Greek Orthography
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Greek Orthography

The orthography of the Greek language ultimately has its roots in the adoption of the Greek alphabet in the 9th century BC. Some time prior to that, one early form of Greek, Mycenaean, was written in Linear B, although there was a lapse of several centuries (the Greek Dark Ages) between the time Mycenaean stopped being written and the time when the Greek alphabet came into use.

Early Greek writing in the Greek alphabet was phonemic, different in each dialect. Since the adoption of the Ionic variant for Attic in 403 BC, however, Greek orthography has been largely conservative and historical.

Given the phonetic development of Greek, especially in the Hellenistic period, certain modern vowel phonemes have multiple orthographic realizations:

  • /i/ can be spelled ?, ?, ?, , , or (see Iotacism);
  • /e/ can be spelled either ? or ;
  • /o/ can be spelled either ? or ?.

This affects not only lexical items but also inflectional affixes, so correct orthography requires mastery of formal grammar, e.g. ? ? /i ka'li/ 'the good one (fem. sing.)' vs. /i ka'li/ 'the good ones (masc. pl.)'; ? /ka'lo/ 'I call' vs. ? /ka'lo/ 'good (neut. sing.)'.

Similarly, the orthography preserves ancient doubled consonants, though these are now pronounced the same as single consonants, except in Cypriot Greek.

Digraphs and diphthongs

A digraph is a pair of letters used to write one sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters in sequence. The orthography of Greek includes several digraphs, including various pairs of vowel letters that used to be pronounced as diphthongs but have been shortened to monophthongs in pronunciation. Many of these are characteristic developments of modern Greek, but some were already present in Classical Greek. None of them is regarded as a letter of the alphabet.

During the Byzantine period, it became customary to write the silent iota in digraphs as an iota subscript.

Letters Transliteration Pronunciation
Ancient
Greek
Modern
Greek
Classical
Ancient
Greek
Modern
Greek
, ai e [ai?]
, ? ?i a [a:i?]
, ei i [e:]
, ? ?i [?:i?]
, oi [oi?]
, ui [y:][a]
, ? ?i o [?:i?]
, au av, af [au?] [av] before vowel or voiced consonant;
[af] otherwise
, ?u [a:u?]
, eu ev, ef [eu?] [ev] before vowel or voiced consonant;
[ef] otherwise
, ?u iv, if [?:u?] [iv] before vowel or voiced consonant;
[if] otherwise
, ou u [u:]
earlier [o:]
, oi [?:u?][b] [oi]
, ng ng, ny, g, y, ngh [] [] and [] in formal registers, but often reduced to and [?] in informal speech;
also pronounced [] and [] in some words (e.g. ?, ?, ?)[c]
, nk g, y, ng, ny [?k] [?] word-initially and in some loanwords; [] otherwise,
often reduced to [?] in informal speech[c]
, nx nx [?ks] [?ks]
, nch nch, nkh [?k?] [?x][c] and [?ç]
, mp b, mb, mp [mp] word-initially and in some loanwords; [mb] otherwise,
often reduced to [b] in informal speech
, nt d, nd [nt] word-initially and in some loanwords; [nd] otherwise,
often reduced to [d] in informal speech
in ancient Greek, ? now z tz [zd][d]
  1. ^ The diphthong [yi?] was monophthongized to [y:] in Classical Attic Greek, but survives in some other contemporary dialects and in early Koine.
  2. ^ The diphthong [?:u?] was found in Ionic and in certain Hebrew transcriptions in the Greek Bible, but it did not occur in Attic, and was gradually lost in Koine. Where was atticized, it was often split into two separate syllables [?:.y], hence the Latin transcription ?y. Perhaps the clearest example of this is the Biblical Greek name [m?:u?.s:s] (Moses), which was atticized as [m?:.y.s:s], then adapted to early Christian Latin as M?ys?s, from where it became Spanish Moisés, French Moïse, etc. The modern Greek form is [mo?i?'sis], whereas the modern Latin Vulgate form is M?s?s.
  3. ^ a b c The velars [?], [k], , and are palatalized to [?], [c], and respectively before the close and mid front vowels [i] and [e?]. It is discussed among scholars whether the velar nasal [?] (?, ágma) should be regarded as an allophone of /n/ or a phoneme in its own right in Greek.
  4. ^ Thus in Classical Attic (where ? was realized in general as [zd]); in later Koine Attic (and probably also in earlier Archaic Greek) [d?z].

Hyphenation rules of Standard Modern Greek

Consonant splitting

According to KEME (1983)[1], the splitting of a Modern Greek word into syllables is governed by the following rules:

  • C1: A single consonant between two vowels is hyphenated with the succeeding vowel.
  • C2: A sequence of two consonants between two vowels is hyphenated with the succeeding vowel, if a Greek word exists that begins with such a consonant sequence. Otherwise the sequence is split into two syllables.
  • C3: A sequence of three or more consonants between two vowels is hyphenated with the succeeding vowel, if a Greek word exists that begins with the sequence of the first two consonants. Otherwise it splits; the first consonant being hyphenated with the preceding vowel.[2]

Loanword hyphenation is governed by the same grammar rules as the rest of the Standard Modern Greek language.[3]

Vowel splitting

The prohibitive hyphenation rules regarding vowel splitting are as follows:

  • V1. Double-vowel blends do not split.
  • V2. The combinations , , , , and [4] do not split.
  • V3. Diphthongs do not split.
  • V4. Excessive diphthongs do not split.

All of the above rules are negative in that they indicate impermissible hyphen points within particular substrings of consecutive vowels.[5]

Diacritics

Polytonic spelling uses a variety of diacritics to represent aspects of the pronunciation of ancient Greek. Polytonic, along with lowercase letters, became standard in Byzantine Greek, although the ancient distinctions had disappeared, replaced by a simple stress accent. The orthographies of modern Greek, both katharevousa and dhimotiki, used the polytonic system until 1982, when monotonic spelling was introduced. In some conservative contexts, such as the Church, polytonic spellings are still used.

Monotonic orthography, adopted in 1982, replaces the ancient diacritics with just two: the acute accent (tónos, e.g. ?), used to mark the stressed syllable in polysyllabic words, and the diaeresis (dialytiká, e.g. ?), which indicates that the vowel is not part of a digraph.

Punctuation

Ancient Greek was written as scripta continua without spacing or interpuncts. Over time, a variety of symbols appeared. A system of dots credited to Aristophanes of Byzantium was developed in the 3rd century BC: a low dot ⟨.⟩ marked an occasion for a short breath after a short phrase, a middot ⟨·⟩ marked an occasion for a longer breath after a longer passage, and a high dot ⟨?⟩ marked a full stop at the end of a completed thought. Other writers employed two dot punctuation ⟨?⟩ to mark the ends of sentences or changing speakers. Less often, arrangements of three ⟨?⟩, four ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩, and five dots ⟨?⟩ appeared. Such interline punctuation could be noted or replaced by a variety of paragraphoi, long marks which trailed between lines of text; these might also mark changes of speakers. Blank lines or various coronides marked the ends of sections. (A separate coronis was used to mark contractions; its early forms looked like an apostrophe between the two elided words.) Over time, the main punctuation came to be a full stop marked by a single dot at varying heights, a partial stop marked by various forms of commas, and the hypodiastole ⟨?⟩ and papyrological hyphen ⟨?⟩ or ⟨ ? ⟩. These served to show whether an ambiguous series of letters should be read as (respectively) a single word or as a pair of words.[6] Later Aristarchus of Samothrace modified this system (see: Aristarchian symbols).

Following the advent of printing, most Greek punctuation was gradually standardized with French: the hypodiastole was fully unified with the comma, the comma serves as the decimal point (and in this use is called the hypodiastole) and it also functions as a silent letter in a handful of Greek words, principally distinguishing ?, (ó,ti, "whatever") from (óti, "that").[6] The full stop serves as the thousands separator, and guillemets (? isagoyika) and em-length quotation dashes ( pavla) typically serve to indicate direct speech.[8] The principal difference is the Greek question mark ⟨;⟩, which developed a shape so similar to the Latinate semicolon ⟨;⟩ that Unicode decomposes its separate code point identically.[6] The ano teleia middot serves as the Greek semicolon but is so uncommon that it has often been left off of Greek keyboards.[7] The exclamation mark (? Thavmastiko) is mostly used as in English. The hyphen, the brackets, the colon, the ellipsis and the slash are also in use. The slash has the additional function of forming common abbreviations like ?/ for ? 'brothers'. The ligature kai (?) is sometimes used for the same function as the English ampersand.

There are special rules for how to write Greek numerals. In modern Greek, a number of changes have been made. Instead of extending an overline over an entire number (like ), a keraia (, lit. "hornlike projection") is placed to its upper right, a development of the short marks formerly used for single numbers and fractions. The modern keraia is a symbol (?) similar to the acute accent (´), but has its own Unicode character, encoded as U+0374. Alexander the Great's father Philip II of Macedon is thus known as in modern Greek. A lower left keraia (Unicode: U+0375, "Greek Lower Numeral Sign") is now standard for distinguishing thousands: 2015 is represented as (2000 + 10 + 5).

See also

References

  1. ^ This book is the official grammar book of Modern Greek edited by a group of experts and it is a revised edition of Triantafillidis (1941, reprint with corrections 1978).
  2. ^ A Rule-based Hyphenator for Modern Greek, Theodora I. Noussia, Computer Technology Institute, Patras, Greece. Association for Computational Linguistics, Computational Linguistics, Volume 23, Number 3, p. 362, 1997.
  3. ^ A Rule-based Hyphenator for Modern Greek, Theodora I. Noussia, Computer Technology Institute, Patras, Greece. Association for Computational Linguistics, Computational Linguistics, Volume 23, Number 3, p. 366, 1997.
  4. ^ The combination is infrequently referred to in grammar books (KEME 1983), possibly because it appears in only a small number of words. However, this combination is also considered, because such words are regularly used e.g., [efívra] 'I invented'.
  5. ^ A Rule-based Hyphenator for Modern Greek, Theodora I. Noussia, Computer Technology Institute, Patras, Greece. Association for Computational Linguistics, Computational Linguistics, Volume 23, Number 3, p. 367, 1997.
  6. ^ a b c Nicolas, Nick (2005). "Greek Unicode Issues: Punctuation". Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. University of California, Irvine. Archived from the original on 2014-10-10. Retrieved .
  7. ^ a b "The Look of Greek". Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ In informal writing, English-style quotation marks have also become quite common.[7]

External links


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