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


Languages and Linguistics

The term allomorphy describes the phenomenon whereby a morpheme comprises different morphs whose distribution may be conditioned by factors ranging from phonological and (morpho-)phonological constraints to syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic factors

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.

Animacy is an ontological category or semantic feature based on which nouns and their referents are classified as human or non-human, and as animate or inanimate. In Greek, gender assignment, gender agreement, and nominal inflection are the main grammatical domains in which animacy effects are found. Throughout Greek, the overwhelming majority of nouns that are assigned to the neuter gender denote inanimate entities. In Anc.Gk., it was not uncommon for agreement targets controlled by neuter nouns denoting humans to appear in the masculine or feminine gender, and for targets controlled by masculine and feminine nouns denoting inanimate entities to appear in the neuter. In Pontic Greek, inanimate masculine and feminine nouns trigger semantic agreement on almost all agreement targets. There is also a diachronic tendency for inanimate masculine and feminine nouns to develop forms belonging to the /i(n)/ neuter inflectional class.

Athematic formations (lacking the thematic vowel *-o/e-) go back to the Indo-European protolanguage, and are considered to be the most archaic ones from a historical linguistic point of view. In Greek, the athematic nominal inflection roughly corresponds to the ‘3rd’ declension of the traditional grammatical description. In the course of the history of Greek, athematic verbal formations recede in favor of thematic. In the nominal (incl. adjectival) inflection, athematic formations survive well into the Koine period, with relics also into vernacular Medieval and Modern Greek; otherwise they passed to other classes. Athematic nominal (incl. adjectival) and verbal formations survive in contemporary Greek mainly as influences of ‘learned’ registers.

Blending is a morphophonological process whereby long words are constructed through segment mixing as a result of the detachment and/or fusion of word parts, syllables or sounds. In Greek, blending has occurred throughout its diachrony. It can be either synchronic or across stages through the combination of words from older/different stages, or even cross-linguistic by means of combing words from different languages.

Byzantine grammatical scholarship is mostly indebted to the Alexandrian tradition, especially the Techne of Dionysios Thrax, whereas Stoic and other older kinds of linguistic thought are mostly unknown. The Byzantine output includes general treatises and word-by-word commentaries on individual texts, with explanations of orthography, prosody, morphology, etymology and semantics. Furthermore, there are school exercises (schedographiae) and lexica with grammatical information. In most cases it is clear that the Byzantine grammarians have normative and pedagogical rather than scholarly and descriptive ambitions. Among the more important Byzantine grammarians are Michael Synkellos (760/761–846), representing the first generation of those preserved, and Maximos Planoudes (ca. 1260–1305). Planoudes exhibits signs of scientific ambition and is probably to be seen as a harbinger of a new era, where modern Latin linguistic thought is assimilated by Greeks. Finally, from the late 14th c. Greek scholars move to Italy and start to teach there. This leads to a new focus on grammar, for the fact that it is now often taught to foreigners, and it further strengthens the interdependence of Greek and Latin linguistics.

The phenomenon of shifts a word might undergo with respect to its lexical and/or syntactic category is discussed.  After a careful sorting out of the definitions of relevant terminology, different kinds of category shift are illustrated with data primarily from Modern Greek.


Dvandva or co-ordinative compounds are a type of compounding in which the component stems are of the same word class (i.e. noun–noun, verb–verb, adjective–adjective), and have equal importance to each other as heads of the compound: no element of the compound describes the other nor are all elements qualifying a head outside of the compound as in other types of compounds. 

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.  

Folk etymology is the morphophonological reshaping of a word, normally one with opaque morphology, through its subconscious erroneous association with some other word(s) for the sake of semantic clarity and enhanced morphological transparency. Folk etymology proper is different from conscious re-etymologized coinages (ludative, normative) but also from other phenomena, such as reanalysis, back-formation, etc. Folk etymology has been a common phenomenon throughout the history of Greek.