MEDIEVAL GREEK, also known as BYZANTINE GREEK, is the stage of the
The beginning of
* 1 History and development
* 1.1 Diglossia * 1.2 Dialects
* 2 Phonetics and phonology
* 2.1 Vowels * 2.2 Consonants
* 3 Grammar
* 4 Vocabulary, script, influence on other languages
* 4.1 Intralinguistic innovations * 4.2 Loanwords from other languages
* 5 Script
* 5.1 Uncial and cursive script * 5.2 Minuscule script
* 6 Influence on other languages
* 7 Sample
* 8 Research * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 Sources * 12 Further reading * 13 External links
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
Evolution of Greek dialects from the late Byzantine Empire through to the early 20th century. Demotic in yellow. Pontic in orange. Cappadocian in green. (Green dots indicate Cappadocian Greek speaking villages in 1910. )
With the transfer of the Roman imperial court to Byzantium
(Constantinople) between 324 and 330, the political centre of the
Furthermore, parts of the Roman
Corpus Iuris Civilis
Despite the absence of reliable demographic figures, it has been
estimated that less than one third of the inhabitants of the Eastern
Roman Empire, around eight million people, were native speakers of
Greek. The number of those who were able to communicate in Greek may
have been far higher. The native Greek speakers consisted of many of
the inhabitants of the southern Balkan Peninsula, south of the
Jireček Line , and all of the inhabitants of
In the period between 603 and 619, the southern and eastern parts of
the empire (Syria, Egypt, North Africa) were occupied by Persian
Sassanids and, after being recaptured by
Thus, the use of Greek declined early on in Syria, Egypt, and North
Africa; starting also at about the sixth century came the invasion of
South Slavs . This left Greek-speaking Sicily and parts of Magna
Graecia , Cyprus,
As early as in the Hellenistic period , there was a tendency towards a state of diglossia between the Attic literary language and the constantly developing vernacular Koiné . By late antiquity, the gap had become impossible to ignore. In the Byzantine era, written Greek manifested itself in a whole spectrum of divergent registers, all of which were consciously archaic in comparison with the contemporary spoken vernacular, but in different degrees.
They ranged from a moderately archaic style employed for most every-day writing and based mostly on the written Koiné of the Bible and early Christian literature, to a highly artificial learned style, employed by authors with higher literary ambitions and closely imitating the model of classical Attic, in continuation of the movement of Atticism in late antiquity. At the same time, the spoken vernacular language developed on the basis of earlier spoken Koiné, and reached a stage that in many ways resembles present-day Modern Greek in terms of grammar and phonology by the turn of the first millennium AD. Written literature reflecting this demotic Greek begins to appear around 1100.
Among the preserved literature in the Attic literary language, various forms of historiography take a prominent place. They comprise chronicles as well as classicist, contemporary works of historiography , theological documents, and saints\' lives . Poetry can be found in the form of hymns and ecclesiastical poetry. Many of the Byzantine emperors were active writers themselves and wrote chronicles or works on the running of the Byzantine state and strategic or philological works.
Furthermore, letters, legal texts, and numerous registers and lists
The spoken form of Greek was called γλῶσσα δημώδης
("vernacular language"), ἁπλοελληνική ("basic Greek"),
καθωμιλημένη (‘spoken’) or Ῥωμαιϊκή
("Roman language"). Before the 13th century, examples of texts written
in vernacular Greek, are very rare. They are restricted to isolated
passages of popular acclamations , sayings, and particularly common or
untranslatable formulations which occasionally made their way into
Greek literature. Since the end of the 11th century, vernacular Greek
poems from the literary realm of
Digenes Akritas , a collection of heroic sagas from the 12th
century that was later collated in a verse epic, was the first
literary work completely written in the vernacular. The Greek
vernacular verse epic appeared in the 12th century, around the time of
the French romance novel, almost as a backlash to the Attic
renaissance during the dynasty of the Komnenoi in works like Psellos
’s Chronography (in the middle of the 11th century) or the Alexiad,
the biography of Emperor
Alexios I Komnenos written by his daughter
Anna Komnena about a century later. In fifteen-syllable blank verse
(versus politicus), the
Digenes Akritas deals with both ancient and
medieval heroic sagas, but also with stories of animals and plants.
The earliest evidence of prose vernacular Greek exists in some
documents from southern Italy written in the tenth century. Later
prose literature consists of statute books, chronicles and fragments
of religious, historical and medical works. The dualism of literary
language and vernacular was to persist until well into the 20th
century, when the
The persistence until the
In Griko , a language spoken in the southern Italian exclaves, and in Tsakonian , which is spoken on the Peloponnese, dialects of older origin continue to be used today. Cypriot Greek was already in a literary form in the late Middle Ages, being used in the chronicles of Leontios Makhairas and Voustronios.
PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY
It is assumed that most of the developments leading to the phonology
Modern Greek had either already taken place in
UNROUNDED ROUNDED ROUNDED
CLOSE /i/ ι, ει, η (/y/) υ, οι, υι /u/ ου
MID /e̞/ ε, αι
/o̞/ ο, ω
OPEN /a/ α
In the original closing diphthongs αυ, ευ and ηυ, the offglide had developed into a consonantal or early on (possibly through an intermediate stage of and ). Before , υ turned to (εὔνοστος > ἔμνοστος , χαύνος > χάμνος , ἐλαύνω > λάμνω ), or was dropped (θαῦμα > θάμα ). Before , it occasionally turned to (ἀνάπαυση > ἀνάπαψη ). Words with initial vowels were often affected by apheresis : ἡ ἡμέρα > ἡ μέρα ("the day"), ἐρωτῶ > ρωτῶ ("to ask").
A regular phenomenon in most dialects is synizesis ("merging" of
vowels). In many words with the combinations , , and , the stress
shifted to the second vowel, and the first became a glide . Thus:
Ῥωμαῖος > Ῥωμιός ("Roman"), ἐννέα >
ἐννιά ("nine"), ποῖος > ποιός ("which"), τα
παιδία > τα παιδιά ("the children"). This accentual
shift is already reflected in the metre of the 6th century hymns of
Romanos the Melodist . In many cases, the vowel o disappeared in the
endings -ιον and -ιος (σακκίον > σακκίν ,
χαρτίον > χαρτίν , κύριος > κύρις ).
This phenomenon is attested to have begun earlier, in the Hellenistic
The shift in the consonant system from voiced plosives /b/ (β), /d/
(δ), /ɡ/ (γ) and aspirated voiceless plosives /pʰ/ (φ), /tʰ/
(θ), /kʰ/ (χ) to corresponding fricatives (/v, ð, ɣ/ and /f, θ,
x/, respectively) was already completed during
Changes in the phonological system mainly affect consonant clusters
that show sandhi processes. In clusters of two different plosives or
two different fricatives , there is a tendency for dissimilation such
that the first consonant becomes a fricative and/or the second becomes
a plosive ultimately favoring a fricative-plosive cluster. But if the
first consonant was a fricative and the second consonant was /s/, the
first consonant instead became a plosive, favoring a plosive-/s/
The resulting clusters were:
* > * > (νύκτα > νύχτα ) * > (ἑπτά > ἑφτά )
For fricatives where the second was not /s/:
* > (Μυζ(η)θράς > Μυστράς ) * > (only occurred in Pontic) * > (σκολείο > σκολειό ) * > (φθόνος > φτόνος ) * > * > (χθές > χτές )
For fricatives where the second was /s/:
* > (ἔπαυσα > ἔπαψα )
The disappearance of /n/ in word-final position, which had begun sporadically in Late Antiquity, became more widespread, excluding certain dialects such as South Italian and Cypriot. The nasals /m/ and /n/ also disappeared before voiceless fricatives, for example νύμφη > νύφη , ἄνθος > ἄθος .
A new set of voiced plosives , and developed through voicing of voiceless plosives after nasals . There is some dispute as to when exactly this development took place but apparently it began during the Byzantine period. The graphemes μπ, ντ and γκ for /b/, /d/ and /g/ can already be found in transcriptions from neighboring languages in Byzantine sources, like in ντερβίσης , from Turkish derviş ("dervish "). On the other hand, some scholars contend that post-nasal voicing of voiceless plosives began already in the Koine , as interchanges with β, δ, and γ in this position are found in the papyri. The prenasalized voiced spirants μβ, νδ and γγ were still plosives by this time, causing a merger between μβ/μπ, νδ/ντ and γγ/γκ, which would remain except within educated varieties, where spelling pronunciations did make for segments such as
Many decisive changes between Ancient and Modern Greek were completed by circa 1100 AD. There is a striking reduction of inflectional categories inherited from Indo-European , especially in the verb system, and a complementary tendency of developing new analytical formations and periphrastic constructions.
In morphology , the inflectional paradigms of declension ,
conjugation and comparison were regularised through analogy. Thus, in
The enclitic genitive forms of the first and second person personal pronoun , as well as the genitive forms of the third person demonstrative pronoun developed into unstressed enclitic possessive pronouns that were attached to nouns: µου , σου , του , της , µας , σας , των .
Irregularities in verb inflection were also reduced through analogy. Thus, the contracted verbs ending in -άω , -έω etc., which earlier showed a complex set of vowel alternations, adopted the endings of the regular forms: ἀγαπᾷ > ἀγαπάει ('he loves'). The use of the past tense prefix, known as augment , was gradually limited to regular forms in which the augment was required to carry word stress. Reduplication in the verb stem, which was a feature of the old perfect forms, was gradually abandoned and only retained in antiquated forms. The small ancient Greek class of irregular verbs in -μι disappeared in favour of regular forms ending in -ω χώννυμι > χώνω ('push'). The auxiliary εἰμί ('be'), originally part of the same class, adopted a new set of endings modelled on the passive of regular verbs, as in the following examples:
CLASSICAL MEDIEVAL REGULAR PASSIVE ENDING
1ST PERSON SING. εἰμί
2ND PERSON SING. εἴ
3RD PERSON SING. ἐστίν
ἔνι > ἔναι, εἶναι
1ST PERSON SING. ἦ
2ND PERSON SING. ἦσθα
3RD PERSON SING. ἦν
In most cases, the numerous stem variants that appeared in the
One of the numerous forms that disappeared was the dative . It was replaced in the 10th century by the genitive and the prepositional construction of εἰς ('in, to') + accusative . In addition, the dual, nearly all the participles and the imperative forms of the 3rd person were lost. The optative was replaced by the construction of subordinate clauses with the conjunctions ὅτι ('that') and ἵνα ('so that'). ἵνα first became ἱνά and was later shortened to να . By the end of the Byzantine era, the construction θέλω να ('I want that…') + subordinate clause developed into θενά . Eventually, θενά became the Modern Greek future particle θα Medieval Greek: , which replaced the old future forms. Ancient formations like the genitive absolute , the accusative and infinitive and nearly all common participle constructions were gradually substituted by the newly emerged gerund and constructions of subordinate clauses.
The most noticeable grammatical change in comparison to ancient Greek
is the almost complete loss of the infinitive , which has been
replaced by subordinate clauses with the particle να. Arabic
influences have been assumed as a possible explanation for this
phenomenon, as a sentence structure such as "I can that I go" is
Besides the particles να and θενά, the negation particle δέν
('not') was derived from the
VOCABULARY, SCRIPT, INFLUENCE ON OTHER LANGUAGES
Lexicographic changes in
LOANWORDS FROM OTHER LANGUAGES
See also: List of Greek words of Byzantine
Especially at the beginning of the
Other influences on
* κάλτσα from Ital. calza "stocking" * ντάμα from Fr. dame "dame" * γούνα from Slav. guna "fur" * λουλούδι , probably from Alban. lule "flower" * παζάρι from Turk. pazar (itself derived from Persian), "market, bazaar " * χατζι- from Arab. hajji "Mecca pilgrim", used as a name affix for a Christian after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Middle Greek used the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet which, until the end of antiquity, were predominantly used as lapidary and majuscule letters and without a space between words and with diacritics.
UNCIAL AND CURSIVE SCRIPT
Manuscript of the
Anthology of Planudes
In the third century, the Greek uncial developed under the influence
Greek minuscule script, which probably emerged from the cursive
INFLUENCE ON OTHER LANGUAGES
As the language of the
Orthodox Church , Middle Greek has, especially
with the conversion of the Slavs by the brothers Cyril and Methodius ,
found entrance into the
Some words in Germanic languages, mainly from the religious context,
have also been borrowed from
Byzantine research played an important role in the Greek State, which was refounded in 1832, as the young nation tried to restore its cultural identity through antique and orthodox-medieval traditions. Spyridon Lambros (1851–1919), later Prime Minister of Greece, founded Greek Byzantinology , which was continued by his and Krumbacher’s students.
SAMPLE MEDIEVAL GREEK TEXTS
The following texts clearly illustrate the case of diglossia in Byzantine Greek, as they date from roughly the same time but show marked differences in terms of grammar and lexicon, and likely in phonology as well. The first selection is an example of high literary classicizing historiography, while the second is a vernacular poem which is more compromising to ordinary speech.
SAMPLE 1 – ANNA KOMNENA
The first excerpt is from the Alexiad of
Anna Komnena , recounting
the invasion by
Bohemond I of Antioch , son of Robert Guiscard, in
1107. The writer employs much ancient vocabulary, influenced by
Herodotean Ionic, though post-classical terminology is also used (e.g.
Ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς, ἔτι εἰς τὴν βασιλέυουσαν ἐνδιατρίβων, μεμαθηκὼς διὰ γραφῶν τοῦ δουκὸς Δυρραχίου τὴν τοῦ Βαϊμούντου διαπεραίωσιν ἐπετάχυνε τὴν ἐξελέυσιν. ἀνύστακτος γὰρ ὤν ὁ ὁ δοὺξ Δυρραχίου, μὴ διδοὺς τὸ παράπαν ὕπνον τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς, ὁπηνίκα διέγνω διαπλωσάμενον τὸν Βαϊμούντον παρὰ τὴν τοῦ Ἰλλυρικοῦ πεδιάδα καὶ τῆς νηὸς ἀποβεβηκότα καὶ αὐθότι που πηξάμενον χάρακα, Σκύθην μεταπεψάμενος ὑποπτερον δή, τὸ τοῦ λόγου, πρὸς τὸν αὐτοκράτορα τὴν τούτου διαπεραίωσιν ἐδήλου.
'When the emperor, who was still in the imperial city, learned of Bohemond's crossing from the letters of the duke (military commander) of Dyrráchion, he hastened his departure. For the duke had been vigilant, having altogether denied sleep to his eyes, and at the moment when he learned that Bohemnond had sailed over beside the plain of Illyricum, disembarked, and set up camp thereabouts, he sent for a Scythian with "wings", as the saying goes, and informed the emperor of the man's crossing.'
SAMPLE 2 – DIGENES AKRITAS
The second excerpt is from the epic of Digenes Akritas (manuscript E), possibly dating originally to the 12th century. This text is one of the earliest examples of Byzantine folk literature, and includes many features in line with developments in the demotic language. The poetic metre adheres to the fully developed model of a Greek 15-syllable political verse . Features of popular speech like synezisis, elision and apheresis are regular, as is recognized in the transcription despite the conservative orthography. Also seen is the simplification of διὰ to modern γιὰ. In morphology, note the use of modern possessive pronouns, the concurrence of classical -ουσι(ν)/-ασι(ν) and modern -ουν/-αν 3pl endings, the lack of reduplication in perfect passive participles and the addition of ν to the neuter adjective in γλυκύν. In other parts of the poem, the dative case has been almost completely replaced with the genitive and accusative for indirect objects.
Καὶ ὡς εἴδασιν τὰ ἀδέλφια της τὴν κόρην μαραμένην, ἀντάμα οἱ πέντε ἐστέναξαν, τοιοῦτον λόγον εἶπαν: 'Ἐγείρου, ἠ βεργόλικος, γλυκύν μας τὸ ἀδέλφιν˙ ἐμεῖς γὰρ ἐκρατοῦμαν σε ὡς γιὰ ἀποθαμένην καὶ ἐσὲν ὁ Θεὸς ἐφύλαξεν διὰ τὰ ὡραῖα σου κάλλη. Πολέμους οὐ φοβούμεθα διὰ τὴν σὴν ἀγάπην.'
'And when her brothers saw the girl withered, the five groaned together, and spoke as follows: "Arise, lissom one, our sweet sister; we had your for dead, but you were protected by God for your beautiful looks. Through our love for you, we fear no battles.'
In the Byzantine Empire, Ancient and