Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics

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Subject: Language and Linguistics

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

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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Poetic Language

(7,553 words)

Author(s): Georgios K. Giannakis
Abstract Poets, bards, seers, and other craftsmen of the word have traditionally been one distinct class of people endowed with special skills and enjoying a high social esteem and recognition. This position is even more conspicuous in preliterate societies in which the poets functioned, so to say, as the archivists of the past and as the custodians of tradition. In Indo-European societies, poetic craft was considered a special art and was highly valued. Studying the language and culture of the a…
Date: 2014-01-22

Politeness/Courtesy Expressions

(1,239 words)

Author(s): Paolo Poccetti
Abstract Politeness forms consist of linguistic strategies by means of which a speaker avoids potentially aggressive or directive requests in order to save his ‘face’ or his social reputation. As a part of pragmatics, these strategies concern the appropriateness of language use and imply colloquial interaction as well as sociolinguistic variants depending on both registers and the social and/or cultural background of the interlocutors.  This entry explores such strategies of politeness used in Ancient Greek. Politeness forms consist of linguistic strategies, universall…
Date: 2014-01-22


(891 words)

Author(s): Eugenio R. Luján
Abstract Polysemy is the property of any element of language of having different meanings. Usually it is dealt with in the study of lexical semantics, but it is also found in grammatical morphemes and word formation patterns. The limits of polysemy and homonymy are not straightforward and what originally were two meanings of a polysemous word can be perceived by the speakers as two different words. Due to the cognitive organization of the human mind, polysemy is inherent to language at various le…
Date: 2013-11-01


(5,158 words)

Author(s): Maria Carmela Benvenuto
Abstract The linguistic encoding of possession in Ancient Greek can be regarded as a constellation of structures. Possession and a range of related meanings could be expressed in Ancient Greek not only by attributive constructions characterized by an inflectional marker on the Possessor item, but also by predicative constructions involving a verb of highly specialized possessive meaning, such as ékhō, and by constructions with copular/existential verbs accompanied by morphosyntactic encoding (genitive and dative) on the Possessor. The predicative constr…
Date: 2014-01-22

Postcolonial Translation: Theory and Practice

(2,278 words)

Author(s): Barbara Goff
Abstract Postcolonial translation, or adaptation, refers to the rewriting of classical works within or for modern postcolonial societies.  By ‘postcolonial’ we usually understand the period after former colonies achieve independence, often at the midpoint of the 20th c., but it may also refer to works of opposition or resistance produced under colonialism. Given that post-independence periods in some countries have been marked by continuing forms of oppression not directly tied to European imperialism, ‘postcolonial’ can also include resistance to neo-colonialism. Althoug…
Date: 2013-11-01

Post-Homeric Epic Poetry, Translation

(2,314 words)

Author(s): Richard Martin
Abstract Heroic hexameter poetry after the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer (8th-6th c. BCE) has a long history of translation into major European languages, starting with Latin in the 1st c. BCE, and increasing after the introduction of printed books in the 15th c. CE. Works by Apollonius of Rhodes, Quintus of Smyrna, Nonnus, Musaeus, and (pseudo) Homer are traced through their transformations over the centuries. Turning the massive and influential Iliad and Odyssey into comprehensible, effective verse is a perennial task. More thorny is recasting Greek epics written after Homer. Whereas …
Date: 2014-01-22


(1,080 words)

Author(s): Antonio Revuelta
Abstract The term ‘postpositive’ is used to refer to words that occupy the second position of their linguistic unit. In this sense they differ both from prepositives (another class of fixed-order words) and mobile words (free-order words). Postpositives partially overlap with enclitics, but the latter are normally understood as unstressed postpositives (see Clitics), although this distinction is sometimes ignored. Unlike mobile words, postpositives exhibit some word order restrictions ( Wackernagel’s Law): (i) they occur in the second or (ii) peninitial p…
Date: 2013-11-01

Predicative Constituents

(2,013 words)

Author(s): Camille Denizot
Abstract Predicative constituents are linguistic units which either form part of the predicate or constitute the whole predicate. Roughly speaking, a predicate is the constituent performing the function which is generally fulfilled by a verb in Indo-European languages; nevertheless the predicate is not necessarily a verb. In Ancient Greek, the predicate of a main clause can be a finite verb form, but also a noun phrase with or without a copula. Every part of speech can be used as a predicate, including, in the case of double predications, several clauses.   Predicative constituents a…
Date: 2013-11-01


(5 words)

See Derivational Morphology
Date: 2014-01-27

Pre-Greek Languages

(2,722 words)

Author(s): Margalit Finkelberg
Abstract Pre-Greek refers to the language or languages spoken in Greece before the arrival of the tribes that brought to the Balkan Peninsula the Indo-European language that would become Ancient Greek. 1. Ancient Traditions and Theories The Greeks never claimed that their language was indigenous to the land. They identified the populations that preceded them in mainland Greece and the Aegean as ‘ Leleges’ ( Léleges) and, especially, ‘ Pelasgians’ ( Pelasgoí), two elusive tribes speaking languages other than Greek (Hdt. 1.57, Thuc. 4.109) and emerging  in different …
Date: 2013-11-01

Pre-Greek Substrate

(5,064 words)

Author(s): Domenico Silvestri
Abstract Research concerning a pre-Greek substrate originally focused on the existence of a pre-Indo-European language or a language that represented an older phase of the reconstructed IE (Kretschmer, Fick), and on evidence for the existence of an IE substrate – for the most part named ‘Pelasgian’– in phonetically aberrant Greek forms (Georgiev, van Windekens, Merlingen, Carnoy, Haas, Heubeck); yet some linguists were not convinced (Hester). The most recent attempt (Furnée) to trace a pre-IE sub…
Date: 2014-01-27


(8 words)

Abstract   See Adpositions (Prepositions) Bibliography  
Date: 2014-01-27

Prepositions in Homer

(902 words)

Author(s): Luz Conti
Abstract This article describes the characteristics of what we understand as prepositions in Homeric poetry. These prepositions do not completely coincide with the more widespread concept of prepositions in ancient Greek. In Indo-European languages, prepositions have their origins in adverbs, some of which in turn have their origins in certain fossilized case forms. Apart from a few specific exceptions, their meaning is local. Among other functions, these adverbs are used as predicate complements and in apposition to any predicate complement.   Grammatical studies of Greek …
Date: 2013-11-01


(859 words)

Author(s): Antonio Revuelta
Abstract The term ‘prepositive’ is used to refer to words that are placed in the first position of the linguistic unit they operate upon. In this sense they differ both from postpositives (another class of fixed-order words, placed at second position) and mobile words (free-order words). Prepositives partially overlap with proclitics, but the latter are normally understood as unstressed prepositives, although this distinction is sometimes ignored. Like postpositives, prepositives include all those words that (a) are not mobile (Word Order), (b) never stand alone, and (c)…
Date: 2013-11-01

Present Tense

(2,286 words)

Author(s): Georgios K. Giannakis
Abstract The formation of the present stem in Ancient Greek follows to a large extent the formative patterns of the parent language of Indo-European, i.e.,  ablaut of radical vowel, affixation (suffixation or infixation), reduplication, and suppletion. These different processes may not be historically contemporaneous with one another in all languages, but they are all well documented and, to varied degrees, used in all or most languages. Greek enriches this inheritance by creating a large number …
Date: 2014-01-22


(624 words)

Author(s): Dag Haug
Abstract Preverbs are originally independent words of adpositional/adverbial origin that in the course of the history of Greek coalesced with verbs to form compound verbs. Preverbs are originally independent words of adpositional/adverbial origin (Adposition and Adpositional Phrase) that in the course of the history of Greek coalesced with verbs to form compound verbs, such as eis-érkhomai ‘go in, enter’ from eis ‘in’ and érkhomai ‘go’. The ability to function as a preverb is often taken as an indication of primary prepositionhood, as opposed to such secondary prepositions like khá…
Date: 2013-11-01

Pronominal System

(4,648 words)

Author(s): Wolfgang Dressler | Georgia Katsouda
Abstract As in other archaic Indo-European languages, Ancient Greek personal pronouns are very suppletive and with idiosyncratic declension in the first and second person and the reflexive third person, whereas the non-reflexive third person is inflected like the definite article. Greek specialties are an additional set of reflexive pronouns for all persons which typologically resemble the English reflexives, a differentiation of three distances in the demonstrative pronouns, and an extensive system of correlative pronouns based on word-initial submorphemes. 1. Introduct…
Date: 2013-11-01

Pronouns (Demonstrative, Interrogative, Indefinite, Relative)

(2,130 words)

Author(s): Klaas Bentein
Abstract This entry discusses the use of pronouns in Ancient (especially Archaic and Classical) Greek, with a focus on demonstrative, interrogative, indefinite and relative pronouns. For each of these types, a definition is provided, together with an overview of the most frequently used forms. Furthermore, the syntax and semantics of the relevant forms are discussed, as well as the (diachronic) relation­ship between different types of pronouns. 1. Introduction As noted by Crespo et al. (2003:39), ‘pronouns’ do not form a homogeneous class. In cross-linguistic works…
Date: 2013-11-01

Prosodic Minimality

(8 words)

Abstract   See Minima Bibliography  
Date: 2014-01-27

Prosodic Word

(2,433 words)

Author(s): Jeroen Vis
Abstract A prosodic word is a domain in which phonological processes apply, roughly corresponding in Greek to a lexical word with any preceding function words. 1. Introduction A prosodic word is a domain in which phonological processes apply ( Hall 1999). The size of the prosodic word does not correspond in a one-to-one fashion with the morphological word. In some cases, the morphological word consists of more than one prosodic words, in other cases, several morphological words form a single prosodic word. The following examples illustrate these claims. In Italian, s-voicing applies …
Date: 2013-11-01
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