Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics

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Subject: Language and Linguistics

General Editor: Georgios K. Giannakis
Associate Editors: Vit Bubenik, Emilio Crespo, Chris Golston, Alexandra Lianeri, Silvia Luraghi, Stephanos Matthaios

The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (EAGLL) is a unique work that brings together the latest research from across a range of disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of Ancient Greek. It is an indispensable research tool for scholars and students of Greek, of linguistics, and of other Indo-European languages, as well as of Biblical literature.

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(1,238 words)

Author(s): Nina Topintzi
Abstract Sandhi phenomena refer to phonological changes occurring at word or morpheme boundaries. In Greek, many of them rectify hiatus (contraction, crasis, aphaeresis, elision, movable consonants), while others affect consonants. The term ‘Sandhi’, coined by ancient Indic grammarians, literally means ‘joining’. While extremely widespread in Sanskrit itself – hence the term – sandhi also appear in many other languages, including Ancient Greek. The term refers to the phonological changes that occur across morphemes or words. When these affect wor…
Date: 2013-11-01


(806 words)

Author(s): Araceli Striano
Abstract In Greek dialectology, the term Saronic is used to refer to the common variety of West Greek dialect spoken in the regions around the Saronic Gulf, Corinth, Megara and East Argolis, at the middle of the 4th c. BCE. In Greek dialectology, the term Saronic is used to refer to the common variety of West Greek dialect spoken in the regions around the Saronic Gulf, Corinth, Megara and East Argolis, at the middle of the 4th c. BCE (Doric). At that time, West Argolic had a long vowel system that was closely related to that of the other dialects spoken around…
Date: 2014-01-22

Saussure’s Law

(9 words)

Abstract   See Vowel Changes Bibliography  
Date: 2014-01-27

Schist Fragments from the Academy

(665 words)

Author(s): Leslie Threatte
Abstract Numerous, mostly very small, schist fragments were found in the late 1950s by Phivos Stavropoullos in the general area of the Platonic Academy in Athens. Only eighteen, also mostly small, contain inscriptions. Their interpretation and dating are controversial. Eighteen, mostly very small, inscribed schist fragments were discovered during the period Jul. 4-Oct. 2, 1958 in excavations by Phivos Stavropoullos near Plato’s Academy (ca. 500 m. from the late 6th-c. BCE Academy horos, IG I³ 1051, found in situ); these were found with numerous (Stavropoullos: “hundreds”)…
Date: 2013-11-01

Schwa Secundum

(671 words)

Author(s): Brent Vine
Abstract ‘Schwa secundum’ refers to an epenthetic vowel inserted to break up word-initial consonant clusters in PIE zero grade sequences #(s)TTRV- (T = obstruent, R = sonorant, V = vowel), and perhaps in some similar contexts. The epenthetic vowel in Greek words is /i/, inserted between the two obstruents. ‘Schwa secundum’ refers to an epenthetic vowel inserted to break up certain word-initial consonant clusters in Proto-Indo-European ( Fortson 2010:68). In the standard version of this theory ( Schindler 1977:31, Mayrhofer 1986:175-177), the word-initial sequence #(s)TTRV…
Date: 2013-11-01


(876 words)

Author(s): Raimo Anttila
Abstract In addition to the normal Indo-European ablaut alternation *e ~ o ~ Ø in the roots of the shape CEC where the position of the ablauting vowel does not change, there is a regular alternation in the position of the vowel called ‘Schwebeablaut’ or ablaut of disyllabic roots (of the type CERH) where the vowel “hovers” (Germ. schweben) around a medial resonant (R). In addition to the normal Indo-European (= IE) ablaut alternation *e ~ o ~ Ø in the roots of the shapes CeC (including CeR[C], ReC, and ReR) where the position of the ablauting vowel does not change (…
Date: 2013-11-01

Scientific Vocabulary

(2,540 words)

Author(s): Francesca Schironi
Abstract Greek scientific language is characterized by specific strategies both in terminology and in syntax. In particular, descriptive sciences like medicine focus on terminology (through resemanticization, coinage of new terms and metaphorical use of existing terms) and normally use a rather standard syntax except for rhetorical or didactic purposes. Deductive sciences like mathematics instead privilege syntax over terminology; while technical terms are few, the focus is on syntax in order to …
Date: 2013-11-01

Scribes, Mycenaean

(3,065 words)

Author(s): Thomas Palaima | William Bibee
Abstract Mycenaean scribes (or better ‘tablet-writers’, cf. Sumerian and Akkadian DUB.SAR and ṭupšarru respectively) are the anonymous individuals who wrote, in the Linear B script, texts on the clay administrative documents discovered in excavations of important sites (most often palatial centers) throughout clearly defined territories of the central and southern Greek mainland and the island of Crete during the period roughly 1450-1200 BCE. It is debated what slight traces of dialect variation mean within the corpus of texts, how …
Date: 2014-01-27

Secondary Articulation

(8 words)

Abstract   See Palatalizations Bibliography  
Date: 2014-01-27

Secret Language/Codes/Magical Language

(2,168 words)

Author(s): Lucio Melazzo
Abstract The ancient Greeks developed steganography and cryptography to keep written words safe from prying eyes. The former relied on the advantage of obscurity, the latter employed linguistic and mathematical means to protect information. Albeit from a slightly different point of view, covert messages were also delivered by oracles, of which the most famous was at Delphi. The responses of oracles were believed to be directly transmitted from the gods. Gifted men were well known for their abilit…
Date: 2013-11-01

Semantic Change

(2,765 words)

Author(s): Elena Redondo Moyano
Abstract Semantic change refers to the alteration of the relationship between a given word and the set of referents such a word may denote. Changes in the meaning conveyed by words can affect their lexemes and their morphemes, and thus we find semantic shifts in both lexical and grammatical notions. Conventionally, the term ‘semantic change’ refers to developments in the meaning conveyed by lexemes, while changes in the meaning of morphemes are the concern of historical morphology and morphosynta…
Date: 2013-11-01

Semiotics in Antiquity

(12 words)

Abstract   See Ancient Philosophers on Language Bibliography  
Date: 2014-01-27

Semitic Loanwords in Greek

(1,657 words)

Author(s): Andrzej Zaborski
Abstract Commercial contacts between the Semitic Phoenicians and the Indo-European Greeks, starting already in the Mycenaean period, resulted in a number of Semitic loan-words connected mainly with trade in the Greek language. The borrowing of the Phoenician alphabet left its trace not only in the shapes of the letters but also in the Semitic names of 15 Greek letters. It seems that other ancient Semitic languages spoken on the south-western coast of the Mediterranean, e.g. Ugaritic, provided very few loans. The number of Semitic loan-words in Ancient Greek has always b…
Date: 2014-01-22


(606 words)

Author(s): Alcorac Alonso Déniz
Abstract Semivowels are vowel-like sounds that behave as consonants. Semivowels /j/ and /w/ are the non-syllabic counterparts of /i/ and /u/. Semivowels are vowel-like sounds that behave as consonants. Crosslinguistically, the palatal /j/ and labio-velar /w/ are the most common semivowels. Phonologically, these sounds are the non-syllabic counterparts of the high vowels /i/ and /u/: cf. ímen ‘we go’ vs. eîmi ‘I go’ and zugón ‘yoke’ vs. zeûgos ‘yoke of beasts’. /w/, inherited from PIE, survived in Mycenaean and many first-millennium Greek dialects. The early Greek local alphabets …
Date: 2013-11-01


(2,209 words)

Author(s): Eugenio R. Luján
Abstract A sentence is usually defined as a sequence of connected words in speech or writing that constitute the complete grammatical expression of a thought. For modern linguistic theory, however, the definition of sentence is rather controversial and in recent years certain linguists have even abandoned it as a unit of linguistic analysis. Sentences must be distinguished from other units of syntactic analysis, like clauses and utterances. In recent studies it has been argued that the sentence i…
Date: 2013-11-01

Sentence/Utterance (lógos), Ancient Theories of

(2,459 words)

Author(s): Frédéric Lambert
Abstract The word lógos is difficult to translate. Not only does its polysemy force us to choose between many different terms to translate it into a language other than Ancient Greek, but its importance in Greek thought and the complexity of the concept to which it refers require us to specify the different facets of its meaning. In spite of the differences in their respective points of view, the history of the usage of the term in Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics among the philosophers, in Aristotl…
Date: 2014-01-22


(2,425 words)

Author(s): Stanley E. Porter
Abstract The Septuagint is an unstructured corpus of sacred writings for Jews and early Christians dating from the 3rd c. BCE to the turn of the millennia, comprising both ancient Hebrew works translated into Koine Greek and works originally written in Greek. The resulting corpus of original and translated Koine Greek encompasses a complex variety of interlingual translational techniques, as well as varying genres or text-types and registers. The Septuagint is an unstructured corpus of sacred writings for Jews and early Christians, comprising both ancient Hebrew works translated…
Date: 2013-11-01