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The Greek Language

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15:14   |   Mar 26, 2017

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The Greek Language
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  • A lot of people have been waiting for this video for a long time so let's get right into it.
  • Let's talk about geeks.
  • I am a geek.
  • I'm a language geek but these days I'm also a video making geek.
  • Perhaps the most famous geeks in the world are otaku.
  • People who are obsessed with Japanese animation and comic book culture.
  • *bark* Oww Mickey.
  • What do you want?
  • *bark* Sorry Mickey, I don't understand what you're saying, so hold on a second.
  • (Dog translation) It's not geek. it's Greek.
  • Ohhhh, right.
  • (Dog translation) dumbass
  • Hello everyone, welcome to the Langfocus channel and my name is Paul.
  • Today's topic is the Greek language.
  • Or 'Elliniká' as it's called in Greek.
  • The word 'Greek' is a word that instantly brings to mind images of ancient civilisations and culture
  • It may not be the most widely spoken language in the world today,
  • but it did play an extremely influential role in the development of other European languages and in European culture in general.
  • Today it's spoken by more than 13 million native speakers
  • mainly in Greece, where it's the only official language and it's spoken by 11 million people,
  • the republic of Cyprus, where it's spoken by around 975,000 people
  • and by minorities in parts of Albania, Italy and Turkey, as well as by Greek immigrants living all around the world.
  • Whether you realise it or not, if you know English, you know some Greek.
  • Around 6% of the vocabulary of English is of Greek origin, and some estimates reach as high as 12-15%.
  • And if we look specifically at the sciences and technology, the proportion of Greek words and roots skyrockets dramatically.
  • When you mention the encyclopedia, or when you talk about physics class, or when you ask for the butter,
  • you're using words that developed from Greek.
  • History
  • Greek is a member of the Hellenic branch of the Indo-European language family.
  • Some consider Hellenic to be a single language branch, consisting of only Greek,
  • while others consider some varieties of Modern Greek to be closely related, but separate languages.
  • Mycenaean Greek is the form of Greek that developed in Mycenaean Greece in the 2nd millenium BCE, when the Greek mainlands first advanced civilisation arose.
  • The development of Greek can be broken down into a number of stages.
  • Proto Greek
  • Proto Greek (or Proto Hellenic) developed from Proto Indo-European and was probably spoken in the 3rd millenium BCE.
  • over 4,000 years ago.
  • as Hellenic people migrated into the Balkan peninsula
  • Or maybe even earlier, depending on where and when Proto Indo-European originated.
  • Mycenaean Greek
  • Mycenaean Greek is the form of Greek that developed in Mycenaean Greece in the 2nd millenium BCE, when the Greek mainlands first advanced civilisation arose
  • The earliest known Greek text comes from this period, dating back to around 1400 BCE.
  • It's a clay tablet, written in a writing system called Linear B,
  • not the system that we know today as the Greek alphabet.
  • The existence of such tablets makes Greek the oldest recorded living language.
  • To be clear, there are older texts written in other languages like Sumerian,
  • Egyptian hieroglyphics and Akkadian
  • But those are all dead languages, while Greek has lived on until today.
  • Some time toward the end of the Mycenaean Greek stage, or in the early part of the Ancient Greek stage,
  • the Greek alphabet was adopted.
  • The date of adoption is around 1100 BCE, plus or minus a couple 100 years, we're not quite sure.
  • The Greek alphabet was derived from the Phoenician alphabet.
  • With Greek adopting and modifying the Phoenician letters, and generally keeping similar sounds for each one.
  • There are also several unique Greek letters that did not derive from Phoenician.
  • You may notice that some of the symbols are reversed.
  • That might be explained by the fact that Phoenician was written from right to left, while Greek is written from left to right.
  • At first, there were numerous local varieties of the Greek alphabet,
  • but the standard 24-letter Greek alphabet became widespread throughout the Greek speaking world during the 4th century BCE.
  • In Cyprus, a different script, called the Cypriotic Syllabary, was used between the 11th and the 4th centuries BCE,
  • when the Greek alphabet was finally adopted.
  • The Greek alphabet would eventually give rise to numerous other alphabets
  • including the Latin alphabet, the Coptic alphabet, the Cyrillic alphabet, and the Gothic alphabet.
  • Ancient Greek
  • The adoption of the Greek alphabet took place around the beginning of the Ancient Greek stage of the language.
  • which lasted from about the 9th century BCE until the 4th century BCE.
  • This stage of the language corresponds to the Archaic and Classical periods of Greek history.
  • The oldest existing Greek literature - and indeed some of the oldest Western litterature - dates from this period.
  • Including the 2 epic poems "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey", which are attributed to Homer.
  • There were various dialects of Ancient Greek at the time, including Attic, the dialect of Athens, as well as Ionic.
  • These epic poems were written in Homeric Greek,
  • a literary form of the language based on the Ionic dialect of Greek with elements of some other dialects.
  • During the Classical period of Greek history,
  • More texts of tremendous importance to Western civilisation were written in Ancient Greek.
  • including the works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and many texts of foundational importance in logic, math and science.
  • Koine Greek
  • With the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE,
  • the Greek language became widespread in a form known as Koine Greek.
  • "Koine" meaning "common".
  • It was based mainly on the Attic and Ionic dialects
  • with some elements of others as well, and it served as a lingua franca throughout the conquered regions.
  • It was spoken most widely in the eastern Mediterranean region.
  • A large amount of important literature was written in Koine Greek.
  • including the New Testament and the Septuagint,
  • a Greek translation of the Old Testament.
  • Koine Greek remained the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean region during the Roman Empire
  • and became the official language of the Byzantine Empire until the 15th century CE.
  • Medieval Greek
  • Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek,
  • developed from Koine Greek during the Byzantine Empire.
  • During this period, the spoken language based on Koine Greek began to develop towards Modern Greek.
  • While written Greek tended to be more conservative and similar to Ancient Greek.
  • Modern Greek
  • The end of the Byzantine Empire marks the beginning of the Modern Greek period,
  • During the Modern Greek period, 2 forms of Greek arose:
  • The first was Demotic or (Greek speaking)
  • which means "by the people".
  • This is the modern spoken form of the Greek language.
  • The second was Katharevousa,
  • a literary form of Greek with features of both Demotic Greek and Ancient Greek.
  • This resulted in a state of diglossia, with the spoken language and formal written language being significantly different.
  • until the adoption of Demotic as the official language of Greece in 1976.
  • That form of Demotic is referred to as Standard Modern Greek.
  • There are several dialects of Modern Greek as well:
  • Northern dialects, Ionian-Peloponnesian dialects, Southern dialects, Tsakonian,
  • Old Athenian and there's also the Cypriot dialect, spoken on the island of Cyprus.
  • With one exception, the endangered Tsakonian dialect, all forms of Modern Greek developed from Koine Greek.
  • Despite its long history and its different stages of development,
  • the Greek language has changed relatively little, compared to other languages during the same time frame.
  • My understanding is that speakers of Modern Greek can look at an Ancient Greek text
  • and recognise a lot of familiar vocabulary, a lot of familiar words,
  • even if they can't make sense of the sentence itself.
  • This relative lack of change in the language is probably the result of Ancient Greek's continued influence on Modern written Greek throughout the centuries.
  • So, what is Greek like?
  • Let's examine some of the features of Greek
  • specifically Modern Greek
  • Syntaxe
  • There's disagreement over whether Greek's default word order is SVO or VSO,
  • but the most common word order is SVO.
  • Look at this sentence here.
  • (Greek speaking)
  • This sentence means: "We speak Greek."
  • Here's the subject, the verb and the object.
  • But in Greek, the subject pronoun is not always necessary.
  • (Greek speaking)
  • The subject pronoun isn't necessary here, because we know from the verb conjugation that this is the 1st person plural.
  • So the subject pronoun is typically used when you want to draw attention to it, or make it the topic of the sentence.
  • Despite SVO being the most common word order in Greek,
  • words can actually be arranged in different ways.
  • Usually to put focus on one element of the sentence.
  • Here's a sentence that means "Yannis loves Maria."
  • (Greek speaking)
  • This sentence here is SVO.
  • And notice that the definite article comes before proper names.
  • (Greek speaking)
  • This time it's OVS.
  • (Greek speaking)
  • This time it's SOV.
  • (Greek speaking)
  • This time it's OSV.
  • These 3 word orders here are all ways of drawing focus to the object of the sentence.
  • It's possible to change the order of the words like this
  • because the grammatical case inflections tell us the noun's function
  • even if it's in a different location.
  • There are 4 grammatical cases in Greek:
  • nominative, genitive, accusative and vocative.
  • In sentences like these with proper names, the names themselves don't have case inflections, but the definite articles do.
  • Notice that the 2 definite articles are different.
  • We'll come back to that in a minute.
  • Let's look at another sentence and look at the noun's case inflections.
  • (Greek speaking)
  • This sentence means: 'I lost my new glasses.'
  • Word for word it's: lost - I (which we know from the inflection) - the - new - glasses - my.
  • This word (Greek speaking), which means 'glasses,' is an inflected form of the neuter noun (Greek speaking)
  • which means 'glass.'
  • It's the nominative, accusative and vocative plural form.
  • Yes, it can be all three of those.
  • Also, the definite article is inflected to agree with the noun.
  • This is the neuter nominative/accusative plural form of the article.
  • As you can see, there are several other forms of the definite article, too.
  • Let's go back to an earlier sentence for a second.
  • This definite article here, before Γιάννις, is in the masculine singular nominative form,
  • and this definite article here, before Μαρία, is in the feminine singular accusative form.
  • Even when the word order changed, the definite article stayed the same,
  • allowing us to know which person was the subject—the nominative case— and which one was the object
  • —the accusative case.
  • Also, the adjective is inflected to agree with the noun.
  • This the neuter nominative accusative plural form.
  • Now let's change the noun in the sentence and see what happens.
  • (Greek speaking)
  • This time the noun is inflected to show the masculine singular accusative form.
  • The definite article is also in the masculine singular accusative form.
  • And so is the adjective.
  • The main thing I want you to notice here is that the noun, but also the words that come together with the noun,
  • like the definite article and the adjective, change form to show case but also gender and number.
  • Verbs
  • Greek verbs have two different stems, two different forms.
  • One to show perfect mood, which means an action is complete,
  • and one to show imperfect mood, which means an action is incomplete.
  • Theen various affixes, particles and auxiliary verbs are added to these two stems
  • to show past tense and non-past tense.
  • Let's examine the verb meaning 'to help.'
  • This is the perfect stem, showing completed action,
  • (Greek speaking) and this is the imperfect stem.
  • Now let's look how to create verb tenses based on these stems.
  • Here's the present tense. (Greek speaking)
  • This means, 'I am helping my friend.'
  • And this could also mean, 'I help my friend,' in a general sense.
  • The present tense form is based on the imperfect stem because the action is not complete yet.
  • It's happening now.
  • Here's the imperfect tense. (Greek speaking)
  • This means, 'I was helping my friend' or 'I used to help my friend.'
  • Again, this form is based on the imperfect stem because the action was continuing at a certain point in the past.
  • Now here's the simple past. (Greek speaking)
  • This means, 'I helped my friend.'
  • The simple past is based on the perfect verb stem because the action is complete.
  • Future. (Greek speaking)
  • This means, 'I will help my friend.'
  • The simple future tense is also based on the perfect stem
  • because it's an action with a start and a finish, it's not a continuing action.
  • And the present perfect. (Greek speaking)
  • This means, 'I have helped my friend many times.'
  • The present perfect is also based on the perfect stem, as you might have guessed from its name.
  • Because the action has been done at some point in the past.
  • Also notice the auxiliary verb, which is the 1st person singular form of the verb meaning 'to have.'
  • Let's look at one final Greek sentence and see what we discovered.
  • (Greek speaking)
  • This sentence means, 'We fell in love and got married immediately.'
  • Word for word it's, we - fall in love (past tense, 1st person plural inflection) - and - get married (past tense, 1st person plural) - immediately.
  • This verb (Greek speaking) means 'to fall in love.'
  • This verb (Greek speaking) means 'to get married.'
  • (Greek speaking) This ending is the 1st plural past tense conjugation.
  • This piece here shows past tense and this piece shows number and person.
  • These two verbs are not active verbs but rather medio-passive verbs.
  • You might see the word passive and think these are passive verbs,
  • but medio-passive verbs are not always passive, they might also be intransitive or reflexive or reciprocal.
  • In this case they seem to be reciprocal, meaning that both people are doing the action to each other or with each other.
  • This ending here on the dictionary form of the verb is a hint that it's a medio-passive verb.
  • One of the main thing you may have noticed about Greek is it's a highly inflected language
  • with lots of different word forms and lots of different endings that can attach to nouns and to verb stems
  • and that might seem kind of intimidating, but there are a lot of languages out there that are much more inflected than Greek
  • so please don't be scared of that.
  • The story of the Greek language is a long and very spectacular one.
  • And there's so much to say about Greek that we can't fit into this video.
  • But hopefully you were a little bit inspired to learn more about Greek,
  • one of the oldest languages in the world, and a language that has influenced many other languages
  • and the very foundation of Western civilisation and thought.
  • Okay, the question of the day.
  • To native speakers of Greek: How well can you understand written Greek from the past
  • like Koine Greek and Ancient Greek?
  • And to people who have studied Greek:
  • What did you find challenging and not so challenging about Greek?
  • Be sure to follow Langfocus and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • And as always I would like to say thank you to all of my wonderful Patreon supporters, especially these people right here on the screen for their monthly pledges.
  • Thank you for watching and have a nice day!

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Description

This video is all about the Greek language, its history and development, and some important features of the language.

Special thanks to Seyhan Sakallı for her Greek voice recordings!

My current Patrons include these fantastic people: Brandon Gonzalez, Виктор Павлов, Mark Thesing, Jiajun "Jeremy" Liu, иктор Павлов, Guillermo Jimenez, Sidney Frattini Junior, Bennett Seacrist, Ruben Sanchez, Michael Cuomo, Eric Garland, Brian Michalowski, Sebastian Langshaw, Vadim Sobolev, FRANCISCO, Mohammed A. Abahussain, Fred, UlasYesil, JL Bumgarner, Rob Hoskins, Thomas A. McCloud, Ian Smith, Maurice Chow, Matthew Cockburn, Raymond Thomas, Simon Blanchet, Ryan Marquardt, Sky Vied, Romain Paulus, Panot, Erik Edelmann, Bennet, James Zavaleta, Ulrike Baumann, Ian Martyn, Justin Faist, Jeff Miller, Stephen Lawson, Howard Stratton, George Greene, Panthea Madjidi, Nicholas Gentry, Sergios Tsakatikas, Bruno Filippi, Sergio Tsakatikas, Qarion, Pedro Flores, Raymond Thomas, Marco Antonio Barcellos Junior, David Beitler, Rick Gerritzen, Sailcat, Mark Kemp, Éric Martin, Leo Barudi, Piotr Chmielowski, Suzanne Jacobs, Johann Goergen, Darren Rennels, Caio Fernandes, Iddo Berger, Peter Nikitin, Brent Werner, Fiona de Visser, Carl Saloga, and Edward Wilson for their generous Patreon support.

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Music

Intro: “Early Riser” by Kevin Mcleod. Incompetech.com
“Sax Attack” by Dougie Wood

Main: “Erykah” by Otis McDonald.

Outro: “Funky Suspense” courtesy of Bensound.com

I used many many sources in researching and creating this video, but these ones were especially helpful in creating the latter half of the video:

“Learn Greek Without a Teacher” by Graciela Feller.

http://www.academia.edu/884777/Focus_in_modern_Greek

http://www.foundalis.com/lan/grkgram.htm