Diachrony & Dialects

Wikipedia: History of (the) Greek (Language)

good chronological overview of the successive phases of the Greek language from its Indo-European origin to Modern Greek, stuffed with internal links to more detailed articles on separate topics, such as Proto-Greek, Mycenaean, Ancient Greek (with quite detailed pages on the individual dialects Aeolic, Arcadocypriot, Attic, Doric and Ionic), Koine Greek, Medieval or Byzantine Greek and Modern Greek. Whereas some of these articles are fully reliable, others are either one-sided (the article ’Attic Greek’ almost exclusively focuses on morphology) or remain largely to be written (the article ’Homeric Greek’ is only a stub now).

Ancient Greek

(by Brian D. Joseph): this Professor of Linguistics at the Ohio State University presents here online the text of a scholarly article he wrote for the Encyclopedia of the World’s Major Languages, ed. by J. Garry & A. Faber (H. W. Wilson Publishers, 1999). It contains a fairly detailed account of the history of the language, its dialects, the area where it was spoken, the estimated number of speakers, the contacts with other languages and the possible related languages. In addition, there are sections on basic phonology, morphology, syntax and orthography, all written from the viewpoint of historical linguistics.

Ecritures grecques et latines

part of the pedagogical pages of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, this excellent site gives a brief overview of the evolution of the Greek writing system with links to two more specific subpages: Les origines de l’écriture grecque and L’invention des voyelles: naissance et postérité de l’alphabet grec. Several technical terms can be clicked, thus enabling the reader to get access to fuller explanations.


"Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean: A critical guide to electronic resources."
This is a splendid up-to-date portal site in Italian, English and French offering information on the Greek alphabets and Linear B.

Portal for Ancient Writing Systems in the Mediterranean (from the origins to the 6th century A.D.). Mnamon provides information on the best and most useful material available on the web for the research and study of ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean: archives, research centers, bibliographies and teaching materials. All information is selected and critically reviewed by specialists. A brief presentation of the characteristics, the places and times when documented and the languages that used each writing system are included.

Linear B (Omniglot - a Guide to Writing Systems)

(by Simon Ager): description of the Linear B script (with a visual representation of all the symbols), the possible connection with Cretan hieroglyphics and with Linear A, and the decipherment by Ventris.

The Greek Language

(by Quentin & Niki Watts): on this website the authors present diverse materials, to use their own words "a brief historical background and a pot-pourri of aspects of the Greek language which we hope may be of interest to the non specialist". Most sections rather deal with aspects of Modern Greek, but there is an interesting history of Ancient Greek, with much attention to the cultural context, a brief outline of the evolution of the alphabet and of the accentuation system and finally an attempt to answer the question "How close is Modern Greek to Classical Greek?".

Le Grec, une langue Millénaire

This French website presents in a very detailed way the history of the Greek alphabet. This historical evolution is divided into seven distinct periods: from the archaic period (linear A and B) to the modern Greek alphabet. The historical survey is illustrated by a lot of well-chosen photos and comparative charts (e.g. the evolution from the Greek to the Byzantine alphabet). Secondly a part of this website is devoted to "alphabet, pronunciation and morphology", with special regard to the modern Greek pronunciation. Finally, the website provides with some useful information and links concerning the study of modern Greek.

Greek Language and the Alphabet

(by Katerina Sarri): this website gives a short general history of the Greek language and script, from ancient to modern times, and a survey of the various Greek alphabets. The point of view is a modern Greek one and the Greek script is monotonic.

Pre-Greek. A Language Reconstructed

by the Dutch linguist R.S.P. Beekes: scholarly paper (version from November 2003) downloadable in pdf-format. It provides a reconstruction of the phonology and morphology of a non-Indo-European language spoken in Greece before the arrival of the Greeks.

A compendium of Ancient Greek phonology

(by Carl Conrad): pdf-document with some 13 pages of historical phonology, containing a concise survey of the historical evolution of vowels, diphthongs and consonants from Indo-European to Ancient Greek. This document provides a key to discovering Greek cognates of words in other Indo-European languages and to understanding dialectal variations within the Greek language. Moreover, it reveals the underlying logic of conjugational and declensional paradigms of verbs and nouns, adjectives and pronouns, even where the forms observed in such paradigms seem superficially inconsistent, thus being of invaluable help for students trying to cope with the complexity of Greek morphology.

Differences Between Classical and Hellenistic Greek

(by Jay C. Treat): short introduction to this topic, mainly consisting of a summary of the most important differences between classical and Koinè Greek in the areas of orthography, vocabulary, morphology and syntax, together with some essential bibliographical references. To view the Greek on this page you must have installed the SPIonic font.

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