About Maximapedia

Chief Characteristics Of The Greek Dialects

CHIEF CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GREEK DIALECTS i. Arcadian and Cyprian. As Cyprian was written in a syllabary which could not represent a consonant by itself, did not distinguish between voiced, unvoiced and aspirated consonants, did not represent at all a nasal before another consonant, and did not distinguish between long and short vowels, the interpretation of the symbols is of the nature of a conundrum and the answer is not always certain. Thus the same combination of two symbols would have to stand for rire, roSt, Sore, &O(>TJ, rovSf, Tufif, T&, or). No inscription of more than a few words in length is found in either dialect earlier than the 5th century B.C. In both dialects the number of important inscriptions is steadily increasing. Both dialects change final o to v, av6 passing into airb. Arcadian changes the verb ending -at into -01. Arcadian uses & or f for an original gai-sound, which appears in Attic Greek as /3: fXXw, Attic (SAXXw, " throw." In inflexion both agree in changing -no of masculine -a stems into ou (Arcadian carries this form also into the feminine -d stems), and in using locatives in -<u and -<H for the dative, such locatives being governed by the prepositions Airu and ! (before a consonant ks in Arcadian). Verbs in -aw, -co and -oo> are declined not as -o>, but as -/u verbs. The final i of the ending of the 3rd plural present changes the preceding r to a: ^tpavat, cp. Laconian (Doric) Qtpovri, Attic <fipowi, Lesbian <t>epoiai. Instead of the Attic TS, the interrogative pronoun appears as cris, the initial a in Arcadian being written with a special symbol * . The pronunciation is not certain. The original sound was qw, as in Latin quis, whence Attic Tls and Thessalian nis. In Arcadian KOI- the Aeolic particle and the Ionic <u> seem to be combined.

2. Aeolic. Though Boeotian is overlaid with a Doric element, it nevertheless agrees with Thessalian and Lesbian in some characteristics. Unlike Greek generally, they represent the original qw of the word lor four by it before , where Attic and other dialects have T: Trerroptj, Attic Tirroptj. The corresponding voiced and aspirated sounds are similarly-treated : BiX4>aios the adjective in Thessalian to AeX<o, and <5p for 0r;p. They all tend to change o ton: impa, "name"; ou for co in Thessalian : "ATrXow, " Apollo " ; and u in Boeotian for 01 : fwta. (alula), " house." They also make the dative plural of the third declension in -tam, and the perfect participle active is declined like a present participle in -o>v. Instead of the Athenian method of giving the father's name in the genitive when a citizen is described, these dialects (especially Thessalian) tend to make an adjective: thus instead of the Attic ArmoaBirris fatiiaaSkmvs, Aeolic would rather have A. ArjMoo-0ceos. Thessalian stands midway between Lesbian and Boeotian, agreeing with Lesbian in the use of double consonants, where Attic has a single consonant, with or without lengthening of the previous syllable: inl, Attic tlpl for an original *esmi; o-i-AXXo, Attic 0-117X1; ; {.ivvos for an earlier tvFos, Attic JJTOS, Ionic {etcos, Doric r>os. Where Attic has -as from an earlier -avs or -OPTS, Lesbian has -cus: rals apxais accusative in Lesbian for older ravs apxavs. Lesbian has no oxyton words according to the grammarians, the accent being carried back to the penult or antepenultimate syllable. It has also no " rough breathing," but this characteristic it shared with the Ionic of Asia M inor, and in the course of time with other dialects. The characteristic particle of the dialects is , which is used like the Doric <co, the Arcadian icav, and the Attic and Ionic fie. Thessalian and Lesbian agree in making their long vowels close, T belonging u (a close e, not a diphthong), iroip, " father." The u sound did not become u as in Attic and Ionic, and hence when the Ionic alphabet was introduced it was spelt <w, or when in contact with dentals u>v, as in 6viovp.a=&vviia, " name," Tu>i>xa = T<jx' r li "chance "; the pronunciation, therefore, must have been like the English sound in news, tune. Boeotian developed earlier than other dialects the changes in the vowels which characterize modern Greek : 01 became e, xal passing into KT} : compare jrore/p and FvKla above: became t in Ixt, " has." Thessalian shows some examples of the Homeric genitive in -oio: n-oXe/noio, etc. ; its ordinary genitive of o- stems is in -01.

There are some points of connexion between this group and Arcadian-Cyprian: in both Thessalian and Cyprian the characteristic TTToXis (Attic, etc., iriXis) and Savxva- for Sct^vri are found, and both groups form the " contracting verbs " not in -co but in -pi. In the second group as in the first there is little that precedes the 5th century B.C. Future additions to our materials may be expected to lessen the gap between the two groups and Homer.

3. Ionic-Attic. One of the earliest of Greek inscriptions of the 7th century, at least is the Attic inscription written in two lines from right to left upon a wine goblet (olcoxoij) given as a prize: hbs vvv 6pxffTov TTCIVTOV \ dToX6roTa Trcufti TOTO &Kav /zip. The last words are uncertain. Till lately early inscriptions in Ionic were few, but recently an early inscription has been found at Ephesus and a later copy of a long early inscription at Miletus.

The most noticeable characteristic of Attic and Ionic is the change of a into TJ which is universal in Ionic but does not appear in Attic after another vowel or p. Thus both dialects used nfirrip, Ttp.ii from an earlier nanjp, rind, but Attic had ao<t>ia, irpayna and xipa, not ffo</>/?;, Tpfivna and X.&PTI as in Ionic. The apparent exception icopij is explained by the fact that in this word a digamma f has been lost after p, in Doric nbpFa. That the change took place after the lonians came into Asia is shown by the word MrjSoi, which in Cyprian is MSSoi; the Medes were certainly not known to the Greeks till long after the conquest of Ionia. While Aeolic and the greater part of Doric kept F, this symbol and the sound w represented by it had disappeared from both Ionic and Attic before existing records begin in other words, were certainly not in use after 800 B.C. The symbol was known and occurs in a few isolated instances. Both dialects agreed in changing u into M, so that a tt sound has to be represented by ou. The short o tended towards u, so that the contraction of o+o gave ov. In the same way short e tended towards i, so that the contraction of e+e gave , which was not a diphthong but a close e-sound. In Attic Greek these contractions were represented by O and E respectively till the official adoption of the Ionic alphabet at Athens in 403 B.C. So also were the lengthened syllables which represent in their length the loss of an earlier consonant, as t/nttva. and 2wjuo, Aeolic tiuvva., Ivtmta., which stand for a prehistoric *tiitvaa and *tvtn<ra, containing the -a- of the first aorist, and roiis, otKovs, 3xw< representing an earlier rbn, olVocs, IXOPTI (3 pi. present) or *txvTai (dative pi. of present participle). Both dialects also agreed in changing T before t into a (like Aeolic), as in ?xowi above, and in the 3rd person singular of -/u verbs, rWrjo-t, SiSuffi, etc., and in noun stems, as in o&ais for an earlier *oirris. Neither dialect used the particle xc or ica, but both have an instead. One of the effects of the change of a into 77 was that the combination oo changed in both dialects to 770, which in all Attic records and in the later Ionic has become o by a metathesis in the quantity of the vowels: 1*065, earlier vaFAs, " temple," is in Homeric Greek ITTOS, in later Ionic and Attic vtus. In the dative (locative) plural of the -o stems, Ionic has generally -7710-1 on the analogy of the singular; Attic Mtid first the old locative form in -770-1, -oat., which survived in forms which became adverbs like 'Mfiv^ai and Bbpaai; but after 420 B.C. these were replaced by -ois, flupats, etc. The Ionic of Asia Minor showed many changes earlier than that of the Cyclades and Euboea. It lost the aspirate very early: hence in the Ionic alphabet H is e, not h; it changed ou and eu into ao and to, and very early replaced to a large extent the -M* by- the -to verbs. This confusion can be seen in progress in the Attic literature of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., Stlaioiu gradually giving way to evua>, while the literature generally uses forms like &t>Ut for fe/>iij (impft.). In Attica also the aspiration which survived in the Ionic of Euboea and the Cyclades ceased by the end of the 5th century. The Ionic of Asia Minor has -105 as the genitive oi t-stems; the other forms of Ionic have -iSos.

4. Doric. As already mentioned, the dialects of the North-West differ in several respects from Doric elsewhere. As general characteristics of Doric may be noted the contractions of a+ into T/, and of a+o or u into d, while the results in Attic and Ionic of these contractions are d and a respectively : kvLiai from vmau), Attic kvUa; rijua/tes I pi. pres. from TI/JOU, Attic TIHWHIV; Ti/iai' gen. pi. of TII& " honour, Attic rifuav. In inflection the most noticeable points are the pronominal adverbs in locative form : rovrii, TIJK (this from a stem limited to a few Doric dialects and the Bucolic Poets), rii&t, Sni, etc. ; the nom. pi. of the article rol, ral, not oi, oi, and so TOUTOI in Selinus and Rhodes; the 1st pi. of the verb in -;s, not in -iuv, cp. the Latin -mus; the aorist and future in --, where other dialects have -a-, or contraction from presents in-fw; Sucdfw, Stxiurw, Doric &IK&.&, etc. ; the future passive with active endings, iiript\ildTiatvvTi (Rhodes), found as yet only in the Doric islands and in the Doric prose of Archimedes; the particles oi " if " and KO with a similar value to the Aeolic at and the Attic-Ionic oc. Doric had an accentuation system different both from Aeolic and from Ionic-Attic, but the details of the system are very imperfectly known.

In older works Doric is often divided into a dialectus severior and a dialectus mitis. But the difference is one of time rather than of place, the peculiarities of Doric being gradually softened down till it was ultimately merged in the lingua franca, the xotif}, which in time engulfed all the local dialects except the descendant of Spartan, Tzakoman. Here it is possible to mention its varieties only in the briefest form, (a) The southern dialects are well illustrated in the inscriptions of Laconia recently much increased in number by the excavations of the British School at Athens. Apart from some brief dedications, the earliest inscription of importance is the list of names placed on a bronze column soon after 479 B.C. to commemorate the tribes which had repulsed the Persians. The column, originally at Delphi, is now at Constantinople. The most striking features of the dialect are the retention of F at the beginning of words, as in the dedication from the 6th century Fai>alf)u>s (Annual of British School, xiv. 144). The dialect changed -a- between vowels into -h-, paha for HUGO. " muse." Later it changed 8 into a sound like the English th, which was represented by a. Before o-sounds t here and in some other Doric dialects changed toi: Si&s, <rt&s for 0e6j " god." The result of contraction and " compensatory lengthening " was not and ou as in Attic and Ionic, but i; andu: fintv infinitive = etcoi from *esmen', gen. sing, of o-stems in to: 6tu>, ace. pi. in -<js:0!;s; dy was represented by &&, not f, as in Attic-Ionic; /iu<n66 = nWife. The dialect has many strange words, especially in connexion with the state education and organization of the boys and young men. The Heraclean tables from a Laconian colony in S. Italy have curious forms in -aaai for the dat. pi. of the participle irpaaaburaaai Attic TpdTToufft. Of the dialect of Messenia we know little, the long inscription about mysteries from Andania being only about 100 B.C. From Argolis there are a considerable number of early inscriptions, and in a later form of the dialect the cures recorded at the temple of Asklepios at Epidaurus present many points of interest. There is also an inscription of the 6th century B.C. from the temple of Aphaia in Aegina. F survives in the old inscriptions: FfFptneva ( = flpriitkva) ; vs , whether original or arising by sound change from -nty, persists till the 2nd century B.C.: Aovrrruxiwo = T) diriruxoucra, T&VS vl6vs = TOIIS uiois. The dialect of the Inachus valley seems to resemble Laconian more closely than does that of the rest of the Argolic area. Corinth and her colonies in the earliest inscriptions preserve Fand f( = Latin Q) before o and v sounds, and write and ^ by \a and <<r, the symbols which are used also for this purpose in old Attic. In the Corcyrean and Sicilian forms of the dialect, X before a dental appears as v : &urlat = $iXras ; and in Sicilian the perfect-active was treated as a present: 6t5oi/ca> for Siioma, etc. From Megara has come lately an obscure inscription from the beginning of the 5th century; its colony Selinus has inscriptions from the middle of the same century ; the inscriptions from Byzantium and its other Pontic colonies date only from Hellenistic times. In Crete, which shows a considerable variety of subdialects, the most important document is the great inscription from Gortyn containing twelve tables of family law, which was discovered in 1884. The local alphabet has no separate symbols for x and <t>, and these sounds are therefore written with K and TT. As in Argive the combination -us was kept both medially and finally except before words beginning with a consonant ; -ty- was represented by f , later by -TT-, as in Thessalian and Boeotian : OTOTTOI, Attic 6irA<roi; and finally by -66-; X combined with a preceding vowel into an ow-diphthong : ainti, Attic dX*^, cp. the English pronunciation of talk, etc. In Gortyn and some other towns -06- was assimilated to -66-, where 9 must have been a spirant like the English th in thin; f of Attic Greek is represented initially by S, medially by 65, but in some towns by T and TT: S5As( = fuos), 5ucdaj> (=iucdfeii>). Final consonants are generally assimilated to the beginning of the next word. In inflection there are many local peculiarities. In Melos and Thera some very old inscriptions have , been found written in an alphabet without symbols for <f, x, $, {, which are therefore written as rh, .h or f h, ira, no. The contractions of e+ and of o+o are represented by E and O respectively. The old rock inscriptions of Thera are among the most archaic yet discovered. The most characteristic feature of Rhodian Doric is the infinitive in -utiv: Sbptiv, etc. ( = Attic SouVoi), which passed also to Gela and Agrigentum. The inscriptions from Cos are numerous, but too late to represent the earliest form of the dialect.

(b) The dialects of N.W. Doric, Locrian, Phocian, Aetolian, with which go Elean and Achaean, present a more uncouth appearance than the other Doric dialects except perhaps Cretan. Only from Locris and Phocis come fairly old inscriptions; later a Kotvri was developed, in which the documents of the Aetolian league are written, and of which the most distinctive mark is the dative plural of consonant stems in -ois: dpx&rois (= Attic opxowi), i.y&vou (= Attic Ajwai.), etc. Phocian and the Locrian of Opus have also forms like Aeolic in -taai. In place of the dative in -<i>, locatives in -o i are used in Locrian and Phocian. Generally north of the Corinthian gulf the middle present participle from -tu>- verbs ends in -tiptvot; similar forms are found also in Elean. Locrian changed t before p into a: irorapa for ira-r^pa; cf. English Kerr and Carr, sergeant and Sargeaunt. ar appears for aB, and P and F are still much in use in the 5th century B.C. Many thousands of inscriptions were found in the French excavations at Delphi, but nothing earlier than the 5th century B.C. In the older inscriptions the Aeolic influence datives in -taai, oxt>/ja for oTO/ia is better marked than later. In the Laws of the Labyad phratry (about 400 B.C.) the genitive is in <n>, but a form in -w is also found, FoUta, which seems to be an old ablative fossilized as an adverb. The nom. pi. SOTTOPS is used for the ace. ; similar forms are found in Elean and Achaean.

The more important of the older materials for Achaean come from the Achaean colonies of S. Italy, and being scanty give us only an imperfect view of the dialect, but it is clearly in its main features Doric. Much more remarkable is the Elean dialect known chiefly from inscriptions found at Olympia, some of which are as early as the beginning of the 6th century. The native dialect was replaced first by a Doric and then by the Attic KOLVTI, but under the Caesars the archaic dialect was restored. Many of its characteristics it shares with the dialects north of the Corinthian gulf, but it changes original e to d: /jLO.=nri, etc. ; 5 was apparently a spirant, as in modern Greek (=tk in English the, thine), and is represented by f in some of the earliest inscriptions. Final -s became -p; this is found also in Laconian; -ty- became -aa-, but was not simplified as in Attic to -a-: 8Wo = Attic &rra.

As we have seen, lonians, Aetolians and Dorians tended to level local peculiarities and make a generally intelligible dialect in which treaties and other important records were framed. The language of literature is always of necessity to some extent a KOIVTI: with some Greek writers the use of a Koii^swag. especially necessary. The local dialect of Boeotia was not easily intelligible in other districts, and a writer like Pindar, whose patrons were mostly not Boeotians, had perforce to write in a dialect that they could understand. Hence he writes in a conventional Doric with Aeolic elements, which forms a strong contrast to that of Corinna, who kept more or less closely to the Boeotian dialect. For different literary purposes Greek had different icou-ai. A poet who would write an epic must adopt a form of language modelled on that of Homer and Hesiod ; Alcaeus and Sappho were the models for the love lyric, which was therefore Aeolic; Stesichorus was the founder of the triumphal ode, which, as he was a Dorian of Sicily, must henceforth be in Doric, though Pindar was an Aeolian, and its other chief representatives, Simonides and Bacchylides, were lonians from Ceos. The choral ode of tragedy was always conventional Doric, and in the iambics also are Doric words like pdu, Xdcj, etc. Elegy and epigram were founded on epic; the satirical iambics of Hipponaxand his late disciple Herondas are Ionic. The first Greek prose was developed in Ionia, of which an excellent example has been preserved to us in Herodotus. Thucydides was not an Ionian, but he could not shake himself free of the tradition: he therefore writes irp&aau, r&aaa, etc., with-acr-, which was Ionic, but is never found in Attic inscriptions nor in the writers who imitate the language of common life Aristophanes (when not parodying tragedy, or other forms of literature or dialect), Plato and the Orators (with the partial exception of Antiphon, who ordinarily has -aa-, but in the one speech actually intended for the law-courts -TT--). Similarly Hippocrates and his medical school in Cos wrote in Ionic, not, however, in the Ionic of Herodotus, but in a language more akin to the Ionic KOU^I of the inscriptions; and this dialect continued to be used in medicine later, much as doctors now use Latin for their prescriptions. The first literary document written in Attic prose is the treatise on the Constitution of Athens, which is generally printed amongst the minor works of Xenophon, but really belongs to about 425 B.C. From the fragment of Aristophanes' Banqueters and from the first speech of Lysias " Against 1 heomnestos it is clear that the Attic dialect had changed rapidly in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., and that much of the phraseology of Solon s aws was no longer intelligible by 400 B.C. Among the most difficult of the literary dialects to trace is the earliest the Homeric dialect. The Homeric question cannot be discussed here, and on that question it may be said quot homines tot sententiae. To the present writer, however, it seems probable that the poems were composed in Chios as tradition asserted; the language contains many Aeolisms, and the heroes sung are, except for the Athenians (very briefly referred to) , and possibly Telamoman Ajax, not of the Ionic stock. Chios was itself an Tonicized Aeolic colony (Diodorus v. 81 . 7). The hypothesis of a great poet writing on the basis of earlier Aeolic lays (nXIa AvSpajv) in Chios seems to explain the main peculiarities of the Homeric language, which, however, was modified to some extent in later times first under Ionic and afterwards under Athenian influence. , . , Of Dorian literature we know little. The works of Archimedes written in the Syracusan dialect were much altered in language by the late copyists. The most striking development of the late classical age in Doric lands is that of pastoral poetry, which, like Spenser, is " writ in no language," but, on a basis of Syracusan and possibly Coan Doric, has in its structure many elements borrowed from the Aeolic love lyric and from epic.

From the latter part of the 5th century B.C. Athens became ever more important as a literary centre, and Attic prose became the model for the later KOUT?, which grew up as a consequence of the decay of the local dialects. For this decay there were several reasons. If the Athenian empire had survived the Peloponnesian War, Attic influence would no doubt soon have permeated the whole of that empire. This consummation was postponed. Attic became the court language of Macedon, and, when Alexander's conquests led to the foundation of great new towns, like Alexandria, filled with inhabitants from all parts of the Greek world, this dialect furnished a basis for common intercourse. Naturally the resultant dialect was not pure Attic. There were in it considerable traces of Ionic. In Attica itself the dialect was less uniform than elsewhere even in the 5th century B.C., because Athens was a centre of empire, literature and commerce. Like every other language which is not under the dominion of the schoolmaster, it borrowed the names of foreign objects which it imported from foreign lands, not only from those of Greek-speaking peoples, but also from Egypt, Persia, Lydia, Phoenicia, Thrace and elsewhere. The lonians were great seafarers, and from them Athens borrowed words for seacraf t and even for the tides : &HTurra " ebb," pa\la " high tide," an Ionic word fcxfcj spelt in Attic fashion. From the Dorians it borrowed words connected with war and sport: Xoxo7<is, Kvvaytn, etc. A soldier of fortune like Xenophon, who spent most of his life away from Athens, introduced not only strange words but strange grammatical constructions also into his literary compositions. With Aristotle, not a born Athenian but long resident in Athens_, the Kourfi may be said to have begun. Some characteristics of Attic foreigners found it hard to acquire its subtle use of particles and its accent. Hence in Hellenistic Greek particles are comparatively rare. According to Cicero, Theophrastus, who came from as near Attica as Eretna in Euboea, was easily detected by a market-woman as no Athenian after he had lived thirty years in Athens. Thoucritus, an Athenian, who was taken prisoner in the Peloponnesian War and lived for many years in Epirus as a slave, was unable to recover the Athenian accent on his return, and his family lay under the suspicion that they were an alien's children, as his son tells us in Demosthenes' speech ' Against Eubulides." In the KOU^ there were several divisions, though the line between them is faint and irregular. There was a noivii of literary men like Polybius and of carefully prepared state documents, as at Magnesia or Pergamum; and a different /onw? of the vulgar which is represented to us in its Egyptian form in the Pentateuch, in a later and at least partially Palestinian form m the Gospels. Still more corrupt is the language which we find in the ill-written and ill-spelt private letters found amongst the Egyptian papyri. Not out of the old dialects but out of this KOLVJI arose modern Greek, with a variety of dialects no less bewildering than that of ancient Greek. In one place more rapidly, in another more slowly, the characteristics of modern Greek begin to appear. As we have seen, in Boeotia the vowels and diphthongs began to pass into the characteristic sounds of modern Greek four centuries before Christ. Dorian dialects illustrate early the passing of the old aspirate 6 the sound of which was like the final t m English bit, into a sound like the English th in thin, pith, which it still retains in modern Greek The change of y between vowels into a y sound was charged by the comic poets against Hyperbolus the demagogue about 415 B.C Only when the Attic sound changes stood isolated amongst the Greek dialects did they give way in the noirfi to Ionic. Thus the forms with-<r<r- instead of -TT- won the day, while modern Greek shows thai sometimes the -pp- which Attic shared with some Doric dialects anc Arcadian was retained, and that sometimes the Ionic -pa-, which was also Lesbian and partly Doric, took its place. In other cases where Ionic and Attic did not agree, forms came in which were different from either: the genitives of masculine a stems were now formed as in Doric with , but the analogy of the other cases may have been the effective force. The form roii " temple," instead o onic Mji5, Attic , can only be Doric. 1 In the first five centuries of the Christian era came in the modern Greek characteristics of Itacism and vowel contraction, of the pronunciation of in and vr as mb and nd and many other sound changes, the loss of the dative and the confusion of the 1st with the 3rd declension, the dropping of the -fit conjugation, the loss of the optative and the assimilation of the mperfect and second aorist endings to those of the first aorist. 1 There were meantime spasmodic attempts at the revival of the old anguage. Lucian wrote Attic dialogue with a facility almost equal o Plato; the old dialect was revived in the inscriptions of Sparta; rJalbilla, a lady-in-waiting on Hadrian's empress, wrote epigrams n Aeolic, and there were other attempts of the same kind. But they were only tours de force, KTJITOI 'ASiviios, whose flowers had no root n the spoken language and therefore could not survive. Even in the hands of a cultivated man like Plutarch the nounj of the 1st century A.D. looks entirely different from Attic Greek. Apart from non-Attic constructions, which are not very numerous, the difference consists largely in the new vocabulary of the philosophical schools since Aristotle, whose jargon had become part of the language of educated men in Plutarch's time, and made a difference in the anguage not unlike that which has been brought about in English ay the development of the natural sciences. It is hardly necessary :o say that these changes, whether of the icou>fi or of modern Greek, did not of necessity impair the powers of the language as an organ of expression; if elaborate inflection were a necessity for the highest literary merit, then we must prefer Cadmon to Milton and Cynewulf to Shakespeare.

The Chief Characteristics of Greek.

As is obvious from the foregoing account of the Greek dialects, it is not possible to speak of the early history of Greek as handed down to us as that of a single uniform tongue. From the earliest times it shows much variety of dialect accentuated by the geographical characteristics of the country, but arising, at least in part, from the fact that the Greeks came into the country in separate waves divided from one another by centuries. For the history of the language it is necessary to take as a beginning the form of the IndoEuropean language from which Greek descended, so far as it can be reconstructed from a comparison of the individual I.E. languages (see INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES). The sounds of this language, so far as at present ascertained, were the following:

(a) 1 1 vowels: a, a, e, e, i, i, o, o, u, u, 3 (a short indistinct vowel).

(ft) 14 diphthongs: ai, au, ei, cu, oi, ou, di, au, ei, eu, oi, ou, ai, au.

(c) 20 stop consonants.

Labials: p, b, ph, bh (ph and bh being p and b followed by an audible breath, not / and v).

Dentals : t, d, th, dh (th and dh not spirants like the two English sounds in thin and then, but aspirated t and d).

Palatals: k, g, Kh, gh (kh and gh aspirates as explained above).

Velars: q, g, qh, ph (velars differ from palatals by being produced against the soft palate instead of the roof of the mouth).

Labio- velars : <fi, gt, <fth, gfh(these differ from the velars by being combined with a slight labial ai-sound).

(d) Spirants Labial: w.

Dental : s, z, post-dental s., ?, interdental possibly |>, 5. Palatal: x (Scotch ch), y.

Velar : x (a deeply guttural x, heard now in Swiss dialects) , 3. Closely akin to w and y and often confused with them were the semi-vowels and j.

(e) Liquids: /, r.

(f) Nasals: m (labial), n (dental), n (palatal), n (velar), the last three in combination with similar consonants.

(a) As far as the vowels are concerned, Greek retains the original state of things more accurately than any other language. The sounds of short e and short o in Attic and Ionic were close, so that e+e contracted to a long close e represented by <t, o+o to a long close o represented by ou. In these dialects u, both long and short, was modified to it, and they changed the long d to e, though Attic has o after , i and p. In Greek appeared regularly as a, but under the influence of analogy often as e and o.

(6) The short diphthongs as a whole remained unchanged before a following consonant. Before a following vowel the dipnthong was divided between the two syllables, the i or u forming a consonant at the beginning of the second syllable, which ultimately disappeared. Thus from a root dheu- " run " comes a verb _for 6f-Fu, from an earlier *8ev-o>. The corresponding adjective is 6otn "swift," for 0o-fo-j, from an earlier *0cu-o-s. The only dialect which kept the whole diphthong in one syllable was Aeolic. The long diphthongs, except at the ends of words, were shortened in Attic. Some of these appear merely as long vowels, having lost their second element in the proethnic period. Apparent long diphthongs like those in \jjrovpyla, atffoi arise by contraction of two syllables.

(c) The consonants suffered more extensive change. The voiced Thumb, Die griechische Sprache im Zeitalter des Hellenismus oi), pp. 242-243. Thumb, op. at. p. 249.

hima-), Gr. (8w)-xi/io-j; I.E. *stigh- (Skt. stigh-), Gr. orixes; I.E. *g*hen- (Skt. han-), Gr. flefvw (probably), </xW The palatal and velar series cannot be distinguished in Greek; for the differences between them resort must be had to languages of the satemgroup, such as Sanskrit, Zend or Slavonic, where the palatals appear as sibilants (see INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES). The labip-velar series present a great variety of forms in the different Greek dialects, and in the same dialect before different sounds. Thus in Attic before o vowels, nasals and liquids, the series appears as ir, (3, <; before e and i vowels as r, 0(5), 6; in combination with u, which led to loss of the S by dissimilation, K, y, x- Thus eVoyucu corresponds to the Latin sequo-r, apart from the ending; ftovs to Latin bos (borrowed from Sabine), English cow, <#>6vos ' slaughter," tirapvov, old Irish sonim, " I wound. ' Parallel to these forms with p are forms in the Italic languages except Latin and Faliscan, and in the Cymric group of the Celtic languages. The dental forms T, 8, 6 stand by themselves. Thus TIS (from the same root as iroD, voi, vbStv, etc.) is parallel to the Latin quis, the Oscan pis, old Irish da, Welsh pwy, "who?" "what?"; Attic rkrrapa, Ionic Ttaatpts "four" is parallel to Latin quattuor, Oscan jreropa, old Irish cethir, old Welsh petguar; rlait is from the same root as irotnj. For the voiced sound, ft is much more common than 5 before e and i sounds; thus ftios " life," from the same root as Skt. jivas, Latin wvus; /3iis " bowstring," Skt. jya, etc. In Arcado-Cyprian and Aeolic, JT and ft often precede e and * sounds. Thus parallel to Attic Ttrrapes Lesbian has irecro-upes, Homer irlavpts, Boeotian irerropes; Thessalian /StXXofiot, Boeotian f)el\onai alongside of Attic /Jo&Xo/ioi, Lesbian /36XXo/*ai, Doric 0iiXo/icu and also 8^XoAi<u. In Arcadian and Cyprian the form corresponding to TIS was aa, in Thessalian KIS, where the labialization was lost (see the article on Q).

A great variety of changes in the stopped consonants arose in combination with other sounds, especially i (a semivowel of the nature of English y), u (w) and s; -TI-, -0t- became first -aa- and later -a- in Attic Greek, -rr- in Boeotian (the precise pronunciation of -aa- and -TT- is uncertain) : Attic 6-ir6<ros, earlier 6-irA<7<ros, Boeotian d-irdrros, from the same stem as the Latin quot, quotiens; Homeric niaaos, Attic JMITOJ from *ne8u>s, Latin medius; -K^-, -xi- became -aa-, Attic -TT-: irlaaa. " pitch," Attic virra from *Aao, cp. Latin pix, picis, (\iiaawv, Attic kXarroiv comparative to Xox6s. fy and -yj became f: Zefa (Skt. Dyduf) eXirifw from i\irls, stem iXiriS- " hope," naarlfa from /idc7Ti, stem iiaarly- " lash."

(a) The sound if was represented in the Greek alphabet by f , the " digamma," but in Attic and Ionic the sound was lost very early. In Aeolic, particularly Boeotian and Lesbian, it was persistent, and so also in many Doric dialects, especially at the beginning of words. When the Ionic alphabet was adopted by districts which had retained F, it was represented by /3: flpo&ov Aeolic for po&ov, i.e. FpoSov. In Attic it disappeared, leaving no trace; in Ionic it lengthened the preceding syllable; thus in Homer inro&daas is scanned with o long because the root of the verb contained F : &FCL-. Attic has {evos, but Ionic leicos for (.kvFos. Its combination with T became -aa-, Attic and Boeotian -rr-, in reairepes, reTT-opes, irerropes for I.E. qXetu-.

But the most effective of all elements in changing the appearance of Greek words was the sound i. Before vowels at the beginning, or between vowels in the middle of words, it passed into an h sound, the " rough breathing." Thus ITTT&. is the same word as the Latin septem, English seven; aX-s has the same stem as the Latin sal, English sal-t; tfiui for tbhw is the same as the Latin uro (*euso). Combined with i or u also it passes into h: 7*171', Skt. syuman, "band"; ^56$, Doric" aMs, Latin sua(d)vis, English sweet; cp. OIKOIO for *FOIKOOU>, crjfo, Lesbian vaOos " temple, through yorts from *vaaFo-s connected with cauo " dwell." Before nasals and liquids s was assimilated: /t-5d, Latin mi-ru-s, English smile; vlifra, Latin nivem, English snow; \-iiyoj, Latin laxus, English slack; pka from *srey-o of the same origin as English stream (where t is a later insertion), imperfect Ipptov for *esreuom; cp. also <jn\op.n(lo^, A.y&VVl<t>OS, oXXTJKTOI.

After nasals s is assimilated except finally; when assimilated, in all dialects except Aeolic the previous syllable is lengthened if not already long: Attic Iwijua, inuva for the first aorist *enemsa, *emensa; but Tbvs, rdvs, etc., of the accusative pi. either remained or became in Aeolic TO(J, rais, in Ionic and Attic rofcs, rAs, in Doric r<is, rds; cp. ri0e(s for "riflcirs, /Sdj for */3dirs, Is " one " for *sem-s, then by analogy of the neuter *sens. Assimilation of a to preceding p and X is a matter of dialect: Ionic 0ap<ro, but Attic Sappui, and so also the Doric of Thera: Jf/ceXo-a, but erretXa for *liTf\tra. With nasals t affected the previous syllable: rtKralvu (*reicT#ttj), where 1} is the nasal of the stem rkuruv, itself forming a syllable (see the article N for these so-called sonant nasals). Before i original m becomes n ; hence ftalva with n, though from the same root as English come. Original j does not survive in Greek, but is represented by the aspirate at the beginning of words, d7>'<5s = Skt. yajnas; medially after consonants it disappears, affecting the preceding consonant or syllable where a consonant precedes ; between vowels it disappears. A sound of the same kind is indicated in Cyprian and some other dialects as a glide or transition sound between two vowels.

(e) The most remarkable feature in the treatment of the nasals is that when n or m forms a syllable by itself its consonant character disappears altogether and it is represented by the vowel o only:

Latin tentus, a- negative particle, Latin in, English un; A-irX6os has the same prefix as the Latin sim-plex (sm). The liquids in similar cases show X<z or aX and pa or op: Ti-rXa-/i', jrt-jraXrai; tbpanov, Opaaus, Qapaos.

The ends of words were modified in appearance by the loss of all stop-consonants and the change of final m to n, I5, Latin dixit; $vybv, Latin iugum.

Accent. The vowel system of Greek has been so well preserved because it shows till late times very little in the way of stress accent. As in early Sanskrit the accent was predominantly a pitch accent (see ACCENT).

Noun System. The I.E. noun had three numbers, but the dual was limited to pairs, the two hands, the two horses in the chariot, and was so little in use that the original form of the oblique cases cannot be restored with certainty. Ionic has no dual. The I.E. noun had the following cases: Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Ablative, Instrumental, Locative and Dative. The vocative was not properly a case, because it usually stands outside the syntactical construction of the sentence; when a distinctive form appears, it is the bare stem, and there is no form (separate from the nominative) for the plural. Greek has confused genitive and ablative (the distinction between them seems to have been derived from the pronouns), except for the solitary F Ua = otKoffcv in an inscription of Delphi. The instrumental, locative and dative are mixed in one case, partly for phonetic, partly for syntactical reasons. In Arcadian, Elean, Boeotian, and later widely in N. Greece, the locative -01 is used for the dative. The masculine o-stems make the nom. in most dialects in -05. The genitive is in -do (with o borrowed from the o-stems), which remains in Homer and Boeotian, appears in Arcado-Cyprian as -on, and with metathesis of quantity -o in Ionic. The Attic form in -ov is borrowed directly from the o-stems. In the plural the -ci and -o stems follow the article in making their nominatives in -ai and -ot instead of the original -as and -os. The neuter plural was in origin a collective singular, and for this reason takes a singular verb; the plural of fvy&v " yoke " was originally *iuga, and declined like any other -a stem. But through the influence of the masculine and feminine forms the neuter took the same oblique cases, and like its own singular made the accusative the same as the nominative. In the plural of -a and -o stems, the locative in -auri, -oicri was long kept apart from the instrumental-dative form in -ais, -otj.

The Verb System. The verb system of Greek is more complete than that of any of the other I.E. languages. Its only rival, the early Vedic verb system, is already in decay when history begins, and when the classical period of Sanskrit arrives the moods have broken down, and the aorist, perfect, and imperfect tenses are syntactically confused. Throughout the Greek classical period the moods are maintained, but in the period of the KOIVJI the optative occurs less and less and finally disappears. The original I.E. had two voices, an active and a middle, and to these Greek has added a third, the passive, distinguished from the middle in many verbs by separate forms for the future and aorist, made with a syllable -0i)-, TI^IJ^OOMOI, iTitafttiv, though in this instance, TWCTOM<, the future middle, is often used with a passive sense. Other forms which Greek has added to the original system are the pluperfect in form a past of the perfect stem with aorist endings. It merely expressed the perfect action in past time, and, except as derived from the context, did not possess the notion of relative time (past at a time already past), which attaches to the Latin forms with the same name. The future optative was also a new formation, betraying its origin in the fact that it is almost entirely limited to Oratio Obliqua. The aorist imperatives were also new; the history of some of them, as the second sing. act. iravaov, is not very clear. The whole verb system is affected by the distinction between -o and -mi verbs; the former or thematic verbs have a so-called " thematic vowel " between the root and the personal suffix, while the -mi verbs attach the suffixes directly to the root. The distinction is really one between monosyllabic and disyllabic roots. The history of the personal endings is not altogether clear; the -o verbs have in the present forms for the 2nd and 3rd person in -j and -, which are not yet elucidated. In the rr.iddle, Greek does not entirely agree with Sanskrit in its personal endings, and the original forms cannot all be restored with certainty. The endings of the primary tenses differed from those of the secondary, but there has been a certain amount of confusion between them.

The syntax of the verb is founded on the original I.E. distinction of the verb forms, not by time (tense), but by forms of action, progressive action (present and imperfect), consummated action (aorist), state arising from action, emphatic or repeated action (perfect). For the details of this see INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. (i.) A grammar of Greek, which will deal fully with the whole material of the language, is at present a desideratum, and is hardly possible so long as new dialect material is being constantly added and while comparatively so little has been done on the syntax of the dialects. The greatest collection of material is to be found in the new edition of Runner's Griechische Grammatik, Laut- und Formenlehre, by Blass (2 vols., 1890-1892); Syntax, by Gerth (2 vols., 1896, 1900). Blass's part is useful only for material, the explanations being entirely antiquated. The only full historical account of the language (sounds, forms and syntax) at present in existence is K. Brugmann's Griechische Grammatik (3rd ed., 1900).

Gustav Meyer's Griechische Grammatik (nothing on accent or syntax), which did excellent pioneer work when it first appeared in 1880, was hardly brought up to date in its 3rd edition (1896), but is still useful for the dialect and bibliographical material collected. See also H. Hirt, Handbuch der griech. Laut- und Formenlehre (1902). Of smaller grammars in English perhaps the most complete is that of I. Thompson (London, 1902). The grammar of Homer was handled by D. B. Monro (2nd ed., Oxford, 1891). The syntax has been treated in many special works, amongst which may be mentioned W. W. Goodwin, Syntax of the Greek Moods and Tenses (new ed., 1889); B. L. Gildersleeve and C. W. E. Miller, Syntax of Classical Greek from Homer to Demosthenes, pt. i. (New York, 1901 and following); J. M. Stahl, Krilisch-historische Syntax des griechischen Verbums (1907); F. E. Thompson, Attic Greek Syntax (1907). (ii.) The relations between Greek and the other I.E. languages are very well brought out in P. Kretschmer's Einleitung in die Geschichte der griechischen Sprache (Gottingen, 1896). For comparative grammar see K. Brugmann and B. Delbruck, Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen (the 2nd ed., begun 1897, is still incomplete) and Brugmann's Kurze vergleichende Grammatik (1902-1903) ; A. Meillet, Introduction a I'etude comparative des langues indo-europeennes (2nd ed., 1908). Greek compared with Latin and English : P.Giles, A Short Manual of Comparative Philology for Classical Students (2nd ed., 1901, with an appendix containing a brief account and specimens of the dialects); Riemann and Goelzer, Grammaire comparative du Grec et du Latin (1901), a parallel grammar in 2 vols., specially valuable for syntax, (iii.) For the dialects two works have recently appeared, both covering in brief space the whole field: A. Thumb, Handbuch der griechischen Dialekte (with bibliographies for each dialect, 1909); C. D. Buck, Introduction to the Study of the Greek Dialects, Grammar, Selected Inscriptions, Glossary (Boston, 1910). Works on a larger scale have been undertaken by R. Meister, by O. Hoffmann and by H. W. Smyth. For the KOIVTI may be specially mentioned A. Thumb, Die griech. Sprache in Zeilalter des Hellenismus (1901); E. Mayser, Grammatik d:r griechischen Papyri aus der Ptolemaerzeit: Laut- und Wortlehre (1906) ; H. St J. Thackeray, A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek, vol. i. (1909); Blass, Grammar of New Testament Greek, trans, by Thackeray (1898) ; J. H. Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek. I. Prolegomena (3rd ed., 1906). (iv.) For the development from the Koiir/i to modern Greek: A. N. Jannaris, An Historical Greek Grammar, chiefly of the Attic Dialect, as written and spoken from Classical Antiquity down to the Present Time (1901); G. N. Hatzidakis, Einleitung in die neugriechische Grammatik (1892); A. Thumb, Handbuch der neugriechischen Volkssprache (2nd ed. 1910). (v.) The inscriptions are collected in Inscriptiones Graecae in the course of publication by the Berlin Academy, those important for dialect in the Sammlung der griech. Dialektinschriften, edited by Collitz and Bechtel. The earlier parts of this collection are to some extent superseded by later volumes of the Inscr. Graecae, containing better readings and new inscriptions. A good selection (too brief) is Solmsen's Inscriptiones Graecae ad inlustrandas dialectos selectae (3rd ed., 1910). A serviceable lexicon for dialect words is van Herwerden's Lexicon Graecum suppletorium et dialecticum (2nd ed., much enlarged, 2 vols. 1910). (vi.) The historical basis for the distribution of the Greek dialects is discussed at length in the histories of E. Meyer (Geschichte des Altertums, ii.) and G. Busolt (Griechische Geschichte, i.) ; by Professor Ridgeway, Early Age of Greece, i. (1901), and P. Kretschmer in Glotta, i. 9 ff. See also A. Pick, Die vor griechischen Ortsnamen (1905)- (vii.) Bibliographies containing the new publications on Greek, with some account of their contents, appear from time to time in Indogermanische Forschungen: Anzeiger (Strassburg, Trubner), annually in Glotta (Gottingen, Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht), and The Year's Work in Classical Studies (London, Murray). (p. Gi.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | GDPR