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Greek ( el, label=
Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, including the official standardized form of the l ...
, Ελληνικά, Elliniká; grc, Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. Some European languages of t ...
family of languages, native to
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
,
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...

Albania
, and the other parts of the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkans
, the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
coast, and the
Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct Ameri ...

Eastern Mediterranean
. It has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning at least 3,400 years of written records. Its writing system is the
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels ...

Greek alphabet
, which has been used for approximately 2,800 years; previously, Greek was recorded in writing systems such as
Linear B Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or ...
and the
Cypriot syllabary#REDIRECT Cypriot syllabary The Cypriot or Cypriote syllabary is a syllabic script used in Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It wa ...
. The alphabet arose from the
Phoenician script The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet (more specifically, an abjad) known in modern times from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions found across the Mediterranean region. The Phoenician alphabet is also called the Early Linear script (in a ...

Phoenician script
and was in turn the basis of the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
,
Cyrillic , bg, кирилица , mk, кирилица , russian: кириллица , sr, ћирилица, uk, кирилиця , fam1 = Egyptian hieroglyphs , fam2 = Proto-Sinaitic , fam3 = Phoenician alphabet, Phoenician , ...
,
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...

Armenian
,
Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century * Coptic alphabet, th ...

Coptic
,
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...

Gothic
, and many other writing systems. The Greek language holds an important place in the history of the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
. Beginning with the epics of
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was the presumed author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are the foundational works of ancient Greek literature. The ''Iliad'' is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year s ...

Homer
,
ancient Greek literature Ancient Greek literature is literature written in the Ancient Greek language from the earliest texts until the time of the Byzantine Empire. The earliest surviving works of ancient Greek literature, dating back to the early Archaic Greece, Arch ...
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 were originally composed. The
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as w ...

New Testament
of the
Christian Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek ...

Christian Bible
was also originally written in Greek. Together with the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...
texts and traditions of the
Roman world The culture of ancient Rome existed throughout the almost 1200-year history of the civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of gover ...
, the Greek texts and Greek societies of antiquity constitute the objects of study of the discipline of
Classics Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD centred ...

Classics
. During
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...
, Greek was by far the most widely spoken
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
in the Mediterranean world. It eventually became the official language of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...

Byzantine Empire
and developed into
Medieval Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek or Byzantine Greek) is the stage of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, ...
. In its modern form, Greek is the official language of
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
and one of the 24
official languages of the European Union The languages of the European Union are language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing syst ...
. It is spoken by at least 13.5 million people today in
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
,
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory largely coincides with the . Italy is located in the centre of th ...

Italy
,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...

Albania
,
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkans in Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the ...

Turkey
, and the many other countries of the
Greek diaspora The Greek diaspora, Hellenic diaspora or homogenea ( el, Ὁμογένεια) are the communities of Greek people living outside Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe ...
. Greek
roots A root In vascular plants, the roots are the plant organ, organs of a plant that are modified to provide anchorage for the plant and take in water and nutrients into the plant body, which allows plants to grow taller and faster. They most often ...
have been widely used for centuries and continue to be widely used to coin new words in other languages; Greek and Latin are the predominant sources of
international scientific vocabulary International scientific vocabulary (ISV) comprises scientific and specialized words whose language of origin may or may not be certain, but which are in current use in several modern languages (that is, translingually). The name "international sci ...
.


History

Greek has been spoken in the
Balkan peninsula The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkan peninsula
since around the 3rd millennium BC,; . or possibly earlier. The earliest written evidence is a
Linear B Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or ...
clay tablet In the Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symb ...
found in
Messenia Messenia or Messinia ( ; el, Μεσσηνία ) is a regional units of Greece, regional unit (''perifereiaki enotita'') in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese (region), Peloponnese Administrative regions of Greece, region, in Greece. Un ...

Messenia
that dates to between 1450 and 1350 BC, making Greek the world's oldest recorded living language. Among the Indo-European languages, its date of earliest written attestation is matched only by the now-extinct
Anatolian languages The Anatolian languages are an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the endling, last individual of ...
.


Periods

The Greek language is conventionally divided into the following periods: *
Proto-Greek The Proto-Greek language (also known as Proto-Hellenic) is the Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with t ...
: 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 Greece is a country of the Balkans, in Southeastern Europe, bordered to the north by Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria; to the east by Turkey, and is surrounded to the east by the Aegean Sea, to the south by the Cretan Sea, Cretan and the Lib ...
sometime in the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of ...
era or the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
. *
Mycenaean Greek Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of lan ...
: the language of the
Mycenaean civilization Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
. It is recorded in the
Linear B Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or ...
script on tablets dating from the 15th century BC onwards. *
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). Ancient Greek was the language of an ...
: in its various
dialects The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
, the language of the
Archaic Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also not found or used currently: *List of archaeological periods **Archaic Sumerian language, spoken between 31st - 26th centu ...
and
Classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. centered on the Mediterranean Sea *Classical architecture, architecture derived from Greek and ...
periods of the
ancient Greek civilization Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol i ...
. It was widely known throughout the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
. Ancient Greek fell into disuse in western Europe in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of w ...
, but remained officially in use in the
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It surviv ...

Byzantine
world and was reintroduced to the rest of Europe with the
Fall of Constantinople The fall of Constantinople ( grc-x-byzant, Ἅλωσις τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως , translit=Hálōsis tē̂s Kōnstantīnoupóleōs ; tr, İstanbul'un Fethi, lit=Conquest of Istanbul ) was the capture of the capital Capi ...
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...

Greek
migration to western Europe. *
Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek language, Greek spoken and written d ...
: The fusion of Ionian with
Attic An attic (sometimes referred to as a ''loft 's Near West Side A loft is a building's upper storey or elevated area in a room directly under the roof (American usage), or just an attic: a storage space under the roof usually accessed by a lad ...
, the dialect of
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 rect 15 475 485 874 rect 500 475 ...
, began the process that resulted in the creation of the first common Greek dialect, which became a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
across the
Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct Ameri ...

Eastern Mediterranean
and
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental ...
. Koine Greek can be initially traced within the armies and conquered territories of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (') of the kingdom of and a member of the . He was born in in 356 BC and succeeded his ...

Alexander the Great
and after the Hellenistic colonization of the known world, it was spoken from
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
to the fringes of
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
. After the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...
conquest of Greece, an unofficial
bilingualism in Seattle Seattle ( ) is a port, seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the county seat, seat of King County, Washington, King County, Washington (state), Washington. With a 2020 population of 737,015, it is the la ...
of Greek and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
was established in the city of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
and Koine Greek became a first or second language in the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
. The origin of
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...

Christianity
can also be traced through Koine Greek, because the
Apostles upright=1.35, Jesus and his Twelve Apostles, Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla">Chi_Rho.html" ;"title="fresco with the Chi Rho">Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome In Christian theology and ecclesiology, apostles, parti ...

Apostles
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
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as w ...

New Testament
and the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. The ...
was translated into the same language via the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible and deuterocanonical books. The ...
. *
Medieval Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek or Byzantine Greek) is the stage of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, ...
, also known as Byzantine Greek: the continuation of Koine Greek, up to the demise of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...

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 Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, including the official standardized form of the l ...
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. *
Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, including the official standardized form of the l ...
(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 The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
of it.


Diglossia

In the modern era, the Greek language entered a state of
diglossia In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
: the coexistence of vernacular and archaizing written forms of the language. What came to be known as the
Greek language question The Greek language question ( el, το γλωσσικό ζήτημα, ''to glossikó zítima'') was a dispute about whether the language of the Greek people (Demotic Greek Demotic Greek or Dimotiki ( el, Δημοτική Γλώσσα, , , lit. " ...
was a polarization between two competing varieties of
Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, including the official standardized form of the l ...
:
Dimotiki Demotic Greek or Dimotiki ( el, Δημοτική Γλώσσα, , , lit. "language of the people") is a term used in contrast with Katharevousa to describe the colloquial vernacular form of Modern Greek which had evolved naturally from Koine Greek ...
, the vernacular form of Modern Greek proper, and
Katharevousa Katharevousa ( el, Καθαρεύουσα, , literally "purifying anguage) is a conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservati ...
, meaning 'purified', a compromise between Dimotiki and
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). Ancient Greek was the language of an ...
, 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 The linguistic varieties of Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, includi ...
, which is used today for all official purposes and in
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...
.


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, "
Homeric Greek Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the ''Iliad'' and ''Odyssey'' and in the Homeric Hymns. It is a literary dialect of Ancient Greek consisting mainly of Ionic Greek, Ionic and Aeolic Greek, Aeolic, with a fe ...
is probably closer to Demotic than 12-century
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following ...
is to
modern spoken English
modern spoken English
".


Geographic distribution

Greek is spoken today by at least 13 million people, principally in
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
along with a sizable Greek-speaking minority in
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a par ...
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 Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and ...
, though very few remain today. A small Greek-speaking community is also found in
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...

Bulgaria
near the Greek-Bulgarian border. Greek is also spoken worldwide by the sizable
Greek diaspora The Greek diaspora, Hellenic diaspora or homogenea ( el, Ὁμογένεια) are the communities of Greek people living outside Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe ...
which has notable communities in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Oce ...
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 60 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most ...
,
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern ...
,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...
,
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered ...
, Greeks in Russia and the Soviet Union, Russia, Greeks in Ukraine, Ukraine, the Greeks in the United Kingdom, United Kingdom, and throughout the European Union, especially in Greeks in Germany, Germany. Historically, significant Greek-speaking communities and regions were found throughout the
Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct Ameri ...

Eastern Mediterranean
, in what are today Southern Italy,
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkans in Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the ...

Turkey
, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
, and Libya; in the area of the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
, in what are today Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia (country), Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan; and, to a lesser extent, in the Western Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean in and around Greek colonisation, colonies such as Massalia, Monoikos, and Mainake (Greek settlement), Mainake. It was also used as a liturgical language in Christian Nubian kingdom of Makuria which was in modern day Sudan.


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 Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
(nominally alongside Turkish language, Turkish). 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 Northern Cyprus, 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 languages of the European Union#Official EU languages, 24 official languages. Furthermore, Greek is officially recognized as official in Dropull and Himara (
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...

Albania
), and as a minority language all over Albania. It is also recognized as an official minority language in the regions of Apulia and Calabria in
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory largely coincides with the . Italy is located in the centre of th ...

Italy
. In the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Greek is protected and promoted officially as a regional and minority language in Armenia, Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine.


Characteristics

The phonology, morphology (linguistics), morphology, syntax, and vocabulary of the language show both conservative and innovative tendencies across the entire attestation of the language from the ancient to the modern period. The division into conventional periods is, as with all such periodizations, relatively arbitrary, especially because at all periods, Ancient Greek has enjoyed high prestige, and the literate borrowed heavily from it.


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 Phonemic contrast, contrasts. The main phonological changes occurred during the Hellenistic and Roman period (see Koine Greek phonology for details): * replacement of the pitch accent with a stress (linguistics), stress accent. * 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 (iotacism). * development of the voicelessness, voiceless aspirated consonant, aspirated stop consonant, plosives and to the voiceless fricative consonant, 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 Phi (letter), φ, Theta, θ, and Chi (letter), χ). * development of the voice (phonetics), voiced plosives , , and to their voiced fricative counterparts (later ), , and .


Morphology

In all its stages, the Morphology (linguistics), morphology of Greek shows an extensive set of Productive (linguistics), productive Derivational affix, derivational affixes, a limited but productive system of Compound (linguistics), compounding and a rich Inflection, inflectional system. Although its morphological categories have been fairly stable over time, morphological changes are present throughout, particularly in the Nominal (linguistics), 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 case, genitive). The verbal system has lost the infinitive, the Synthetic (linguistics), synthetically-formed future, and Perfect tense, perfect tenses and the optative mood. Many have been replaced by periphrastic (Analytic language, analytical) forms.


Nouns and adjectives

Pronouns show distinctions in grammatical person, person (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), grammatical number, number (singular, Dual (grammatical number), dual, and plural in the ancient language; singular and plural alone in later stages), and grammatical gender, gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter), and Declension (linguistics), decline for grammatical case, case (from six cases in the earliest forms attested to four in the modern language). Nouns, articles, and adjectives show all the distinctions except for a person. Both Attributive adjective, attributive and Predicative adjective, predicative adjectives Agreement (linguistics), 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 language, synthetic inflectional forms for:


Syntax

Many aspects of the syntax of Greek have remained constant: verbs agree with their subject only, the use of the surviving cases is largely intact (nominative for subjects and predicates, accusative for objects of most verbs and many prepositions, genitive for possessors), articles precede nouns, adpositions are largely prepositional, relative clauses follow the noun they modify and relative pronouns are clause-initial. However, the morphological changes also have their counterparts in the syntax, and there are also significant differences between the syntax of the ancient and that of the Modern Greek grammar, 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 (employing a raft of new periphrastic constructions instead) 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 Pre-Greek substrate, borrowings from the languages of the populations that inhabited Greece before the arrival of Proto-Greeks, some documented in Linear B, Mycenaean texts; they include a large number of Greek toponyms. The form and meaning of many words have evolved. Loanwords (words of foreign origin) have entered the language, mainly from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...
, Venetian language#History, Venetian, and Turkish language, Turkish. During the older periods of Greek, loanwords into Greek acquired Greek inflections, thus leaving only a foreign root word. Modern borrowings (from the 20th century on), especially from French language, French and English language, English, are typically not inflected; other modern borrowings are derived from South Slavic languages, South Slavic (Macedonian language, Macedonian/Bulgarian language, Bulgarian) and Eastern Romance languages (Aromanian language, Aromanian and Megleno-Romanian language, Megleno-Romanian).


Greek loanwords in other languages

Greek words have been widely borrowed into other languages, including English. Example words include: ''mathematics'', ''physics'', ''astronomy'', ''democracy'', ''philosophy'', '':wikt:athletics, athletics, theatre, rhetoric'', ''baptism'', '':wikt:evangelist, evangelist'', etc. Moreover, Greek words and morpheme, word elements continue to be productive as a basis for coinages: ''anthropology'', ''photography'', ''telephony'', ''isomer'', ''biomechanics'', ''cinematography'', etc. Together with Scientific Latin, Latin words, they form the International scientific vocabulary, foundation of international scientific and technical vocabulary. For example, all words ending in ''–logy'' ("discourse"). There are many English words of Greek origin.


Classification

Greek is an independent branch of the
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. Some European languages of t ...
language family. The ancient language most closely related to it may be Ancient Macedonian language, ancient Macedonian, which most scholars suggest may have been a Ancient Greek dialects, dialect of Greek itself, but it is poorly attested and it is difficult to conclude. Independently of the Macedonian question, some scholars have grouped Greek into Graeco-Phrygian, as Greek and the extinct Phrygian language, 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 language, Armenian (see Graeco-Armenian) or the Indo-Iranian languages (see Graeco-Aryan), but little definitive evidence has been found for grouping the living branches of the family. In addition, Albanian language, Albanian has also been considered somewhat related to Greek and Armenian language, 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

Linear B Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or ...
, attested as early as the late 15th century BC, was the first script used to write Greek. It is basically a syllabary, which was finally deciphered by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick in the 1950s (its precursor, Linear A, has not been deciphered and most likely encodes a non-Greek language). The language of the Linear B texts, Mycenaean Greek language, Mycenaean Greek, is the earliest known form of Greek.


Cypriot syllabary

Another similar system used to write the Greek language was the
Cypriot syllabary#REDIRECT Cypriot syllabary The Cypriot or Cypriote syllabary is a syllabic script used in Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It wa ...
(also a descendant of Linear A via the intermediate Cypro-Minoan syllabary), which is closely related to Linear B but uses somewhat different syllabic conventions to represent phoneme sequences. The Cypriot syllabary is attested in
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
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 Ionic Greek, Ionic variant, introduced for writing classical
Attic An attic (sometimes referred to as a ''loft 's Near West Side A loft is a building's upper storey or elevated area in a room directly under the roof (American usage), or just an attic: a storage space under the roof usually accessed by a lad ...
in 403 BC. In classical Greek, as in classical Latin, only upper-case letters existed. The lower-case Greek letters were developed much later by medieval scribes to permit a faster, more convenient cursive writing style with the use of ink and quill. The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters, each with an uppercase (capital letter, majuscule) and lowercase (lower case, minuscule) form. The letter sigma has an additional lowercase form (ς) used in the final position:


Diacritics

In addition to the letters, the Greek alphabet features a number of diacritic, diacritical signs: three different accent marks (acute accent, acute, grave accent, grave, and circumflex), originally denoting different shapes of pitch accent on the stressed vowel; the so-called breathing marks (rough breathing, rough and smooth breathing), originally used to signal presence or absence of word-initial /h/; and the trema (diacritic), 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 penmanship, handwriting saw a rapid decline in favor of uniform usage of the acute during the late 20th century, and it has only been retained in typography. After the writing reform of 1982, most diacritics are no longer used. Since then, Greek has been written mostly in the simplified Greek diacritics, monotonic orthography (or monotonic system), which employs only the acute accent and the diaeresis. The traditional system, now called the polytonic orthography (or polytonic system), is still used internationally for the writing of
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). Ancient Greek was the language of an ...
.


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 ''Interpunct#Ano teleia, ano teleia'' (). In Greek the comma also functions as a silent letter 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. Boustrophedon, or bi-directional text, was also used in Ancient Greek.


Latin alphabet

Greek has occasionally been written in the Latin script, especially in areas under Stato da Màr, Venetian rule or by Roman Catholicism in Greece, Greek Catholics. The term / applies when the Latin script is used to write Greek in the cultural ambit of Catholicism (because / 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). / (meaning 'Catholic Chiot') alludes to the significant presence of Catholic missionaries based on the island of Chios. Additionally, the term Greeklish is often used when the Greek language is written in a Latin script in online communications. The Latin script is nowadays used by the Griko dialect, Greek-speaking communities of Southern Italy.


Hebrew alphabet

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


Arabic alphabet

Some Greek Muslims Cretan Muslim, from Crete wrote their Cretan Greek in the Arabic alphabet. The same happened among Epirote Muslims in Ioannina. This usage is sometimes called aljamiado as when Romance languages are written in the Arabic alphabet.


See also

*
Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, including the official standardized form of the l ...
** Varieties of Modern Greek *
Medieval Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek or Byzantine Greek) is the stage of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, ...
*
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). Ancient Greek was the language of an ...
** Ancient Greek dialects * Hellenic languages * List of Greek and Latin roots in English * List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * *


External links

; General background
Greek Language
Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia.
The Greek Language and Linguistics Gateway
useful information on the history of the Greek language, application of modern Linguistics to the study of Greek, and tools for learning Greek. * Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

a portal for Greek language and linguistic education.
The Perseus Project
has many useful pages for the study of classical languages and literatures, including dictionaries.

Berkeley Language Center of the University of California, Berkeley ; Language learning
Hellenistic Greek Lessons
Greek-Language.com provides a free online grammar of Hellenistic Greek.
komvos.edu.gr
a website for the support of people who are being taught the Greek language.
New Testament Greek
Three graduated courses designed to help students learn to read the Greek New Testament
Books on Greek language that are taught at schools in Greece (page in Greek)
* :wikt:Appendix:Greek Swadesh list, Greek Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's :wikt:Appendix:Swadesh lists, Swadesh list appendix)
USA Foreign Service Institute Modern Greek basic course
* Identifies the grammatical functions of all the words in sentences entered, using Perseus. ; Dictionaries

descriptions of both online lexicons (with appropriate links) and Greek Lexicons in Print.

dictionaries of all forms of Greek (Ancient, Hellenistic, Medieval, Modern) * scanned images fro
S. C. Woodhouse's English–Greek dictionary
1910 ; Literature

a non-profit organization that promotes modern Greek literature and culture

a large e-library of modern Greek texts/books {{DEFAULTSORT:Greek Language Greek language, Fusional languages Greek alphabet Languages of Albania Languages of Apulia Languages of Armenia Languages of Calabria Languages of Cyprus Languages of Georgia (country) Languages of Greece Languages of Hungary Languages of Romania Languages of Sicily Languages of Turkey Languages of Ukraine Subject–verb–object languages