Paeonian language

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Native toNorth Macedonia, northern Greece, south and south-eastern Serbia, south-western Bulgaria
Extinctprobably 4th century CE[1]
  • Paeonian
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Paeonian, sometimes spelled Paionian, is a poorly-attested, extinct language spoken by the ancient Paeonians until late antiquity.

Paeonia once stretched north of Macedon into Dardania and in earlier times into southwestern Thrace.

Several Paeonian words are known from classical sources:

A number of anthroponyms (some known only from Paeonian coinage) are attested: Agis (Άγις), Patraos (Πατράος), Lycpeios (Λύκπειος), Audoleon (Αυδολέων), Eupolemos (Εὐπόλεμος), Ariston (Αρίστων), etc. In addition several toponyms (Bylazora (Βυλαζώρα), Astibos (Άστιβος) and a few theonyms Dryalus (Δρύαλος), Dyalos (Δύαλος), the Paeonian Dionysus, as well as the following:

  • Pontos, affluent of the Strumica River, perhaps from *ponktos, "boggy" (cf. German feucht, "wet", Middle Irish éicne "salmon", Sanskrit pánka "mud, mire", pontos "passage", "way" Greek);
  • Idomenae (Ιδομένη) (nowadays near Gevgelija), name of a city (cf. Greek Idomeneus, proper name in Homer, "Ida", mountain in Crete);
  • Stoboi (nowadays Gradsko), name of a city, from *stob(h) (cf. Old Prussian stabis "rock", Old Church Slavonic stoboru, "pillar", Old English stapol, "post", Ancient Greek stobos, "scolding, bad language");
  • Dysoron (Δύσορον) (nowadays Dysoro (Δύσορο)), name of a mountain, from "dys-", "bad" (cf. Greek dyskolos "difficult", and "oros" Greek oros, "mountain");
  • Agrianes, name of a tribe, possibly from[citation needed] *agro- "field" (cf. Latin ager, Greek agros with cognates in the Greek tribe of Agraioi who lived on the Acheloos and the name of the month Agrianos or quite possibly from Greek agrios, "unruly", "wild".

Classical sources usually considered the Paeonians distinct from Thracians or Illyrians, comprising their own ethnicity and language. Athenaeus seems to have connected the Paeonian tongue to the barely-attested Mysian language, possibly a member of the Anatolian family.

On the other hand, the Paeonians were also regarded as being related to Thracians and ancestors of the Phrygians.

Modern linguists are uncertain on the classification of Paeonian, due to the extreme scarcity of surviving materials in the language. Wilhelm Tomaschek and Paul Kretschmer claim it belonged to the Illyrian family, and Dimiter Dečev claims affinities with Thracian. Irwin L. Merker considers Paeonian Hellenic and closely related to Greek, a Hellenic language with "a great deal of Illyrian and Thracian influence as a result of this proximity".[2]

The Indo-European voiced aspirates (*bh, *dh, etc.) became plain voiced consonants (/b/, /d/, etc.), just like in Illyrian, Thracian, and Phrygian.


  1. ^ "Paeonia". Encyclopædia Britannica online.
  2. ^ "The Ancient Kingdom of Paionia,". Balkan Studies 6. 1965.