Monday, November 18, 2013

Language Profile: Greek

After over a year's worth of language profiles, we've finally reached the world's oldest recorded living language, Greek. It is the official language of Greece, as well as an official language of Cyprus alongside Turkish. It is also comprises its own independent branch of the Indo-European language family. 

Records of the Greek language stretch back for centuries, with the earliest found written record of the language being a clay tablet that dates back to between 1450 and 1350 BC. It has been an essential part of the development of European as well as Western history with its use in everything from the philosophical texts of Plato and Aristotle to epic poems such as the Odyssey. Greek was also a lingua franca of the Mediterranean for a time, as well as the official language of the Byzantine Empire. 

The Parthenon in Athens, Greece
The Greek language is an important part of the study of Classics, a branch of humanities that focuses on the civilizations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Its roots are often used as a starting point for the creation of new words in other languages such as English, especially for terminology related to the sciences, philosophy, athletics, theatre, and religion. Greek is also one of the main sources of international scientific vocabulary.

Greek also has a large lexicon, primarily derived from Ancient Greek, but with some loanwords from Latin, Venetian, and Turkish. Modern loanwords, however, are more likely to have come from French or English. 

Unsurprisingly, Greek is written using the Greek alphabet, a modified version of the Phoenician alphabet. A few diacritics used to be included in the past, but for the most part have been removed from the language since Greek writing reform in 1982.