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By Egbert J. Bakker

A finished account of the language of historical Greek civilization in one quantity, with contributions from top foreign students protecting the old, geographical, sociolinguistic, and literary views of the language.

  • a set of 36 unique essays by means of a workforce of overseas students
  • Treats the survival and transmission of historical Greek
  • contains discussions on phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics

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Porter’s discussion of stoicheion brings together such diverse topics as esthetics in stylistic theory, “nonsense” inscriptions on early Classical vases, and a new reading of the Helen of Gorgias. Part VII in closing takes the Greek language out of antiquity and brings it to the modern age. Staffan Wahlgren in a sequel to Kim’s chapter discusses literary language under the Byzantine Empire and writers’ attitude toward the classical past. His overview is a useful correction of the common view of Byzantine literature as operating in a one-dimensional space with the classical models at one extreme and contemporary vernacular at the other.

Cretan hieroglyphic script and Linear A form, together, a corpus of fewer than 2,000 documents, with slightly more than 10,000 individual signs (respectively 350 inscriptions in hieroglyphic adding up to c. 3,000 signs, and 1,500 inscriptions in Linear A, with c. 8,000 signs). While the paucity of the material impedes our understanding of how writing emerged and advanced on Crete, it equally poignantly reflects onto a problem of a purely linguistic nature: despite several attempts at decipherment, the language, or indeed languages, behind these two scripts remain unidentified.

The interactions between the two languages are intimately connected with Roman identity and the Roman Empire and are apparent in the complex bilingual habits of cultured Romans. Rochette shows that after a period in which the two languages were equivalent (though not without problems or discussion) under the Republic and the early Empire, Greek gradually had to yield, eventually disappearing from the western half of the Empire. Language is not, as some linguists suppose, a simple algorithm or a value-free “code” for the expression of thoughts.

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