Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics

Get access Subject: Language And Linguistics

General Editor: Georgios K. Giannakis
Associate Editors: Vit Bubenik, Emilio Crespo, Chris Golston, Alexandra Lianeri, Silvia Luraghi, Stephanos Matthaios

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The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (EAGLL) is a unique work that brings together the latest research from across a range of disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of Ancient Greek. It is an indispensable research tool for scholars and students of Greek, of linguistics, and of other Indo-European languages, as well as of Biblical literature.

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(401 words)

Author(s): Bridget Samuels
Abstract Stops made with velar articulation and lip rounding. Mycenaean inscriptions show that the three labiovelars kʷ, gʷ, and gʷʰ inherited from Proto-Indo-European were still distinct from other velars and from labials in most environments during the second millennium BCE. They were represented with the letter qoppa, written Ϙ. A notable exception was when adjacent to [u]; in such instances, the labiovelar unrounded, as it also did before [j]. Both of these developments took place in Proto-Greek (Proto-Greek and Common Greek) (Stephens & Woodard 1986, Woodard 1997).   Myc. Later…
Date: 2013-11-01

Laconian, Messenian

(987 words)

Author(s): Araceli Striano
Abstract Laconian and Messenian designate the local dialects spoken in the Greek regions of Laconia and Messenia, both of which share linguistic affinities. The terms Laconian and Messenian designate the local dialects spoken in the Greek regions of Laconia and Messenia, respectively. Both dialects share a number of features and linguistic affinities. Laconian is a good example of “Doris Severior” or “Strict Doric” (Doric), which has a long-vowel system comprised of only five vowels. This is illustrated by the fact that the same spelling is used in e…
Date: 2013-11-01

Language and Variation in Greece

(2,296 words)

Author(s): Carlo Consani
Abstract When a language, connected to a given speech community, is considered as a historical object, its use, as E. Coseriu claims, varies in relation to a set of dimensions. Such variation occurs in time, space, in communicative settings and according to the speaker’s social status. In this article, instances of these phenomena are analyzed in Ancient Greek from the Mycenaean age to the Roman period. Structuralist emphasis on the constant and unchanging aspects of language systems was overcome by Eugenio Coseriu’s theory that language is a complex of variables (Coseriu 1981,1983; …
Date: 2013-11-01

Language Change

(5,671 words)

Author(s): Anna Pompei
Abstract Language change occurs along at least four dimensions of variation: diachronic, diatopic, diastratic and diaphasic. Language change over time is studied by historical linguistics, aiming at the reconstruction of the ancestral proto-language. In the case of the Indo-European language family,Greek has an important place primarily due to the old character of its earliest documentation. Greek is attested from the 2nd millennium BCE to the present. Language changes throughout this long evolut…
Date: 2014-01-27

Language Contact

(5,136 words)

Author(s): Vit Bubenik
Abstract Greek (Mycenaean, Classical, Hellenistic, Byzantine) was in manifold contacts with a number of languages ‒ Ancient Semitic, Thracian, Illyrian, Lycian, Lydian, Iranian, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Egyptian, Coptic, Celtic, Indic and Arabic. Previous research has concentrated above all on the lexicon; more recently there has been renewed interest in the matters of structural (morpho-syntactic) borrowing which of course is feasible only in cases of larger inscriptional and literary corpora (Latin, Coptic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac).   1. Introductory Remarks Th…
Date: 2013-11-01

Language of Gods vs. Language of Men

(14 words)

Abstract   See Poetic Language Bibliography  
Date: 2014-01-27

Language Play and Translation

(3,062 words)

Author(s): Vassilis Argyris
Abstract Language play, an essential component in human linguistic behavior, while typically associated with verbal humor, poses a constant challenge to translators of ancient Greek texts, both in and beyond humorous literature. This article follows at first Crystal’s (1998) focus on language play as ‘manipulation of language’ to review in brief its various forms and its pervasive nature. It then turns to Cook’s (2000) tripartite approach to play at the formal, semantic and pragmatic levels, aimi…
Date: 2013-11-01

Language Policies

(1,469 words)

Author(s): Emilio Crespo
Abstract Language policy refers to the tacit habits and to the set of explicit rules and laws which, whether established by a government or by any other institution or human group, are concerned with the use of languages, dialects and registers in a community. This topic has been brought to light by modern sociolinguistics, a branch of linguistics that views language as an expression of individual identity and social ethnicity and deals with language variation and status as well as the communicative functions of languages. Language policy refers to the tacit habits and to the …
Date: 2014-01-22

Laryngeal Changes

(2,207 words)

Author(s): Miles Beckwith
Abstract The so-called laryngeals were consonants in Proto-Indo-European which are partly preserved in the Anatolian languages. They are lost everywhere in Greek, but they caused extensive changes to the Greek vowel system, and many seeming irregularities such as atypical ablaut patterns, the peculiar Attic reduplication, and prothetic vowels (e.g. astḗr ~ English star < * h₂stēr-, cf. Hittite ḫasterza) can be traced to the presence of laryngeals in the proto-language.  The laryngeals were Proto-Indo-Europeanconsonants, now denoted in academic writing by the letter h with…
Date: 2013-11-01

Late Antiquity Poetry

(1,867 words)

Author(s): Robert Shorrock
Abstract This entry explores the revival of poetry as a medium of literary communication in the period of Late Antiquity (third-sixth centuries CE). It suggests that the emerging force of Christianity had a profound effect on poetic discourse and that, as a result, poetry once again became an important platform for debate about key societal concerns: the relationship between Classical culture and Christianity, and the meaning of Late Antiquity itself. It has recently been observed that a defining characteristic of the first to third centuries CE (the ‘Second Sophi…
Date: 2013-11-01

Late Antiquity Prose

(2,432 words)

Author(s): Sara Kaczko
Abstract Late Antiquity prose comprises a variety of private texts, bureaucratic official documents, and literary prose (historiography, rhetoric, philosophy, novels, technical writings, Christian writings). The language of Late Antiquity prose, which exhibits both non-classical traits and the conservation or restoration of Classical features, reflects the modifications of Greek during the Roman times, along two opposite trends, diachronic development and conservatism. The main diastratic levels …
Date: 2013-11-01

Latin Loanwords in Greek

(2,485 words)

Author(s): Panagiotis Filos
Abstract Latin borrowing into Greek during the Late Hellenistic and Roman periods was a remarkable phenomenon that led to the significant enrichment of the post-classical Greek lexicon with numerous Latin forms. The impact of the borrowing went beyond the mere incorporation of Latin loanwords and included the coinage of several Graeco-Latin hybrid forms as well as the importation of Latin derivational suffixes, which became well integrated into the structures of Greek. 1. Introduction Latin loanwords in Greek are, broadly speaking, forms which were borrowed from (cla…
Date: 2013-11-01

Law of Limitation

(1,100 words)

Author(s): Dieter Gunkel
Abstract The ‘Law of Limitation’ refers to a phonological process that is sensitive to the weight of the word-final syllable and limits how far from the end of a word an accent may be located. In doing so, it determines the phonologically accentable domain of the word. The Law of Limitation arose via a Proto-Greek or Common Greek change and is a distinctive feature of the language. The ‘Law of Limitation’ refers to a phonological process that limits how far from the end of a word an accent may be located: if the word-final syllable is light (Syllable Weight), t…
Date: 2013-11-01

Legal Terminology

(1,938 words)

Author(s): Thomas Smitherman
Abstract Our understanding of specific Greek legal terminology is largely restricted to that of Classical Athens and this article defines and describes the most common Athenian legal terms.  These terms mainly consist of official designations of persons and documents relating to court processes.  This article considers both the attested use of these terms, especially by the ‘Canon of the Ten’, as well as their apparent etymological and semantic origins.  With this understanding, one can piece together the procedure and philosophy of at least some Athenian legal cases. Unlike Rome,…
Date: 2014-01-27


(695 words)

Author(s): Yves Duhoux
Abstract A few inscriptions dated to the 6th c. BCE show that non-Hellenic people lived on the island of Lemnos, in the northern Aegean Sea. These texts exhibit a distinct Etruscan flavor (phonological system, vocabulary, morphology), but Lemnian differs in several ways from the Etruscan written in Italy. The spelling rules and the archaeological data suggest that the Etruscans of Tuscany and those of Lemnos could have been separated quite early. Ancient authors inform us that before the Athenian conquest about 510 BCE, non-Hellenic people dwelled in Lemnos, an island in the northern Ae…
Date: 2013-11-01


(431 words)

Author(s): David Goldstein
Abstract Vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound (for consonant length, see Geminates). Vowel length is phonemic in Ancient Greek, as minimal pairs like the following show: - tṓ ‘the two’ (nom.-acc. dual) :  ‘the’ (nom.-acc. sing.) - hós ‘who’ (masc. sg.) : hṓs ‘like, as’ Since at least Hermann (1816) vowel length has been measured in Greek in terms of moras: a short vowel has a single mora, while a long vowel or diphthong has two (Allen 1987:100; 1973:161-63). Accentuation is conditioned by the moraic structure of a word and thus by length.   The actual duration of Greek v…
Date: 2013-11-01

Lesbian Accentuation

(413 words)

Author(s): Chris Golston
Abstract Lesbian accentuation refers to the distribution of tones (the pitch-accent) in the large dialect centered around the island of Lesbos. Nouns, verbs and adjectives in Lesbian Greek had recessive accent, so that Attic Pierídes ‘Pierian muses’ shows up in Sappho as Piérides with a high tone as far back as it can go. The Lesbian (and Aeolic Asian) dialect is best known from the lyric poets Sappho and Alcaeus, whose speech was accented in a manner different from those of other dialects. In most Greek dialects we find a mix of accentuation: some words are rece…
Date: 2014-01-22

Lesbian (and Asian Aeolic)

(2,328 words)

Author(s): René Hodot
Abstract The Lesbian dialect is known through fragments of the lyrical poets Alcaeus and Sappho, ca 600 BCE, and through inscriptions extending from the 7th c. BCE to the 3rd c. CE. The description that follows selects, mainly from the verbal system, such morphological characteristics which appear to be linked with phonetic specificities of the dialect and with its ‘recessive accentuation’ (according to ancient grammarians).   1. Introductory Remarks Lesbian, or ‘Asiatic Aeolian’, is a dialect attested in the NW part of Asia Minor by texts extending from the 7th c. BCE to t…
Date: 2013-11-01


(7 words)

Abstract   See Analogy Bibliography  
Date: 2014-01-27

Lexical Aspect (Aktionsart)

(5,093 words)

Author(s): Coulter George
Abstract Lexical aspect, or Aktionsart, is a linguistic category that refers to certain verbal properties, such as durativity and telicity, that resemble those expressed by grammatical aspect, but which, rather than being chosen by the speaker to express a particular viewpoint on the action in a given utterance, are instead associated consistently with individual verbal lexemes and the situations to which they refer. Aktionsarten interact with grammatical aspect both morphologically and syntactic…
Date: 2013-11-01
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