Wiktionary:About Greek

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In Wiktionary Greek refers to the language spoken by the Greek people as it has developed since
the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.   About Ancient Greek gives guidance for earlier forms.

What I liked about Greece was not just poems and not just books, but the impressive force of the language itself, unconfined by dictionaries, spoken in the streets, in cafes and in the country.
—   Peter Levi. The Hill of Kronos. 1980   —



The definitions here in English Wiktionary are written in English followed by a translations section for single term translations where they have been created. Βικιλεξικό the Greek Wiktionary is where definitions in Greek may be found. About Greek is intended as an aid for editors adding Greek terms here. It should be read in conjunction with Entry layout explained; Help:Contents and a Help:Index are available. When structuring entries editors can do little better than by referring to the collection of Model Greek pages, there is also Glossary of terms particular to Greek grammar. In Greek language entries are divided between Greek, Ancient Greek, Mycenaean Greek, a break down of these terms may be found below.

Entry Structure


Forms of Greek

  1. Greek — the forms of Greek written or spoken since 1453, including:
    • Standard Modern Greek — the contemporary official language taught in Greek schools since 1982, it integrates elements from previous phases.
    • Katharevousa — the classically based "cleansed" Greek language. With words from both Ancient and vernacular Greek, it was created at the start of Greece's independence and used for formal and official purposes until 1976.
    • Demotic Greek (Δημοτική γλώσσα) — the spoken vernacular of the people, which evolved from Ancient Greek. It is the term used since independence in 1821 and became the official language in 1976.
  2. Ancient Greek (generally) — used since the invention of the Greek alphabet in about 800 BCE and spoken since at least 1500 that:
    • Ancient Greek (strictly) — the Greek of Homer and Aristotle, including its dialects, in use before say 300 BCE.
    • Classical Greek — sometimes synonymous with Ancient Greek, often refers to the language of Greek classical literature (500-300 BCE).
    • Koine (Hellenistic, Alexandrian or New Testament Greek) — the common language of the eastern Mediterranean used from say 300 BCE until 300 CE; but continuing in use in the Byzantine empire and still found in the Greek Church liturgy. When used by a Greek speaker κοινή (koiní, common, standard) may be used to refer Standard Modern Greek.
    • Medieval or Byzantine Greek — in use from about 325 CE until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.
  3. Mycenaean Greek — the language of Linear B the most ancient attested form of Greek used between 1600 and 1100 BCE.
  4. Other Greek varieties include:

Orthography — writing Greek


Since 1982 Standard Modern Greek (SMG) using the monotonic diacritical system, has been taught in Greek schools. The historically inherited polytonic system has more diacritical marks, although avoided by the mass media it may still occasionally be encountered; it is harder to produce using a computer keyboard.

  • Monotonic — SMG has only two diacritical marks, both indicating stress: the accent (τόνος eg ί ) and the diaeresis (διαλυτικά eg ϊ ). The Windows help system will show how the standard English "QWERTY" keyboard can be used to produce text in the Greek script which will include these diacritics.
Greek keyboard layout (AltGr keys in blue sometimes available)
  • Polytonic — in contrast older varieties of Greek use more diacritical marks, although the system was slowly simplified with a reduction in number from about 1900. Producing these characters when editing text in Wiktionary can be accomplished by using the "special characters" window at the bottom of the "Edit" form, a choice of alphabets and symbol sets are available.
  • Fonts — all the fonts available in Windows should possess the characters necessary for monotonic display. "New Athena Unicode" is one recommended for use.




  • Holton D, Mackridge P and Philippaki-Warburton I. Greek: an essential grammar of the modern language, London: Routledge (2004, 2015).
  • Holton D, Mackridge P and Philippaki-Warburton I. Greek: a comprehensive grammar of the modern language, London: Routledge (1997, 2012).
  • Holton D, Mackridge P and Φιλιππάκη-Warburton I. (in Greek) Βασική γραμματική της σύγχρονης ελληνικής γλώσσας, Athens
  • Jordanidou, Anna. (in Greek) Τα Ρήματα της Νέας Ελληνικής [Modern Greek Verbs], Athens: Patakis Publishers (1991, …, 2004).
  • Triandaphyllidis M A (trans. Burke J N). Concise Modern Greek Grammar, Thessaloniki: Institute of Modern Greek Studies (2004).
  • Browning, Robert. Medieval & Modern Greek, Cambridge University Press (1969).
  • Horrocks, Geoffrey. Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers, 2nd edition, Wiley (2014).
  • Moleas, Wendy. The Development of the Greek Language, Bristol Classical Press (1989).