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How Old Is The Greek Language?

How Old Is The Greek Language?
greek history

“True Knowledge Exists In Knowing That You Know Nothing” is a famous quote by Socrates. The early Greek philosophers are known for their wisdom. They had comprehensive political and social thoughts. And their understanding of life was phenomenal. Even today, people start their speeches with a famous quote from Aristotle and the listeners believe that a speaker is a knowledgeable person. But the quotes that we see today are translated for us in English. Originally, these great minds said and wrote them in Greek. We know that the Greek civilization is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. However, we never talk about how old is the Greek Language. In this article, we are going to take a stroll down linguistic history.

origin greek language
how old is greek language

History Of The Greek Language

According to Wikipedia, it is an ancient language. It was spoken in the Balkan Peninsula around the 3rd Millenium BC. Some records suggest an even earlier presence in the region. Since its written records have been traced back to 1450 and 1350 BC, it has been regarded as the oldest recorded living language. It belongs to the Indo-European language family. Divided into different periods, this popular language had been a subject of research for countless linguistics.

Proto-Greek

This presumably last Greek ancestor was ended with the entrance of Hellenic immigrants. They came into the region in the Neolithic or Bronze age.

Mycenaean Greek

The spoken language of the Mycenaean civilization was found written on a clay tablet around 1500 BC.

Ancient Greek 

Perhaps the more popular form belongs to the archaic and classical period of the Greek civilization. It was widely used throughout the Roman Empire. Ancient Greek saw a discontinued phase during the middle ages. However, with Greece’s migration into Europe, it was once again revived.

Koine Greek

It is known to be the first version of the Greek dialect. This fusion of Attic and Ionian was a common dialect in the East Mediterranean. During the Hellenistic period, Koine Greek was spoken from Egypt to India. Although, when the Romans conquered Greece, another separate language was introduced in the region. This Latin and Greek combination became the official language of the Roman Empire.

Medieval Greek

It is also called Byzantine Greek. Historians suggest that this period is more of the preservation of the written forms of Koine Greek. All those vernacular, writing combinations and writing styles contributed to shaping Modern Greek.

Neo-Hellenic Or Modern Greek

The modern period can be traced back to the Byzantine era, probably around the 11th century. Modern Greeks used this modern form and formed several dialects as well.

Greek Today

Today, Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus. Since both Greece and Cyprus are members of the European Union, it is also one of the 24 official languages of the EU. Greek is a minority language in many countries including Italy, Armenia, Romania, and Ukraine.

greek language
greek language history

How Old Is The Greek Language?

Well, it’s 3000 years old. This is why it is listed as one of the oldest languages of the world. The interesting thing is, its written proof was found in a recognizable form. Greek writings were found in classical languages and are still seen in many English loanwords. Unlike Hebrew languages which are only used today as a liturgical language, Greek is a formal language native to millions of speakers.

Many English words have Latin or Greek origin. Words like telephone and television have Greek text roots. Even Physics which came from Latin originated from Greek roots. Many scientific terms, affixes, and suffixes used today in the English language came from Greek texts and terms. Disease names like Carcinoma and Melanoma, Chemical elements, and various usages have roots that came into existence as a result of Latin and Greek text fusion.

Greek Alphabet

Classic Greek vowels such as Alpha, Beta, and Gamma were all present in the earliest Greek Alphabetic writing. Omega was not present, however.

What Are The World’s Oldest Languages?

It is interesting to learn that initially, humans used gestures and sounds as the primary mode of communication. But languages came into existence. Some say that was for the preservation of the testaments. Others insist on a way of passing on the knowledge to the next generations. Nonetheless, historians and linguists agree that determining a language’s age can be traced to their written scriptures. Scripture languages date back to 10,000 years ago.

As there are dozens of languages that have written scriptures thousands of years old, they can all be considered as the oldest languages of the world.

Tamil

Tamil is the oldest living language in the world. It is more than 5000 years old. It is spoken by 78 million people. And this Dravidian language is the official language of India, Sri Lanka, and Singapore.

Sanskrit

Known as the World’s oldest language, it dates back to the 6th Century BC. This holy language is sacred for millions because its scriptures of Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism were found tracing back to ancient times.

Egyptian Coptic 

Egyptian Civilization is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. And Coptic remained the Lingua Franca up until the late 17th Century. After the Muslim invasion, it was replaced by Egyptian Arabic. Written records of Coptic go back to 3400 BC.

Hebrew 

Nowadays people use it for tattoos but this one is three thousand years old. Hebrew lost common usage in the 4th Century BC. Today Hebrew is given the status of official language in Israel but it is way different from its biblical version.

Basque

This European language is 2200 years old. It was prevalent in the region long before the arrival of the Romance languages. Basque is still spoken in France and Spain.

Lithuanian 

Lithuanian is a significant group of Indo-European languages as languages like German, Italian, and English emerged from it. It is 5000 years old. And it is the official language of the Republic of Lithuania and the European Union.

Farsi 

Farsi or Persian is a common language in modern-day Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. It was also the official language of the Persian Empire. The modern Persian rose to prominence in the 8th Century CE.

Irish Gaelic 

Irish Gaelic is 1500 years old. It has Celtic origins. It belongs to the Bronze age. The oldest scriptures of this language were found in the 5th and 6th centuries.

Chinese 

Speaking of Chinese, it is 6000 years old. This Sino-Tibetan language has around 3000 characters, considered extremely difficult to understand. However, to make it simple and easy to understand, a simplified version was introduced in 1956.

Arabic

The Quran is written in this language. It is therefore considered a sacred language. Other languages such as Urdu and Malay originated from Arabic. Even the English language has many Arabic loanwords. Words such as Algebra, Sugar, and Alcohol have Arabic origins. There are many Arabic dialects.

Conclusion

So, here we are, at the end of this article. Languages are there for communication. And we must cherish them. Translation services are playing their part in eliminating the language barrier. If you have a text that you need to get translated into another language, we are here for you. We can cater to all your translation requirements at the most affordable prices. We are committed to delivering excellence. And we value our customers above all.

ancient greek languages

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