Re: Ancient and Modern Greek

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Posted by Themistokles on April 13, 2002 at 23:55:34:

In Reply to: Ancient and Modern Greek posted by Joseph on April 11, 2002 at 16:11:56:

: Why is the Greek language split into Ancient and Modern Greek? I know they are similar, but why the distinction?


Simply put, the Greek language is the longest continuously documented (i.e. recorded) language in the world. It is at least 3,500 years old. Naturally, with the contact that Hellenes have had, with invaders knocking on our doors every so one (often knocking down our door and taking it to their own home----land) and with new technologies being discovered, the language has evolved. Ironically enough, however, many estimates from Byzantine authors (Souidas, for example) record the Hellenic language of classical times as having about 500,000 words. Remember that today's English probably contains about 750,000 or so words. Therefore, the classical (ancient Hellenic language) was a very rich language. Today's Hellenic retains a strong continuity with the ancient tongue (thanks to a large part, as well, to the Greek Orthodox church's use of classical Hellenic in its liturgical language).

Finally, I must add that even in ancient Greece there was a diverse range of dialects spoken throughout the widely dispersed Greek peoples; the Attic dialect (used by Athenians) was distinctly different from the Doric dialect used by Spartans. Thus, the Greek language today is still Greek, just evolved. May I also add that a modern Greek reading the New Testament will understand far more than an English citizen reading Chaucer (from only a few hundred years back in Merry Old England).

With respect,


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