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Common Greek West Greek East Greek - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Historical and cultural accounts prove the existence of various ancient languages. Historical linguistics, anthropology and other research studies led to several discoveries about these languages and their use in ancient cultures. While every language, ancient or modern, evolves with time, some of the world's ancient languages are still being used in the modern world. Although many of them became extinct or obsolete, they contributed to the development of the languages being used today.

The Greek language which is spoken to Cyprus to this day and constitutes a local dialect, contains a multitude of words and phrases which belong, without any changes, to the ancient Greek language of Homer.

The Alphabet: The Greeks were the first civilization to use an alphabet. The Greek alphabet had 27 letters and the word "alphabet" originates from the first 2 letters of the Greek alphabet; alpha, and beta. Today many letters especially vowels or combinations of phonetics of modern alphabets originate from the Greek alphabet such as the letters A, B, E,I, U and O etc.

Common Greek

West Greek East Greek

Doric AeolicArcado-Cypriot Attic-Ionic


· Ionic = main ingredient in the Homeric language

· Ionic an East Greek dialect

· Differences between West Greek and East Greek

West Greek East Greek

3rd person singular keeps τιτι > σι

plural article τοι οἱ

1st person plural μες μεν

athematic infinitive μεν ναι, εναι

Attic-Ionic features:

1. H Eta for original long alpha

2. ν-mobile (ἔλυσεν)

3. Quantitative metathesis e.g. gen. sg. of a-stems: Epic Μενέλαος, Attic Μενέλεως

4. ἄν for κε

5. ἡμεις

6. Imperfect of verb to be: ἤνhe was ἤσαν they were

Ionic features

1. Absence of Attic contraction

2. Compensatory lengthening (e.g. ξεῖνος, κούρη)

3. Psilotic e psilon y psilon

4. σσ for ττ

5. Diectasis Contract verbs show many peculiarities ἡγᾱασθε for ἡγᾱεσθε; μνᾱᾳ for μνᾱῃ

ὁροω for ὁραω; μνωοντο for μνᾱοντο; ἡβωωσα for ἡβᾱουσα

Variations not unusalegὁρεω

Vowel assimilation – cfἑτερος for ἁτερος?

Original form αἰταεσθαι develops to αἰτιᾱσθαι

ᾱ covers 3 morae – needs to be stretched = Ionic: ἀστυβωτην > ἀστυβοωτην Attic = ἀστυβοητην

  • Today’s Phonology

  • Α. Double consonants preserved the stressed pronunciation of Ancient Greek.

    • Double unvoiced plosives (⟨ττ⟩, ⟨ππ⟩, ⟨κκ⟩) are pronounced aspirated ([tʰ], [pʰ], [kʰ] or [cʰ] depending on the succeeding vowel).

    • The rest of the double consonants are pronounced as geminates. (e.g. ⟨λλ⟩ as [l], ⟨μμ⟩ as [m], etc.)

  • Β.Extreme “ palatalization " of Greek velars to palato-alveolars when followed by the front vowels[e] and [i] and the semivowel [j], It should be noted that Standard Greek pronunciation exhibits true palatalizationof velars to palatals 

  • ([k] > [c] and [x] > [ç]). The palato-alveolarsin Cypriot Greek can be found both as affricates ([tʃ]) and fricatives([ʃ]):

  • Today’s Phonology

    • The "palatalization" of kappa, i.e. κ > κ

    • Standard Greek [c] becomes a soft affricate [tʃ]. This sound is usually represented with ⟨τζι⟩ or ⟨κ⟩. For example, Standard Greek "καί" [ce] meaning 'and' becomes Cypriot Greek "τζιαί" or "καί" [tʃe]. Also Standard Greek "εκείνος" [ekinos]becomes "κείνος" [tʃinos]. Note, however, that this is not a hard and fast rule (counter-examples include loans from Standard Greek: κηδεία, κέρδος, άκυρο, ρακέττα).

    • The "palatalization" of kappa after a sigma, ⟨σκ⟩. Standard Greek [sc] becomes the double fricative [ʃI.

    • The "palatalization" of double kappa, ⟨κκ⟩. Pronounced in standard Greek as single [k], in Cypriot it becomes an aspirated affricate [tʃʰ].

    • The "palatalization" of chi, ⟨χ⟩. Standard Greek [ç] becomes [ʃ] in Cypriot, and it can be written as ⟨σι⟩ or ⟨χ⟩. For example, Standard Greek "χέρι" [çeri] ('hand') becomes "σιέρι" or "χέρι" sheri].

  • Today’s Voicing

  • of ⟨φ⟩, ⟨θ⟩ and ⟨χ⟩ (aspirated consonants in Ancient Greek) before liquids and nasals, to ⟨β⟩, ⟨δ⟩ and ⟨γ⟩ respectively. (e.g. Cypriot "γρόνος" instead of "χρόνος" ('year'), "άδρωπος" (man) instead of "άνθρωπος" ('human'). In Cypriot dialect, άδρωπος means man and not human, while human is called πλάσμα. (homeric influence)

  • Deletion of ⟨β⟩, ⟨δ⟩, ⟨γ⟩, voiced intervocalic fricatives; e.g. κοπελλούδιν > κοππελούιν "little child". In linguistic texts, the deleted fricative is sometimes put in brackets for clarity: κοππελού(δ)ιν.

  • /x/ > /θ/: e.g. άνθρωπος > άχρωπος "human"

  • Defrication of [ʝ]/[ç] that function as semi-vowels in Modern Greek to [c] with most of the time modification of the preceding consonant. (e.g. "ποιός" [pios] in Cypriot Greek would be pronounced as "πκοιός" [pkios], and "σπίτια" [spitia] as "σπίθκια" [spithkia]

  • External  sandhi rules for word-final nasal consonants:

    • /n/ before bilabials becomes [m]: e.g. "τομωρόν" [to moron] the baby (acc.).

    • /n/ before velars becomes [ŋ]: e.g. "τηνκρατικήν" [tiŋɡratikin] ('governmental', acc.).

    • Standard Greek sandhi rules for word-final [n] do not apply to Cypriot Greek; the /n/ is used much more frequently in Cypriot Greek.

  • The vowel eta ⟨η⟩ is in some words pronounced which according to the "Erasmian" understanding is ancient Greek. A basic common example would be "μην", in Cypriot "μεν".

Consonants Voicing

The Greek Cypriot dialect is rich in consonants; it includes post alveolar consonants, which are lacking from Standard Greek, as well as palatal

consonants and a trill, which are present but non-contrastive in Standard Greek.