|Spoken in|| Greece|
|Total speakers||c. 13 million|
|Writing system||Greek alphabet|
|Official language in|| Greece|
Recognised minority language in:
|Regulated by||No official regulation|
|ISO 639-2||gre (B)||ell (T)|
grc – Ancient Greek
ell – Modern Greek
pnt – Pontic Greek
gmy – Mycenaean Greek
gkm – Medieval Greek
cpg – Cappadocian Greek
tsd – Tsakonian Greek
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
Greek (ελληνικά, or ελληνική γλώσσα, ), an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, is the language of the Greeks. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were previously used. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script, and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Coptic, and many other writing systems.
The Greek language holds an important place in the histories of Europe, the more loosely defined "Western" world, and Christianity; the canon of ancient Greek literature includes works of monumental importance and influence for the future Western canon, such as the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey. Greek was also the language in which many of the foundational texts of Western philosophy, such as the Platonic dialogues and the works of Aristotle, were composed; The New Testament of the Christian Bible was written in Koiné Greek and the liturgy continues to be celebrated in the language in various Christian denominations (particularly the Eastern Orthodox and the Greek Rite of the Catholic Church). Together with the Latin texts and traditions of the Roman world (which was profoundly influenced by ancient Greek society), the study of the Greek texts and society of antiquity constitutes the discipline of Classics.
Greek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean world and beyond during Classical Antiquity, and would eventually become the official parlance of the Byzantine Empire. In its modern form, it is the official language of Greece and Cyprus and one of the 23 official languages of the European Union. The language is spoken by approximately 13 million people today in Greece, Cyprus, and diaspora communities in numerous parts of the world. Many modern languages, such as English, have adopted words from Greek. English has over 50,000 words in its lexicon which are derived from the Greek language, especially in the sciences and medicine. As with Latin, Greek is used in the process of new word production in modern languages.
Greek has been spoken in the Balkan Peninsula since around the late 3rd millennium BC. The earliest written evidence is found in the Linear B clay tablets in the "Room of the Chariot Tablets", an LMIII A-context (c. 1400 BC) region of Knossos, in Crete, making Greek one of the world's oldest recorded living languages. Among the Indo-European languages, its date of earliest written attestation is matched only by the now extinct Anatolian languages.
The Greek language is conventionally divided into the following periods:
|History of the|
(see also: Greek alphabet)
|Mycenaean (c. 1600–1100 BC) ----|
|Ancient Greek (c. 800–330 BC) |
Aeolic, Arcadocypriot, Attic-Ionic,
Doric, Locrian, Pamphylian;
Possibly Macedonian. ----
|Koine Greek (c. 330 BC–330)* ----|
|Medieval Greek (330–1453) ----|
|Modern Greek (from 1453) |
Cappadocian, Cheimarriotika, Cretan,
Cypriot, Demotic, Griko, Katharevousa,
Pontic, Tsakonian, Sarakatsanian, Maniot, Yevanic
*Dates (beginning with Ancient Greek) from Wallace, D. B. (1996). . Grand Rapids: Zondervan. p. 12. .
The tradition of diglossia, the simultaneous existence of vernacular and archaizing written forms of Greek, was renewed in the modern era in the form of a polarization between two competing varieties: Dimotiki, the vernacular form of Modern Greek proper, and Katharevousa, meaning 'purified', an imitation of classical Greek, which was developed in the early 19th century and used for literary, juridic, administrative and scientific purposes in the newly formed modern Greek state. The diglossia problem was brought to an end in 1976 (Law 306/1976), when Dimotikí was declared the official language of Greece and it is still in use for all official purposes and in education, having incorporated features of Katharevousa and giving birth to Standard Greek.