being largely taken over by the genitive). The verbal system has lost the infinitive, the synthetically-formed future and perfect tenses and the optative mood. Many have been replaced by periphrastic (analytical) forms.

Nouns and adjectives

Pronouns show distinctions in person (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), number (singular, dual, and plural in the ancient language; singular and plural alone in later stages), and gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and decline for case (from six cases in the earliest forms attested to four in the modern language). [21] Nouns, articles and adjectives show all the distinctions except for person. Both attributive and predicative adjectives agree with the noun.

Verbs

The inflectional categories of the Greek verb have likewise remained largely the same over the course of the language's history but with significant changes in the number of distinctions within each category and their morphological expression. Greek verbs have synthetic inflectional forms for:

Ancient GreekModern Greek
Personfirst, second and thirdalso second person formal
Numbersingular, dual and pluralsingular and plural
tense present, past and future past and non-past (future is expressed by a periphrastic construction)
aspect imperfective, perfective (traditionally called aorist ) and perfect (sometimes also called perfective; see note about terminology)imperfective and perfective/aorist (perfect is expressed by a periphrastic construction)
mood indicative, subjunctive, imperative and optative indicative, subjunctive, [22] and imperative (other modal functions are expressed by periphrastic constructions)
Voice active, middle, and passive active and medio-passive

Syntax

Many aspects of the syntax of Greek have remained constant: verbs agree with their subject only, the use of the surviving cases is largely intact (nominative for subjects and predicates, accusative for objects of most verbs and many prepositions, genitive for possessors), articles precede nouns, adpositions are largely prepositional, relative clauses follow the noun they modify and relative pronouns are clause-initial. However, the morphological changes also have their counterparts in the syntax, and there are also significant differences between the syntax of the ancient and that of the modern form of the language. Ancient Greek made great use of participial constructions and of constructions involving the infinitive, and the modern variety lacks the infinitive entirely (instead having a raft of new periphrastic constructions) and uses participles more restrictively. The loss of the dative led to a rise of prepositional indirect objects (and the use of the genitive to directly mark these as well). Ancient Greek tended to be verb-final, but neutral word order in the modern language is VSO or SVO.

Vocabulary

Modern Greek inherits most of its vocabulary from Ancient Greek, which in turn is an Indo-European language, but also includes a number of borrowings from the languages of the populations that inhabited Greece before the arrival of Proto-Greeks, [23] some documented in Mycenaean texts; they include a large number of Greek toponyms. The form and meaning of many words have evolved. Loanwords (words of foreign origin) have entered the language, mainly from Latin, Venetian, and Turkish. During the older periods of Greek, loanwords into Greek acquired Greek inflections, thus leaving only a foreign root word. Modern borrowings (from the 20th century on), especially from French and English, are typically not inflected; other modern borrowings are derived from South Slavic (Macedonian/Bulgarian) and Eastern Romance languages (Aromanian and Megleno-Romanian).

Greek loanwords in other languages

Greek words have been widely borrowed into other languages, including English: mathematics , physics , astronomy , democracy , philosophy , athletics, theatre, rhetoric , baptism , evangelist , etc. Moreover, Greek words and word elements continue to be productive as a basis for coinages: anthropology , photography , telephony , isomer , biomechanics , cinematography , etc. and form, with Latin words, the foundation of international scientific and technical vocabulary like all words ending with –logy ("discourse"). There are many English words of Greek origin. [24]

Classification

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. The ancient language most closely related to it may be ancient Macedonian, [25] which many scholars suggest may have been a dialect of Greek itself, but it is so poorly attested that it is difficult to conclude anything about it. [26] Independently of the Macedonian question, some scholars have grouped Greek into Graeco-Phrygian, as Greek and the extinct Phrygian share features that are not found in other Indo-European languages. [27] Among living languages, some Indo-Europeanists suggest that Greek may be most closely related to Armenian (see Graeco-Armenian) or the Indo-Iranian languages (see Graeco-Aryan), but little definitive evidence has been found for grouping the living branches of the family. [28] In addition, Albanian has also been considered somewhat related to Greek and Armenian by some linguists. If proven and recognised, the three languages would form a new Balkan sub-branch with other dead European languages. [29]

Writing system

Linear B

Linear B, attested as early as the late 15th century BC, was the first script used to write Greek. [30] It is basically a syllabary, which was finally deciphered by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick in the 1950s (its precursor, Linear A, has not been deciphered and most likely encodes a non-Greek language). [30] The language of the Linear B texts, Mycenaean Greek, is the earliest known form of Greek. [30]

Cypriot syllabary

Greek inscription in Cypriot syllabic script Cypriot syllabic inscription 600-500BC.jpg
Greek inscription in Cypriot syllabic script

Another similar system used to write the Greek language was the Cypriot syllabary (also a descendant of Linear A via the intermediate Cypro-Minoan syllabary), which is closely related to Linear B but uses somewhat different syllabic conventions to represent phoneme sequences. The Cypriot syllabary is attested in Cyprus from the 11th century BC until its gradual abandonment in the late Classical period, in favor of the standard Greek alphabet. [31]

Greek alphabet

Ancient epichoric variants of the Greek alphabet from Euboea, Ionia, Athens, and Corinth comparing to modern Greek Greek alphabet variants.png
Ancient epichoric variants of the Greek alphabet from Euboea, Ionia, Athens, and Corinth comparing to modern Greek

Greek has been written in the Greek alphabet since approximately the 9th century BC. It was created by modifying the Phoenician alphabet, with the innovation of adopting certain letters to represent the vowels. The variant of the alphabet in use today is essentially the late Ionic variant, introduced for writing classical Attic in 403 BC. In classical Greek, as in classical Latin, only upper-case letters existed. The lower-case Greek letters were developed much later by medieval scribes to permit a faster, more convenient cursive writing style with the use of ink and quill.

The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters, each with an uppercase (majuscule) and lowercase (minuscule) form. The letter sigma has an additional lowercase form (ς) used in the final position:

upper case
Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω
lower case
αβγδεζηθικλμνξοπρσ
ς
τυφχψω

Diacritics

In addition to the letters, the Greek alphabet features a number of diacritical signs: three different accent marks (acute, grave, and circumflex), originally denoting different shapes of pitch accent on the stressed vowel; the so-called breathing marks (rough and smooth breathing), originally used to signal presence or absence of word-initial /h/; and the diaeresis, used to mark full syllabic value of a vowel that would otherwise be read as part of a diphthong. These marks were introduced during the course of the Hellenistic period. Actual usage of the grave in handwriting saw a rapid decline in favor of uniform usage of the acute during the late 20th century, and it has only been retained in typography.

After the writing reform of 1982, most diacritics are no longer used. Since then, Greek has been written mostly in the simplified monotonic orthography (or monotonic system), which employs only the acute accent and the diaeresis. The traditional system, now called the polytonic orthography (or polytonic system), is still used internationally for the writing of Ancient Greek.

Punctuation

In Greek, the question mark is written as the English semicolon, while the functions of the colon and semicolon are performed by a raised point (•), known as the ano teleia (άνω τελεία). In Greek the comma also functions as a silent letter in a handful of Greek words, principally distinguishing ό,τι (ó,ti, "whatever") from ότι (óti, "that"). [32]

Ancient Greek texts often used scriptio continua ('continuous writing'), which means that ancient authors and scribes would write word after word with no spaces or punctuation between words to differentiate or mark boundaries. [33] Boustrophedon, or bi-directional text, was also used in Ancient Greek.

Latin alphabet

Greek has occasionally been written in the Latin script, especially in areas under Venetian rule or by Greek Catholics. The term Frankolevantinika / Φραγκολεβαντίνικα applies when the Latin script is used to write Greek in the cultural ambit of Catholicism (because Frankos / Φράγκος is an older Greek term for West-European dating to when most of (Roman Catholic Christian) West Europe was under the control of the Frankish Empire). Frankochiotika / Φραγκοχιώτικα (meaning "Catholic Chiot") alludes to the significant presence of Catholic missionaries based on the island of Chios. Additionally the term Greeklish is often used when the Greek language is written in a Latin script in online communications. [34]

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Armenian language is an Indo-European language that is the only language in the Armenian branch. It is the official language of Armenia as well as the de facto Republic of Artsakh. Historically being spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands, today, Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written in its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.

Greek may refer to:

Italic languages Subfamily of the Indo-European language family spoken by Italic peoples

The Italic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, whose earliest known members were spoken in the Italian peninsula in the first millennium BC. The best-known member is Latin, the only language of the group that survived into the common era. All other Italic languages became extinct by the 1st century BC, when their speakers were assimilated into the Roman Empire and switched to some form of Latin. Those extinct members are known only from inscriptions in archaeological finds.

Linear A undeciphered writing system from Crete

Linear A is a writing system used by the Minoans (Cretans) from 1800 to 1450 BCE. It belongs to an independent group of scripts that is distinct from Egyptian and Mesopotamian systems. During the second millennium BCE, there were four major branches: Linear A, Linear B, Cypro-Minoan and Cretan hieroglyphic. All but Linear B remain undeciphered. Linear A was the primary script used in palace and religious writings of the Minoan civilization. It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. It was succeeded by Linear B, which was used by the Mycenaean civilization.

The Greeks or Hellenes are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.

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Attic Greek Ancient Greek dialect

Attic Greek is the Greek dialect of the ancient city-state of Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek and is the standard form of the language that is studied in ancient Greek language courses. Attic Greek is sometimes included in the Ionic dialect. Together, Attic and Ionic are the primary influences on Modern Greek.

Mycenaean Greek Most ancient attested form of the Greek language from the 16th to 12th centuries BC

Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in Mycenaean Greece, before the hypothesised Dorian invasion, often cited as the terminus post quem for the coming of the Greek language to Greece. The language is preserved in inscriptions in Linear B, a script first attested on Crete before the 14th century. Most inscriptions are on clay tablets found in Knossos, in central Crete, as well as in Pylos, in the southwest of the Peloponnese. Other tablets have been found at Mycenae itself, Tiryns and Thebes and at Chania, in Western Crete. The language is named after Mycenae, one of the major centres of Mycenaean Greece.

This article is an overview of the history of the Greek language.

Ancient Greek dialects

Ancient Greek in classical antiquity, before the development of the common Koine Greek of the Hellenistic period, was divided into several varieties.

Ancient Greek phonology is the reconstructed phonology or pronunciation of Ancient Greek. This article mostly deals with the pronunciation of the standard Attic dialect of the fifth century BC, used by Plato and other Classical Greek writers, and touches on other dialects spoken at the same time or earlier. The pronunciation of Ancient Greek is not known from direct observation, but determined from other types of evidence. Some details regarding the pronunciation of Attic Greek and other Ancient Greek dialects are unknown, but it is generally agreed that Attic Greek had certain features not present in English or Modern Greek, such as a three-way distinction between voiced, voiceless, and aspirated stops ; a distinction between single and double consonants and short and long vowels in most positions in a word; and a word accent that involved pitch.

The Pre-Greek substrate consists of the unknown language or languages spoken in prehistoric ancient Greece before the settlement of Proto-Hellenic speakers in the area. It is possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language, because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language.

The official languages of the Republic of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. In Northern Cyprus, Turkish was made the only official language by the 1983 constitution. The everyday spoken language (vernacular) of the majority of the population is Cypriot Greek, and that of Turkish Cypriots is Cypriot Turkish. For official purposes, the standard languages are used.

Writing system Any conventional method of visually representing verbal communication

A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication. While both writing and speech are useful in conveying messages, writing differs in also being a reliable form of information storage and transfer. Writing systems require shared understanding between writers and readers of the meaning behind the sets of characters that make up a script. Writing is usually recorded onto a durable medium, such as paper or electronic storage, although non-durable methods may also be used, such as writing on a computer display, on a blackboard, in sand, or by skywriting. Reading a text can be accomplished purely in the mind as an internal process, or expressed orally.

Psilosis is the sound change in which Greek lost the consonant sound /h/ during antiquity. The term comes from the Greek ψίλωσις psílōsis and is related to the name of the smooth breathing, the sign for the absence of initial in a word. Dialects that have lost are called psilotic.

Koine Greek, also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the common supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written during the Hellenistic period, the Roman Empire, and the early Byzantine Empire, or late antiquity. It evolved from the spread of Greek following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, and served as the lingua franca of much of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East during the following centuries. It was based mainly on Attic and related Ionic speech forms, with various admixtures brought about through dialect levelling with other varieties.

References

  1. Greek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Ancient Greek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Cappadocian Greek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Mycenaean Greek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Pontic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Tsakonian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    (Additional references under 'Language codes' in the information box)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Greek". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. "Greek language". Encyclopædia Britannica . Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  4. 1922-, Adrados, Francisco Rodríguez (2005). A history of the Greek language : from its origins to the present. Leiden: Brill. ISBN   978-90-04-12835-4. OCLC   59712402.
  5. Manuel, Germaine Catherine (1989). A study of the preservation of the classical tradition in the education, language, and literature of the Byzantine Empire. HVD ALEPH.
  6. Renfrew 2003 , p. 35; Georgiev 1981 , p. 192.
  7. Gray & Atkinson 2003 , pp. 437–438; Atkinson & Gray 2006 , p. 102.
  8. "Ancient Tablet Found: Oldest Readable Writing in Europe". National Geographic Society. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2013.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  9. A comprehensive overview in J.T. Hooker's Mycenaean Greece (Hooker 1976 , Chapter 2: "Before the Mycenaean Age", pp. 11–33 and passim); for a different hypothesis excluding massive migrations and favoring an autochthonous scenario, see Colin Renfrew's "Problems in the General Correlation of Archaeological and Linguistic Strata in Prehistoric Greece: The Model of Autochthonous Origin" (Renfrew 1973 , pp. 263–276, especially p. 267) in Bronze Age Migrations by R.A. Crossland and A. Birchall, eds. (1973).
  10. Dawkins & Halliday 1916.
  11. Ethnologue
  12. Peter, Mackridge (1985). The modern Greek language : a descriptive analysis of standard modern Greek. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-815770-0. OCLC   11134463.
  13. Browning 1983.
  14. Alexiou 1982 , pp. 156–192.
  15. "Greece". The World Factbook . Central Intelligence Agency . Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  16. "The Constitution of Cyprus, App. D., Part 1, Art. 3". Archived from the original on 7 April 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help) states that The official languages of the Republic are Greek and Turkish. However, the official status of Turkish is only nominal in the Greek-dominated Republic of Cyprus; in practice, outside Turkish-dominated Northern Cyprus, Turkish is little used; see A. Arvaniti (2006): Erasure as a Means of Maintaining Diglossia in Cyprus, San Diego Linguistics Papers 2: pp. 25–38 [27].
  17. "The EU at a Glance – Languages in the EU". Europa . European Union . Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  18. "Greek". Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Archived from the original on 18 November 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2008.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)
  19. "List of Declarations Made with Respect to Treaty No. 148". Council of Europe . Retrieved 8 December 2008.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  20. Ralli 2001 , pp. 164–203.
  21. The four cases that are found in all stages of Greek are the nominative, genitive, accusative and vocative. The dative/locative of Ancient Greek disappeared in the late Hellenistic period, and the instrumental case of Mycenaean Greek disappeared in the Archaic period.
  22. There is no particular morphological form that can be identified as 'subjunctive' in the modern language, but the term is sometimes encountered in descriptions even if the most complete modern grammar (Holton et al. 1997) does not use it and calls certain traditionally-'subjunctive' forms 'dependent'. Most Greek linguists advocate abandoning the traditional terminology (Anna Roussou and Tasos Tsangalidis 2009, in Meletes gia tin Elliniki Glossa, Thessaloniki, Anastasia Giannakidou 2009 "Temporal semantics and polarity: The dependency of the subjunctive revisited", Lingua); see Modern Greek grammar for explanation.
  23. Beekes 2009.
  24. Scheler 1977.
  25. Hamp 2013 , pp. 8–10, 13.
  26. Babiniotis 1992 , pp. 29–40; Dosuna 2012 , pp. 65–78.
  27. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Graeco-Phrygian". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  28. Renfrew 1990; Gamkrelidze & Ivanov 1990 , pp. 110–116; Renfrew 2003 , pp. 17–48; Gray & Atkinson 2003 , pp. 435–439.
  29. Holm 2008 , pp. 628–636.
  30. 1 2 3 T., Hooker, J. (1980). Linear B : an introduction. Bristol: Bristol Classical Press. ISBN   978-0-906515-69-3. OCLC   7326206.
  31. "Cypriot syllabary". Britannica Academic. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  32. Nicolas, Nick (2005). "Greek Unicode Issues: Punctuation". Archived from the original on 6 August 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2014.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)
  33. Hugoe), Matthews, P. H. (Peter (March 2014). The concise Oxford dictionary of linguistics. Oxford University Press. (Third ed.). [Oxford]. ISBN   978-0-19-967512-8. OCLC   881847972.
  34. Androutsopoulos 2009 , pp. 221–249.

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