Greek language

Indo-European language

Greek (Ελληνικά "Hellenic") is an Indo-European language, spoken today by 15-22 million people, mainly in Greece. It is one of the world's oldest recorded living languages.

Ancient Sources edit

Historians edit

  • Holy shadows of the dead, I’m not to blame for your cruel and bitter fate, but the accursed rivalry which brought sister nations and brother people, to fight one another. I do not feel happy for this victory of mine. On the contrary, I would be glad, brothers, if I had all of you standing here next to me, since we are united by the same language, the same blood and the same visions.
  • Now, those four evangelists whose names have gained the most remarkable circulation over the whole world, and whose number has been fixed as four, ...are believed to have written in the order which follows: first Matthew, then Mark, thirdly Luke, lastly John.
Of these four, it is true, only Matthew is reckoned to have written in the Hebrew language; the others in Greek. And however they may appear to have kept each of them a certain order of narration proper to himself, this certainly is not to be taken as if each individual writer chose to write in ignorance of what his predecessor had done.
  • Saint Augustine, The Harmony of the Gospels, Book 1 chapter 2 paragraph 4. from

Modern Sources edit

Historians edit

  • He was still in a world of Greek gods and sacrifices, of Greek plays and Greek language, though the natives might speak Greek with a northern accent which hardened 'ch' into 'g','th' into 'd' and pronounced King Philip as Bilip.

  • All in all, the language of the Macedones was a distinct and particular form of Greek, resistant to outside influences and conservative in pronunciation. It remained so until the fourth century when it was almost totally submerged by the flood tide of standardized Greek.

Linguists edit

  • To speakers of modern Greek the Homeric poems of the 7th century BC are not written in a foreign language. The Greek language has enjoyed a continuous tradition from earliest times until now. [...]

    The only other language which enjoys comparable continuity of tradition is Chinese.

    • Robert Browning, from the book Medieval and Modern Greek. Cambridge University Press, 1983. ISBN 0-521-23488-3

  • [..] yet the historical evolution of the Greek language reveals a continuing identity which cannot be paralleled in any other Indo-European language. It is convenient and correct to separate ancient Greek civilization, but, in the words of Nicholas Bachtin, 'it is neither convenient nor accurate to speak of a modern Greek "language". There is no such thing. There is only the present state of Greek' (Bachtin 1935:11). From Homer to modern demotic, the Greek language has enjoyed a slow, organic and uninterrupted growth, and the major changes can be charted in an unbroken literary tradition. Nor has Greek split up into a group of languages, as Latin into the Romance languages. Finally, Homeric Greek is probably closer to demotic than twelfth-century Middle English is to modern spoken English.
    • Standard Languages: Spoken and Written. By William Haas. Published by Manchester University Press ND, 1982, ISBN 0389202916

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