Talk:Koine Greek

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Some of the Greek on this page skips out for a character here and there, and I just have boxes, even though my computer auto-selects encoding and has this as Unicode(UTF-8). For example, in the greek for "Alexandrian Dialect", in the following parentheses, the greek word dialect is fine, but the last letter of Peri and the first letter of Alexand... both appear as undefined font "boxes."

That's because it's polytonal Greek (which includes extra characters for breathing marks and acute, grave, and circumflex accents). To see it correctly you'll need to get a font which has these characters, I'd suggest Gentium.
Hope this helps.  –Benjamin 20:00, 12 October 2005 (UTC)


Many of the Transliterations on this page are horrible! Some minor mistakes include the "ha" being transliterated "o", which completely ignores the breathing mark. I wish I had time to read through and correct, but alas I have a Greek test to finish. Please would someone address this problem. --Bkcraft 01:02, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Although one username Bkcraft left this comment over ten years ago, and likely won't read this, I simply cannot resist noting how amusing it is that he or she fell into the trap that is American Erasmian Greek pronunciation. Any linguist abhors Erasmian as an incorrect system adapted to the phonologies of one's native language (ie., here the idea of "vowel length" colloquially used in English to refer to vowel quality, supposedly easier for English speakers to understand since our language has no phonemic distinction of true vowel length; hence, "ha" [hɑ] for [(h)o]). Erasmian's only advantage is that it's supposed to help with spelling and holds academic prestige. If only Bkcraft read further into this article, he or she could have been enlightened and converted from Erasmianism to true Greek linguistics :) Iotacist (talk) 01:51, 20 May 2016 (UTC)Iotacist
I'm in favour of taking the transliterations out altogether. I don't see any need for them, since you should be able to read Greek if you can understand it! I think the sample texts would be fine with just the Greek text and the English translation.  –Benjamin  (talk)  17:13, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree, they're horrible -- skōr ! Take them out! If the point is just to give the idea of transliteration schemes, wikilink the transliteration page somewheres. --MonkeeSage 07:06, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

The Transliterations have been reviewed by many different people and aim to reflect the phonology changes betwen Ancient and Hellenistic Greek. I get the impression that none of the editors who complain about transliteration have realised that the article is about "Hellenistic" and not "Ancient" Greek. Your confusion is the very answer to your own question, i.e. why does transliteration exist: To reflect the phonetic transition from Ancient to Hellenistic Greek. Thus it will enlighten confused editors or students of Attic, who were never aware of such transition in the first place. Miskin 14:46, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

I think the section "Evolution from Ancient Greek" might enlighten the masses. It's best to make observations on an article only after it's been fully read. Miskin 14:50, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Fair enough, but you changed <υι> to /ui/, it should be /u/, so οι υιοί would be /u uu/ or IPA /y yy/. Sounds strange, indeed, maybe some of our linguistic wizards has an idea how this could have sounded. Should we use ü instead of u for the /y/ sound? Andreas 15:10, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
I just didn't see a reason to ignore iota. None of the phonetic rules implies so. If you disagree you can always change it back and take responsibility for it. Miskin 15:26, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, there must be a misunderstanding. The article says: The diphthongs αι, ει, οι, and υι became single vowels, and The diphthongs 'οι' and 'υι' acquired the pronunciation of the modern French 'U' ([y] in IPA). Andreas 15:33, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
I missed the formation of that diphthong in the text, I'm correcting it. Miskin 15:41, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Just my 2c (having been invited to join by Andreas):

  • The present text seems a bit ambiguous whether the transcriptions are supposed to be present-day Greek ("as used by the Greek Orthodox Church" as it says somewhere), or an historically intermediate stage somewhere in antiquity.
  • We might want to consider if a (broad) IPA transcription might not be more appropriate (thinking especially of the rather awkward <gh> transcription for gamma)
  • The transcription at present uses <gh> (i.e. [γ]) for gamma, but <d> for delta and <b> for beta. Now, I think there probably was such an intermediate stage, as gamma shifted to fricative earlier than the rest, but I'm not sure for how long that would be representative.
  • Ypsilon should definitely be transcribed not as <u> but <y>. That fronting happened early.
  • A word like ὑιοί would have been [y.'y] if the sound change was regular through all environments, but I guess it might have been anything between [y'jy] [iˈy] and [i'jy] too. (Don't forget it ultimately changed to [ji]). My guess is there would have been a linking glide.
  • As for the use of <y>, <ü> and <j>, I'd stick with the IPA convention (<y> for the front rounded vowel, <j> for the glide.)

Lukas (T.|@) 16:05, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

It doesn't have anything specific on Koine Greek, but it's already using an English transliteration of Greek which I found useful. Anyway you can change 'u' to 'y' if you want, I was just explaining my reasons for not having done so. 'ou' should probably also be changed. Miskin 17:07, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

The current idiosyncratic transliterations are confusing. I agree with Lukas that a broad IPA trascription would be more appropriate. --Macrakis 16:14, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

The prayer and its reference on the 'Greek Orthodox Church' were imported from a different article without having its pronunciation changed into Hellenistic. I agree that Beta and Delta should be also changed to v/bh, dh. I used 'u' in the place of ypsilon because Andriotis compares it to the French 'u'. Hence there's no reason to create futher confusion by using 'y'. Miskin 16:24, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Hm, but surely <u> would imply [u] to most readers, wouldn't it? I'd see that as more confusing than the use of the perfectly standard IPA <y>. Lukas (T.|@) 16:40, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
This Hellenistic transliteration is not my POV, I tried to base it on the Perseus project. I think it also uses 'u' instead of 'y'. Miskin 16:44, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh sure, this is not a POV dispute. :-) Just a matter of what's more practical. I didn't know the Perseus project had anything on historical phonological transcriptions, could you point me to some? Of course, I'm quite aware that English-language sources sometimes use <u> for ypsilon, but for this specific purpose of indicating the phonological development it seems suboptimal to me. (BTW, my proposal would obviously also imply changing <ou> to <u> for Greek omicron-upsilon.) Lukas (T.|@) 16:53, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
It doesn't have anything specific on Koine Greek, but it's already using an English transliteration of Greek which I found useful. Anyway you can change 'u' to 'y' if you want, I was just explaining my reasons for not having done so. 'Ou' could also be changed. I followed that practice according to Perseus' trans. of Attic, and the general trans/tion of Modern Greek 'ou', but if you don't think it's precise, I can see where you're coming from. Miskin 17:12, 15 March 2006 (UTC)


One possible way of doing it:

1 Καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ τὸ πατάξαι Ἀλέξανδρον τὸν Φιλίππου Μακεδόνα, ὃς ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ γῆς Χεττιιμ, καὶ ἐπάταξεν τὸν Δαρεῖον βασιλέα Περσῶν καὶ Μήδων καὶ ἐβασίλευσεν ἀντ᾽ αὐτοῦ, πρότερον ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλλάδα.

[ke ejéneto metá to patákse aléksandron ton philípu makeðóna, os eksílthen ek jis khetiím, ke epátaksen ton ðaríon βasiléa persón ke míðon ke eβasíleɸsen ant aɸtú, próteron epí tin eláða.]

En. And so it happened, after Alexander (son) of Philip the Macedonian, he came out of the land of Cethim, and smote Darius ruler of Persians and Medes, and reigned in his stead as the ruler of Greece.

2 καὶ συνεστήσατο πολέμους πολλοὺς καὶ ἐκράτησεν ὀχυρωμάτων καὶ ἔσφαξεν βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς·

ke synestísato polémus polús ke ekrátisen okhyromáton ke esphaksen βasilís tis jis Lukas (T.|@) 17:02, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

shouldn't it be eβasílefsen? And when did /fs/ -> /ps/ occur? Andreas 17:04, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
You may be right about [fs] there. I have no idea about [ps] though. Shall we consult Mr Caragounis ;-) ? Well, G. Horrocks would be the place to consult for the fine-tuning, again. Perhaps I can do that some time. Lukas (T.|@) 17:10, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

For this word, probably never. It should be 'fs'. Miskin 17:16, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

If you mean that [fs] never changed to [ps] in εβασίλευσε, well yes of course it did, in popular speech, that's why we spell it βασίλεψε today. The fact that Modern Greek invented a new spelling for the modified form doesn't change the fact that this was a regular sound change. And it's quite likely that it would have occurred much earlier in speech than it was reflected in the writing. The present-day [fs] for εβασίλευσε is evidently an artificial, learned spelling pronunciation. Lukas (T.|@) 17:58, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
P.S. I've provisionally changed [β] to [ɸ] in the potentially devoiced <αυ, ευ> cases. That would be the expected intermediate stage between [w], [β] and [f]. Need to check the chronology though. As I said, I can consult Horrocks in a few days. Note to later readers: Andreas' comments above were addressed to my earlier version with [β]. Lukas (T.|@) 11:46, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Transliterations are not transcriptions![edit]

People...transliteration is not phonetic transcription. Transliteration is taking the glyphs from one writing system and representing them with equivalent glyphs in another. That simple. And the transliterations on the page right now do not reflect any recognized transliteration scheme that I'm aware of. Ther use of 'i' for eta is similar to the original ISO/R 843:1968, but even that is lacking the macron that the ISO standard uses to differentiate eta from iota. And the 1997 revision of the standard uses 'e' instead of 'i'. Further, no transliteration scheme represents the Greek diacritics in the transliteration, with the sole exception of the rough breathing, which is represented as 'h'. It should be like this:

1 Καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ τὸ πατάξαι Ἀλέξανδρον τὸν Φιλίππου Μακεδόνα, ὃς ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ γῆς Χεττιιμ, καὶ ἐπάταξεν τὸν Δαρεῖον βασιλέα Περσῶν καὶ Μήδων καὶ ἐβασίλευσεν ἀντ᾽ αὐτοῦ, πρότερον ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλλάδα.
(Kai egeneto meta to pataxai Alexandron ton Philippou Makedona, hos exēlthen ek gēs Chettiim, kai epataxen ton Dareion Basilea Persōn kai Mēdōn kai ebasileusen ant autou, proteron epi tēn Hellada.)

If you're not going to follow a recognized transliteration scheme, then you need to either remove the "transliterations" or else label them accurately as an attempt to phonetically transcribe the Greek not transliterate it. --MonkeeSage 22:24, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Ah, sure, I didn't even notice that inaccuracy. It should say "transcription", of course, that's evidently what was intended from the start. Thanks for pointing this out. Lukas (T.|@) 22:31, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
I thought people were really confusing transliteration with transcription! I feel like an old Scrooge now for making such a big fuss when it was just an semantic mistake. Sorry about that! --MonkeeSage 23:17, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
No offense taken. I'll change it now; I suppose everybody agrees. Lukas (T.|@) 09:40, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Wording regarding "dating"[edit]

Re. Miskin's latest changes of my wording "datable roughly to the turn of the millennium": I suppose the formuation was a bit unclear; what I meant to say was not that any one of the changes in question are dated to that time, but that the stage of the language represented by the transcriptions was intended to be that time. Miskin's current wording "intermediate stage during the evolution of Greek phonology from Ancient to Hellenistic" would point to a stage of the language somewhere perhaps in the 3rd cent. BC, but that doesn't fit the phonology currently shown (e.g. the media wouldn't have been fricativized yet at that time, IIRC, and vowel length wouldn't have been lost yet). Also, it would be anachronistic with respect to the text shown, which was written later. - But don't worry about this for now, wait till we check an authoritative source and find a good, representative, datable model for a transcription, and then we'll see. Lukas (T.|@) 15:03, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Note about Evolution[edit]

Firstly, let me just say that I have never studied Ancient Greek, so I'm coming from the point of view of a Koine student only.

In the evolution section, would it be helpful to include information about dropped letters? For example, the diagamma no longer appears in Koine Greek, however its presence is very much still felt in the grammar. For example βασιλευς has 'irregular' endings because of the 'presence' of the diagamma in the root. Icecradle 15:48, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Hm, I guess the digamma loss happened really a bit too early to be treated under Koine. It should be somewhere under Ancient Greek or related articles. Fut.Perf. 16:56, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
That is correct. Miskin 17:00, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Highly disputed POV[edit]

In the first paragraph appears the phrase: "Koine also was the original language of the New Testament of the Christian Bible." There is very strong evidence that supports the scholarly opinion that both the "Gospel according to Matthew" and the "Epistle to the Hebrews" were originally written in a Semitic language. This was recognized by the early Church Fathers and is backed up by linguistic criticism of the texts as well as by the fact that a Semitic copy of Matthew was discovered in India which dates back to 50 CE. The phraseology used in this article gives the impression that it is 100% certain that the Church Fathers lied about the original languages of Matthew and Hebrews. Author: Is that what you are trying to communicate? Adjusting the wording is strongly recommended in order to make it NPOV. Thanks. --SHLAMA 06:30, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't have expert knowledge on the issue, but according to the relevant articles (Gospel of Matthew) the original Greek hypothesis seems to be the modern mainstream in scholarship. Given that the issue is really only of tangential importance for this article here, I don't think importing here whatever dispute there may be there is really unnecessary. Fut.Perf. 06:54, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
I did my doctoral work in Matthew, specifically in the field of linguistic criticism. The Peshitta version (Aramaic) is most likely the original form. It is the form that Bartholomew and Thomas carried with them to India in 50 CE, since that was, at the time, the lingua franca of that part of the world. Matthew himself was an Aramaic-speaker, and there are several passages that remain in Aramaic (transliterated) even in the Greek translations of Matthew's Gospel. I direct you to the writings of Dr. Matthew Black, Dr. George Lamsa, Dr. Alexander Victor, and Dr. Andrew Gabriel Roth, Dr. Paul Younan, Raphael Lataster, et al for further discussion on this; as well as the Church Fathers who attest to the Semitic primacy of Matthew and Hebrews. A simple qualifier would neutralize the article in this regard. Even Greek primacists will readily admit that the passage that reads in the Greek text "Eli Eli lmana shavakthani" is not Greek, but rather Aramaic.--SHLAMA 07:08, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
"Semitic copy" dating from "50 CE", "discovered" in India? Hey, can I see the manuscript? What material, how was it preserved? How come nobody knows of this "copy"? The Peshitta of course isn't an individual manuscript, it's a textual tradition. I don't want to question your scholarly qualifications here, but an argument that mixes an unreferenced mysterious 1st-century manuscript with the legendary account of the travels of St Thomas to India, and quotes ancient church fathers as if they were modern linguists, sets certain alarm-bells ringing with me. I'd suggest to keep this debate at Aramaic primacy, George Lamsa etc., apparently the niche where it belongs. Fut.Perf. 07:41, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
The manuscript from India was found by Pantaenus in 150 CE and taken back to Alexandria at that time. It's existence is recognized by Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the leading schools in the world for Biblical study. If you are really this adamant in your protest against the simple addition of the word "possibly" to make the article accurate, no amount of evidence will disuade you. But, how do you explain non-Greek phrases such as "Eli, eli, lmana shabakthani," "Talita, kumi," and "raka"? It's not all in Greek, and every scholar in the world will tell you that. --SHLAMA 08:08, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Well, it's just those alarm-bells ringing on and on in the background, I'm afraid. You know, a manuscript mentioned only once in an ancient author centuries after the alleged fact, but presented here as an undisputable fact at first... whose existence hinges on some "Theological Seminary" "recognizing" it... Since when is it the business of a "Seminary" to decide on what gets recognized and what doesn't? -- Well, I'm not convinced that this is serious. If you've done scholarly work on this, I'll be happy to read it if you send me a copy (privacy guaranteed). Fut.Perf. 08:19, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough. Whither do I send it? --SHLAMA 08:28, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Go to my user page and click the "E-mail this user" link on the left margin, somewhere under the search box. Thanks, Fut.Perf. 08:34, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
I know this discussion took place over two years ago, but I would just like to point out that the Aramaic phrase in question is a quote (Psalm 22:1-2) from the Targum. I think that it's fairly well accepted that the 2nd temple Jews returning from the Babylonian captivity spoke Aramaic; ergo, a few Aramaic quotes from the OT are not at all out of place. This does not, however, indicate that the entire book of Matthew was written in Aramaic. If you were translating a book into the lingua franca of the time, wouldn't you translate the whole thing instead of leaving a couple of words, especially in light of the fact that the Septuagint contains a perfectly working translation of the question (ο θεος ο θεος μου προσχες μοι ινα τι εγκατελιπες με)? I think rather than evidencing the deceitfulness of the Church Fathers, this occurrence merely lends substantiation to the fact that the Jews at the time were more familiar with the Aramaic Psalms than the Hebrew Ketuvim. I see no reason to bring up the remote possibility of a deviation from the majority view on the basis of one manuscript, when the bulk of the evidence undeniably points to Greek as the original language. Eloise872 (talk) 06:49, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

According to the results of modern Biblical scholarship, there's no meaningful evidence that any book of the New Testament was originally written in a non-Greek language, or relied heavily on a non-Greek Christian text (with the possible -- though very disputed -- existence of an Aramaic language "sayings document"). AnonMoos (talk) 01:50, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Date of loss of vowel lenght distinction and migration to stress accent[edit]

The article states that the transition to isochronous vowels and stress accent happened by the 2nd century BC. In Vox Graeca, W. Sidney Allen states that, while some Egyptian papyri suggests the transition happened in Egyptian Greek as early as the 2nd century BC, there is no unambiguous indication that the transition occured in mainstream greek before the end of the 2nd century AD. While I am aware that the current edition of Vox Graeca is 20 years old and may have be superseded by newer works, I would be curious to know which sources back the date of the 2nd century BC. Just my .02$, but I would expect that non-native speakers of Greek whose native language did not feature vowel quantity and pitch accentuation may have started the transition to isochronous vowels and stress accents quite early, when Greek became the Lingua Franca in the mediterranean east, but that native speakers of Greek may have followed much later. Can anyone clarify? Rnabet 16:12, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Makes sense. Thanks for looking this up. Would you like to update the article on the basis of Allen, for the time being? I don't think the current text was sourced from anything more reliable than that. As I said earlier, I'd like to check against Horrocks (and possibly against that guy called Teodorsson, quoted in Ancient Greek phonology, and a few other sources mentioned in that article), but I probably won't find the time during the next few weeks. Fut.Perf. 10:02, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
OK, I have eventually found the time to update the article, and I am in the process of doing so. The task is much larger than I previously thought, not because there are many errors in the text (the only thing that was *really* erroneous was a statement that implied that ancient writers subscripted their iota), but because it generally presents only one hypothesis in matters where there is little consensus. Rnabet 20:41, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

Long diphthongs[edit]

"Finally, long υ diphtongs (ᾱυ, ηυ and ωυ) became monophtongal by the 1st century BC, as they were written as α, η and ω". However, modern Greek still has "ηύρα" - I found, where the υ is preserved as [v], and not *ήρα. Also, woe would need sources for this.   Andreas   (T) 19:05, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, would be interesting to see an example. I understand Rnabet was working from Allen, so there's probably something to it. The modern [iv] pronounciation in that word might of course well be a later letter-by-letter reading pronunciation re-introduced by analogy, since it's purely a learned form. It would be interesting to see what happened to any words that had these sounds but were handed down through the spoken demotic. - Anyway, many thanks to Rnabet for reworking the section, good job! Actually, it's now grown so much it starts competing with Ancient Greek phonology - we might start considering how to re-balance the division of labour between these two articles. I wouldn't be averse to reducing the phonology article to a synchronic sketch of Classical Attic, and treat the whole diachronic post-classical development here. Fut.Perf. 20:51, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
Andreas, thanks for pointing the issue out, I had indeed missed a fact in Allen (such things will happen when authors write important remarks in tiny-print footnotes). I have expanded the section with additional data on the evolution of ηυ, so read the section again. To elaborate on your point, ηύρα is indeed irregular, as according to the revised section we would expect a form *εύρα; Allen thinks that ηύρα must be a classicizing formation (the more popular formation being βρήκα, from ancient Greek perfect εὕρηκα).
Future Perfect at Sunrise, I am quite open to suggestions about article reorganization. I haven't given this much thought yet, as I was just concerned on correcting inaccuracies in an existing article. I guess it could make sense to move Koine Greek phonology out of Ancient Greek phonology, because Koine Greek is phonologically a transition period: at the start of the period, the language is virtually identical to Classical Ancient Greek, whereas in the end the language has phonologically a lot more in common with Modern Greek than Ancient Greek.
As for sources, I have already written down my source in the References section – Allen's Vox Graeca. I am considering adding further reference as foot notes in the article's text, with page number in Vox Graeca. Do you think it would be a good idea? Rnabet 21:23, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me that ALL modern greek words containing ηυ are classicizing formations. This diphthong was already quite rare in Ancient Greek, only used as the augmented form of ευ (for past tense formation or simply metri gratia). It is even rarer in the living language. But with length distinctions lost, ηυ ceased to be productive in the language to become a fossilized orthographical form. I would point out that demotic εφεύρε pronounced [efevre] survives alongside classicising εφηύρε pronounced [efivre], both meaning "he invented". My explanation is that the first form reflects the natural evolution of the language while the second is a classicising reintroduction whose pronounciation, though logical because it reflects the modern pronounciation of bare η is nevertheless artificial.Yannos 00:38, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

How is "koine" pronounced in English anyway?[edit]

I've informally studied linguistics (from books) and taken courses in Modern Greek. As such, I've never actually heard the word "Koine" pronounced in English. I am tempted to pronounce it like the word "coin". I'm also tempted to pronounce it as if it with the modern Greek pronunciation -- /kiní/. But I am sure both of those are wrong. Maybe someone who knows could add a small note to the beginning of this article to say how the word is actually pronounced in English. Daniel

FWIW, the free Merriam-Webster online suggests [koɪ'neɪ], ['koɪneɪ] and [ke'ne], so it seems the English pronounciation is not well-standardized. I wish I could double check in Oxford; maybe someone can. OTOH, you could use the original Greek pronounciation, but since koine phonology is so variable, it could be any of [koine:˩˥], [ky:ne:˩˥], [ky'ne], [ky'ni], etc. Rnabet 07:13, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I also am an amatuer linguist and I tend to say koy-NEY.Cameron Nedland 14:42, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
In Greece we prounounce Koine like this : Ki(like kick) + Ni(like nick)(stress on Ni)

In my University courses it was always pronounced like the english words "key knee." I believe that this is an accurate reflection of both the modern and the Koine pronunciations of the word, as there was a convergence of vowels on /i/ in Hellenistic Greek (which has remained to this day). Helikophis (talk) 14:59, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Make a separate article Koine Greek phonology[edit]

I would suggest to make a separate article on Koine Greek phonology, because this section is already quite long.   Andreas   (T) 14:29, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

This might be a good idea. I will wait for a few days to see if anyone makes further comments, and if there is consensus, I will probably move this section to a new article. Rnabet 07:18, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
It is probably a good idea to have a separate article on phonological developments in Koine since there is so much to say. This would leave some space for the current article to contain some more information about morphological and syntactic differences between Attic and Koine. Many such differences were probably driven by underlying phonological events. Yannos 00:46, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
If someone creates that article, they might want to merge some of the overlong Ancient Greek phonology into it. I once suggested to make a biggish restructuring of the whole lot of the Greek-language articles, but I somehow never got around doing it. You might want to check Talk:Greek language. Fut.Perf. 05:23, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
OK, I just moved the whole section to a separate Koine Greek phonology article. Now, I probably need to expand the new article, as a simple chronological phonetic rundown is not enough. This phonetic rundown needs some rewriting anyway, as it is too biased towards Attic, anyway. Rnabet 19:42, 21 October 2006 (UTC)
To follow up, I have expanded the Koine Greek Phonology article with sample phonological systems and tried to remove the bias of the phonetic rundown towards learned and Attic Greek. Now, I need to find a copy of Horrocks; too bad it is out of print. (Grignac, Threatte and Theodorsson might be interesting as well.) Rnabet 20:20, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

Assumptions behind transcriptions[edit]

I would like to know what assumptions are being made in the various sample text transcriptions.

I am asking because, even though they mostly seem to correspond to "late" koine (i.e. the pronounciation that was generalized in the late Roman period/early middle ages and from which modern greek pronounciation is derived), they feature pitch accent which is thought to have progressively disappeared starting from the 2nd century BC.

IMOH, pitch accent notwithstanding, the transcription looks mostly correct for the Nicene Creed, a 4th century text. Assuming Maccabees 1 has been translated in Egypt, like the rest of the Septuagint, and the transcription is trying to represent Egyptian Greek, the First Book of the Maccabees seems mostly correct to me, pitch accent notwithstanding. (Though I am not sure that η really had a value of i in Egyptian Greek; any reference on the topic would be appreciated.) OTOH, I am not sure what assumptions should be made in a transcription of Mattew, since almost nothing is known on the background of its author; maybe putting both a conservative and a modernist transcription alongside would make sense.

Since Koine Greek phonology is so variable, any transcription is bound to make some assumptions. My point is that these assumptions made should be written down in the article. (A phrase like "The phonetic transcriptions aim to represent an intermediate stage during the evolution of Greek phonology from Ancient to Hellenistic" is not enough; it actually seems more confusing than clarifying to me.)

Anyway, I had rather there would be some kind of a consensus before editing the transcriptions.

Rnabet 08:05, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

The transcriptions offered contradict the phonology section of the article[edit]

To take only two obvious examples:

  • the section on the loss of aspiration claims "that this transition must not have occurred before the 2nd century AD, but transcriptions into Gothic show that it was at least well under way in the 4th century AD." Yet, initial aspiration has been entirely done away with in texts that date before this range (Matthew, Maccabees).
  • the section on the diphthong au states, "Jewish catacombs inscriptions still show a diphthongal value in the 2nd–3rd century AD." And yet it's transcribed .

I agree with Rnabet that the "intermediate stage...from Ancient to Hellenistic" is confusing. I'll go further, and say that it's meaningless. No one would locate these texts (or any other) as "between Ancient and Hellenistic." This looks like a desperate pis-aller adopted in place of an earlier unsatisfactory characterization (which I infer from this talk page may have been "as heard in the Orthodox Church today"—which is probably a more accurate way to describe what follows!).

Conclusion: These transcriptions are not at all reliable for what they claim to be. They are in significant respects closer to Modern Greek than to reconstructed Koine Greek pronunciations. They vitiate the value of this article and should be scrapped—reintroduced only if someone is willing to enforce some consistency with the (presumably better-informed) information under "Phonology." Wareh 23:51, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I'll check this against some sources tonight. Fut.Perf. 05:59, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Intelligible to modern Greek speakers[edit]

Although there are quite a lot of Greek speaking editor around here, this assertion has nevertheless to be substiantiated by accessible source according ot WP policy. Another question is whether "[...] most of the changes between Modern and Ancient Greek were introduced with Koine". Certainly the morphology is very similar to Attic, and the liberal use of the infinitive ane participles is something unknown to Modern Greek. In fact, the current form of Modern Greek is influenced quit a bit by Attic/Koine because of Katharevousa and the Orthodox Church. The fact that the liturgy and prayers are usually read in Ancient Greek gives the average Greek a familiarity with Koine unreated to the everyday language.   Andreas   (T) 19:35, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree with you, but many Greeks feel strongly about this. See discussion on Talk:Greek language (July 2005). The compromise wording in Greek language is:
It has been claimed that an "educated" speaker of the modern language can understand an ancient text, but this is surely as much a function of education as of the similarity of the languages. Still, Koinē, the version of Greek used to write the New Testament and the Septuagint, is relatively easy to understand for modern speakers.
I think this overstates the ease of understanding Koine. --Macrakis 21:19, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I remember well that someone had provided a source for the understanding claim. It's now lost in the edit summaries. Miskin 21:34, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Furthermore some Attic texts of the Hellenistic era quite easy to understand without prior study of ancient Greek (Strabo comes into mind). Koine Greek is much more "modernised" than the Atticist language. Miskin 21:36, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

The fact that most changes between modern and ancient Greek occurred in Koine is attested in every book I've read. In the story of pu it is stated that early Koine was very close to Attic and late Koine was very close to modern Greek. This has nothing to do with the influences from Katharevousa nor the Greek liturgy, such a claim is pure OR. It has to do with the changes in syntax, phonology, grammar and vocabulary, that first appeared in Koine and were later standardised in Byzantine Greek. Miskin 21:34, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Strabo did not write in Attic but literary Koine. The Septuagint and New Testament are both early Koine. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:27, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

Uvular /r/?[edit]

Re. Haldrik's edit ([1]): Is there a source for the uvular quality of /r/ in Biblical Koiné? Fut.Perf. 08:02, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the website that discussed the phoneme is no longer active. I'll see if I can locate another source. --Haldrik 11:07, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

In the absence of any source, I'm reverting the IPA back to the alveolar flap. FilipeS 11:45, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Might this supposed uvular /ʁ/ value for rho be a Hebraism/Semitism? If so, what other phonemes might differ from the standard Koine? Unfortunately, I haven't found any reconstructions on a specifically Judaean or Galilean dialect for the New Testament.

Iotacist (talk) 20:52, 24 June 2016 (UTC)Iotacist

New sample transcriptions[edit]

As a replacement of the transcribed samples that were criticised above, I've checked Horrock's Greek: a history... again and have chosen two of the transcribed sections he offers. I chose two that are representative of two extremes, one rather conservative and one rather progressive. Of course, it should be clear that all these proposals are tentative, but Horrocks makes some effort at justifying which transcription model he uses for which case. I haven't compared every detail with what is said in the preceding sections (based on Allen); there's a chance that Horrock's proposals are, on the whole, slightly more "advanced" than Allen's. He bases his reconstructions on work by Teodorsson, Gignac and others. Here goes:

The following excerpt, from a decree of the Roman Senate to the town of Thisbae in Boeotia in 170 BC, is rendered in a reconstructed pronunciation representing a hypothetical conservative variety of mainland Greek Koiné.[1] It shows partial, but not yet completed raising of η and ει to /i/, retention of pitch accent, fricativization of γ to /j/ but no fricativisation of the other stops as yet, and retention of word-initial /h/.

  • περὶ ὧν Θισ[β]εῖς λόγους ποιήσαντο· περὶ τῶν καθ᾿αὑ[τ]οὺς πραγμάτων, οίτινες ἐν τῆι φιλίαι τῆι ἡμετέραι ἐνέμειναν, ὅπως αὐτοῖς δοθῶσιν [ο]ἷς τὰ καθ᾿ αὑτοὺς πράγματα ἐξηγήσωνται, περὶ τούτου τοῦ πράγματος οὕτως ἔδοξεν · ὅπως Κόιντος Μαίνιος στρατηγὸς τῶν ἐκ τῆς συνκλήτου [π]έντε ἀποτάξηι, οἳ ἂν αὐτῶι ἐκ τῶν δημοσίων πρα[γμ]άτων καὶ τῆς ἰδίας πίστεων φαίνωνται.
perì hôːn tʰizbîːs lóɡuːs epojéːsanto, perì tôːn katʰ hautùːs praɡmátoːn, hoítines en tîː pʰilíaːi tîː heːmetéraːi enémiːnan, hópoːs autoîs dotʰôːsin hoîs tà katʰ hautùːs práɡmata ekseːɡéːsoːntai, perì túːtuː tûː práɡmatos húːtoːs édoksen, hópoːs ˈkʷintos ˈmainios strateːɡòs tôːn ek têːs syŋkléːtuː pénte apotáksiː, hoì àn autôːi ek tôːn deːmosíoːn praɡmátoːn kaì têːs idíaːs písteoːs pʰaínoːntai.
"Concerning those matters matters about which the citizens of Thisbae made representations. Concerning their own affairs: the following decision was taken concerning the proposal that those who remained true to our friendship should be given the facilities to conduct their own affairs; that our governor Quintus Maenius should delegate five members of the senate who seemed to him suitable in the light of their public actions and individual good faith."

The following excerpt, the beginning of the Gospel of St John, is rendered in a reconstructed pronunciation representing a progressive popular variety of Koiné in the early Christian era, with vowels approaching those of Modern Greek.[2]

  • ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν. πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς ὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν ὃ γέγονεν. ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ σωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων̣ · καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ῆ σκοτία υὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.
en arˈkʰi in o ˈloɣos, ke o ˈloɣos im bros to(n) tʰeˈo(n), ke tʰeˈos in o ˈloɣos. ˈutos in en arˈkʰi pros to(n) tʰeˈo(n). ˈpanda di aɸˈtu eˈjeneto, ke kʰoˈris aɸˈtu eˈjeneto ude ˈen o ˈjeɣonen. en aɸˈto zoˈi in, ke i zoˈi in to pʰos ton anˈtʰropon, ke to pʰos en di skoˈtia ˈpʰeni, ke i skoˈti(a) a(ɸ)ˈto u kaˈtelaβen.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
Wow, thanks for the speedy good work on this. I would be glad to see you replace the present transcriptions (which as far as I can tell have no authority and represent no one's views on the pronunciation of these texts at the time of their composition) with these. I think Horrocks' name should be mentioned in the article body (not just the footnote), so that it's clear to the reader that this is what one scholar thinks koine Greek sounded like at two specific times & places (though obvious to most, the date of John in the 1st c. AD should be mentioned too, I think). And by all means let's replace that meaningless "between Ancient and Hellenistic" with a correct statement (i.e. simply that Horrocks considers both of these texts to be specimens of koine, and that his transcriptions are an attempted reconstruction). Wareh 00:30, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
P.S. Of course it would be nice if you can include as specific a statement as Horrocks makes indicating exactly what he thinks he's reconstructing. That is, I've assumed above that he is making his best stab at "two specific times and places." Is that what he seems to be doing? (It should be made clear if Horrocks makes some dodge in the vein of our current "Here's a text by an easterner as pronounced by a non-easterner.") This is a long-winded way of saying, if we're following Horrocks, we should include, at least in a note, a one-sentence version, for each text, of his "justifying which transcription model he uses for which case." Wareh 00:34, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
Not that anyone involved in this conversation will answer me, since it took place over ten years ago...I am slightly curious about Horrock's transcription of John 1 here, so if anyone who sees this note could answer, that would be good. Of his modernizing phonological developments, the loss of vowel length/stress accent, monophthongization, fricativization only of β and γ but not δ, post-nasal voicing and the /aβ, αφ/ development are all appropriate for the 1st century with his arguments regarding timing of sound changes. However, I am concerned about his choice to merge η with ι. Allen says this happened no earlier than the late 2nd century AD and Horrocks himself the late Roman/early Byzantine period. In Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers, all of his other short transcriptions of the New Testament still present η in the intermediate stage of /e̝/. I might be overthinking this, but I almost wonder if the John transcription represents not necessarily the language of the 1st century itself, but of the later Early Christian period, i.e. 2nd-3rd centuries AD when (correct me if I'm wrong) the first actual NT manuscripts like Papyrus 66 were written; by this time, η could have realistically raised to /i/. Just for consistency's sake, personally I think the NT Greek table and Horrocks's transcription should match as closely as possible. In the table, η is still represented as /e̝/ and we shouldn't ever think about changing it to /i/. But I would like to consider possibly changing αυ/ευ from /aw, ew/ to the more advanced /αφ, αβ/ stage as Horrocks does. I understand this might be too radical a treatment of timing the sound change, as the few interchanges of αυ/ευ with αβ/εβ Gignac finds in the papyri from the 2nd century BC-1st century AD (e.g. ῥάυδος for ῥάβδος, πvεβτῦvι for πvευτῦvι) are rare and may not be standard pronunciations. See my note at the bottom, and let me know what you think.

Iotacist (talk) 01:01, 27 May 2016 (UTC)Iotacist

The term Koine[edit]

I am no expert on ancient, medieval or modern Greek (although I know some of it), but if I remember well, in a syllabus I once had to read for a course it was implied that the term Koine derived from hè koinè diálektos. Any thoughts on this? Iblardi 18:49, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Well Greier, I think it's obvious from Koine Greek#The term Koine that it was a "common" something; ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος ("the common dialect") could easily be that. Shame I have no sources on that either :) --Domitius 19:30, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
And we have a winner [2].--Domitius 19:32, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Really, you should stop calling me names. This was a serious comment. Iblardi 19:46, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

I guess it's OK to edit then, on the authority of the Britannica... Iblardi 13:35, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh yes, sure, thanks for the addition. :-) Fut.Perf. 13:46, 24 March 2007 (UTC)


The diphthong 'υι' became pronounced [yj], and subsequently became treated as two consecutive vowels (as if 'υϊ').

Please give a source. The only important words with 'υι' are υἱός and μυῖα. Υἱός becomes */yjos/ > */ijos/ > /jos/. A google search swhos many instances of 'τον υγιό' in popular poetry. Μυῖα would become */myja/ > */mija/, but the modern word is /miγa/, so it is more probable /myia/ > */mya/ > /myγa/ (hiatus resoved with /γ/) > /miγa/, see Ανδριώτη, Ετυμολογικά λεξικό της Κοινής Νεοελληνικης, Θεσσαλονίκη 1967, p. 223).  Andreas  (T) 16:04, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Reference to "History of the Greek language"[edit]

The text contains references to: Andriotis, Nikolaos P. History of the Greek language. When and when was this book published? The reference is incomplete. 15:15, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Patristic Greek[edit]

Is patristic Greek the same as koine Greek? I'm not trying to make a point, I just don't know (and feel that an encyclopedia aought to tell me).Maproom (talk) 13:23, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

"Patristic" in the sense of "the Greek used by the Church Fathers" in late antiquity, right? Yes, they used Koiné - in fact, a continuum of various shades of it. There's a good chapter on it in Horrock's Greek: A history of the language and its speakers, pointing out that the earliest theologians, at the time when Christianity was a minority religion, used a fairly simple register close to the spoken language of the time (as the New Testament itself did), but that more elaborate learned registers became more prominent from the 4th century onwards when it became the official state religion.
I've redirected Patristic Greek here and have given it a quick stab in the article based on this reference. Fut.Perf. 13:41, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Septuagint and Apocrypha[edit]

The page included an NPOV violation with inaccurate information about the collection of books designated either by "Apocrypha" or "Deuterocannon". In the context of the Septuagint, these books are called the "Apocrypha" (this is according to Origen and Jerome who were amongst the Jews), whence the title among Christians applying these to these books. The most troubling piece of writing, though, was this:

"a series of books not now in the Jewish canon, but whose earlier acceptance led to their inclusion in the non-Protestant [[Old Testament"

as there is no historical indication that these books were ever regarded in a religious light, as even all the earliest Christian writers discussing these books amongst the Jews note that they're explicitly disregarded as such, regarded rather highly respected, but noncannonical, works (I'm specifically drawing on Jerome and Origen's writing here).

This does, in fact, seem to be the earliest attitude also among early Christians, that they were given deference, but not canonical status, (the way the Catholic doctor Augustine writes about them); when reading those old works they have very considerate, nuanced, ways of using terms like "Canon" and "Deuterocanon" absent the polemic exchanged between non-catholic fundamentalists and catholic fundamentalists, though if it were an argument about whether or not doctrine should be built upon these works, or whether they are to be "read in the Churches", the earliest history is on the non-catholic fundamentalists' side; note this isn't me trying to argue, either, against Catholics, but rather statements regarding what's going on, and stating a position suitable to an article about an early version, and any statements about its significance in early times of its use (i.e. while still in use among Jews, early Christianity, etc.), leading into this: perhaps the LXX page mention here isn't the best place to introduce polemical arguments about how it was the christian canon did/not come to be as-is in the west among the various positions; or unfounded speculations about their status among Jews that disregards both the early Jewish and Christian literary traditions. (I emphasize "early" because that's the thing brought into question by the statement quoted above.)

I figure that giving the reason for the changes I made to the page is my duty to those who hold a religious sentiment about those books, as well as to whoever introduced his or her speculations, but beyond that, I add that Wikipedia isn't the place for Catholic dogmatizing: and don't take this incorrectly, I might add that much of my family and heritage is Roman Catholic (not me personally, but I'm not interested in ascerbic tit-for-tatting on details or trying to push a protestant vs. catholic kind of argument here on Wikipedia, which does not intend that such should occur here); to editors interested in participation here, the standard of inclusion on this site is "verifiability", with whatever strengths and weaknesses it might have, that statement is not one that can provide such; note that if we did want to re-introduce an argument about the christian canon into this page, we could dig-into the relevant literature, and cite all the sources, but I submit to you, along scholarly grounds, that our Catholic readers' sentiments might be even more offended, and perhaps troubled, if we did that with the early sources relevant to this article. Note I'm trying to be really careful here, fair to scholarship, and sensitive to the religious on this matter.

Note that I use "Catholic", "Catholics", etc. in the older sense (inclusive of both Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy). For peering into the early usage of these books, I suggest purchasing the Vulgate in an edition including the prologema of Jerome. Also Origen's writings, though note that Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox alike will warn "use with caution", (Origen wasn't always a careful teacher in matters of christian doctrine). Jerome's writings, however, are the ones most useful, which indicate the meaning and use of "Apocrypha" among Jews, and perhaps he's to be credited as he who brought the term into use among Christians; I might add, look through historical Christian documents, scholarly, among the doctors, among the various confessions--even protestant ones which usually regard these books as edifying and useful though not for building doctrine, the councils, popes, etc., for a historical sense of evaluation, use of the terms, etc., as these days there's been something of a fundamentalist-esque reaction at anyone using "Apocrypha" rather than "Deuterocannon" that is lamentable, as is a lot of quoting works out of context, irregardless of how the terms are used, thinking that someone is quoting this or that work when they are not (which is where knowing Greek and/or Latin is handy), and etc.. TheResearchPersona (talk 16:13, 10 February 2009 (UTC)


Is the sentance Φυλάξῃ ὀφθαλμοί ὑμῶν ἐπιζητεῖτε τὸ βραβεῖον Grammatically correct, I was trying to say, Keep your eyes on the prize, but I wound up having to say Guard your eyes seeking the prize, either can someone make sure the grammar is correct, or can someone may be find a better translation than the one I made for Koine(Biblical) Greek.

No, it's not grammatically correct. In your English sentence, "eyes" is the direct object. But in your Greek sentence, ὀφθαλμοί is in the nominative, which would be a subject. Also, Φυλάξῃ is an incorrect form. It doesn't look like an imperative at all. It looks more like a subjunctive, in which case it's also incorrect in that it's 3rd singular instead of 2nd plural. It would probably be better to use Atenizw instead of Fulassw anyway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Timruah (talkcontribs) 19:55, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

Koine in Modern Greek[edit]

K, so the transcription for "Koine" is given in Modern Greek as [kʲini]. I could understand a phonemic transcription of /kʲini/, but shouldn't the phonetic transcription actually be [cini]? IIRC, [k] becomes [c] before /i/ or /e/. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:01, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Word composition capabilities[edit]

Disregarding most modern languages scientific terminology and other adaptions for easier word creation, how was Koine Greek for word composition? Let me give a few examples from biology systematic names: Eastern Mole, Scalopus aquaticus, or Brazilian Gold Frog, Brachycephalus didactylus, a classical Latin speaker would have looked infinitely stupid before such compositions, because all that the Romans produced in the same spirit was about agricola and not one word more, but were such compositions used in Koine times by Koine Greek science men (and not to forget: Hypatia)? ... said: Rursus (bork²) 21:23, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

For consideration[edit]

To master biblical Greek where would be the best place to be? What is the closest dialect to biblical Greek? Closest accent? and etc.--Anaccuratesource (talk) 00:49, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Not sure that any modern Greek spoken dialect is especially close to Biblical Greek (though Tsaconian would presumably be especially distant...). AnonMoos (talk) 12:58, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

"intense Ionic elements of the Koine — such as σσ instead of ττ"[edit]

It would probably be more accurate to say that ττ was rejected as local Attic particularism, and that the wider Greek form σσ was used instead... AnonMoos (talk) 12:58, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Phonology section overweight?[edit]

Given that there is an long article

Main article: Koine Greek phonology

a summary is good, but perhaps still overweight here? And other sections need bulking up. Phonology is a minor aspect of what a language is, isn't it? In ictu oculi (talk) 23:28, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

hybrid transcription[edit]

Is this a half-baked attempt to write "γαμβρός /gambrós/, άνδρας /ándras/, άγγελος /ángelos/", or something else? —Tamfang (talk) 03:29, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Possibly taken over from the transcription practices used in native Greek linguistics. The passage is sourced to Andriotis and those examples could have been taken over directly from there. Fut.Perf. 06:46, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Article Section "New Testament Greek" not NPOV[edit]

"The Greek of the New Testament is less distinctively Semitic than that of the Septuagint, partly because it appeared 300 years later and partly because it is largely a de novo composition in Greek, not primarily a translation from biblical Hebrew and biblical Aramaic"

Several things are wrong with the above:

a) It is a distinctly controversial and minority view.

b) The only citations provided are first to a Wikipedia article that actually provides no support whatever; and second to a 19th century Greek lexicon. Not exactly overwhelming.

c) Not only was Greek the lingua franca of the whole Roman empire, but the Jews of the Dispersion, including Paul, were necessarily fluent speakers of it.

d) References to the Gospels and Epistles, including quotations in Greek, by Christian writers and anti-Christian polemicists of the second and third centuries. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:36, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

You are probably right about the deficient sourcing; that should be improved. But about the rest – maybe I'm missing something, but I'm not sure what you're driving at. What exactly are you saying is a controversial and minority view? That there are Semitic substrate features in Biblical Greek? That there are fewer of them in the New Testament than in the Septuagint? That the New Testament was an original composition in Greek? All three statements are, as far as I'm aware, pretty uncontroversial. The only thing that's open to debate is a matter of degree: just how many of the non-literary linguistic features in these texts are due to substrate (language contact) and which are simple shared with contemporary popular Koine in general? I just quickly checked my favourite reference, Horrocks, again, and he presents it as an issue where more recent scholarship has swung towards the latter perspective. I suspect what you are now seeing in the article may reflect an older view, as the person who wrote most of it several years ago was working largely from one older work, Andriotis, which may be somewhat outdated in these matters. Fut.Perf. 19:03, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Use of John 1:1 - theosophical/debated verse: unsuitable[edit]

""In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."" The rendering "the Word was God" is heavily debated, so the verse's use, along with its King James rendering, isn't really the best choice for an example. This English rendering is a theological revision to prove a theological idea, and should not be used academically to demonstrate an ancient language. [3] --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 16:30, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

The example is taken straight from one of the most reliable and most comprehensive recent academic works on Koiné Greek, Horrocks, and he uses it for exactly the purpose we are using it here – presenting a characteristic example of New Testament Greek, with information on proposed reconstructed phonology and so on. He presumably chose this particular bit because it's one of the best known passages from the Bible, which makes it easier for the reader to recognize and understand. And that's exactly the reason why it also works perfectly for our purposes here. Just because there is some theological debate over one phrase in it doesn't mean we can't use it; the precise grammar of that phrase is really not at issue in this context. Likewise, the choice of English translation is pretty insignificant. Feel free to substitute some other, more modern one if you prefer. Fut.Perf. 17:45, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
The problem is that this article could be used to influence arguments on the topic, even though that's obviously not why the example is given. We could describe the problem in detail, but it might be easier to site a different verse. No matter what translation I use its going to give undue weight to one viewpoint over the other. There's also the problem that arrangement and word usage for this verse very heavily between translations. I'll do some research and see what I can do. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 00:06, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
The example is not giving any weight to anything regarding the theological debate, because it's an article about linguistics, not about theology. Theology is simply not an issue here. Whoever reads this article with theology in mind ought not to be reading this article in the first place. – As for using some other verse, we'll get an OR problem. For this verse we have the verified transcription in the source; not all of this is so straightforward that you could simply transfer it to some other text in the sense of an obvious mapping of letters to transcription symbols according to some simple rule. Fut.Perf. 00:28, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Geoffrey Horrocks doesn't have anything else I can find in the Google Books version of Greek. I'm not sure why finding another text and source would be inappropriate or violate WP:OR. In any case, I think you're right that it doesn't matter that much. Still, as I mentioned in the other section of this talk page, the examples aren't very illustrative to the untrained eye. This particular one doesn't give any kind of explanation other than mention that its different and more modern than the first example. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 01:03, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Sample 2 not translated[edit]

Is there a reason why Sample 2 is not translated into English? Really, it makes me wonder what this article serves to illustrate, because it lists examples but does not tell you why they're there, or how to distinguish anything about them. "Note that this example contains semeticisms": How are you supposed to tell that?

Yeah, that sample makes little sense, and it's far too long too. Don't know why nobody took care of it earlier. It was added by an anonymous contributor without any commentary back in 2009. [3]. However. I would strongly recommend to reinsert the other one you removed. Will comment more on that in a minute. Fut.Perf. 17:38, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
The sample seems to have been intended to show that the Christian Greek scriptures do not have a Judaic origin. Certainly a POV edit. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 00:09, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

extant manuscripts[edit]

Does anyone reading this possess the skills, resources and knowledge to create a list of manuscripts known to have been written in Koine? We obviously have the New Testament and the Septuagint. But what I would like to see, if it could be compiled, is a list of non biblical manuscripts known to have survived that are written in Koine. There are many purposes such a list could serve and in an article about Koine it seems to me such a list would be meaningful and relevant. Even if it were a separate article and referenced that would be very useful. Bob Greaves (talk) 23:26, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Why "manuscripts"? Most texts from that period are not preserved in their original written medium, but through later copies. Or as inscriptions on stone monuments. There are papyri, of course – both copies of literary works (though those are usually fragmentary) and original autograph texts (private letters, administrative documents and so on). But whatever type of text you have in mind, they are very many, so I doubt a list would be either feasible or useful. Fut.Perf. 23:38, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

End date[edit]

The article needed some indication of when this transitioned into Medieval Greek. Going there, I found one, and have added "As the dominant language of the Byzantine Empire it developed further into Medieval Greek, the main ancestor of Modern Greek,[3] with about the year 600 marking the boundary between the two. to the lead here. Then I noticed the infobox terminated Koine at 300. I'm reluctant to trust an infobox for anything, but could someone better informed than me please resolve the discrepancy? Thanks, Johnbod (talk) 13:51, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

New Testament Greek[edit]

Is there any reason why we shouldn't add "New Testament Greek" as an alternative name in the lede? It seems to be commonly used and there are even books with this as or in the title (Duff, Jay, Wenham, etc.). --Bermicourt (talk) 18:58, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

Well, New Testament Greek is only one variety among the large spectrum of different types of Koine. Of course we are mentioning the New Testament in the lede, and there is a (not very good) section on New Testament Greek further down, and I'm sure New Testament Greek redirects here. The lede is currently saying "In this context, Koine Greek is also known as 'Biblical', 'New Testament' or 'patristic Greek'". Can't really see why that shouldn't be sufficient. Fut.Perf. 19:09, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Okay, I get that - it's a subset of Koine Greek. I'll tweak the redirect to point to the (not very good) section on NT Greek! Thanks. --Bermicourt (talk) 21:17, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Not quite sure if that's the optimal solution. If somebody searches for "New Testament Greek" or clicks on it from somewhere, I think they still get the more informative overview if they are first guided to the lede of this article, rather than being thrown straight into that stubby section with its rather specialized focus on the strength of Semitic influence, where they will lack all the necessary context that the rest of the article provides. Fut.Perf. 21:59, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
I've left it unchanged. --Bermicourt (talk) 08:12, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

New Testament Greek[edit]

Just wondering about why the NT Greek chart lists only the onset of the fricativization of the αυ/ευ diphthongs, as [aw, ew]. It's fine if we want to take the more conservative approach to the dating of this sound change, and say that the bilabial fricative wasn't a standard pronunciation. But according to Horrocks's Greek: a history of the language and its speakers , the process was already beginning in the 3rd century BC. Furthermore, already by the 2nd century BC we find our first few confusions of αυ/ευ with αβ/εβ, as in ῥάυδoς for ῥάβδος (</ref>Gignac, Francis T. (1970). "The Pronunciation of Greek Stops in the Papyri". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association: 188. </ref> ). Horrocks himself already transcribes the NT marking this bilabial fricative pronunciation (see the sample texts at the bottom, we might want to be consistent with Horrocks if we are to use his IPA transcriptions.) Presumably the timing of this change depended on the education of the speaker (popular vs. learned) and regional dialect. The editors just have to judge for themselves as to the level of progressiveness of the NT writer's speech. Is it still too premature to assume that αυ/ευ already pronounced [aβ, eβ] (or at least [aβʷ, eβʷ]) in the 1st century AD?

Iotacist (talk) 01:43, 21 May 2016 (UTC)Iotacist

I noticed that there was still a citation request from a year and a half ago, which points out that this reconstruction when first made cited nothing. However, it is clearly outdated as it points out peculiarities which have since been fixed (/ɔː/ for ω and /εː/ for η.) Unfortunately, we must simply work with this problematic edit. The statement in question was its similarity to the Egyptian dialect, which is the closest one, as I have not found any reconstruction on the specifically Judaean NT dialect. If we are modeling this after Egyptian, I did find a reconstruction by Teodorsson (cited by Horrocks) for the 2nd century BC. However, I cannot say how different it is from the standard Koine of the time. To modify the table for the 1st century AD, I kept the fricative β and listed υ/oι as /y/ (the 2nd BC version had an intermediate phase of /ø/.) Also, just for clarification I know that ε/αι are often listed as /ε/ (fully open), but this pronunciation by Teodorsson (or at least Horrock's modification) does transcribe these as /e/ (mid-vowel, not close nor mid, as explained footnote in chart.) If anyone has found a better reconstruction (specifically NT, anyone?) feel free to change.

Iotacist (talk) 01:38, 19 June 2016 (UTC)Iotacist

Reasonings on the debate over αυ/ευ diphthongs in biblical period[edit]

Here are my reasonings on the pronunciation of the -Y diphthongs in the 1st century AD. I've concluded that maybe we can try for an assumed compromise pronunciation of [aβʷ, eβʷ], but if anyone finds the older semi-vocalic value to be more accurate, feel free to change back to the original.

A. Spelling errors pointing directly to the fricative pronunciation (confusions with αβ/εβ) are seldom before the 4th century AD:

        1. ἕυδoμoν for ἕβδoμoν (3rd BC Boeotia), c.f. Gignac (1976: 233, note 1)
        2. ῥάυδoυς for ῥάβδους (2nd BC Egypt), c.f. Gignac (1976: 233, note 1)
        3. Πνευτύνι corrected to Πνεβτύvις by 2nd hand (35-6 AD Egypt––period of interest), c.f. Gignac (1976: 70)
        4. Tαπνευτύνιoς for Tαπνεβτύνιoς: 48 AD Egypt + twice more (?), 1st AD Egypt––period of interest, c.f. Gignac (1976: 70)
        5. Πoριεύβθης for Πoριεύθης (6 AD Egypt––period of interest), c.f. Gignac (1976: 70)
  -three other possible examples:
        6. εὐφήβoισι for ἐφήβoισι (120 AD Attica), c.f. Gignac (1976: 233)
        7. Ἐφρόvις for Eὐφρόvις (2nd AD Attica), c.f. Horrocks (2010: 171)
        8. Ἐφραῖoς for Eὐφραῖoς (2nd AD Attica), c.f. Horrocks (2010: 171)
  -These errors are conversely possible indicators of the fricativization of φ, c.f. Threatte (1980: 470) and Meisterhans (1900: 78) cited by Horrocks (2010: 171).  To me the last two examples are slightly problematic because they could just be examples of the omission of υ, i.e. ἀτός, as in the papyri, representing a popular pronunciation dropping the second element in question completely.
  -also, one final example from a Coptic transcription:
        9. Coptic ⲁⲛⲍⲏⲃⲉ (hippef) for Greek ἱππεῦς (2nd AD Egypt), c.f. Mussies (1971: 35) 

B. Confusions with αoυ/εoυ, sometimes αυoυ/ευoυ are more common than with αβ/εβ in the time phrase of focus, c.f. Gignac (1976: 230-33)

    -all from Egypt (aprox. 20): 
        1. forms of αὐτός/-ή as αoὐτ- (2x, 31 AD; 33 AD; 35 AD; 35-6 AD; 37 AD; 37 AD; 45-6 AD; 45-7––period of interest; 117 AD,)
        2. θησαoυρῷ for θησαυρῷ (2nd AD)
        3. ταoῦτα for ταῦτα (2nd/3rd AD Egypt)
        4. ὑπoγρψεoύς for ὑπoγρψεύς (34 AD––period of interest)
        5. ἑρμηνεoυς for ἑρμηνευς (45-7 AD––period of interest)
        6. ἁλιεoῦσι for ἁλιεῦσι (46 AD––period of interest)
        7. εoὐρωκoῦσι for εὐρωκoῦσι (46 AD––period of interest)
        8. εoὖ for εὖ  (46 AD––period of interest)
        9. σκεoύει for σκεύει (54-5 AD––period of interest)
        10. ἀμφιβoλεoῦσι for ἀμφιβoλεῦσι (46 AD––period of interest)
        11. Ὀρσεoῦv for Ὀρσεῦv (42 AD––period of interest) 
        12. ταυoῦτα for ταῦτα (2nd AD)
        13. forms of αὐτή as αυoὐτ- (3x, 3rd AD) 
        14. σαγηνευoῦσι for σαγηνεῦσι (46 AD––period of interest)
        15. ἀμφιβoλευoῦσι for ἀμφιβoλεῦσι (46 AD––period of interest)
        16. δευoυδέρoυ for δευδέρoυ (139 AD)
     -Every source I've read, such as Horrocks or Gignac, agrees that the spellings of α(υ)oυ/ε(υ)oυ point to some kind of consonantal value.  However, Gignac contends that this is most likely the transitional semivowel pronunciation [aw, ew], not the fricative pronunciation.

C. There is also some early evidence for a semi-vocalic pronunciation in Classical times, where digamma ϝ=/w/, c.f. Gignac (1976: 233, note 1)

        1. Nαϝπακτίων for Nαυπακτίων (6th BC Locrian)
        2. Ἐϝθετoς for Eὑθετoς (6th BC Corinthian)

D. Choices in transcription of Latin au/eu diphthongs/former diphthongs, which similarly were shifting to fricative pronunciations in parallel, c.f. Gignac 231-32

        1. well-known fluctuation among writing Flauius/Flauia as Φλαυ–, Φλα(υ)oυ– and Φλαβ–– (or combinations, Φλαυβ–– or Φλαoυβ––), throughout Koine period beginning from 1st AD (period of interest)
        2. also occurs with other words/names like Seuerus, breuium 
      -oυ was the traditional 'correct' spelling for latin u, representing /w/ (therefore one could contest that the same spelling used for native αυ/ευ diphthongs represent semivowel.)
      -Once au/eu fricativized in Latin, I presume that majority bilingual speakers would've pronounced these /aβ, eβ/ regardless of how they wrote them in Greek; so αυ/α(υ)oυ/αβ would all represent 
      /aβ/.  Although I don't know as much about Latin phonology, I suppose by the 2nd century AD only learned speakers would have continued with /w/.  
      -I don't know to what extent Latin/Greek bilinguals like Claudius Terentianus (from Karanis) would have identified au/eu with αυ/ευ, but if they did, this would probably strengthen the fricative pronunciation for the Greek diphthongs.  
      -At the same time, I don't know if Latin affected Greek speakers more than the substrate languages did; Gignac notes that Greek/Coptic speakers more likely identified αυ/ευ with Coptic /aw, ew/.  
      -And also, these spellings could just be ways to represent a foreign sound, as in the use of φ for Latin f, which did not necessarily contribute to the fricativization of φ; just because a bilingual wrote φ for f––α(υo)υ for au in this case––does not mean they perceived them as representing the same sound in both languages.  The same could be said about the use of β for Latin.

E. conclusions:

   1. One could see the spellings of α(υ)oυ/ε(υ)oυ in opposition to α(υ)β/ε(υ)β the same way as the confusions of β, δ, γ with π, τ, κ in Egypt in opposition to the evidence for the fricativization.  There is a great deal of opposing evidence, but that doesn't mean the sound change didn't occur.  
   2. However, it's more reasonable to see the α(υ)oυ/ε(υ)oυ spellings as truly reflecting the writers' speech, and since they are more common than α(υ)β/ε(υ)β spellings before the late Roman/early Byzantine period, lip-rounded pronunciations are more plausible than the complete Modern Greek fricative value.  This could be /aw, ew/ or (as proposed by Horrocks) /aɸʷ, aβʷ, eɸʷ, eβʷ/.  
   3. Still, this sound change must have been completed for at least some speakers, particularly the bottom register.  Mussies (1971) suggests that the α(υ)oυ/ε(υ)oυ spellings are a deliberate way for the middle/upper registers to distinguish theirs from vulgar speech.  In Horrocks's phonetic transcriptions, he distinguishes the conservative speakers' (like Phyrnichus) pronunciations with the middle registers (like the NT writers) as /aw, ew/ versus /aφ, aβ, eφ, eβ/.  I still have the feeling this is an overestimation in timing, so my revision (for the 2nd century AD) would be: learned=/aw, ew/ (/aʍ, eʍ/ before voiceless?), semi-literate=/aɸʷ, aβʷ, eɸʷ, eβʷ/, non-standard vulgar=/aφ, aβ, eφ, eβ/.  The final stage of /af, av, ef, ev/ is complete for most speakers by the 4th century AD.  
   4. In addition, in the 1st century (at least in Egypt) aspirated stops probably did not yet become fricative.  At this time there was still no other way to graphically represent /ɸ/ or /f/ (contra: could be done with ɸ as in Latin transcriptions.)  It is key that, as Horrocks notes, orthography tends to hide certain progressive sound changes.    
   5. My temporary solution is to assign the values of /aɸʷ, aβʷ, eɸʷ, eβʷ/ to αυ/ευ for the New Testament period.  These are a compromise between conservative and more radical analyses, which show a fricative pronunciation but with continued lip-rounding to explain its distinctness from β/association with -oυ.  

If anyone disagrees wit my reasons or is convinced that the semi-vowel pronunciation is more accurate for 1st century New Testament Greek, please say so and switch it back to /aw, ew/.

One last note: Is it possible these went through a different transitional phase, like a labiodental approximate /aʋ, eʋ/? Could these have gone straight to a labiodental fricative /av, ev/ without the bilabial stage (does this even make phonetic sense?)Iotacist (talk) 05:53, 19 July 2016 (UTC)Iotacist

  1. ^ Horrocks (1997: 87), cf. also pp. 105-109.
  2. ^ Horrocks (1997: 94).
  3. ^ Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92, Philadelphia, 1973, p. 85, Philip B. Harner