Encyclopedia of Slavic Languages and Linguistics Online


The most comprehensive reference work on Slavic languages ever published. It provides authoritative treatment of all important aspects of the Slavic language family from its Indo-European origins to the present day, as well as consideration of the interaction of Slavic with other languages.




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Interview with Marc L. Greenberg on the Encyclopedia of Slavic Languages and Linguistics

In June 2020, Brill released the online Encyclopedia of Slavic Languages and Linguistics (ESLL). Read an interview with Editor-in-Chief, Marc L. Greenberg (University of Kansas).

New at Brill: Heritage Language Journal

The Heritage Language Journal (HLJ) was established in 2002 by the National Heritage Language Resource Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. Its aim is to provide a forum for scholars to disseminate research and knowledge about heritage and community languages.

Major Open Access Collaboration between Brill and ERC Project ‘Open Philology: The Composition of Buddhist Scriptures’

Brill is delighted to announce a new Open Access collaboration with ‘Open Philology: The Composition of Buddhist Scriptures’ (OpenPhilology), funded by the European Research Council. The resulting book series Buddhist Open Philology Project will publish translations of scriptures, text editions, and studies on the select corpus of Mahāyāna Buddhist scriptures (sūtra), the Mahāratnakūṭa collection of 49 sūtras. All volumes in the series will be published in Open Access with Brill.


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Marie-Carolin Vondracek


Languages and Linguistics

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Acrostics constitute an interesting technique usually employed in verse language but also in prose, whereby the first letters (sometimes the initial syllable or even an entire word) in each line or word form a word or phrase, a name or even a message that the composer wishes to hide or reveal skillfully. Acrostics form part of language play but also a mechanism in the artistic usages of the language. Normally, they are employed in gnomes, riddles, and other such didactic compositions, in hymnal poetry, both biblical and post-biblical (particularly frequent in the Middle Ages), but also in secular praise poetry, love songs, inscriptions, or are exploited as rhetorical figures.  In addition to their artistic effect, acrostics may also aim at entertaining through the skillful manipulation of expressive material in ways that amuse the readers or listeners by creating aural or visual images of rare esthetic beauty. In this sense, acrostics may also serve as techniques of cryptography and steganography, having an anagrammatic and symbolic function by encrypting messages, names, and other such things.

This entry discusses the concept of ‘linguistic complexity’: we start by briefly outlining the main theoretical approaches and the different linguistic levels to which complexity has been related. We then go into the ways in which complexity has been operationalized in historical sociolinguistic research, and end the entry by focusing on complexity and complexity loss in historical stages of the Greek language.

The entry discusses the features of ‘high-register’ Greek in Byzantine and Early Modern Greek times, focusing on both the ideological underpinnings of its use as well as the linguistic features it entailed.

Greek employs a large host of means and mechanisms in carrying out emphasis which can be categorized into lexical, morphological, phonetic and phonological, syntactic, stylistic, and pragmatic, or combinations thereof. In writing, emphasis is in certain occasions signaled with the use of special graphemes (e.g. capitals, calligraphic or bold-faced characters, use of italics, underlining, etc.) or even by punctuation. Such means and mechanisms establish prominence relations between linguistic units and play an important role in the semantic and pragmatic interpretation in language use.  


Exclamation is the semantic component expressed by exclamative sentences, which exhibit morphosyntactic characteristics and perform a specific speech act. Using an exclamation, the speaker expresses his/her surprise or emotion by presenting the proposition as true (obvious but unexpected) and difficult to accept at the same time. The commonest structures are marked by a term from the paradigm of the relative and certain nominal sentences (in the nom. or voc.); exclamative gen. and inf. are more limited in use.


In this entry, I discuss the concept of ‘genre’. I start by giving a brief outline of insights that have been developed in modern-day discourse analysis, to which research on ancient Greek genres is related. I then zoom in on some of the aspects that have been considered most problematic about genres (the relationship between literary and non-literary genres, ancient conceptualizations of genre, the inherent fluidity of genres). I conclude by discussing the variability that genres typically display, which is connected to the broader genre ecology, as well as societal factors. 

The Old Norse term kenning (kenningar, derived from ON kenna, Germanic *kannja-, ‘to make known’), describes a figure of speech, viz. the periphrasis of a noun by another, usually a complex NP consisting of a noun and an adnominal noun in the genitive or a compound noun. Kennings occur from early Greek literature onward both as lexicalized compounds, such as φερέοικος ‘carrying one’s house’ = ‘snail’ (Hes. Op. 571+), πέντοζος ‘having five branches’ = ‘hand’ and others, and occur in most literary genres, such as epic, lyric poetry, drama, etc. 

The relation of language to myth is old and seems to reside on man’s need as a thinking subject to explain the mysteries of the surrounding world. Many people suggest that myth is a code system similar to that of language, and hence like language it organizes the unknown world into a balanced structure. A tertium comparationis is religion: language, myth, and religion try each in its own way and by its own means to rationalize the world, and this seems to be the crucial point where language and myth meet and collaborate.


The entry begins with a brief presentation of the two main linguistic approaches to language play, namely Crystal’s (1998) and Cook’s (2000), with an emphasis on the definition of language play, its sociopragmatic functions, and the genres it is attested in. Terminological issues as well as the absence of language play (and relevant research) from education are also discussed. The second section of the entry is dedicated to linguistic creativity, which is a concept significantly overlapping with language play in its scope and sociopragmatic dimensions. The third and final section provides a brief overview of some main studies investigating language play and linguistic creativity in Modern Greek.

A vast and diverse corpus of legal, administrative, bureaucratic, and technical texts in Greek survives from the Byzantine period. Its linguistic features have not been studied as extensively as those of literary texts. This corpus reflects the deep penetration of Latin terms not only through the workings of the imperial administration but also on spoken Greek itself. Taxation, the law, the army, and the regulation of the market and currency were domains of Latin influence on the Greek language. The entry also examines the relationship between legal-administrative Greek and literary texts in the high register (whether classicizing or in the Byzantine koine). In the late Byzantine period, Greek was also used for legal and diplomatic purposes by the French and Italian regimes that occupied Byzantine territories starting in the late twelfth century.