History

Language

The first use of Greek was in the late eighth century BCE when the ancient Phoenecian language had a small reform into what was called Linear B. At that time period, all writing was gone in Greece due to the collapse of the Mycenean civilization in 1200 BCE. Therefore, Greek is stemmed from an altered version of Phoenician text, which is some of the oldest writing ever found.

Early on, the language itself went through several different changes in order to arrive at the current Demotic Greek spoke in modern-day Greece (for more information on modern-day Demotic Greek, visit the Phonetics/Dialect page). This transition included the earliest Attic-Ionic dialect, as well as Hellenistic "Biblical" Greek (that of the New Testament), Atticism, and Byzantine Greek.

The Attic-Ionic version came from Attic (the language of Athens) and Ionic (the language of city-states bordering Athens). The combination of these two resulted in Attic-Ionic Greek, which continued until the Hellenistic Greek took over.

The Hellenistic dialect evolved from the conquests of Alexander the Great (336-323 BCE). He spoke Attic-Ionic, and brought it to the New East as he explored that region. The people of the New East took up Attic-Ionic Greek as their second language, and the blending of the two languages resulted in Hellenistic Koine (KIN-nee), or "common Greek". It is often referred to as "Biblical" Greek because it can be found in the writings of the New Testament.

Atticism took hold when puritists claimed that koine was wrong, and that Attic Greek should be resumed. Thus, most of the literature from this time period was written in Attic Greek, because it was seen as the only way to sound intelligent while writing.

Lastly, the type of Greek spoken during the Byzantine empire's reign in Greece (330-1453 CE) is unclear due to the invasion by the Turks. During this time, literature was rare, and was only written in Atticism. Because of this, not much is known about vernacular Greek during this time period.