Doric Greek -

Doric Greek

Doric Greek
RegionPeloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, Sicily, Italy
Erac. 800–100 BC; evolved into the Tsakonian language
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottologdori1248 [1]

Doric, or Dorian (Ancient Greek: Δωρισμός, romanizedDōrismós) was an Ancient Greek dialect. Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern Peloponnese as well as in Sicily, Epirus, Southern Italy, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea and some cities on the south east coast of Anatolia. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the "Western group" of classical Greek dialects. By Hellenistic times, under the Achaean League, an Achaean-Doric koiné language appeared, exhibiting many peculiarities common to all Doric dialects, which delayed the spread of the Attic-based Koine Greek to the Peloponnese until the 2nd century BC.[3]

It is widely accepted that Doric originated in the mountains of Epirus in northwestern Greece, the original seat of the Dorians. It was expanded to all other regions during the Dorian invasion (c. 1150 BC) and the colonisations that followed. The presence of a Doric state (Doris) in central Greece, north of the Gulf of Corinth, led to the theory that Doric had originated in northwest Greece or maybe beyond in the Balkans. The dialect's distribution towards the north extends to the Megarian colony of Byzantium and the Corinthian colonies of Potidaea, Epidamnos, Apollonia and Ambracia; there, it further added words to what would become the Albanian language,[4][5] probably via traders from a now-extinct Illyrian intermediary.[6] In the north, local epigraphical evidence includes the decrees of the Epirote League, the Pella curse tablet, three additional lesser known Macedonian inscriptions (all of them identifiable as Doric),[7] numerous inscriptions from a number of Greek colonies, etc.. Furthermore, we also have plenty of local coins and names that assist us in our study of the northern Doric dialects. Southern dialects, in addition to numerous inscriptions, coins, and names, have also provided much more literary evidence through authors such as Alcman, Pindar, Archimedes of Syracuse, and many others, all of whom wrote in Doric. Last, we also have ancient dictionaries, such as the one from Hesychius of Alexandria, whose work preserved many dialectal words from throughout the Greek-speaking world.



Doric proper

Where the Doric dialect group fits in the overall classification of ancient Greek dialects depends to some extent on the classification. Several views are stated under Greek dialects. The prevalent theme of most views listed there is that Doric is a subgroup of West Greek. Some use the terms Northern Greek or Northwest Greek instead. The geographic distinction is only verbal and ostensibly is misnamed: all of Doric was spoken south of "Southern Greek" or "Southeastern Greek."

Be that as it may, "Northern Greek" is based on a presumption that Dorians came from the north and on the fact that Doric is closely related to Northwest Greek. When the distinction began is not known. All the "northerners" might have spoken one dialect at the time of the Dorian invasion; certainly, Doric could only have further differentiated into its classical dialects when the Dorians were in place in the south. Thus West Greek is the most accurate name for the classical dialects.

Tsakonian, a descendant of Laconian Doric (Spartan), is still spoken on the southern Argolid coast of the Peloponnese, in the modern prefectures of Arcadia and Laconia. Today it is a source of considerable interest to linguists, and an endangered dialect.

The dialects of the Doric Group are as follows:


Laconian was spoken by the population of Laconia in the southern Peloponnese and also by its colonies, Taras and Herakleia in Magna Graecia. Sparta was the seat of ancient Laconia.

Laconian is attested in inscriptions on pottery and stone from the seventh century BC. A dedication to Helen dates from the second quarter of the seventh century. Taras was founded in 706 and its founders must already have spoken Laconic.

Many documents from the state of Sparta survive, whose citizens called themselves Lacedaemonians after the name of the valley in which they lived. Homer calls it "hollow Lacedaemon", though he refers to a pre-Dorian period. The seventh century Spartan poet Alcman used a dialect that some consider to be predominantly Laconian. Philoxenus of Alexandria wrote a treatise On the Laconian dialect.


Argolic was spoken in the thickly settled northeast Peloponnese at, for example, Argos, Mycenae, Hermione, Troezen, Epidaurus, and as close to Athens as the island of Aegina. As Mycenaean Greek had been spoken in this dialect region in the Bronze Age, it is clear that the Dorians overran it but were unable to take Attica. The Dorians went on from Argos to Crete and Rhodes.

Ample inscriptional material of a legal, political and religious content exists from at least the sixth century BC.


Corinthian was spoken first in the isthmus region between the Peloponnesus and mainland Greece; that is, the Isthmus of Corinth. The cities and states of the Corinthian dialect region were Corinth, Sicyon, Archaies Kleones, Phlius, the colonies of Corinth in western Greece: Corcyra, Leucas, Anactorium, Ambracia and others, the colonies in and around Italy: Syracuse, Sicily and Ancona, and the colonies of Corcyra: Dyrrachium, and Apollonia. The earliest inscriptions [permanent dead link] at Corinth date from the early sixth century BC. They use a Corinthian epichoric alphabet. (See under Attic Greek.)

Corinth contradicts the prejudice that Dorians were rustic militarists, as some consider the speakers of Laconian to be. Positioned on an international trade route, Corinth played a leading part in the re-civilizing of Greece after the centuries of disorder and isolation following the collapse of Mycenaean Greece.

Northwest Doric

The Northwest Doric[8] (or "Northwest Greek", with "Northwest Doric" now considered more accurate so as not to distance the group from Doric proper[8]) group is closely related to Doric proper, while sometimes there is no distinction between Doric and the Northwest Doric. Whether it is to be considered a part of the Doric Group or the latter a part of it or the two considered subgroups of West Greek, the dialects and their grouping remain the same. West Thessalian and Boeotian had come under a strong Northwest Doric influence.

While Northwest Doric is generally seen as a dialectal group,[8] dissenting views exist, such as that of Méndez-Dosuna, who argues that Northwest Doric is not a proper dialectal group but rather merely a case of areal dialectal convergence.[9] Throughout the Northwest Doric area, most internal differences did not hinder mutual understanding, though Filos, citing Bubenik, notes that there were certain cases where a bit of accommodation may have been necessary.[10]

The earliest epigraphic texts for Northwest Doric date to the 6th-5th century BCE.[8] These are thought to provide evidence for Northwest Doric features, especially the phonology and morphophonology, but most of the features thus attributed to Northwest Doric are not exclusive to it.[8] The Northwest Doric dialects differ from the main Doric Group dialects in the below features:[11]

  1. Dative plural of the third declension in -οις (-ois) (instead of -σι (-si)): Ἀκαρνάνοις ἱππέοις Akarnanois hippeois for Ἀκαρνᾶσιν ἱππεῦσιν Akarnasin hippeusin (to the Acarnanian knights).
  2. ἐν (en) + accusative (instead of εἰς (eis)): en Naupakton (into Naupactus).
  3. -στ (-st) for -σθ (-sth): γενέσται genestai for genesthai (to become), μίστωμα mistôma for misthôma (payment for hiring).
  4. ar for er: amara /Dor. amera/Att. hêmera (day), Elean wargon for Doric wergon and Attic ergon (work)
  5. Dative singular in -oi instead of -ôi: τοῖ Ἀσκλαπιοῖ, Doric τῷ Ἀσκλαπιῷ, Attic Ἀσκληπιῷ (to Asclepius)
  6. Middle participle in -eimenos instead of -oumenos

The dialects are as follows:


This dialect was spoken in Phocis and in its main settlement, Delphi. Because of that it is also cited as Delphian.[citation needed] Plutarch says that Delphians pronounce b in the place of p (βικρὸν for πικρὸν)[12]



The dialect of Elis is considered, after Aeolic Greek, one of the most difficult for the modern reader of epigraphic texts[14] (earliest c. 600 BC)[15]

Northwest Doric koina

The Northwest Doric koina refers to a supraregional North-West common variety that that emerged in the third and second centuries BCE, and was used in the official texts of the Aetolian League.[16] Such texts have been found in W. Locris, Phocis, and Phtiotis, among other sites.[17] It contained a mix a of native Northwest Doric dialectal elements and Attic forms.[18] It was apparently based on the most general features of Northwest Doric, eschewing less common local traits.[16][19]

Its rise was driven by both linguistic and non-linguistic factors, with non-linguistic motivating factors including the spread of the rival Attic-Ionic koine after it was recruited by the Macedonian state for administration, and the political unification of a vast territories by the Aetolian League and the state of Epirus.[16] The Northwest Doric koina was thus both a linguistic and a political rival of the Attic-Ionic koina.[16]


Ancient Macedonian

A school of thought maintains that the Ancient Macedonian language may have been a Greek dialect, possibly of the Northwestern group in particular,[25][26][27][28][29][30] although other scholars would classify Macedonian as a separate marginal or "deviant Greek dialect" on its own.[31]



Long a

Proto-Greek long *ā is retained as ā, in contrast to Attic developing a long open ē (eta) in at least some positions.

Compensatory lengthening of e and o

In certain Doric dialects (Severe Doric), *e and *o lengthen by compensatory lengthening or contraction to eta or omega, in contrast to Attic ei and ou (spurious diphthongs).

Contraction of a and e

Contraction: Proto-Greek *ae > Doric ē (eta) ~ Attic ā.


Proto-Greek *eo, *ea > some Doric dialects' io, ia.

Proto-Greek *a

Proto-Greek short *a > Doric short a ~ Attic e in certain words.


Proto-Greek *-ti

Proto-Greek *-ti is retained (assibilated to -si in Attic).

Proto-Greek *ts

Proto-Greek *ts > -ss- between vowels. (Attic shares the same development, but further shortens the geminate to -s-.)


Initial *w (ϝ) is preserved in earlier Doric (lost in Attic).

Literary texts in Doric and inscriptions from the Hellenistic age have no digamma.


For information on the peculiarities of Doric accentuation, see Ancient Greek accent#Dialect variation


Numeral tetores ~ Attic tettares, Ionic tesseres "four".

Ordinal prātos ~ Attic–Ionic prōtos "first".

Demonstrative pronoun tēnos "this" ~ Attic–Ionic (e)keinos

t for h (from Proto-Indo-European s) in article and demonstrative pronoun.

Third person plural, athematic or root aorist -n ~ Attic -san.

First person plural active -mes ~ Attic–Ionic -men.

Future -se-ō ~ Attic -s-ō.

Modal particle ka ~ Attic–Ionic an.

Temporal adverbs in -ka ~ Attic–Ionic -te.

Locative adverbs in -ei ~ Attic/Koine -ou.

Future tense

The aorist and future of verbs in -izō, -azō has x (versus Attic/Koine s).

Similarly k before suffixes beginning with t.



Doric proper




Magna Graecian Doric






See also


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Doric" . Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51.
  3. ^ Buck, Carl Darling (1900). "The Source of the So-Called Achaean-Doric κοινη". American Journal of Philology. 21 (2): 193–196. doi:10.2307/287905 .
  4. ^ Çabej, E. (1961). "Die alteren Wohnsitze der Albaner auf der Balkanhalbinsel im Lichte der Sprache und der Ortsnamen". VII Congresso internaz. di sciense onomastiche: 241–251.; Albanian version BUShT 1962:1.219-227
  5. ^ Eric Hamp. Birnbaum, Henrik; Puhvel, Jaan (eds.). The position of Albanian, Ancient IE dialects, Proceedings of the Conference on IE linguistics held at the University of California, Los Angeles, April 25–27, 1963 .
  6. ^ Huld, Martin E. (1986). "Accentual Stratification of Ancient Greek Loanwords in Albanian". Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung (99.2): 245–253.
  7. ^ O’Neil, James. 26th Conference of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies, 2005.
  8. ^ a b c d e Filos, Panagiotis (December 18, 2017). Giannakis, Georgios; Crespo, Emilio; Filos, Panagiotis (eds.). The Dialectal Variety of Epirus. Walter de Gruyter. p. 227. The North-West group together with Doric (proper) formed the so-called 'West Greek' major dialectal group (or simply 'Doric...). However, the term 'North-West Doric' is considered more accurate nowadays... since there is more emphasis on the many features that are common to both groups rather than on their less numerous and largely secondary differences.
  9. ^ Los dialectos dorios del Noroeste. Gramática y estudio dialectal (in Spanish). Salamanca. 1985. p. 508.
  10. ^ Filos, Panagiotis (December 18, 2017). Giannakis, Georgios; Crespo, Emilio; Filos, Panagiotis (eds.). The Dialectal Variety of Epirus. Walter de Gruyter. p. 230.
  11. ^ Mendez Dosuna -Doric dialects, p.452
  12. ^ Goodwin, William Watson (1874). Plutarch's Morals, tr. by several hands. Corrected and revised by W.W. Goodwin .CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) Greek questions 9
  13. ^ IG IX,1² 3:609
  14. ^ Sophie Minon, Les Inscriptions Éléennes Dialectale - Reviewed by Stephen Colvin [1]
  15. ^ Die Inschriften von Olympia - IvO 1
  16. ^ a b c d Filos, Panagiotis (December 18, 2017). Giannakis, Georgios; Crespo, Emilio; Filos, Panagiotis (eds.). The Dialectal Variety of Epirus. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 230–233.
  17. ^ Vit Bubenik (1989). Hellenistic and Roman Greece as a Sociolinguistic Area. Amsterdam. pp. 193–213.
  18. ^ Wojciech Sowa (2018). "44. The dialectology of Greek". In Fritz, Matthias; Joseph, Brian; Klein, Jared (eds.). Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics. De Gruyter Mouton. p. 715. ISBN 978-3-11-054036-9. In different regions of Greece, however, different sorts of koinai emerged, of which the best known was the Doric Koinē, preserving general Doric features, but without local differences, and with an admixture of Attic forms. As in the case of the Doric Koinē, the Northwest Koinē (connected with the so-called Aetolian League) displayed the same mixture of native dialectal elements with Attic elements.
  19. ^ S. Minon (2014). "Diffusion de l'attique et expansion des koinai dans le Pélopponèse et en Grèce centrale". Actes de la journée internationale de dialectologie grecque du 18 mars 2011, université Paris-Ouest Nanterre. Geneva. pp. 1–18.
  20. ^ Potter, John (1751). Archaeologia Graeca Or the Antiquities of Greece . C. Strahan.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  21. ^ Lamelles Oraculaires 77
  22. ^ Lewis, D. M.; Boardman, John (1994). The Cambridge Ancient History . Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-23348-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  23. ^ Auroux, Sylvain (2000). Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaften. Bd. 2/1.: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Entwicklung der Sprachforschung von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart . Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-011103-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  24. ^ Cabanes, L'Épire 534,1
  25. ^ Masson, Olivier (2003) [1996]. "[Ancient] Macedonian language" . In Hornblower, S.; Spawforth A. (eds.). The Oxford Classical Dictionary (revised 3rd ed.). USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 905–906. ISBN 0-19-860641-9.
  26. ^ Hammond, N.G.L (1993) [1989]. The Macedonian State. Origins, Institutions and History (reprint ed.). USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814927-1.
  27. ^ Michael Meier-Brügger, Indo-European linguistics, Walter de Gruyter, 2003, p.28, on Google books
  28. ^ Roisman, Worthington, 2010, "A Companion to Ancient Macedonia", Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 95:"This (i.e. Pella curse tablet) has been judged to be the most important ancient testimony to substantiate that Macedonian was a north-western Greek and mainly a Doric dialect".
  29. ^ "...but we may tentatively conclude that Macedonian is a dialect related to North-West Greek.", Olivier Masson, French linguist, “Oxford Classical Dictionary: Macedonian Language”, 1996.
  30. ^ Masson & Dubois 2000, p. 292: "...<<Macedonian Language>> de l'Oxford Classical Dictionary, 1996, p. 906: <<Macedonian may be seen as a Greek dialect, characterized by its marginal position and by local pronunciation (like Βερενίκα for Φερενίκα etc.)>>."
  31. ^ Brian Joseph sums up that "[t]he slender evidence is open to different interpretations, so that no definitive answer is really possible", but cautions that "most likely, Ancient Macedonian was not simply an Ancient Greek dialect on a par with Attic or Aeolic" (B. Joseph (2001): "Ancient Greek". In: J. Garry et al. (eds.) Facts about the world's major languages: an encyclopedia of the world's major languages, past and present. Online paper ) In this sense, some authors also call it a "deviant Greek dialect."
  32. ^ Plutarch Greek question 51
  33. ^ Dionysism and Comedy [2] by Xavier Riu
  34. ^ Raphael Kühner, Friedrich Blass, Ausführliche Grammatik der Griechischen Sprache [3]
  35. ^ Elis — Olympia — bef. c. 500-450 BC IvO 7
  36. ^ Epeiros — Dodona — 4th c. BC SEG 15:397
  37. ^ The Oracles of Zeus: Dodona, Olympia, Ammon - Page 261 [4] by Herbert William Parke
  38. ^ Epeiros — Dodona — ~340 BC SEG 26.700 - Trans.
  39. ^ Alexander the Great: A Reader [5] by Ian Worthing
  40. ^ Greek Mythography in the Roman World [6] By Alan Cameron (Aspetides)[7]
  41. ^ (cf. Athenian secretary: Aspetos, son of Demostratos from Kytheros ~340 BC)[8]
  42. ^ Pokorny - aspetos

Further reading

External links

Categories: Doric Greek | Ancient Greek language | Languages of ancient Macedonia | Languages of ancient Anatolia | Languages of ancient Crete | Languages of ancient Italy | Ancient Greek culture | Greek language | Languages of Greece | Languages attested from the 8th century BC | 8th-century establishments in Europe | Languages extinct in the 1st century BC | 1st-century BC disestablishments

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