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



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Marie-Carolin Vondracek


Languages and Linguistics

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.

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 terminology of death varies in terms of register, i.e. literary and ‘official’ terms and ‘substandard’, colloquial and jargon terms, and in that there are terms that speak directly for death and dying, but as death is the prime taboo, talk about it is conducted mostly with metaphorical language. The colloquial terms seem to thrive with the formation of a large and varied range of expressions of death, often not of ‘panhellenic’ use but confined in place, genre, author or type of text. In any case, the resulting language of death is characterized by a profusion of expressive means.

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. 

Digraphia refers to two or more scripts or writing systems being used for a language or language variety, either simultaneously or in successive historical periods. The term has also been used for the description of individual authors or documents using two scripts. The terminology describing this phenomenon is rich and perplexing, with many alternative terms of identical or similar meaning proposed or adopted by different scholars. It has been identified as a phenomenon falling under sociolinguistics (sociolinguistics of writing, in particular). The concept of diglossia has been used to attempt to analyze digraphia sociolinguistically, though not without objections to its applicability and usefulness. The long history of the Greek language and alphabet offers many instances of digraphic situations, stemming from (language and) script contact, colonization and foreign rule, trade, and even technological developments. 

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.

The opposition Greeks vs barbarians is a term which initially referred exclusively to Greek vs. non-Greek-speaking: From the neutral connotation of this word from Homer to the Hellenistic age, barbaros  was associated with several and further meanings, such as stranger, foreigner, Persian, cultureless savage, uneducated/dumb, etc. One can observe the tendency towards a purely cultural perception of diversity, which could entirely exclude the linguistic reference, especially since Greek speakers themselves could also be called barbaroi. On the other hand, the self-perception of the Greeks as ‘Greek’ dates from the time of the city states, as witnessed in Herodotus’ famous statement about common descent (ὅμαιμον), language (ὁμόγλωσσον), religion and customs (ἤθεα ὁμότροπα; Herodotus 8.144.2–3). This of course was a later ‘external’ reflection on commonalities that were real but had to be explicitly expressed, since this kind of self-perception and sense of ethnic belonging had to be constructed first. From today’s perspective, the polarity between the Ionian and Doric tribes corresponded more to a polarity between different ethnic groups. Although the Greek tribes had shared ethnic bonds (e.g. language, ancestry, religion, customs), these commonalities were not necessarily perceived as such; they only developed via a historical process.

Besides the well-known Greek influence on Latin there was also influence of Greek on other Italic languages. The term ‘Italic’ but also the makeup of this group of languages normally require some clarifications, while one must also take into account the common problems of ancient fragmentary corpora. The study focus is on issues of scripts, loans, and bilingualism. Oscan was often written in Greek script, yet it is not only the alphabet, but also spelling conventions that show significant Greek influence. Greek loanwords are more common in Oscan than in Umbrian or Faliscan, which has partly to do with corpus size and partly with a higher degree of bilingualism among speakers of Oscan.


The entry deals with greetings, the courteous entries into an interaction which express the speaker’s pleasure at meeting someone or simply acknowledge his/her presence. It starts with some theoretical issues concerning the conventionalized nature of greetings, their multimodal realization, and the fact that they come in pairs rather than single utterances. Then, examples of Greek time-oriented and well-being-oriented greetings are presented and discussed.


Implicatures are non-logical inferences which testify to the discrepancy between what is strictly said and that may be conversationally conveyed. They are based on H.P. Grice’s (1975) proposal that ordinary conversations are regulated by a special set of rules governing conversation, which he calls the cooperative principle (CP) and comprises four maxims: quality, quantity, relation, and manner.