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Greek language

Greek
Ελληνικά
Pronunciation [eliniˈka]
Region Greece, eastern Mediterranean
Native speakers
13 million (2012)
Dialects
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1 el
ISO 639-3 Variously:
grc – Ancient Greek
cpg – Cappadocian Greek
ell – Modern Greek
gmy – Mycenaean Greek
pnt – Pontic
tsd – Tsakonian
yej – Yevanic
Glottolog gree1276
Linguasphere
  • 56-AAA-a
  • 56-AAA-aa to -am (varieties)
Idioma Griego.PNG
The Greek-speaking world:
  regions where Greek is the official language
  regions where Greek is the language of a significant minority
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Greek (Modern Greek: ελληνικά [eliniˈka], elliniká, "Greek", ελληνική γλώσσα [eliniˈci ˈɣlosa], ellinikí glóssa, "Greek language") is the only surviving member of the Hellenic languages branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, western and northeastern Asia Minor, southern Italy, Albania and Cyprus. It has the longest documented history of any living language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic and many other writing systems.

The Greek language holds an important place in the history of the Western world and Christianity; the canon of ancient Greek literature includes works of monumental importance and influence for the Western canon such as the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey. Greek is also the language in which many of the foundational texts in science, especially astronomy, mathematics and logic, and Western philosophy, such as the Platonic dialogues and the works of Aristotle, are composed; the New Testament of the Holy Bible was written in Koiné Greek. Together with the Latin texts and traditions of the Roman world, the study of the Greek texts and society of antiquity constitutes the discipline of Classics.


Ancient Greek Modern Greek
Person first, second and third also second person formal
Number singular, dual and plural singular and plural
tense present, past and future past and non-past (future is expressed by a periphrastic construction)
aspect imperfective, perfective (traditionally called aorist) and perfect (sometimes also called perfective; see note about terminology) imperfective and perfective/aorist (perfect is expressed by a periphrastic construction)
mood indicative, subjunctive, imperative and optative indicative, subjunctive, and imperative (other modal functions are expressed by periphrastic constructions)
Voice active, middle, and passive active and medio-passive
upper case
Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω
lower case
α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ
ς
τ υ φ χ ψ ω

  • Greek
  • 56-AAA-a
  • 56-AAA-aa to -am (varieties)
  • Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek: the continuation of Koine Greek in Byzantine Greece, up to the demise of the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century. Medieval Greek is a cover phrase for a whole continuum of different speech and writing styles, ranging from vernacular continuations of spoken Koine that were already approaching Modern Greek 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 (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 of it.
  • replacement of the pitch accent with a stress accent.
  • simplification of the system of vowels and diphthongs: loss of vowel length distinction, monophthongisation of most diphthongs and several steps in a chain shift of vowels towards /i/ (iotacism).
  • development of the voiceless aspirated plosives /pʰ/ and /tʰ/ to the voiceless fricatives /f/ and /θ/, respectively; the similar development of /kʰ/ to /x/ 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 plosives /b/, /d/, and /ɡ/ to their voiced fricative counterparts /β/ (later /v/), /ð/, and /ɣ/.
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