|Region|| Greece |
Black Sea coast
|13.4 million (2012)|
Areas where Modern Greek is spoken (in dark blue those areas where it is the official language).
Greek (modern Ελληνικά, romanized:Elliniká, ancient Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus, Albania, other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3,500 years of written records. 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. 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.
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.
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.In its modern form, Greek is the official language in two countries, Greece and Cyprus, a recognized 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 13.4 million people today in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Albania, and Turkey and by the Greek diaspora.
Greek roots are often used to coin new words for other languages; Greek and Latin are the predominant sources of international scientific vocabulary.
Greek has been spoken in the Balkan peninsula since around the 3rd millennium BC,or possibly earlier. The earliest written evidence is a Linear B clay tablet found in Messenia that dates to between 1450 and 1350 BC, 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.
The Greek language is conventionally divided into the following periods:
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.
The historical unity and continuing identity between the various stages of the Greek language are often emphasized. 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.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".
Greek is spoken today by at least 13 million people, principally in Greece and Cyprus along with a sizable Greek-speaking minority in Albania near the Greek-Albanian border.A significant percentage of Albania's population has some basic knowledge of the Greek language due in part to the Albanian wave of immigration to Greece in the 1980s and '90s. Prior to the Greco-Turkish War and the resulting population exchange in 1923 a very large population of Greek-speakers also existed in Turkey, though very few remain today. A small Greek-speaking community is also found in Bulgaria near the Greek-Bulgarian border. Greek is also spoken worldwide by the sizable Greek diaspora which as notable communities in the United States, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and throughout the European Union, especially in Germany.
Historically, significant Greek-speaking communities and regions were found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, in what are today Southern Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Libya; in the area of the Black Sea, in what are today Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan; and, to a lesser extent, in the Western Mediterranean in and around colonies such as Massalia, Monoikos, and Mainake.
Greek, in its modern form, is the official language of Greece, where it is spoken by almost the entire population.It is also the official language of Cyprus (nominally alongside Turkish). Because of the membership of Greece and Cyprus in the European Union, Greek is one of the organization's 24 official languages. Furthermore, Greek is officially recognized as official in Dropull and Himara (Albania), and as a minority language all over Albania, as well as in parts of Italy, Armenia, Romania, and Ukraine as a regional or minority language in the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Greeks are also a recognized ethnic minority in Hungary.
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 periodizations, relatively arbitrary, especially because at all periods, Ancient Greek has enjoyed high prestige, and the literate borrowed heavily from it.
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):
In all its stages, the morphology of Greek shows an extensive set of productive derivational affixes, a limited but productive system of compoundingand 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.
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).Nouns, articles, and adjectives show all the distinctions except for a person. Both attributive and predicative adjectives agree with the noun.
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 Greek||Modern Greek|
|Person||first, second and third||also second person formal|
|Number||singular, dual and plural||singular 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, and imperative (other modal functions are expressed by periphrastic constructions)|
|Voice||active, middle, and passive||active and medio-passive|
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 of 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.
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,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 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.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. The ancient language most closely related to it may be ancient Macedonian,which most scholars suggest may have been a dialect of Greek itself, but it is poorly attested and it is difficult to conclude. 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. 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. In addition, Albanian has also been considered somewhat related to Greek and Armenian by some linguists. If proven and recognized, the three languages would form a new Balkan sub-branch with other dead European languages.
|Use in other languages|
Linear B, attested as early as the late 15th century BC, was the first script used to write Greek.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). The language of the Linear B texts, Mycenaean Greek, is the earliest known form of Greek.
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.
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:
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 the 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.
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').
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.Boustrophedon, or bi-directional text, was also used in Ancient Greek.
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.
The Latin script is nowadays used by the Greek-speaking communities of Southern Italy.
The Yevanic dialect was written by Romaniote and Constantinopolitan Karaite Jews using the Hebrew Alphabet.
Some Greek Muslims from Crete wrote their Cretan Greek in the Arabic alphabet. The same happened among Epirote Muslims in Ioannina. This usage is sometimes called aljamiado as when Romance languages are written in the Arabic alphabet.
Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity, and in the Western world traditionally refers to the study of Classical Greek and Roman literature in their original languages of Ancient Greek and Latin, respectively. It may also include Greco-Roman philosophy, history, and archaeology as secondary subjects.
The Italic languages form 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 of them is Latin, the official language of the Roman Empire, which conquered the other Italic peoples before the common era. The other Italic languages became extinct in the first centuries AD as their speakers were assimilated into the Roman Empire and shifted to some form of Latin. Between the third and eighth centuries AD, Vulgar Latin diversified into the Romance languages, which are the only Italic languages natively spoken today.
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.
The Anatolian languages are an extinct branch of Indo-European languages that were spoken in Anatolia, part of present-day Turkey. The best known Anatolian language is Hittite, which is considered the earliest-attested Indo-European language.
Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BC to the 6th century AD. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period.
Dacian is an extinct language, generally believed to be Indo-European, that was spoken in the Carpathian region in antiquity. In the 1st century, it was probably the predominant language of the ancient regions of Dacia and Moesia and possibly of some surrounding regions. The language was probably extinct by the 7th century AD.
The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation state of Greece as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they inhabited and ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied throughout the ages and as a result the history of Greece is similarly elastic in what it includes. Generally, the history of Greece is divided into the following periods:
Mycenaean Greece was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1600–1100 BC. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland Greece with its palatial states, urban organization, works of art, and writing system. The most prominent site was Mycenae, in the Argolid, after which the culture of this era is named. Other centers of power that emerged included Pylos, Tiryns, Midea in the Peloponnese, Orchomenos, Thebes, Athens in Central Greece and Iolcos in Thessaly. Mycenaean and Mycenaean-influenced settlements also appeared in Epirus, Macedonia, on islands in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Asia Minor, the Levant, Cyprus, and Italy.
Messapic is an extinct Indo-European language of the southeastern Italian Peninsula, once spoken in Apulia by the three Iapygian tribes of the region: the Messapians, the Peucetians and the Daunians. Messapic became extinct following the Roman conquest of the region. It has been preserved in about 600 inscriptions written in an alphabet derived from a Western Greek model and dating from the mid-6th to the late-2nd century BC.
Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, on the Greek mainland and Crete in Mycenaean Greece, before the hypothesised Dorian invasion, often cited as the terminus ad quem for the introduction 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 BC. 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.
The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels as well as consonants. In Archaic and early Classical times, the Greek alphabet existed in many local variants, but, by the end of the fourth century BC, the Euclidean alphabet, with twenty-four letters, ordered from alpha to omega, had become standard and it is this version that is still used to write Greek today. These twenty-four letters are: Α α, Β β, Γ γ, Δ δ, Ε ε, Ζ ζ, Η η, Θ θ, Ι ι, Κ κ, Λ λ, Μ μ, Ν ν, Ξ ξ, Ο ο, Π π, Ρ ρ, Σ σ/ς, Τ τ, Υ υ, Φ φ, Χ χ, Ψ ψ, and Ω ω.
Cypriot Greek is the variety of Modern Greek that is spoken by the majority of the Cypriot populace and Greek Cypriot diaspora. It is considered a divergent variety as it differs from Standard Modern Greek in various aspects of its lexicon, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and even pragmatics, not only for historical reasons, but also because of geographical isolation, different settlement patterns, and extensive contact with typologically distinct languages.
Cypriot Arabic, also known as Cypriot Maronite Arabic or Sanna, is a moribund variety of Arabic spoken by the Maronite community of Cyprus. Formerly speakers were mostly situated in Kormakitis, but following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the majority relocated to the south and spread, leading to the decline of the language. Traditionally bilingual in Cypriot Greek, as of some time prior to 2000, all remaining speakers of Cypriot Arabic were over 30 years of age. A 2011 census reported that, of the 3,656 Maronite Cypriots in Republic of Cyprus-controlled areas, none declared Cypriot Arabic as their first language.
The Paleo-Balkan languages is a grouping of various extinct Indo-European languages that were spoken in the Balkans and surrounding areas in ancient times.
The Proto-Greek language is the Indo-European language which was the last common ancestor of all varieties of Greek, including Mycenaean Greek, the subsequent ancient Greek dialects and, ultimately, Koine, Byzantine and Modern Greek together with its variants. Proto-Greek speakers entered Greece in the early Middle Helladic and by the later periods of that era proto-Greek diversified into what would become known as Mycenaean Greek.
The Pella curse tablet is a text written in a distinct Doric Greek idiom, found in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedon, in 1986. Ιt contains a curse or magic spell inscribed on a lead scroll, dated to the first half of the 4th century BC. It was published in the Hellenic Dialectology Journal in 1993. It is one of four known texts that may represent a local dialectal form of ancient Greek in Macedonia, all of them identifiable as Doric. These suggest that a Doric Greek dialect was spoken in Macedonia, as was previously proposed based on the West Greek forms of names found in Macedonia. As a result, the Pella curse tablet has been forwarded as an argument that the Ancient Macedonian language was a dialect of North-Western Greek, and one of the Doric 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 Iapygians or Apulians were an Indo-European people, dwelling in an eponymous region of the southeastern Italian Peninsula named Iapygia between the beginning of the first millennium BC and the first century BC. They were divided into three tribes: the Daunians, Peucetians and Messapians. After their lands were gradually colonized by the Romans from the late 4th century onward and eventually annexed to the Roman Republic by the early 1st century BC, Iapygians were fully Latinized and assimilated into Roman culture.
The Pre-Greek substrate consists of the unknown language(s) spoken in prehistoric Greece before the coming of the Proto-Greek language in the area during the Bronze Age. It is possible that Greek acquired some thousand words and proper names from such a language(s), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from Proto-Greek and a Proto-Indo-European reconstruction is almost impossible for such terms.
The element that makes this text a unicum is that it is written in Greek script. In the Ottoman Empire, the primary criterion for the selection of an alphabet in which to write was religion. Thus, people who did not speak—or even know—the official language of their religion used to write their religious texts in the languages that they knew, though in the alphabet where the sacred texts of that religion were written. Thus, the Grecophone Catholics of Chios wrote using the Latin alphabet, but in the Greek language ( frangochiotika ); the Turcophone Orthodox Christians of Cappadocia wrote their Turkish texts using the Greek alphabet ( karamanlidika ); and the Grecophone Muslims of the Greek peninsula wrote in Greek language using the Arabic alphabet ( tourkogianniotika , tourkokretika ). Our case is much stranger, since it is a quite early example for that kind of literature and because it is largely concerned with religious themes."; p. 306. The audience for the Greek Mi'rājnāma was most certainly Greek-speaking Muslims, in particular the so-called Tourkogianniotes (literally, the Turks of Jannina). Although few examples have been discovered as yet, it seems that these people developed a religious literature mainly composed in verse form. This literary form constituted the mainstream of Greek Aljamiado literature from the middle of the seventeenth century until the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. Tourkogianniotes were probably of Christian origin and were Islamized sometime during the seventeenth century. They did not speak any language other than Greek. Thus, even their frequency in attending mosque services did not provide them with the necessary knowledge about their faith. Given their low level of literacy, one important way that they could learn about their faith was to listen to religiously edifying texts such as the Greek Mi'rājnāma.
|Standard Greek edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Pontic Greek edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikibooks has more on the topic of: Greek language|
|For a list of words relating to Greek language, see the Greek language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Ancient Greek test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
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