Greek language

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For the Greek language used during particular eras; see Proto-Greek, Mycenaean Greek, Ancient Greek, Koine Greek, Medieval Greek, and Modern Greek. Greek language_sentence_0

Greek language_table_infobox_0

GreekGreek language_header_cell_0_0_0
PronunciationGreek language_header_cell_0_1_0 [eliniˈkaGreek language_cell_0_1_1
RegionGreek language_header_cell_0_2_0 Greece

Cyprus Anatolia Balkans Black Sea coast Eastern Mediterranean Southern ItalyGreek language_cell_0_2_1

EthnicityGreek language_header_cell_0_3_0 GreeksGreek language_cell_0_3_1
Native speakersGreek language_header_cell_0_4_0 13.4 million (2012)Greek language_cell_0_4_1
Language familyGreek language_header_cell_0_5_0 Indo-EuropeanGreek language_cell_0_5_1
Early formGreek language_header_cell_0_6_0 Proto-GreekGreek language_cell_0_6_1
DialectsGreek language_header_cell_0_7_0 Greek language_cell_0_7_1
Writing systemGreek language_header_cell_0_8_0 Greek language_cell_0_8_1
Language codesGreek language_header_cell_0_9_0
ISO 639-1Greek language_header_cell_0_10_0 Greek language_cell_0_10_1
ISO 639-2Greek language_header_cell_0_11_0 (B)

 (T)Greek language_cell_0_11_1

ISO 639-3Greek language_header_cell_0_12_0 Variously:

 – Modern Greek  – Ancient Greek  – Cappadocian Greek  – Mycenaean Greek  – Pontic  – Tsakonian  – YevanicGreek language_cell_0_12_1

GlottologGreek language_header_cell_0_13_0 Greek language_cell_0_13_1
LinguasphereGreek language_header_cell_0_14_0 Greek language_cell_0_14_1

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. Greek language_sentence_1

It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3,400 years of written records. Greek language_sentence_2

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. Greek language_sentence_3

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. Greek language_sentence_4

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 language_sentence_5

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. Greek language_sentence_6

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. Greek language_sentence_7

During antiquity, Greek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean world, West Asia and many places beyond. Greek language_sentence_8

It would eventually become the official parlance of the Byzantine Empire and develop into Medieval Greek. Greek language_sentence_9

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. Greek language_sentence_10

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 language_sentence_11

Greek roots are often used to coin new words for other languages; Greek and Latin are the predominant sources of international scientific vocabulary. Greek language_sentence_12

History Greek language_section_0

Main article: History of Greek Greek language_sentence_13

Greek has been spoken in the Balkan peninsula since around the 3rd millennium BC, or possibly earlier. Greek language_sentence_14

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. Greek language_sentence_15

Among the Indo-European languages, its date of earliest written attestation is matched only by the now-extinct Anatolian languages. Greek language_sentence_16

Periods Greek language_section_1

The Greek language is conventionally divided into the following periods: Greek language_sentence_17

Greek language_unordered_list_0

Greek language_unordered_list_1

  • Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek: the continuation of Koine Greek, up to the demise of the Byzantine Empire 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 Modern Greek 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.Greek language_item_1_4
  • Modern Greek (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.Greek language_item_1_5

Diglossia Greek language_section_2

Main article: Greek language question Greek language_sentence_18

In the modern era, the Greek language entered a state of diglossia: the coexistence of vernacular and archaizing written forms of the language. Greek language_sentence_19

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. Greek language_sentence_20

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. Greek language_sentence_21

Historical unity Greek language_section_3

The historical unity and continuing identity between the various stages of the Greek language are often emphasized. Greek language_sentence_22

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 language_sentence_23

Greek speakers today still tend to regard literary works of ancient Greek as part of their own rather than a foreign language. Greek language_sentence_24

It is also often stated that the historical changes have been relatively slight compared with some other languages. Greek language_sentence_25

According to one estimation, "Homeric Greek is probably closer to Demotic than 12-century Middle English is to modern spoken English". Greek language_sentence_26

Geographic distribution Greek language_section_4

Further information: Greeks and Greek diaspora Greek language_sentence_27

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. Greek language_sentence_28

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. Greek language_sentence_29

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. Greek language_sentence_30

A small Greek-speaking community is also found in Bulgaria near the Greek-Bulgarian border. Greek language_sentence_31

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. Greek language_sentence_32

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 language_sentence_33

It was also used as a liturgical language in Christian Nubian kingdom of Makuria which was in modern day Sudan. Greek language_sentence_34

Official status Greek language_section_5

Greek, in its modern form, is the official language of Greece, where it is spoken by almost the entire population. Greek language_sentence_35

It is also the official language of Cyprus (nominally alongside Turkish). Greek language_sentence_36

Because of the membership of Greece and Cyprus in the European Union, Greek is one of the organization's 24 official languages. Greek language_sentence_37

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. Greek language_sentence_38

Greeks are also a recognized ethnic minority in Hungary. Greek language_sentence_39

Characteristics Greek language_section_6

See also: Ancient Greek grammar, Koine Greek grammar, and Modern Greek grammar Greek language_sentence_40

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. Greek language_sentence_41

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. Greek language_sentence_42

Phonology Greek language_section_7

See also: Modern Greek phonology Greek language_sentence_43

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. Greek language_sentence_44

It has only oral vowels and a fairly stable set of consonantal contrasts. Greek language_sentence_45

The main phonological changes occurred during the Hellenistic and Roman period (see Koine Greek phonology for details): Greek language_sentence_46

Greek language_unordered_list_2

  • replacement of the pitch accent with a stress accent.Greek language_item_2_6
  • simplification of the system of vowels and diphthongs: loss of vowel length distinction, monophthongisation of most diphthongs and several steps in a chain shift of vowels towards /i/ (iotacism).Greek language_item_2_7
  • development of the voiceless aspirated plosives /pʰ/ and /tʰ/ to the voiceless fricatives /f/ and /θ/, respectively; the similar development of /kʰ/ to /x/ may have taken place later (the phonological changes are not reflected in the orthography, and both earlier and later phonemes are written with φ, θ, and χ).Greek language_item_2_8
  • development of the voiced plosives /b/, /d/, and /ɡ/ to their voiced fricative counterparts /β/ (later /v/), /ð/, and /ɣ/.Greek language_item_2_9

Morphology Greek language_section_8

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. Greek language_sentence_47

Although its morphological categories have been fairly stable over time, morphological changes are present throughout, particularly in the nominal and verbal systems. Greek language_sentence_48

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). Greek language_sentence_49

The verbal system has lost the infinitive, the synthetically-formed future, and perfect tenses and the optative mood. Greek language_sentence_50

Many have been replaced by periphrastic (analytical) forms. Greek language_sentence_51

Nouns and adjectives Greek language_section_9

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). Greek language_sentence_52

Nouns, articles, and adjectives show all the distinctions except for a person. Greek language_sentence_53

Both attributive and predicative adjectives agree with the noun. Greek language_sentence_54

Verbs Greek language_section_10

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 language_sentence_55

Greek verbs have synthetic inflectional forms for: Greek language_sentence_56

Greek language_table_general_1

Greek language_header_cell_1_0_0 Ancient GreekGreek language_header_cell_1_0_1 Modern GreekGreek language_header_cell_1_0_2
PersonGreek language_header_cell_1_1_0 first, second and thirdGreek language_cell_1_1_1 also second person formalGreek language_cell_1_1_2
NumberGreek language_header_cell_1_2_0 singular, dual and pluralGreek language_cell_1_2_1 singular and pluralGreek language_cell_1_2_2
tenseGreek language_header_cell_1_3_0 present, past and futureGreek language_cell_1_3_1 past and non-past (future is expressed by a periphrastic construction)Greek language_cell_1_3_2
aspectGreek language_header_cell_1_4_0 imperfective, perfective (traditionally called aorist) and perfect (sometimes also called perfective; see note about terminology)Greek language_cell_1_4_1 imperfective and perfective/aorist (perfect is expressed by a periphrastic construction)Greek language_cell_1_4_2
moodGreek language_header_cell_1_5_0 indicative, subjunctive, imperative and optativeGreek language_cell_1_5_1 indicative, subjunctive, and imperative (other modal functions are expressed by periphrastic constructions)Greek language_cell_1_5_2
VoiceGreek language_header_cell_1_6_0 active, middle, and passiveGreek language_cell_1_6_1 active and medio-passiveGreek language_cell_1_6_2

Syntax Greek language_section_11

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. Greek language_sentence_57

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. Greek language_sentence_58

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. Greek language_sentence_59

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). Greek language_sentence_60

Ancient Greek tended to be verb-final, but neutral word order in the modern language is VSO or SVO. Greek language_sentence_61

Vocabulary Greek language_section_12

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. Greek language_sentence_62

The form and meaning of many words have evolved. Greek language_sentence_63

Loanwords (words of foreign origin) have entered the language, mainly from Latin, Venetian, and Turkish. Greek language_sentence_64

During the older periods of Greek, loanwords into Greek acquired Greek inflections, thus leaving only a foreign root word. Greek language_sentence_65

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 language_sentence_66

Greek loanwords in other languages Greek language_section_13

Further information: English words of Greek origin Greek language_sentence_67

Further information: Greek and Latin roots in English Greek language_sentence_68

Greek words have been widely borrowed into other languages, including English: mathematics, physics, astronomy, democracy, philosophy, , theatre, rhetoric, baptism, , etc. Greek language_sentence_69

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"). Greek language_sentence_70

There are many English words of Greek origin. Greek language_sentence_71

Classification Greek language_section_14

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. Greek language_sentence_72

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. Greek language_sentence_73

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. Greek language_sentence_74

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. Greek language_sentence_75

In addition, Albanian has also been considered somewhat related to Greek and Armenian by some linguists. Greek language_sentence_76

If proven and recognized, the three languages would form a new Balkan sub-branch with other dead European languages. Greek language_sentence_77

Writing system Greek language_section_15

See also: Greek Braille Greek language_sentence_78

Linear B Greek language_section_16

Main article: Linear B Greek language_sentence_79

Linear B, attested as early as the late 15th century BC, was the first script used to write Greek. Greek language_sentence_80

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). Greek language_sentence_81

The language of the Linear B texts, Mycenaean Greek, is the earliest known form of Greek. Greek language_sentence_82

Cypriot syllabary Greek language_section_17

Main article: Cypriot syllabary Greek language_sentence_83

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. Greek language_sentence_84

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 language_sentence_85

Greek alphabet Greek language_section_18

Main articles: Greek alphabet and Greek orthography Greek language_sentence_86

Greek has been written in the Greek alphabet since approximately the 9th century BC. Greek language_sentence_87

It was created by modifying the Phoenician alphabet, with the innovation of adopting certain letters to represent the vowels. Greek language_sentence_88

The variant of the alphabet in use today is essentially the late Ionic variant, introduced for writing classical Attic in 403 BC. Greek language_sentence_89

In classical Greek, as in classical Latin, only upper-case letters existed. Greek language_sentence_90

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. Greek language_sentence_91

The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters, each with an uppercase (majuscule) and lowercase (minuscule) form. Greek language_sentence_92

The letter sigma has an additional lowercase form (ς) used in the final position: Greek language_sentence_93

Diacritics Greek language_section_19

Main article: Greek diacritics Greek language_sentence_94

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. Greek language_sentence_95

These marks were introduced during the course of the Hellenistic period. Greek language_sentence_96

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. Greek language_sentence_97

After the writing reform of 1982, most diacritics are no longer used. Greek language_sentence_98

Since then, Greek has been written mostly in the simplified monotonic orthography (or monotonic system), which employs only the acute accent and the diaeresis. Greek language_sentence_99

The traditional system, now called the polytonic orthography (or polytonic system), is still used internationally for the writing of Ancient Greek. Greek language_sentence_100

Punctuation Greek language_section_20

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). Greek language_sentence_101

In Greek the comma also functions as a silent letter in a handful of Greek words, principally distinguishing (ó,ti, 'whatever') from (óti, 'that'). Greek language_sentence_102

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. Greek language_sentence_103

Boustrophedon, or bi-directional text, was also used in Ancient Greek. Greek language_sentence_104

Latin alphabet Greek language_section_21

Greek has occasionally been written in the Latin script, especially in areas under Venetian rule or by Greek Catholics. Greek language_sentence_105

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). Greek language_sentence_106

Frankochiotika / Φραγκοχιώτικα (meaning 'Catholic Chiot') alludes to the significant presence of Catholic missionaries based on the island of Chios. Greek language_sentence_107

Additionally, the term Greeklish is often used when the Greek language is written in a Latin script in online communications. Greek language_sentence_108

The Latin script is nowadays used by the Greek-speaking communities of Southern Italy. Greek language_sentence_109

Hebrew alphabet Greek language_section_22

The Yevanic dialect was written by Romaniote and Constantinopolitan Karaite Jews using the Hebrew Alphabet. Greek language_sentence_110

Arabic alphabet Greek language_section_23

Some Greek Muslims from Crete wrote their Cretan Greek in the Arabic alphabet. Greek language_sentence_111

The same happened among Epirote Muslims in Ioannina. Greek language_sentence_112

This usage is sometimes called aljamiado as when Romance languages are written in the Arabic alphabet. Greek language_sentence_113

See also Greek language_section_24

Greek language_unordered_list_3


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek language.