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Greek ( el, label= Modern Greek, Ελληνικά, Elliniká, ; grc, Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to
Greece
Greece
,
Cyprus
Cyprus
, southern
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...

Italy
(
Calabria
Calabria
and
Salento
Salento
), southern
Albania
Albania
, and other regions of the
Balkans
Balkans
, the
Black Sea
Black Sea
coast,
Asia Minor
Asia Minor
, and the
Eastern Mediterranean
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 9th or early 8th century BCE. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the earliest known alphabetic script to have distinct letters for vowels as we ...

Greek alphabet
, which has been used for approximately 2,800 years; previously, Greek was recorded in writing systems such as
Linear B Linear B was a syllabary, syllabic script used for writing in Mycenaean Greek, the earliest Attested language, attested form of Greek language, Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing ...
and the Cypriot syllabary. The alphabet arose from the
Phoenician script
Phoenician script
and was in turn the basis of the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...

Latin
,
Cyrillic The Cyrillic script ( ), Slavonic script or the Slavic script, is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia. It is the designated national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, ...
,
Armenian
Armenian
,
Coptic
Coptic
,
Gothic
Gothic
, and many other writing systems. The Greek language holds a very important place in the history of the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, primarily refers to the various nations and state (polity), states in the regions of Europe, North America, and Oceania.
. Beginning with the epics of
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
,
ancient Greek literature Ancient Greek literature is literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent ...
includes many works of lasting importance in the
European canon The Western canon is the body of high culture literature, music, philosophy, and works of art that are highly valued in Western culture, the West; works that have achieved the status of classics. However, not all these works originate in the W ...
. 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 ...
of the
Christian Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
was also originally written in Greek. Together with the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
texts and traditions of the
Roman world The culture of ancient Rome existed throughout the almost 1200-year history of the civilization of Ancient Rome. The term refers to the culture of the Roman Republic, later the Roman Empire, which at its peak covered an area from present-day Lo ...
, 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. In the Western world, classics traditionally refers to the study of Classical Greek and Roman literature and their related original languages, Ancient Greek Ancient ...
. During
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to: Historical objects or periods Artifacts *Antiquities Antiquities are objects from Ancient history, antiquity, especially the civilizations of the Mediterranean: the Classical antiquity of Greece and Ro ...
, 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 Natural language, language systematically used to make communication possib ...
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, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
and developed into
Medieval Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek, Byzantine Greek, or Romaic) is the stage of the Greek language between the end of classical antiquity in the 5th–6th centuries and the end of the Middle Ages, conventionally dated to the Fall of Co ...
. In its modern form, Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus and one of the 24
official languages of the European Union The European Union (EU) has 24 official languages, of which threeEnglish language, English, French language, French and German language, Germanhave the higher status of "procedural" languages of the European Commission (whereas the European Parl ...
. It is spoken by at least 13.5 million people today in Greece, Cyprus,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...

Italy
, Albania,
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thrace, small portion on th ...
, and the many other countries of the
Greek diaspora The Greek diaspora, also known as Omogenia ( el, Ομογένεια, Omogéneia), are the communities of Greeks living outside of Greece and Cyprus (excluding Northern Cyprus). Such places historically include Albania, North Macedonia, parts of t ...
. Greek roots 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, whether in naturalized, loa ...
.


History

Greek has been spoken in the
Balkan peninsula The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographical area in southeastern Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weig ...
since around the 3rd millennium BC,; . or possibly earlier. The earliest written evidence is a
Linear B Linear B was a syllabary, syllabic script used for writing in Mycenaean Greek, the earliest Attested language, attested form of Greek language, Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing ...
clay tablet In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets (Akkadian language, Akkadian ) were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age. Cuneiform characters were imprinted on a wet clay t ...
found in
Messenia Messenia or Messinia ( ; el, Μεσσηνία ) is a regional unit (''perifereiaki enotita'') in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese region, in Greece Greece,, or , romanized: ', officially the Hellenic Republic, is a countr ...
that dates to between 1450 and 1350 BC, making Greek the world's oldest recorded
living language A modern language is any human language that is currently in use. The term is used in language education to distinguish between languages which are used for day-to-day communication (such as French and German) and dead classical languages s ...
. 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 language, extinct branch of Indo-European languages that were spoken in Anatolia, part of present-day Turkey. The best known Anatolian language is Hittite language, Hittite, which is considered the earlies ...
.


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 languages, Indo-European language which was the last common ancestor of all varieties of Greek language, Greek, including Mycenaean Greek, the subsequent ancient G ...
: 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, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological period and the final division of the Stone Age. It saw the Neolithic Revolution, a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several pa ...
era or the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of ...
. *
Mycenaean Greek Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, on the Greek mainland and Crete in Mycenaean Greece (16th to 12th centuries BC), before the hypothesised Dorian invasion, often cited as the ''terminus post quem, terminus ...
: 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 was a syllabary, syllabic script used for writing in Mycenaean Greek, the earliest Attested language, attested form of Greek language, Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing ...
script on tablets dating from the 15th century BC onwards. *
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
: in its various
dialects The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: One usage refers to a variety (linguisti ...
, the language of the Archaic and Classical periods of the
ancient Greek civilization Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
. It was widely known throughout the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
. Ancient Greek fell into disuse in western Europe in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
, 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 survi ...
world and was reintroduced to the rest of Europe with the
Fall of Constantinople The Fall of Constantinople, also known as the Conquest of Constantinople, was the capture of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire by the Ottoman Empire. The city fell on 29 May 1453 as part of the culmination of a 53-day siege w ...
and
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
migration to western Europe. *
Koine Greek Koine Greek (; Koine el, ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος, hē koinè diálektos, the common dialect; ), also known as Hellenistic Greek, common Attic, the Alexandrian dialect, Biblical Greek or New Testament Greek, was the common supra-reg ...
(also known as Hellenistic Greek): The fusion of Ionian with
Attic An attic (sometimes referred to as a ''loft'') is a space found directly below the pitched roof of a house or other building; an attic may also be called a ''sky parlor'' or a garret. Because attics fill the space between the ceiling of the t ...
, the dialect of
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest c ...
, 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 Natural language, language systematically used to make communication possib ...
across the
Eastern Mediterranean
Eastern Mediterranean
and
Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
. Koine Greek can be initially traced within the armies and conquered territories of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, wikt:Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the Ancient Greece, ancient Greek kingdom of Maced ...
; after the Hellenistic colonization of the known world, it was spoken from
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
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 ...
. After the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
conquest of Greece, an unofficial
bilingualism Multilingualism is the use of more than one language, either by an individual speaker or by a group of speakers. It is believed that multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world's population. More than half of all ...
of Greek and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
was established in the city of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
and Koine Greek became a first or second language in the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
. 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 ...
can also be traced through Koine Greek because the Apostles used this form of the language to spread Christianity. 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 ...
, 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 The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;
was translated into it as 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 Greek language, Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible. It includes several ...
, that variety of Koine Greek may be referred to as New Testament Greek or sometimes Biblical Greek. *
Medieval Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek, Byzantine Greek, or Romaic) is the stage of the Greek language between the end of classical antiquity in the 5th–6th centuries and the end of the Middle Ages, conventionally dated to the Fall of Co ...
(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, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
in the 15th century. ''Medieval Greek'' is a cover phrase for a whole continuum of different speech and writing styles, ranging from vernacular continuations of spoken Koine that were already approaching Modern Greek in many respects, to highly learned forms imitating classical Attic. Much of the written Greek that was used as the official language of the Byzantine Empire was an eclectic middle-ground variety based on the tradition of written Koine. * Modern Greek (also known as 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 , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: One usage refers to a variety (linguisti ...
of it.


Diglossia

In the modern era, the Greek language entered a state of
diglossia In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature a ...
: 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, , , ) i ...
was a polarization between two competing varieties of Modern Greek:
Dimotiki Demotic Greek or Dimotiki ( el, Δημοτική Γλώσσα, , , ) is the standard spoken language of Greece in modern times and, since the resolution of the Greek language question in 1976, the official language of Greece. "Demotic Greek" ( ...
, the vernacular form of Modern Greek proper, and
Katharevousa Katharevousa ( el, Καθαρεύουσα, , literally "purifying anguage) is a conservative form of the Modern Greek language Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), r ...
, meaning 'purified', a compromise between Dimotiki and
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
developed in the early 19th century that was used for literary and official purposes in the newly formed Greek state. In 1976, Dimotiki was declared the official language of Greece, after having incorporated features of Katharevousa and thus giving birth to
Standard Modern Greek The linguistic varieties of Modern Greek can be classified along two principal dimensions. First, there is a long tradition of sociolectal variation between the natural, popular spoken language on the one hand and archaizing, learned written form ...
, used today for all official purposes and in
education Education is a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitting knowledge or fostering skills and character traits. These aims may include the development of understanding, rationality, kindness, and honesty ...
.


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'', ''Odyssey'', and Homeric Hymns. It is a literary dialect of Ancient Greek consisting mainly of Ionic Greek, Ionic, with some Aeolic Greek, Aeolic forms, a few ...
is probably closer to
Demotic Demotic may refer to: * Demotic Greek, the modern vernacular form of the Greek language * Demotic (Egyptian), an ancient Egyptian script and version of the language * Chữ Nôm, the demotic script for writing Vietnamese See also

* * Demos ( ...
than 12-century
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest of 1066, until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments ...
is to modern spoken English".


Geographic distribution

Greek is spoken today by at least 13 million people, principally in Greece and Cyprus along with a sizable Greek-speaking minority in
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or ), or , also or . officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It is located on the Adriatic Sea, Adriatic and Ionian Seas within the ...
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 Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thrace, small portion on th ...
, though very few remain today. A small Greek-speaking community is also found in
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the eastern flank of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedon ...
near the Greek-Bulgarian border. Greek is also spoken worldwide by the sizable
Greek diaspora The Greek diaspora, also known as Omogenia ( el, Ομογένεια, Omogéneia), are the communities of Greeks living outside of Greece and Cyprus (excluding Northern Cyprus). Such places historically include Albania, North Macedonia, parts of t ...
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 country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
,
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world ...
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
,
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America. It is the southernmost country in the world, and the closest to Antarctica, occupying a long and narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east a ...
,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
,
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...
,
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia, Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the ...
,
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the List of European countries by area, second-largest European country after Russia, which it borders Russia–Ukraine border, to the east and northeast. Ukraine ...
, the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
, and throughout the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
, especially in
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
. Historically, significant Greek-speaking communities and regions were found throughout the , in what are today
Southern Italy Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia or ) also known as ''Meridione'' or ''Mezzogiorno'' (), is a macroregion of the Italian Republic consisting of its southern half. The term ''Mezzogiorno'' today refers to regions that are associated with the pe ...
, Turkey, Cyprus,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
,
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue ...
, Palestine,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
, and
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya bo ...
; in the area of the , in what are today Turkey,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the eastern flank of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedon ...
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country located at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern, and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It borders Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, S ...
,
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the List of European countries by area, second-largest European country after Russia, which it borders Russia–Ukraine border, to the east and northeast. Ukraine ...
,
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia, Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the ...
, Georgia,
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
, and
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
; and, to a lesser extent, in the Western
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
in and around
colonies In modern parlance, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of the original country of the colonizers, the ''metropole, metropolit ...
such as
Massalia Massalia (Ancient Greek, Greek: Μασσαλία; Latin: Massilia; modern Marseille) was an ancient Greek colony founded ca. 600 BC on the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean coast of present-day France, east of the river Rhône, by Ionian Greeks, ...
, Monoikos, and Mainake. It was also used as a liturgical language in Christian Nubian kingdom of
Makuria Makuria (Old Nubian: , ''Dotawo''; gr, Μακουρία, Makouria; ar, المقرة, al-Muqurra) was a Nubians, Nubian monarchy, kingdom located in what is today Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. Makuria originally covered the area along the N ...
which was in modern day
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān, officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It shares borders with the Central African Republic ...
.


Official status

Greek, in its modern form, is the
official language An official language is a language given supreme status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciary, ...
of Greece, where it is spoken by almost the entire population. It is also the official language of Cyprus (nominally alongside 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 Northern Cyprus ( tr, Kuzey Kıbrıs), officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC; tr, Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti, ''KKTC''), is a ''de facto'' state that comprises the northeastern portion of the Geography of Cyprus, isl ...
, 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 7
Because of the membership of Greece and Cyprus in the European Union, Greek is one of the organization's 24 official languages. Greek is recognized as a
minority language A minority language is a language spoken by a minority group, minority of the population of a territory. Such people are termed linguistic minorities or language minorities. With a total number of 196 sovereign states recognized internationally ( ...
in Albania and used co-officially in some of the municipalities in Gjirokastër and Sarandë. It is also an official minority language in the regions of
Apulia Apulia ( ), also known by its Italian name Puglia (), :: nap, label=, Puie :: nap, label=Tarantino dialect, Tarantino, Puje : scn, label=Salentino dialect, Salentino, Puia : frp, label=Faetar language, Faetar, Poulye : el, label=Griko language ...
and in Italy. In the framework of the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional language, regional and minority languages in E ...
, Greek is protected and promoted officially as a regional and minority language in Armenia,
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Spanning of the Pannonian Basin, Carpathian Basin, it is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east and southeast, Serbia to the ...
, Romania, and Ukraine.


Characteristics

The
phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound or sign system of a ...
, morphology,
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the study of how words and morphemes combine to form larger units such as phrases and sentence (linguistics), sentences. Central concerns of syntax include word order, grammatical relations, hierarchical sentence st ...
, and
vocabulary A vocabulary is a set of familiar words within a person's language. A vocabulary, usually developed with age, serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and learning, acquiring knowledge. Acquiring an extensive vocabulary is one ...
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, in all periods, Ancient Greek has enjoyed high prestige, and the literate borrowed heavily from it.


Phonology

Across its history, the syllabic structure of Greek has varied little: Greek shows a mixed syllable structure, permitting complex syllabic onsets but very restricted codas. It has only oral vowels and a fairly stable set of consonantal contrasts. The main phonological changes occurred during the Hellenistic and Roman period (see
Koine Greek phonology The Greek language Greek ( el, label= Modern Greek, Ελληνικά, Elliniká, ; grc, Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Italy Italy ...
for details): * replacement of the
pitch accent A pitch-accent language, when spoken, has word Accentuation, accents in which one syllable in a word or morpheme is more prominent than the others, but the accentuated syllable is indicated by a contrasting pitch (music), pitch (tone (linguisti ...
with a stress accent. * simplification of the system of
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...
s and
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: that is, the tongue (and/or other parts of the speech o ...
s: loss of vowel length distinction, monophthongisation of most diphthongs and several steps in a chain shift of vowels towards ( iotacism). * development of the
voiceless In linguistics, voicelessness is the property of sounds being pronounced without the larynx vibrating. Phonologically, it is a type of phonation, which contrasts with other states of the larynx, but some object that the word phonation implies vo ...
aspirated
plosives In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects ...
and to the voiceless
fricatives A fricative is a consonant manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the ba ...
and , respectively; the similar development of to may have taken place later (the phonological changes are not reflected in the orthography, and both earlier and later phonemes are written with φ, θ, and χ). * development of the
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics and phonology to characterize speech sounds (usually consonants). Speech sounds can be described as either voicelessness, voiceless (otherwise known as ''unvoiced'') or voiced. The term, however, i ...
plosives , , and to their voiced fricative counterparts (later ), , and .


Morphology

In all its stages, the morphology of Greek shows an extensive set of
productive Productivity is the efficiency of production (economics), production of goods or services expressed by some measure. Measurements of productivity are often expressed as a ratio of an aggregate output (economics), output to a single input (econom ...
derivational affixes, a limited but productive system of
compounding In the field of pharmacy, compounding (performed in compounding pharmacies) is preparation of a custom formulation of a medication to fit a unique need of a patient that cannot be met with commercially available products. This may be done for m ...
and a rich
inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation in which a word is modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number A number is a mathemat ...
al system. Although its morphological categories have been fairly stable over time, morphological changes are present throughout, particularly in the nominal and verbal systems. The major change in the nominal morphology since the classical stage was the disuse of the
dative case In grammar, the dative case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated , or sometimes when it is a core argument) is a grammatical case used in some languages to indicate the recipient or beneficiary of an action, as in "Maria Jacobo potum dedit ...
(its functions being largely taken over by the
genitive In grammar, the genitive case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus indicating an attributive noun, attributive relationshi ...
). The verbal system has lost the
infinitive Infinitive (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a linguistics term for certain verb forms existing in many languages, most often used as non-finite verbs. As with many linguistic concepts, there is not a single definition applicable to ...
, the synthetically-formed future, and perfect tenses and the
optative mood The optative mood ( or ; abbreviated ) is a grammatical mood In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise a ...
. Many have been replaced by
periphrastic In linguistics, periphrasis () is the use of one or more function words to express meaning that otherwise may be expressed by attaching an affix or clitic to a content word, word. The resulting phrase includes two or more Collocation, collocated ...
( analytical) forms.


Nouns and adjectives

Pronouns show distinctions in
person A person (plural, : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of pr ...
(1st, 2nd, and 3rd),
number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More universally, individual numbers can ...
(singular, dual, and plural in the ancient language; singular and plural alone in later stages), and
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to femininity and masculinity and differentiating between them. Depending on the context, this may include sex-based social structures (i.e. gender roles) and gender identity. Most cultures us ...
(masculine, feminine, and neuter), and decline for 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 In grammar, an attributive expression is a word or phrase within a noun phrase In linguistics, a noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase that has a noun or pronoun as its head (linguistics), head or performs the same Grammar, grammatical f ...
and predicative adjectives agree with the noun.


Verbs

The inflectional categories of the Greek verb have likewise remained largely the same over the course of the language's history but with significant changes in the number of distinctions within each category and their morphological expression. Greek verbs have synthetic inflectional forms for:


Syntax

Many aspects of the
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the study of how words and morphemes combine to form larger units such as phrases and sentence (linguistics), sentences. Central concerns of syntax include word order, grammatical relations, hierarchical sentence st ...
of Greek have remained constant: verbs agree with their subject only, the use of the surviving cases is largely intact (nominative for subjects and predicates, accusative for objects of most verbs and many prepositions, genitive for possessors), articles precede nouns, adpositions are largely prepositional, relative clauses follow the noun they modify and relative pronouns are clause-initial. However, the morphological changes also have their counterparts in the syntax, and there are also significant differences between the syntax of the ancient and that of the modern form of the language. Ancient Greek made great use of participial constructions and of constructions involving the infinitive, and the modern variety lacks the infinitive entirely (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 borrowings from the languages of the populations that inhabited Greece before the arrival of Proto-Greeks, some documented in Mycenaean texts; they include a large number of Greek
toponym Toponymy, toponymics, or toponomastics is the study of '' toponyms'' ( proper names of places, also known as place names and geographic names), including their origins, meanings, usage and types. Toponym is the general term for a proper name o ...
s. The form and meaning of many words have changed.
Loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word at least partly assimilated from one language (the donor language) into another language. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because the ...
s (words of foreign origin) have entered the language, mainly from Latin, Venetian, and 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 and English, are typically not inflected; other modern borrowings are derived from South Slavic ( Macedonian/ Bulgarian) and
Eastern Romance languages The Eastern Romance languages are a group of Romance languages. Today, the group consists of the Balkan Romance languages, Daco-Romance subgroup, which comprises the Romanian language (Daco-Romanian), Aromanian language and two other related mi ...
( Aromanian and Megleno-Romanian).


Greek loanwords in other languages

Greek words have been widely borrowed into other languages, including English. Example words include: ''
mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...
'', ''
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that depar ...
'', ''
astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and chronology of the Universe, evolution. Objects of interest ...
'', ''
democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
'', ''
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
'', '' athletics,
theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The p ...
,
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
'', ''
baptism Baptism (from grc-x-koine, βάπτισμα, váptisma) is a form of ritual purification—a characteristic of many religions throughout time and geography. In Christianity, it is a Christian sacrament of initiation and adoption, almost i ...
'', '' evangelist'', etc. Moreover, Greek words and word elements continue to be productive as a basis for coinages: ''
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, societies, and linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because i ...
'', ''
photography Photography is the visual art, art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It i ...
'', ''
telephony Telephony ( ) is the field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties. The history of telephony is i ...
'', ''
isomer In chemistry, isomers are molecules or polyatomic ions with identical molecular formulae – that is, same number of atoms of each element (chemistry), element – but distinct arrangements of atoms in space. Isomerism is existence or possibil ...
'', ''
biomechanics Biomechanics is the study of the structure, function and motion of the mechanical aspects of biological systems, at any level from whole organisms to Organ (anatomy), organs, Cell (biology), cells and cell organelles, using the methods of mechani ...
'', ''
cinematography Cinematography (from ancient Greek κίνημα, ''kìnema'' "movement" and γράφειν, ''gràphein'' "to write") is the art of Film, motion picture (and more recently, electronic video camera) photography. Cinematographers use a lens (o ...
'', etc. Together with Latin words, they form the foundation of international scientific and technical vocabulary; for example, all words ending in ''–logy'' ("discourse"). There are many
English words of Greek origin The Greek language has contributed to the English language, English lexicon in five main ways: *Loanword#Popular and learned loanwords, vernacular borrowings, transmitted orally through Vulgar Latin directly into Old English, ''e.g.'', 'butter' (, ...
.


Classification

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. The ancient language most closely related to it may be ancient Macedonian, which most scholars suggest may have been a dialect of Greek itself, but it is poorly attested and it is difficult to conclude. Independently of the Macedonian question, some scholars have grouped Greek into
Graeco-Phrygian Graeco-Phrygian () is a proposed subgroup of the Indo-European language family which comprises the Hellenic languages, Hellenic and Phrygian language, Phrygian languages. Modern consensus views Greek as the closest relative of Phrygian, a pos ...
, as Greek and the extinct Phrygian share features that are not found in other Indo-European languages. Among living languages, some Indo-Europeanists suggest that Greek may be most closely related to Armenian (see Graeco-Armenian) or the
Indo-Iranian languages The Indo-Iranian languages (also Indo-Iranic languages or Aryan languages) constitute the largest and southeasternmost extant branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family (with over 400 languages), predominantly spoken i ...
(see
Graeco-Aryan Graeco-Aryan, or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan, is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family that would be the ancestor of Greek language, Greek, Armenian language, Armenian, and the Indo-Iranian languages. The Graeco- ...
), but little definitive evidence has been found for grouping the living branches of the family. In addition, Albanian has also been considered somewhat related to Greek and Armenian by some linguists. If proven and recognized, the three languages would form a new Balkan sub-branch with other dead European languages.


Writing system


Linear B

Linear B Linear B was a syllabary, syllabic script used for writing in Mycenaean Greek, the earliest Attested language, attested form of Greek language, Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing ...
, attested as early as the late 15th century BC, was the first script used to write Greek. It is basically a
syllabary In the Linguistics, linguistic study of Written language, written languages, a syllabary is a set of grapheme, written symbols that represent the syllables or (more frequently) mora (linguistics), moras which make up words. A symbol in a syllaba ...
, which was finally deciphered by
Michael Ventris Michael George Francis Ventris, (; 12 July 1922 – 6 September 1956) was an England, English architect, classics, classicist and philology, philologist who decipherment, deciphered Linear B, the ancient Mycenaean Greek script. A student of ...
and
John Chadwick John Chadwick, (21 May 1920 – 24 November 1998) was an English Linguistics, linguist and Classics, classical scholar who was most notable for the decipherment, with Michael Ventris, of Linear B. Early life, education and wartime service Joh ...
in the 1950s (its precursor,
Linear A Linear A is a writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication, based on a script and a orthography, set of rules regulating its use. While both writing and spoken language, speech are useful in con ...
, has not been deciphered and most likely encodes a non-Greek language). The language of the Linear B texts,
Mycenaean Greek Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, on the Greek mainland and Crete in Mycenaean Greece (16th to 12th centuries BC), before the hypothesised Dorian invasion, often cited as the ''terminus post quem, terminus ...
, is the earliest known form of Greek.


Cypriot syllabary

Another similar system used to write the Greek language was the Cypriot syllabary (also a descendant of Linear A via the intermediate
Cypro-Minoan syllabary The Cypro-Minoan syllabary (CM) is an Undeciphered writing systems, undeciphered syllabary used on the island of Cyprus during the late Bronze Age (c. 1550–1050 BC). The term "Cypro-Minoan" was coined by Arthur Evans in 1909 based on its visua ...
), which is closely related to Linear B but uses somewhat different syllabic conventions to represent phoneme sequences. The Cypriot syllabary is attested in Cyprus from the 11th century BC until its gradual abandonment in the late Classical period, in favor of the standard Greek alphabet.


Greek alphabet

Greek has been written in the Greek alphabet since approximately the 9th century BC. It was created by modifying the
Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language ...
, with the innovation of adopting certain letters to represent the vowels. The variant of the alphabet in use today is essentially the late Ionic variant, introduced for writing classical
Attic An attic (sometimes referred to as a ''loft'') is a space found directly below the pitched roof of a house or other building; an attic may also be called a ''sky parlor'' or a garret. Because attics fill the space between the ceiling of the t ...
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 Ink is a gel, Sol (colloid), sol, or Solution (chemistry), solution that contains at least one colorant, such as a dye or pigment, and is used to color a surface to produce an image, writing, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing or writing w ...
and
quill A quill is a writing tool made from a moulted flight feather (preferably a primary wing-feather) of a large bird. Quills were used for writing with ink before the invention of the dip pen, the metal-Nib (pen), nibbed pen, the fountain pen, and, ...
. The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters, each with an uppercase (
majuscule Letter case is the distinction between the Letter (alphabet), letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written representation of certain lang ...
) and lowercase ( minuscule) form. The letter
sigma Sigma (; uppercase Σ, lowercase Letter case is the distinction between the Letter (alphabet), letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the wr ...
has an additional lowercase form (ς) used in the final position of a word:


Diacritics

In addition to the letters, the Greek alphabet features a number of diacritical signs: three different accent marks ( acute,
grave A grave is a location where a cadaver, dead body (typically that of a human, although sometimes that of an animal) is burial, buried or interred after a funeral. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial ...
, and
circumflex The circumflex () is a diacritic in the Latin script, Latin and Greek alphabet, Greek scripts that is also used in the written forms of many languages and in various romanization and Transcription (linguistics), transcription schemes. It recei ...
), originally denoting different shapes of
pitch accent A pitch-accent language, when spoken, has word Accentuation, accents in which one syllable in a word or morpheme is more prominent than the others, but the accentuated syllable is indicated by a contrasting pitch (music), pitch (tone (linguisti ...
on the stressed vowel; the so-called breathing marks ( rough and
smooth breathing The smooth breathing ( grc, ψιλὸν πνεῦμα, psilòn pneûma; ell, ψιλή ''psilí''; la, spīritus lēnis) is a diacritical mark A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph ad ...
), originally used to signal presence or absence of word-initial /h/; and the diaeresis, used to mark the full syllabic value of a vowel that would otherwise be read as part of a diphthong. These marks were introduced during the course of the Hellenistic period. Actual usage of the grave in
handwriting Handwriting is the writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language through a system of physically Epigraphy, inscribed, Printing press, mechanically transferred, or Word processor, digit ...
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 Typography is the art and technique of typesetting, arranging type to make written language legibility, legible, readability, readable and beauty, appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, Point (typogra ...
. After the writing reform of 1982, most diacritics are no longer used. Since then, Greek has been written mostly in the simplified 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 Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
.


Punctuation

In Greek, the question mark is written as the English semicolon, while the functions of the colon and semicolon are performed by a raised point (•), known as the '' ano teleia'' (). In Greek the
comma The comma is a punctuation mark that appears in several variants in different languages. It has the same shape as an apostrophe or single closing quotation mark () in many typefaces, but it differs from them in being placed on the baseline (t ...
also functions as a
silent letter In an alphabet, alphabetic writing system, a silent letter is a Letter (alphabet), letter that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any Phone (phonetics), sound in the word's pronunciation. In linguistics, a silent letter is often symb ...
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 Boustrophedon is a style of writing in which alternate lines of writing are reversed, with letters also written in reverse, mirror-style. This is in contrast to modern European languages, where lines always begin on the same side, usually the le ...
, or bi-directional text, was also used in Ancient Greek.


Latin alphabet

Greek has occasionally been written in the
Latin script The Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Greek alphabet which was in use in the ancient Greece, Greek city of Cumae, in southe ...
, especially in areas under Venetian rule or by 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 Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire ( la, Imperium Francorum), was the largest History of the Roman Empire, post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It ...
). / (meaning 'Catholic Chiot') alludes to the significant presence of Catholic missionaries based on the island of
Chios Chios (; el, Χίος, Chíos , traditionally known as Scio in English) is the fifth largest Greece, Greek list of islands of Greece, island, situated in the northern Aegean Sea. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. Chios is ...
. 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 Greek-speaking communities of
Southern Italy Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia or ) also known as ''Meridione'' or ''Mezzogiorno'' (), is a macroregion of the Italian Republic consisting of its southern half. The term ''Mezzogiorno'' today refers to regions that are associated with the pe ...
.


Hebrew alphabet

The
Yevanic Yevanic, also known as Judaeo-Greek, Romaniyot, Romaniote, and Yevanitika, is a Hellenic languages, Greek dialect formerly used by the Romaniotes and by the Constantinopolitan Karaites (in whose case the language is called Karaitika or Karaeo-Gre ...
dialect was written by Romaniote and Constantinopolitan Karaite Jews using the
Hebrew Alphabet The Hebrew alphabet ( he, wikt:אלפבית, אָלֶף־בֵּית עִבְרִי, ), known variously by scholars as the Ktav Ashuri, Jewish script, square script and block script, is an abjad script used in the writing of the Hebrew languag ...
.


Arabic alphabet

Some Greek Muslims from Crete wrote their
Cretan Greek Cretan Greek, or the Cretan dialect ( el, Κρητική Διάλεκτος, ), is a variety of Modern Greek spoken in Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islan ...
in the
Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَّة, ' or , '), or Arabic abjad, is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing Arabic. It is written from right to left in a cursive style and includes 28 ...
. The same happened among Epirote Muslims in
Ioannina Ioannina ( el, Ιωάννινα ' ), often called Yannena ( ' ) within Greece, is the capital and largest city of the Ioannina (regional unit), Ioannina regional unit and of Epirus (region), Epirus, an Modern regions of Greece, administrative ...
. This usage is sometimes called
aljamiado ''Aljamiado'' (; ; ar, عَجَمِيَة Arabic transliteration, trans. Ajam, ''ʿajamiyah'' ) or ''Aljamía'' texts are manuscripts that use the Arabic script for transcribing European languages, especially Romance languages such as Mozarabic ...
, as when
Romance language The Romance languages, sometimes referred to as Latin languages or Neo-Latin languages, are the various modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin. They are the only extant subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European languages, I ...
s are written in the Arabic alphabet.


Example text

Article 1 of the ''
Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six pr ...
'' in Greek: :
Transcription Transcription refers to the process of converting sounds (voice, music etc.) into letters or musical notes, or producing a copy of something in another medium, including: Genetics * Transcription (biology), the copying of DNA into RNA, the fir ...
of the example text into
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the Ancient Rome, ancient Romans to write the Latin language. Largely unaltered with the exception of extensions (such as diacritics), it used to write Eng ...
: : Article 1 of the ''Universal Declaration of Human Rights'' in English: :"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."


See also

*
List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes A ''list'' is any set of items in a row. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby union ...


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

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Further reading

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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
* Greek Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's 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 Graeco-Phrygian 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 Languages with own distinct writing systems Subject–verb–object languages