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Greek (modern Ελληνικά, romanized: Elliniká, Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to , , , other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the . It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3,400 years of written records. Its writing system is the , which has been used for over 2,000 years; previously, it had been recorded in writing systems such as and the Cypriot syllabary.

(2021). 9789004128354, Brill.
The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the , , Armenian, , , and many other writing systems.

The Greek language holds an important place in the history of the . A history of ancient Greek by Maria Chritē, Maria Arapopoulou, Centre for the Greek Language (Thessalonikē, Greece) pg 436 Beginning with the epics of , ancient Greek literature includes many works of lasting importance in the European canon. Greek is also the language in which many of the foundational texts in science and philosophy are composed. The of the Christian Bible was also written in Greek.Kurt Aland, Barbara Aland The text of the New Testament: an introduction to the critical 1995 p52Archibald Macbride Hunter Introducing the New Testament 1972 p9 Together with the texts and traditions of the , the study of the Greek texts and society of antiquity constitutes the discipline of .

During antiquity, Greek was a widely spoken in the Mediterranean world. It would eventually become the official language of the and develop into . In its , Greek is the official language in Greece and Cyprus, and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. It is spoken by at least 13.5 million people today in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Albania, and Turkey and by the .

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


History
Greek has been spoken in the since around the 3rd millennium BC,; . or possibly earlier.; . The earliest written evidence is a found in that dates to between 1450 and 1350 BC, making Greek the world's oldest recorded . Among the Indo-European languages, its date of earliest written attestation is matched only by the now-extinct Anatolian languages.


Periods
The Greek language is conventionally divided into the following periods:
  • Proto-Greek: the unrecorded but assumed last ancestor of all known varieties of Greek. The unity of Proto-Greek would have ended as Hellenic migrants entered the Greek peninsula sometime in the era or the .
  • : the language of the . It is recorded in the script on tablets dating from the 15th century BC onwards.
  • : in its various dialects, the language of the and periods of the . It was widely known throughout the . Ancient Greek fell into disuse in western Europe in the , but remained officially in use in the world and was reintroduced to the rest of Europe with the Fall of Constantinople and migration to western Europe.
  • : The fusion of with , the dialect of , began the process that resulted in the creation of the first common Greek dialect, which became a across the Eastern Mediterranean and . Koine Greek can be initially traced within the armies and conquered territories of Alexander the Great and after the Hellenistic colonization of the known world, it was spoken from to the fringes of . After the conquest of Greece, an unofficial of Greek and was established in the city of and Koine Greek became a first or second language in the . The origin of can also be traced through Koine Greek, because the used this form of the language to spread Christianity. It is also known as Hellenistic Greek, New Testament Greek, and sometimes Biblical Greek because it was the original language of the and the was translated into the same language via the .
  • , also known as Byzantine Greek: the continuation of Koine Greek, up to the demise of the in the 15th century. Medieval Greek is a cover phrase for a whole continuum of different speech and writing styles, ranging from vernacular continuations of spoken Koine that were already approaching in many respects, to highly learned forms imitating classical Attic. Much of the written Greek that was used as the official language of the Byzantine Empire was an eclectic middle-ground variety based on the tradition of written Koine.
  • (Neo-Hellenic): Stemming from Medieval Greek, Modern Greek usages can be traced in the Byzantine period, as early as the 11th century. It is the language used by the modern Greeks, and, apart from Standard Modern Greek, there are several dialects of it.


Diglossia
In the modern era, the Greek language entered a state of : 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 : , the vernacular form of Modern Greek proper, and , meaning 'purified', a compromise between Dimotiki and , 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.
(1985). 9780198157700, Oxford University Press.


Historical unity
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, " is probably closer to than 12-century is to "..


Geographic distribution
Greek is spoken today by at least 13 million people, principally in and 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 which as notable communities in the , Australia, , South Africa, , , , Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and throughout the , especially in Germany.

Historically, significant Greek-speaking communities and regions were found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, in what are today , , Cyprus, , , , , and ; in the area of the , in what are today Turkey, , , , , Georgia, , and ; and, to a lesser extent, in the Western Mediterranean in and around colonies such as Massalia, , and Mainake. It was also used as a liturgical language in Christian Nubian kingdom of which was in modern day .


Official status
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 ). 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 , 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. 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 and (), and as a minority language all over Albania, as well as in parts of , , , and 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 .


Characteristics
The , morphology, , and 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.


Phonology
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):
  • replacement of the with a stress accent.
  • simplification of the system of and : loss of vowel length distinction, monophthongisation of most diphthongs and several steps in a of vowels towards ().
  • development of the aspirated and to the voiceless fricatives and , respectively; the similar development of to may have taken place later (the phonological changes are not reflected in the orthography, and both earlier and later phonemes are written with φ, , and χ).
  • development of the voiced plosives , , and to their voiced fricative counterparts (later ), , and .


Morphology
In all its stages, the morphology of Greek shows an extensive set of productive derivational affixes, a limited but productive system of compounding. 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 (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 (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.


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:


Syntax
Many aspects of the 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.


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,. some documented in ; they include a large number of Greek . The form and meaning of many words have evolved. (words of foreign origin) have entered the language, mainly from , Venetian, and . 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 and , 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: , , , , , , , , , , etc. Moreover, Greek words and continue to be productive as a basis for coinages: , , , , , , etc. and form, with , the foundation of international scientific and technical vocabulary like all words ending with –logy ("discourse"). There are many English words of Greek origin..


Classification
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,
(2021). 9783110530810, Walter de Gruyter.
(2021). 9783110530810, Walter de Gruyter.
; . but it is poorly attested and it is difficult to conclude. Independently of the Macedonian question, some scholars have grouped Greek into , 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 ) or the Indo-Iranian languages (see ), 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..


Writing system

Linear B
, attested as early as the late 15th century BC, was the first script used to write Greek. It is basically a , which was finally deciphered by and in the 1950s (its precursor, , has not been deciphered and most likely encodes a non-Greek language).
(1980). 9780906515693, Bristol Classical Press.
The language of the Linear B texts, Mycenaean Greek, is the earliest known form of Greek.


Cypriot syllabary
Another similar system used to write the Greek language was the Cypriot syllabary (also a descendant of 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 from the 11th century BC until its gradual abandonment in the late Classical period, in favor of the standard Greek alphabet.


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 variant, introduced for writing classical 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 and .

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

ω


Diacritics
In addition to the letters, the Greek alphabet features a number of : three different accent marks (, , and ), originally denoting different shapes of on the stressed vowel; the so-called breathing marks ( and ), 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 saw a rapid decline in favor of uniform usage of the acute during the late 20th century, and it has only been retained in .

After the writing reform of 1982, most diacritics are no longer used. Since then, Greek has been written mostly in the simplified (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 .


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 also functions as a in a handful of Greek words, principally distinguishing ( ó,ti, 'whatever') from ( 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.

(2014). 9780199675128
, or bi-directional text, was also used in Ancient Greek.


Latin alphabet
Greek has occasionally been written in the , 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 ). Frankochiotika / Φραγκοχιώτικα (meaning 'Catholic Chiot') alludes to the significant presence of Catholic missionaries based on the island of . Additionally, the term is often used when the Greek language is written in a Latin script in online communications..

The Latin script is nowadays used by the communities of .


Hebrew alphabet
The dialect was written by and Constantinopolitan Karaite Jews using the .


Arabic alphabet
Some wrote their in the . The same happened among in . This usage is sometimes called as when are written in the Arabic alphabet.
(2021). 9780253353610, Indiana University Press. .


See also
    • Varieties of Modern Greek
    • Ancient Greek dialects
  • Hellenic languages
  • List of Greek and Latin roots in English
  • List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes


Notes

Citations

Sources


Further reading


External links
General background

Language learning

Dictionaries

Literature

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