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Ancient Macedonian language

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  Quote akritas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ancient Macedonian language
    Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 14:04
To the question, what kind of language did the ancient Macedonians use, the answer can be given based on, what else, the existing references in ancient documents and the excavated inscriptions. What we have concluded is, that the ancient Macedonians were Hellenophon and the original dialect of the Hellenic language they used (Macedonian dialect) was very much similar to the Doric dialect (that is in accordance to Herodotus' references on the common origin of the Dorians and the Macedonians). Later on (in Hellenistic era) that dialect was gradually replaced by the Koini Attiki dialect, just like in all of the other Greek states. Every native Macedonian name, is Hellenic and is formed in the Hellenic way of producing words, as for example the names:

"Adista, Philista, Sostrata, Philotas, Perdikkas, Mahatas," and hundreds more
 

And, of course, the strongest evidence of the Greekness of the Macedonian dialect are:

  • The excavated inscriptions, where you can find only Greek characters and words
  • The coins of Macedonia, where again you can find only Greek characters and words
  • The quotations of the ancient writers on the Macedonians' speech
  • The characteristics of the Macedonian dialect
  • Etoimology of some names in Macedonia

Some years back,a German linguist by the name Otto Hoffman wrote a book with the title "Makedonians, their language and their Ethnicity". Hoffman analyzed the paradoxical or idiomatic words (calling them languages),which past grammaticals,lexicographers and more in general everyone engaged around the Hellenic language had noted them as "worthy to be analyzed" in Makedonia.

To begin with,all those people were believing that the Makedonian language was an Hellenic dialect, and exactly this is the reason mentioning certain of its peculiarities, had they believe that the Makedonian language was alien to that Hellenic one, there was not a reason mentioning those Makedonian paradoxical and/or idiomatic "languages". According to the same Hoffman his conclusions after "supervising" other peoples work are the following:

""And now after supervising the ancient Makedonian linguistic thesaurus we are posting the decisive question,if what is adding to the Makedonian language its character,are the hellenic or the barbarian elements of it,the responce can not be of any doubts. From the 39 "languages" that according to Gustav Mayer their form was "completely alien" has been proven after this research of mine,that 10 of them are clearly Hellenic,with 4 more possibly dialectical forms of common hellenic words,so from the entire collection are remaining only 15 words appearing to be justifiable or at least suspected of anti-hellenic origins.Adding to those 15, few others which with regards their vocals could be hellenic,without till now being confirmed as such,then their number, in comparison to the number of pure hellenic ones in the Makedonian language,is so small that the GENERAL HELLENIC CHARACTER OF THE MAKEDONIAN LINGUISTIC TREASURE CAN NOT BE DOUBTED.

The official code name that given recetly from the linqustics is
 
Ancient Macedonian language (provisional ISO-DIS 639-3.5 XMK).
Subgrouping Code : Ancient Greek language or IEGreekB
Group code: Greek Language or IEGreek
.
 
One from the strong arcaelogical evidence that show what language spoken from the ancient Macedonians is the Pella katadesmos .Is a katadesmos (a curse, or magic spell) inscribed on a lead scroll, probably dating to between 380 and 350 BC. It was found in Pella (at the time capital of Macedon) in 1986; it was published in the Hellenic Dialectology Journal in 1993.

The tab has been dated by the original publishers to the "Mid-4th century BC or slightly earlier (letter forms, spelling)". This dating has been contested by Prof. Edmonds of Bryn Mawr College, who proposes a 3rd century BC date.

The former opinion is concurred by the Oxford Classical Dictionary, in which Professor Olivier Masson writes: "Yet in contrast with earlier views which made of it {i.e. Macedonian} an Aeolic dialect (O.Hoffmann compared Thessalian) we must by now think of a link with North-West Greek (Locrian, Aetolian, Phocidian, Epirote). This view is supported by the recent discovery at Pella of a curse tablet (4th cent. BC) which may well be the first 'Macedonian' text attested (provisional publication by E.Voutyras; cf. the Bulletin Epigraphique in Rev. Et. Grec. 1994, no.413); the text includes an adverb "opoka" which is not Thessalian." (OCD, 1996, pp 905, 906).

Of the same opinion is James L. O'Neil's (of the University of Sydney) presentation at the 2005 Conference of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies, entitled "Doric Forms in Macedonian Inscriptions" (abstract):
"A fourthβcentury BC curse tablet from Pella shows word forms which are clearly Doric, but a different form of Doric from any of the west Greek dialects of areas adjoining Macedon. Three other, very brief, fourth century inscriptions are also indubitably Doric. These show that a Doric dialect was spoken in Macedon, as we would expect from the West Greek forms of Greek names found in Macedon. And yet later Macedonian inscriptions are in Koine avoiding both Doric forms and the Macedonian voicing of consonants. The native Macedonian dialect had become unsuitable for written documents."
 
 
In English the text of Pella katasemos
 
On Thetima and Dionysophon the ritual wedding and the marriage I bind by a written spell, as well as (the marriage) of all other women (to him), both widows and maidens, but above all of Thetima; and I entrust (this spell) to Macron and to the daimones. And were I ever to unfold and read these words again after digging (the tablet) up, only then should Dionysophon marry, not before; may he indeed not take another beside myself, but let me alone grow old by the side of Dionysophon and no one else. I implore you: have pity for [Phila (?)], dear daimones, [for I am indeed bereft (?)] of all my dear ones and abandoned. But please keep this (piece of writing) for my sake so that these events do not happen and wretched Thetima perishes miserably [---] but let me become happy and blessed
 
source:
1- Hellenic Dialectology Journal in 1993
2- C. Brixhe, A. Panayotou, Le MacΓdonien in: Langues indo-europΓennes, ed. Bader, Paris, 1994, 205β220.
3-http://bibleocean.com/OmniDefinition/Pella_katadesmos
4-Hatzidakis,The language of the ancient Macedonians
 

 


Edited by akritas - 05-Aug-2006 at 06:36
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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 18:38

I am not convinced. If you would like to prove anything find more documents. Regarding this document you have written: Is a katadesmos (a curse, or magic spell) inscribed on a lead scroll, probably dating to between 380 and 350 BC.  How sure is this "probably"? It is well known that Macedonia became Hellenized during Alexander the Great  (356-323 BC) and his father times.  Thus, this document is exactly from that time or even later if your "probably" is not that sure.

Again some additional sources. To be honest I didn't read originals and not sure that this is propaganda :) If you find the original text I will modify this.

So,

1. Demosthenos writes regarding Philip: All these things that were stored by Lakedemons or us (Athen) ... but we are Hellens. This is not the case with Philipp --  he is neither greek nor barbarian from respected country. He is from Macedonia, place where one cannot buy even good slave from...  (This is not exact translation).
2. Rufus describes story about judgement  of somebody from Macedonia and Alexander asked him whether he prefers to speak Macedonian or greek. The guy said that he will prefer greek since a lot of people around might not understand him. And Alexander said: Did yousee that? He refuse to speak his father tongue. Youse how far he became from his own language and his culture. Thus, Alexander makes difference between his language and macedonian.   
3. Story about Olympic games and how macedonians were not allowed to participate in them was discussed before in this forum.
4. Will try to find some other sources.
 
Thus, there are several other opinions regarding Macedonian language. I do not care, just would like to know the truth whatever it is. Smile
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  Quote dorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 19:05
Akritas, whatever the linguistic proofs, the ancient inscriptions and all the other evidence are, they will always need more. Because they don't want to accept them..
 
So, it's pointless..
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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 19:39
Originally posted by dorian

Akritas, whatever the linguistic proofs, the ancient inscriptions and all the other evidence are, they will always need more. Because they don't want to accept them..
 
So, it's pointless..
 
My friend, I didn't start this topic. But for those who are interested, would be probably interesting to know other points of view as well.  Especially if they are argumented  Tongue


Edited by Anton - 04-Jul-2006 at 20:12
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  Quote dorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 20:25

So, although you are not interested about what Alexanders ethnicity was (you said that and you deleted it half an hour later) you should read greek history (especially the history of Macedonians), if you want to post your opinion instead of posting texts from the FYROMian sites.

 

The Pellas' katadesmos is probably dated before the times of Alexander the Great but maybe during the times of Phillip. This "Hellenization" of Macedonians, means that they started to use the attic dialect which overshadowed the other greek dialects and became the language of all the Greeks. The katadesmos is written in the doric dialect which means that it dates before the supposing "hellenization" otherwise it should have been written in the attic dialect. So, the conclusion is that this text is written in the doric dialect which was the language of Macedonians before their..."hellenization".

 

And you should have always in mind when you're reading about Demosthenes in the FYROMian sites, that he was a sworn enemy of Macedonians.

 

 

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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 20:46
Originally posted by dorian

So, although you are not interested about what Alexanders ethnicity was (you said that and you deleted it half an hour later) you should read greek history (especially the history of Macedonians), if you want to post your opinion instead of posting texts from the FYROMian sites.

 

The Pellas' katadesmos is probably dated before the times of Alexander the Great but maybe during the times of Phillip. This "Hellenization" of Macedonians, means that they started to use the attic dialect which overshadowed the other greek dialects and became the language of all the Greeks. The katadesmos is written in the doric dialect which means that it dates before the supposing "hellenization" otherwise it should have been written in the attic dialect. So, the conclusion is that this text is written in the doric dialect which was the language of Macedonians before their..."hellenization".

 

 

 

 
Yes, I said it and then delete it because it was flaming. I never visit sites from Republic of Macedonia.
 
You said:
 they started to use the attic dialect which overshadowed the other greek dialects and became the language of all the Greeks. 
 
Greek! That is the major question. Let us discuss it instead of flaming! It is really interesting question!  
 
 
 
That's a good argument.
 
 
Originally posted by dorian

And you should have always in mind when you're reading about Demosthenes in the FYROMian sites, that he was a sworn enemy of Macedonians.

 
That I didn't know. It is important to know but it doesn't make sense to me :)
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  Quote Arbr Z Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 21:00
akritas, this seems a well presented work. Certainly it needs more evidence, and if you could provide us more links, or authors it would be great.
I am not trying to say that macedonians were not greek, as I do not know what they were for sure, but in the light of your evidences and proofs, why the general opinion of modern historians do not accept the macedonians being greek.
And second, you certainly provided some of the strong points of the theory about the hellenic identity of the Makednos, but to complete your presentations you should provide even your weakpoints (there surely are some) as well as the strong points of other theories. So we could choose between your statement, and others.
 
Anyway, thank you, this is a interesting topic!
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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 04:19
Originally posted by Arbлr Z

And second, you certainly provided some of the strong points of the theory about the hellenic identity of the Makednos, but to complete your presentations you should provide even your weakpoints (there surely are some) as well as the strong points of other theories. So we could choose between your statement, and others.
 
I tried to provide some of this references but the reaction was maladaptive, I don't know why.
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  Quote dorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 05:22
Originally posted by Anton

Yes, I said it and then delete it because it was flaming. I never visit sites from Republic of Macedonia.
 
So, where is the maladaptive reaction? Just because I mentioned it you should abuse me? Anyway, I don't pay much attention to this.
 
 
Originally posted by Anton

You said:
 they started to use the attic dialect which overshadowed the other greek dialects and became the language of all the Greeks. 
 
Greek! That is the major question. Let us discuss it instead of flaming! It is really interesting question!  
 
 
 
That's a good argument.
 
What's exactly your question about it?
 
 
Originally posted by Anton

That I didn't know. It is important to know but it doesn't make sense to me :)
 
Oh, it is important because whatever Demosthenes said was just slander.
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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 05:44
Originally posted by dorian

 
Originally posted by Anton

You said:
 they started to use the attic dialect which overshadowed the other greek dialects and became the language of all the Greeks. 
 
Greek! That is the major question. Let us discuss it instead of flaming! It is really interesting question!  
 
 
 
That's a good argument.
 
What's exactly your question about it?
 
 
Originally posted by Anton

That I didn't know. It is important to know but it doesn't make sense to me :)
 
Oh, it is important because whatever Demosthenes said was just slander.
 
 
The question is what was the Ancient Macedonian language Smile
 
Regarding Demosthenos -- All that he said is slander??? I would absolutely agree with you if what he wrote would not be supported by others.
 
Some oftop: 2500 years ago greeks didn't want to allow Macedonians to participate in Olympic games (whatever the reason was) saying that they are not greeks. Now their grandsons try to claim the opposite denying their words. One should be very carefull when saying something. This might have an effect for thousands of years. Wink 


Edited by Anton - 05-Jul-2006 at 05:45
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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 05:53
Here is some more information about found Macedonian inscriptions:
 
 
Many nice pictures.


Edited by Anton - 05-Jul-2006 at 05:54
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  Quote dorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 06:28
What Demosthenes wrote is supported by others to prove what they want to prove without having studied the historical and political background of these times.
 
Demosthenes pretended to be an Athenian but he was not. Actually he was of semi-barbarian origin but he considered Macedonians as barbarians. He was not reliable.
 
There were 22 Macedonian Olympic winners recorded since 480 BC.
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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 06:33
This is the Linguistics section of the Forum and the topic is "ancient Macedonian language". Please stick to it and respect all opinions!
 
Irrelevant comments will be deleted.
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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 06:56
Akritas can you kindly summarize isncriptions found in Macedonia? It would be easier for greek speaking person... Is the list of them from greek ministry of culture full? If not where could I found the others?

Edited by Anton - 05-Jul-2006 at 07:12
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  Quote akritas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 09:16

Yiannis thanks for your remark.This thread consern the language and not the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians.

Anton you can read  the insriptions that found in Macedonia as also and the texts  through the Epigraphical database
 
 
Of course all are in the ancient Greek language.Also I want to add some critical points regarding the ancient Macedonian language.
Linguistically, there is no real distinction between a dialect and a language without a specific factor. People usually consider the political factor to determine whether a certain kind of speech is a language or a dialect. Since the Pan-Hellenic area consisted of many small city- states (Attica, Lacedaemon, Corinth, etc.), and larger states (Molossia, Thesprotia, Macedonia, Acarnania, Aetolia, etc.), it was common knowledge at the time that the people of all those states were speaking different languages, when in fact they were all variations of the same language, Hellenic or Greek. The most advanced of all Hellenic dialects was the dialect of Attica (Athens) or Attic. When people state ancient Greek language they mean the Attic dialect and any comparison of the Macedonian dialect to ancien Greek is actually a comparison to the Attic dialect.

The difference between Macedonian and Attic was like the difference between Low and High German. Nobody doubts that both are Germanic languages, although they differ from one another. Another good example of a multi-dialectal linguistic regime is present-day Italy. The official language of
Italy is the Florentine, but common people still speak their own dialects. The same goes and in the present Greece.The Cretans speak their own dialect, even and for some Greeks is very difficult to understand them
 
As I mention in my first post German kinguistic  Hoffman considers 40 names of official Makedonians found on an inscription from 423 B.C adding:

""In final analysis it is possible that the name VYRGINON KRASTWNOS is of Thracian origins,while independent remains the name DIRVE.....ALL the other names are BEAUTIFULL,CLEAR,HELLENIC CONSTRUCTIONS and only two of them NEOPTOLEMOS and MELEAGROS could have been loans from the HELLENIC MYTHOLOGY. ""

Hoffman considers the names of the populations of upper or Western Makedonia including the Orestians(Kastoria),Eordians(P*tolemais-Arnissa),Tymfaians(Pi*ndos-Konitsa), Elimiotians(Kozani),and Lyngestians(Florina-Monastiri. He considers and analyzes the names of the King's body-guards,of the generals,of the administrative employees,of the leaders of the Makedonian cavalry,the leaders of the name and army,and those of many other common people of the 5th and 4th and even later centuries. His conclusions?

""THE NAMES OF THE GENUINE MAKEDONIANS AND THOSE BORN OF MAKEDONIAN PARENTS ,ESPECIALLY THE NAMES OF THE ELITIC CLASS AND NOBLES,IN THEIR FORMATION AND PHONOLOGY ARE PURELY HELLENIC."


And he continues,...

""The general Hellenic character of the Makedonians linguistic treasure can not be disputed even in case some of them might be loans from the Hellenic Mythology or from non-hellenic myths or for the better pre-hellenic myths (Teytamos-Marsyas-Seilinos....*).

The reason? Both Hellenic mythology and pre-Hellenic SUCH,contributed many of their names not only in the Makedonian but as well in thegeneral hellenic vocabulary of names. Names that in their phonology and the laws governing their formations are  clearly different than those Thracians and Illyrians,and they can not even be used as "in between" those and the Greek ones.
 
Also Anton as about the case of the Philota trial and Curtius is known. The best answer  you can read in
 
 
or
 
 
 
And finally why we didn't find any other inscription written in a non-Greek text, not only in Macedonia but  and in the others places until now ?

 
 

 


Edited by akritas - 05-Jul-2006 at 09:59
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  Quote Arbr Z Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 11:36
well akritas, you make a point, we never found other inscriptions in the balkans, except that in hellenic language. But this doesnt mean that this region was inhabitated only by greeks. We know that there were also barbarians, who didnt write their language, and in the few inscriptions they needed, they used greek. The ruling class of this barbarians might have been educated in greek...And the fact that sometimes a place was referred as barbarian, or sometimes hellenic, this could probably mean that there was a political debate about including this countries (and their population) in the Hellenic culture, or not. Generally this countries (macedonia, epirus etc) were in the borders of the greek speaking area, so I guess it was better to have them allied, than to keep calling them barbarians. A process of cultural hellenization, starting from the upper strata, might have started in the V century B.C.
 
If someone 1000 years later finds an inscription in english regarding the adherence of Greece in the EU, he wouldnt suppose that the greeks were english speaking, would he?
 
I am not saying that the Macedonians didnt speak greek, they probably did, but I just expressed my doubt.
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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 11:47
Originally posted by Arbλr Z

. We know that there were also barbarians, who didnt write their language, and in the few inscriptions they needed, they used greek.
Not quite. They used the Greek alphabet but wrote in their own language and not in Greek, e.g. Brygians.
 
What is the example you have in mind?


Edited by Yiannis - 05-Jul-2006 at 11:47
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  Quote dorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 11:52

But the repeated contestation doesn't prove anything... In this way we could say that the greco-phonic tribes (Dorians, Acheans, Ionians, Aeolians etc) were not original greek speaking tribes but maybe for some reason they adopted the greek language...

And what about their names? They adopted greek names too? The hellenization started in the 4th century BC or maybe in the 10th BC?
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  Quote Arbr Z Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 12:04
Originally posted by dorian

But the repeated contestation doesn't prove anything... In this way we could say that the greco-phonic tribes (Dorians, Acheans, Ionians, Aeolians etc) were not original greek speaking tribes but maybe for some reason they adopted the greek language...

And what about their names? They adopted greek names too? The hellenization started in the 4th century BC or maybe in the 10th BC?
 
We could suppose that also, even though it is not worth, because in the moment that this tribes appeared in history, they were hellenic.
And regarding the names, we know them only through the hellenic sources,which could mean that the names were given a hellenic shape.If the persians wouldn exist until now (iranians) probably we wouldnt know the real name of Darius, Xerxes etc.
 
Yiannis, the Illyrian rulers used greek and later latin languages for their official inscriptions.
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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 12:08
Originally posted by Yiannis

Originally posted by Arbλr Z

. We know that there were also barbarians, who didnt write their language, and in the few inscriptions they needed, they used greek.
Not quite. They used the Greek alphabet but wrote in their own language and not in Greek, e.g. Brygians.
 
What is the example you have in mind?
 
I agree with you Yiannis. On the other hand, they (nongreek inscriptions) are not as numerous as greek ones. For example, as far as I remember, Thracian inscriptions are limited to short 3-4 texts and several words. In contrast, greek inscriptions are more numerous. Does that mean, that Thracian language is close to greek?
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