Ioannis Psycharis

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Ioannis Psycharis
Giannis Psycharis.JPG
Woodcut portrait of Jean Psychari in the Ποικίλη Στοά magazine from 1888
Born15 May 1854
Died29 September 1929
Spouse(s)Noémie Renan
Relatives Ernest Renan (father-in-law)

Ioannis (Yannis) Psycharis (Greek: Ιωάννης (Γιάννης) Ψυχάρης; French: Jean Psychari; 1854–1929) was a French philologist of Greek origin, author and promoter of Demotic Greek.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek 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. 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.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.



Psycharis was born on 15 May 1854 in Odessa (in modern-day Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire). [1] His mother died when he was a child, and he was raised by his grandmother in Marseille. [1] He also spent some time with his father in Constantinople and later moved to Paris. [1]

Odessa Place in Odessa Oblast, Ukraine

Odessa is the third most populous city of Ukraine and a major tourism center, seaport and transport hub located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. It is also the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast and a multiethnic cultural center. Odessa is sometimes called the "pearl of the Black Sea", the "South Capital", and "Southern Palmyra". Before the Tsarist establishment of Odessa, an ancient Greek settlement existed at its location as elsewhere along the northwestern Black Sea coast. A more recent Tatar settlement was also founded at the location by Hacı I Giray, the Khan of Crimea in 1440 that was named after him as "Hacıbey". After a period of Lithuanian Grand Duchy control, Hacibey and surroundings became part of the domain of the Ottomans in 1529 and remained there until the empire's defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1792.

Ukraine Sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

Russian Empire Former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

He studied at the École des langues orientales.


Psycharis was director of studies at the École pratique des hautes études after 1885, [1] and then professor at the École des langues orientales from 1903 to 1928, succeeding Émile Legrand  [ fr ].

The École pratique des hautes études, abbreviated EPHE, is a Grand Établissement in Paris, France, and a constituent college of PSL Research University. It is counted among France's most prestigious research and higher education institutions. It is highly selective and member of the elite Université PSL. Its degrees in religious studies and in history count among the best in the world. Closely linked to École française d'Extrême-Orient and Institut français du Proche-Orient, EPHE has formed continuously world-class experts in Asian and Islamic studies and among them investment bankers, diplomat and military officers specialized in these areas. Particularly, leading researchers in military strategy have taught in EPHE for more than a century. Moreover, famous researchers in natural sciences teach and taught in EPHE. Highly regarded for its top level in both natural and human sciences, EPHE has relations and exchange programs with world-renowned institutions such as Cambridge, Princeton, and Al-Azhar.

In 1886, he made a trip to Greece out of which he wrote My Journey, advocacy of the Demotic Greek language (plus some remarks on the ancient Greek pronunciation), which connected it with the national integration ( Megali Idea ). So he became the mentor of the Demotic side in the Greek language question. Cause of his stance, in favour of Demotiki, he was heavily criticized by both the conservative political and educational establishment in Greece (most notably professor Georgios Hatzidakis), and he was often under attack by various newspapers.

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

Demotic Greek or dimotiki, is the modern vernacular form of the Greek language. The term has been in use since 1818. Demotic refers particularly to the form of the language that evolved naturally from Ancient Greek, in opposition to the artificially archaic Katharevousa, which was the official standard until 1976. The two complemented each other in a typical example of diglossia until the resolution of the Greek language question in favour of Demotic.

Megali Idea Irredentist nationalist movement aiming to establish a Greek state that would encompass all historically ethnic Greek-inhabited areas, including Greeks under Ottoman rule and regions inhabited by ancient Greeks

The Megali Idea was an irredentist concept of Greek nationalism that expressed the goal of establishing a Greek state that would encompass all historically ethnic Greek-inhabited areas, including the large Greek populations that were still under Ottoman rule after the end of the Greek War of Independence (1821–1828) and all the regions that traditionally belonged to Greeks in ancient times.

Psycharis was the populariser of the term diglossia,[ citation needed ] which describes a language community's simultaneous use of the genuine mother tongue of the present day, the vernacular, and a dialect from centuries earlier in the history of the language. The vernacular is of low prestige and is discouraged or totally forbidden for written use and formal spoken use, while the obsolete dialect is of high prestige and is used for most written communication and for formal speeches by institutions of authority such as government and religious institutions. Diglossia was a major issue in Greek society and politics in the 19th and 20th centuries (see Greek language question).

Diglossia situation in which two dialects or languages are used by a single language community

In linguistics, diglossia is a situation in which two dialects or languages are used by a single language community. In addition to the community's everyday or vernacular language variety, a second, highly codified lect is used in certain situations such as literature, formal education, or other specific settings, but not used normally for ordinary conversation. In most cases, the H variety has no native speakers.

The Greek language question was a dispute about whether the language of the Greek people or a cultivated imitation of Ancient Greek (katharevousa) should be the official language of the Greek nation. It was a highly controversial topic in the 19th and 20th centuries, and was finally resolved in 1976 when Demotic was made the official language. The language phenomenon in question, which also occurs elsewhere in the world, is called diglossia.

Psycharis also proposed an innovative orthography for Greek which never really caught on, despite being the focus of several serious attempts at implementation continuing into the late 20th century. A beginning Modern Greek textbook for foreign students, Ellinika Tora (Greek Now), employs some of his suggestions such as substituting rho for lambda when the pronunciation of the glide is conditioned by the other sounds around it thus αδερφός (aderfos) instead of standard αδελφός (adelphos). While this and other of his suggestions more accurately reflect true pronunciation, they seem to have little chance of being adopted.

Lambda letter in the Greek alphabet

Lambda is the 11th letter of the Greek alphabet, representing the sound /l/. In the system of Greek numerals lambda has a value of 30. Lambda is related to the Phoenician letter Lamed . Letters in other alphabets that stemmed from lambda include the Latin L and the Cyrillic letter El. The ancient grammarians and dramatists give evidence to the pronunciation as [laːbdaː] (λάβδα) in Classical Greek times. In Modern Greek the name of the letter, Λάμδα, is pronounced [lamða].

In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel or glide, also known as a non-syllabic voiced, is a sound that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary, rather than as the nucleus of a syllable. Examples of semivowels in English are the consonants y and w, in yes and west, respectively. Written in IPA, y and w are near to the vowels ee and oo in seen and moon, written in IPA. The term glide may alternatively refer to any type of transitional sound, not necessarily a semivowel.

During the Dreyfus affair, Psycharis defended Alfred Dreyfus, who had been falsely accused of treason because he was Jewish. [1] Moreover, Psycharis supported his friend Emile Zola's publication of J'accuse…! , a public letter in defense of Dreyfus. [1]

Personal life

In 1882, he married Ernest Renan's daughter, Noémie. [1] They had four children, among which Ernest Psichari, Henriette Revault d'Allonnes  [ fr ] and Corrie Siohan  [ fr ], raised in the Scheffer-Renan Hôtel, the current Musée de la Vie romantique in the heart of the Nouvelle Athènes neighbourhood, in Paris.


Psycharis died in Paris on 29 September 1929. He is buried in Chios.


See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Patéridou, Géorgia (2015). "L'émergence de l'intellectuel en tant que réformateur politique et culturel : l'exemple de Jean Psichari (1854-1929)" . Rives méditerranéennes. 1 (50): 41–50. Retrieved 28 March 2016 via