1 Origin and range 2 Literature 3 Alphabet 4 Phonology
4.2.1 Palatalization 4.2.2 Shortening of ss 4.2.3 Loss of w 4.2.4 Retention of h 4.2.5 Movable n
5 Morphology 6 Grammar
6.1 Number 6.2 Declension
7 Classical Attic
8 See also 9 Notes 10 References 11 External links
Origin and range
Greek is the primary member of the Hellenic branch of the
Indo-European language family. In ancient times, Greek had already
come to exist in several dialects, one of which was Attic. The
earliest attestations of Greek, dating from the 16th to 11th centuries
BC, are written in Linear B, an archaic writing system used by the
Mycenaean Greeks in writing their language; the distinction between
Eastern and Western Greek is believed to have arisen by Mycenaean
times or before.
A ballot voting against Themistocles, son of Neocles, under the
Athenian Democracy (see ostracism). The text is an example of the
epichoric alphabet; note that the last two letters of
Attic Greek, like other dialects, was originally written in a local
variant of the Greek alphabet. According to the classification of
archaic Greek alphabets, which was introduced by Adolf Kirchhoff,
the old-Attic system belongs to the "eastern" or "blue" type, as it
uses the letters Ψ and Χ with their classical values (/ps/ and
/kʰ/), unlike "western" or "red" alphabets, which used Χ for /ks/
and expressed /kʰ/ with Ψ. In other respects, Old Attic shares many
features with the neighbouring Euboean alphabet (which is "western" in
Kirchhoff's classification). Like the latter, it used an L-shaped
variant of lambda () and an S-shaped variant of sigma (). It lacked
the consonant symbols xi (Ξ) for /ks/ and psi (Ψ) for /ps/,
expressing these sound combinations with ΧΣ and ΦΣ respectively.
Moreover, like most other mainland Greek dialects, Attic did not yet
use omega (Ω) and eta (Η) for the long vowels /ɔ:/ and /ɛ:/.
Instead, it expressed the vowel phonemes /o, oː, ɔː/ with the
letter Ο (which corresponds with classical Ο, ΟΥ, Ω) and /e, eː,
ɛː/ with the letter Ε (which corresponds with Ε, ΕΙ, and Η in
later classical orthography). Moreover, the letter Η was used as
heta, with the consonantal value of /h/ rather than the vocalic value
In the 5th century, Athenian writing gradually switched from this
local system to the more widely used Ionic alphabet, native to the
eastern Aegean islands and Asia Minor. By the late 5th century, the
concurrent use of elements of the Ionic system with the traditional
local alphabet had become common in private writing, and in 403 BC, it
was decreed that public writing would switch to the new Ionic
orthography, as part of the reform following the Thirty Tyrants. This
new system, also called the "Eucleidian" alphabet, after the name of
the archon Eucleides, who oversaw the decision, was to become the
Proto-Greek and Doric mātēr → Attic mētēr "mother" Attic chōrā ⁓ Ionic chōrē "place", "country"
However, Proto-Greek ā → Attic ē after w (digamma), deleted by the Classical Period.
Proto-Greek korwā → early Attic-Ionic *korwē → Attic korē (Ionic kourē)
Short a Proto-Greek ă → Attic ě. ⁓ Doric: ă remains.
Doric Artamis ⁓ Attic Artemis
PIE VsR or VRs → Attic-Ionic-Doric VVR. VsR or VRs → Aeolic VRR.
Proto-Indo-European *es-mi (athematic verb) → Attic-Ionic ēmi (= εἰμί) ⁓ Aeolic emmi "I am"
Upsilon Proto-Greek and other dialects' /u/ (English food) became Attic /y/ (pronounced as German ü, French u) and represented by y in Latin transliteration of Greek names.
Boeotian kourios ⁓ Attic kyrios "lord"
In the diphthongs eu and au, upsilon continued to be pronounced [u]. Contraction Attic contracts more than Ionic does. a + e → long ā.
nika-e → nikā "conquer (thou)!"
e + e → ē (written ει: spurious diphthong)
PIE *trey-es → Proto-Greek trehes → Attic trēs = τρεῖς "three"
e + o → ō (written ου: spurious diphthong)
early *genes-os → Ionic geneos → Attic genous "of a kind" (genitive singular: Latin generis, with r from rhotacism)
when it is followed by a short vowel, with lengthening of the short vowel (quantitative metathesis): ēo → eō when it is followed by a long vowel: ēō → eō when it is followed by u and s: ēus → eus (Osthoff's law)
basilēos → basileōs "of a king" (genitive singular) basilēōn → basileōn (genitive plural) basilēusi → basileusi (dative plural)
Hyphaeresis Attic deletes one of two vowels in a row, called hyphaeresis (ὑφαίρεσις).
Homeric boē-tho-os → Attic boēthos "running to a cry", "helper in battle"
Consonants Palatalization PIE *ky or *chy → Proto-Greek ts (palatalization) → Attic tt. — Ionic and Koine ss.
Proto-Greek *glōkh-ya → Attic glōtta — Ionic glōssa "tongue"
Sometimes, Proto-Greek *ty and *tw → Attic tt. — Ionic and Koine ss.
PIE *kwetwores → Attic tettares — Ionic tesseres "four" (Latin quattuor)
Proto-Greek and Doric t before i or y → Attic-Ionic s (palatalization).
Doric ti-the-nti → Attic tithēsi = τίθεισι "he places" (compensatory lengthening of e → ē = spurious diphthong ει)
Shortening of ss Early Attic-Ionic ss → Classical Attic s.
PIE *medh-yos → Homeric messos (palatalization) → Attic mesos "middle"
Loss of w Proto-Greek w (digamma) was lost in Attic before historical times.
Proto-Greek korwā → Attic korē "girl"
Retention of h Attic retained Proto-Greek h- (from debuccalization of Proto-Indo-European initial s- or y-), but some other dialects lost it (psilosis "stripping", "de-aspiration").
Proto-Indo-European *si-sta-mes → Attic histamen — Cretan istamen "we stand"
Movable n Attic-Ionic places an n (movable nu) at the end of some words that would ordinarily end in a vowel, if the next word starts with a vowel, to prevent hiatus (two vowels in a row).
pāsin élegon "they spoke to everyone" vs. pāsi legousi pāsi(n) dative plural of "all" legousi(n) "they speak" (third person plural, present indicative active) elege(n) "he was speaking" (third person singular, imperfect indicative active) titheisi(n) "he places", "makes" (third person singular, present indicative active: athematic verb)
Attic tends to replace the -ter "doer of" suffix with -tes: dikastes for dikaster "judge". The Attic adjectival ending -eios and corresponding noun ending, both having two syllables with the diphthong ei, stand in place of ēios, with three syllables, in other dialects: politeia, Cretan politēia, "constitution", both from politewia whose w is dropped.
The vernacular and poetic dialect of Aristophanes.
The dialect of
^ Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51. ^ From Goodwin and Gulick's classic text "Greek Grammar" (1930) ^ Kirchhoff, Adolf (1867), Studien zur Geschichte des Griechischen Alphabets. ^ Jeffery, Lilian H. (1961). The local scripts of archaic Greece. Oxford: Clarendon. 67, 81 ^ Threatte 1980, pp. 26ff. ^ Smyth, par. 30 and note, 31: long a in Attic and dialects ^ Liddell and Scott, κόρη. ^ Paul Kiparsky, " Sonorant Clusters in Greek" (Language, Vol. 43, No. 3, Part 1, pp. 619-635: Sep. 1967) on JSTOR. ^ V = vowel, R = sonorant, s is itself. VV = long vowel, RR = doubled or long sonorant. ^ Liddell and Scott, κόρη. ^ Only the excavated inscriptions of the era. The Classical Attic works are transmitted in uncial manuscripts ^ Including the Byzantine Atticists. ^ Platonic style is poetic
Buck, Carl Darling (1955). The Greek Dialects. The University of Chicago Press. Goodwin, William W. (1879). Greek Grammar. Macmillan Education. ISBN 0-89241-118-X. Threatte, Leslie (1980). The grammar of Attic inscriptions. I: Phonology. Berlin: De Gruyter. Smyth, Herbert Weir (1920). Greek Grammar. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-36250-0.
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