Ancient Macedonians - Language

Language

For administrative and political purposes, Attic Greek seems to have operated as a lingua franca amongst the ethno-linguistically diverse communities of Macedonia and the north Aegean region, creating a diglossic linguistic area. Attic Greek was standardized as the language of the court, formal discourse and diplomacy from at least the time of Archelaus at the end of the 5th century BC. Attic was further spread by Macedonia's conquests. Although Macedonian continued to be spoken well into Antigonid times, Attic became the prevalent oral dialect not only in Macedonia, but throughout the Macedonian-ruled Hellenistic world.

Attempts to classify Ancient Macedonian are made difficult by the paucity of surviving Ancient Macedonian texts, as it was a primarily oral language and most archeological inscriptions indicate that there was no dominant written language in Macedonia other than Attic, and later Koine Greek. All surviving epigraphical evidence from grave markers to public inscriptions is in Greek. Classification attempts are based on a vocabulary of 150-200 words and 200 personal names assembled mainly from the 5th century lexicon of Hesychius of Alexandria, as well as a few fragmentary surviving inscriptions, coins, and the occasional passage in ancient sources. Most of the vocabulary is regular Greek, with tendencies toward Doric Greek and Aeolic Greek; on the other hand, there can be found some Illyrian and Thracian elements. The Pella curse tablet, which was found in 1986 at Pella and dates to the mid-4th century BC or slightly earlier, is believed to be the only substantial attested text in Macedonian. The language of the tablet is a harsh but a distinctly recognizable form of Northwest Greek: the tablet, therefore, has been used to support the argument that ancient Macedonian was a Northwest Greek dialect and mainly a Doric dialect, whilst Hatzopoulos's analysis revealed some tendencies toward the Aeolic Greek dialect. Macedonian onomastics paint a similar picture, most personal names being recognizably Greek (e.g. Alexandros, Philippos, Dionysios, Apollonios, Demetrios), with some dating back to Homeric (e.g. Ptolemaeos) or even Mycenean times, though here too there can be found the occasional non-Greek name (e.g. "Bithys"). Nevertheless, a definitive conclusion eludes the linguistic community. On the one hand, Macedonian shares close structural and lexical affinity with the "proper" Greek dialects (especially Northwest Greek and Thessalian). The majority of the words are Greek, although some of these could represent loans or cognate forms. On the other hand, a number of phonological, lexical and onomastic features also set Macedonian apart. These latter features, possibly representing traces of a substratal language, occur in what are considered to be particularly conservative systems of the language.

Several hypotheses have consequently been proposed as to the overall "position" of Macedonian, but all broadly see it either as a peripheral Greek dialect, a separate yet related language (see Hellenic languages), or even a hybridized idiom. Drawing on the similarities between Macedonian, Greek and Brygian, several scholars suggest that they formed an Indo-European macro-dialectical group which split before circa 14th-13th century BCE (i.e. prior to the appearance of the main Greek dialects). The same data has been analyzed in alternative manner, which sees the formation of the main Greek dialects as a later convergence of related but distinct groups. Macedonian did not fully participate in this process, making its ultimate position difficult to define other than being a contiguous, related 'minor' language.

Another stream of evidence is metalinguistics and the question of mutual intelligibility. The available literary evidence cannot provide detail as to the exact nature of Macedonian, however, it does suggest that Macedonian and Greek were sufficiently different to pose communication difficulties between Greek and Macedonian contingents, even necessitating the use of interpreters as late as the time of Alexander the Great. Based on this evidence, Papazoglou has argued that, by definition, Macedonian could not have been a Greek dialect.

Read more about this topic:  Ancient Macedonians

Other articles related to "language, languages":

Macedonian Language
... makedonski jazik, ) is a South Slavic language, spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia and the ... It is the official language of the Republic of Macedonia and an official minority language in parts of Albania, Romania and Serbia ... Standard Macedonian was implemented as the official language of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in 1945 and has since developed a thriving literary tradition ...
Film - Theory - Language
... Film is considered to have its own language ... for me is the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream." Examples of the language are a sequence of back and forth images of ...
Semitic Languages - Present Situation
... Arabic is the native language of majorities from Mauritania to Oman, and from Iraq to the Sudan ... As the language of the Qur'an and as a lingua franca, it is studied widely in the non-Arabic-speaking Muslim world as well ... Maltese is the only Semitic official language within the European Union ...
Macedonian Language - Vocabulary
... Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian shares a considerable amount of its lexicon with these languages ... Other languages which have been in positions of power, such as Ottoman Turkish and increasingly English also provide a significant proportion of the loan words ... Prestige languages, such as Old Church Slavonic, which occupies a relationship to modern Macedonian comparable to the relationship of medieval Latin to modern Romance languages, and Russian also provided a source ...
Linguistic Diversity - Language Endangerment
... Language endangerment occurs when a language is at risk of falling out of use as its speakers die out or shift to speaking another language ... Language loss occurs when the language has no more native speakers, and becomes a dead language ... If eventually no one speaks the language at all, it becomes an extinct language ...

Famous quotes containing the word language:

    But as some silly young men returning from France affect a broken English, to be thought perfect in the French language; so his Lordship, I think, to seem a perfect understander of the unintelligible language of the Schoolmen, pretends an ignorance of his mother-tongue. He talks here of command and counsel as if he were no Englishman, nor knew any difference between their significations.
    Thomas Hobbes (1579–1688)

    ... language is meaningful because it is the expression of thoughts—of thoughts which are about something.
    Roderick M. Chisholm (b. 1916)

    When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is
    taboo’d by anxiety,
    I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in without impropriety;
    Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (1836–1911)