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Anna Morpurgo Davies

In the first half of the first millennium bce each Greek region and indeed each Greek city spoke and sometimes wrote its own dialect (see Greek language). The Greeks themselves mentioned four ethnic groups, Athenians, *Ionians, *Dorians, and Aeolians (see Aeolis), characterized by different dialects, though other classifications were also in use. On the basis of shared linguistic features modern scholars classify the dialects into five groups: Attic-Ionic (in Attica, the Ionic islands of the Aegean, and Asia Minor), Doric (in the Peloponnese, the Doric islands of the Aegean, and Asia Minor), North-West Greek (in the northern part of mainland Greece), Aeolic (in *Boeotia, *Thessaly, and part of Asia Minor including *Lesbos) and Arcado-Cypriot (in *Arcadia and *Cyprus, with possible links to *Pamphylia). It is disputed whether the *Mycenaean language, attested in the second millennium bce, belongs to any of these groups, though it has close links with Arcado-Cypriot.


R. H. Robins

1. Linguistics, as understood and practised today, arose in western antiquity from two rather different sources: philosophical debate on the origin and nature of language, and the practical requirements of textual criticism and the teaching of Greek. It generally went under the name of grammar (grammatikē), which had at first referred simply to the teaching of literacy, and came later to include what would now be called orthographical phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax, corresponding to the wider use of ‘grammar’ among some linguists today. Linguistics developed along with other disciplines concerned with language, in particular *rhetoric and *literary criticism. Several well-known ancient grammarians (see grammaticus) engaged in one or both of these other subjects as well.It is clear that, as with so much else in the western intellectual tradition, linguistics began in Greece and was then taken up in the Latin world after the Greek-speaking countries had been absorbed within Roman control. There was some independent thought on language in Roman work, particularly with *Varro (1st cent.


John Chadwick

Mycenaean is the name given to the form of the Greek language written in the Linear B syllabic script and found in the Mycenaean palaces (see pre-alphabetic scripts (Greece)). The nature of the script makes it impossible to give a full account of the dialect. In contrast to the Classical situation there appears to be considerable uniformity between all the sites so far known. It is clear that Mycenaean is a Greek dialect because of the presence of characteristic sound-changes, inflexions, and vocabulary. The genitive singular of o-stems in -οιο, of masculine a-stems in -ᾱο, the formation of substantives (including names) in -εύς, the feminine of the perfect participle of the verb in -υῖα, and the medio-passive participles in -μενος are all typically Greek features. The vocabulary contains specifically Greek words (both Indo-European and non-Indo-European), such as ϝάναξ (Homeric ἄναξ) ‘king’, ἔχει ‘he has’, ἀμφιφορῆϝες ‘amphoras’, ξένϝια ‘for guests’.


W. Sidney Allen and Jonathan G. F. Powell

Our knowledge of the pronunciation of classical Latin is derived from a variety of sources. Most direct are the specific statements of Latin grammarians and other authors (though allowance must be made for the fact that the former tend to be of later date). Other sources are: puns, word-play, contemporary etymologies, and onomatopoeia; the representation of Latin words in other ancient languages; later developments in the Romance languages; the spelling conventions of Latin, and especially any deviations from these; the internal structure of Latin itself and of its metrical patterns (see grammar, latin; etymology).

It is impossible to reconstruct the vocal totality of a language spoken before the invention of sound-recording; but we can make a reasonably good approximation to the sounds of standard urban Latin as spoken around the turn of the era. It should be remembered that the pronunciation of Latin must have varied chronologically, socially, and geographically. In particular, the relatively static nature of the written medium in later antiquity may well have concealed significant changes in pronunciation.