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History of Greek
Quick Reference
  ·  Official Language
Greece
  ·  Common 2nd language of
Cyprus and Turkey
  ·  Number of Speakers
10 - 10.5 million
  ·  Origin
First great language of western civilisation so Classical Greek is very ancient. Modern Greek began to take shape in the 9th Century and became the official language of the Kingdom of Greece in the 19th Century.
  ·  Alphabet & Scripts
Greek was the first alphabet in which letters stood for vowels as well as consonants - this contrasts with all the Semitic languages. Like Semitic languages though, it was originally written from right to left but then shifted to a style whereby it alternated from right to left then left to right. It then shifted to simply left to right.
Imagine learning the first great language of the western civilization. Imagine a language with a vast vocabulary, an infinite variety of modes of expression. Imagine a language which allows you to describe the very latest technical advances whilst at the same time providing you with the vocabulary to enter the mysterious world of mythology, of Minotaurs and Medusa.


Development of the Greek Language
Modern Greek is the sole descendent of Ancient Greek and as such is a member of the Indo-European group of languages. The language itself has gone through various important stages of development although it is worth noting that a literate modern Greek can read and understand inscriptions cut in stone by his ancestors more than 2,000 years ago!

Traces of the Greek language date from around 1400 BC. Stone tablets were found at Knossos inscribed with what has become known as the Linear B script. The Mycenaeans, who were the originators of the language, moved into the Balkan Peninsula in approximately 1580 BC and established a rich and powerful civilisation.

After its collapse in the 12th Century BC there followed a so-called 'Dark Age' and the language did not emerge victorious until the 8th Century BC with the birth of Classical Greek. This was the era of Greece's great classical literature with Homer's Iliad being written in approximately 700 BC.

After the end of this Golden Age, the Greek language underwent some radical changes in a relatively short period of time. The ancient dialects were, for the most part, superseded by Koine (the common language) which was largely based on the Attic dialect of Athens. Greek was to enter one more stage of development in the Byzantine era before the modern period of Greek language began in the 16th Century AD.

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Did you know?
There are no "primitive" languages. All languages have a system of sounds, words and sentences that can adequately communicate the content of culture.
Greek History
Greek Speaking
Country
» Greece
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