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.


Acquisitions Editors


Seçil Ümitvar



V&R unipress

Marie-Carolin Vondracek


‘Aeolic rounding’ is a catchphrase used –rather rarely– to refer to instances of the /o/ vowel that appeared in certain Ancient Greek dialects as the result of the evolution of Proto-Greek syllabic resonants, i.e. nasals (*n̥, *m̥) and liquids (*r̥, *l̥).

The tern ‘Aljamiado’ denotes vernacular Spanish and other Romance varieties of the Iberic peninsula written in Arabic alphabet and has been extended to all the transcription texts written in Arabic script adopted to languages which do not use Arabic as their “habitual or standard” alphabet. ‘Aljamiado Greek’ is thus a graphic variety inscribed into the framework of ‘syncretistic writing’, where religion (here: Islam) is the cultural criterion for (re)graphization. The oldest known Greek texts in Arabic script were produced in Asia Minor in the 13th century, a few texts are known for the 15th and 16th centuries, while 18th and 19th-century sources have their provenance mainly in Epirus and Crete. The interest of these texts includes the cultural re-graphization process of Greek in Arabic script in an Islamic context, and their value as sources for Greek historic dialectology, first of all for Inner Anatolian, Epirot and Cretan varieties.

This entry deals with the major changes that the case system of Greek underwent throughout its diachrony. Despite the synthetic nature of the Ancient Greek case system, the first signs of the tendency to reinforce the semantic functions of the oblique cases with adpositions can already be found in Classical Greek. The shift from synthetic to analytic structures was a long process that continued to evolve from Hellenistic Greek into the modern dialects to different degrees and with various constructions. More specifically, as the ancient genitive and dative originated from mergers between the inherited Proto-Indo-European cases (Anc.Gk. genitive < PIE genitive + ablative; Anc.Gk. dative < PIE dative + instrumental + locative), the disambiguation of their polysemy was raised through the use of (mostly) spatial adpositions that eventually resulted in the loss of the ablative and partitive meanings of the genitive and the complete loss of the dative in Medieval Greek.

Derived from the Greek word βάρβαρος bárbaros, the term ‘barbarism’ designates the incorrect use of forms and expressions in a given language. In sociolinguistic terms applied to Ancient Greek, it mainly refers to the change of the linguistic code through the introduction of non-Greek expressions and to the use of broken Greek by non-native speakers. Most of the ancient examples come from Aristophanic comedies where non-Greeks (Scythians, Persians and Thracians) were linguistically characterized as foreigners and appear differentiated from native speakers of standard Attic. In order to provoke mirth, these comic texts attempted to imitate foreigner talk, thus constituting a valuable source for the study of linguistic variation in Classical Athens.

The term Koine is generally used as a label for designating the low variety of written Med.Gk., in opposition to classicizing or atticizing Greek, i.e. Koine means a less literary and less elaborated written variety. Since the term is applied to a broad spectrum of different registers, the subdivisions ‘literary’ and ‘popular Koine’ are also in use. By and large, Koine corresponds with ‘middle’ and ‘low style’, whereas classicizing Greek with ‘high style’. In contrast to Anc.Gk. where Koine refers also to (varieties of) the spoken language, for Byzantine Greek a third term is traditionally used, ‘vernacular’ which applies to the spoken language and even more so to the literary language based in its morphology on the spoken language (hence ‘Vernacular literature’, appearing from the 12th/13th c. on). The Koine variety is distinct from both the classicizing language and the vernacular; on a scale with two opposite ends (atticizing and spoken Greek), Koine is located in the middle. Accordingly, Koine can be defined as the written variety that avoids both distinctively atticizing (and in poetry, homerizing) as well as distinctively vernacular elements, in particular regarding morphology. 


This entry offers a descriptive account of elements of Constantinopolitan/Istanbul Greek grammar, covering phonetics, morphology, syntax, and lexicon, with observations regarding the effects of language contact with Turkish and French and other languages spoken in the city, and comparisons with simlar features in other Greek dialects. There is also a discussion of the complicated question of how to classify this variety with respect to other modern dialects.

The entry gives a general overview of the evolution of the Cretan dialect from a diachronic perspective.  The Cretan dialect is recorded in a large number of written sources (literary texts, notarial acts, etc.) which date back to the Late Medieval period (14th c.). These historical sources provide a significant amount of linguistic information which is crucial for a diachronic study of Cretan. Οn the basis of  morphological changes and the emergence of new structures and forms, Cretan is divided into three periods, namely, Late Medieval Cretan (1300 – 1500), Early Modern Cretan (1500 – 1700), and Modern Cretan (1900–). The principal morphological changes in the processes of inflection, derivation, and compounding are examined separately for each historical period .

Diglossia is a “situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the language, there is a very divergent, highly codified superposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written language, either of an earlier period or in another speech community, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal purposes, but is not used by any sector of the community for ordinary conversation” (Ferguson 1959:336). Such a situation characterizes a long period of the history of the Greek language starting as early as the 1st c. BCE with the Atticist/archaistic movement and ending as late as the 20th c. CE with the official adoption of dimotiki by the Modern Greek state. 

The excavations at the sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona have unearthed a unique corpus of lead plates containing oracular lamellae from the mid-6th to the 2nd c. BCE. Some 4,500 of these have been published thus far. The inquiries, which are not always easy to read, interpret or date, are important for Greek linguistics in two main regards: first, they exhibit a wide array of alphabets and dialects that provide valuable data for the study of Ancient Greek; second, they are extempore texts written in an informal register that is rarely documented.


In this entry, Modern Greek dialects surviving in some localities in the region of Otranto and the province of Reggio are examined. The Greek linguistic minority in Italy, as recognized by the Italian state, consists of these two linguistic islands, which in fact constitute the totality of the Greek-speaking areas in Italy. This linguistic minority speaks two dialects defined as Italiot-Greek dialects: Griko, in the Apulian part, and Grecanico, in the Calabrian part. With regard to phonetics, morphology, syntax, and lexis, the dialects of these two linguistic islands correspond for the most part to the neoclassical dialects of Greece, but they also exhibit some interesting archaic characteristics. This has led to much discussion as to the origins of the Greek-speaking community in Southern Italy. Once a rough picture of the present situation of this community has been sketched, the heated debate regarding its origins is summarized,  and a new explanatory hypothesis is offered.