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CivilizationCivilization in ByzantiumLanguage in Byzantium

Language in Byzantium

Late Antiquity (324-565)
Dark Antiquity (565-867)
Middle and Late Byzantine periods (867-1430)

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Inscribed brick from the Taxiarchis of the Metropolis
Drawing of the inscribed brick from the church of the Taxiarchis of the Metropolis, with a rhyming incantation written in the rernacular of the time, second half of 9th century, Kastoria.

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Inscribed brick from the Taxiarchis of the Metropolis
Second half of 9th century

There are few sources concerning the language in the dark ages, a time of turmoil, barbarian incursions and population movements. This period, however, appears to have played a decisive part in the formation of the Modern Greek dialects. For instance, during this period the short forms of several words that are used to this day were formed by dropping the initial and final unstressed vowels, as in 'ospition' > 'spiti' (house), 'opsarion' > 'psari' (fish), 'eroto' > 'roto' (ask) etc.

In this period the spoken language continued to acquire loan-words from other tongues: mainly from Latin, as in Late Antiquity, and possibly from Slavonic as well, since Slav-speaking populations started settling in Macedonia (although the majority of the population remained Greek-speaking). Compounding was another source of new vocabulary that was greatly used in this period, as in 'toxofaretron' (bow and quiver), 'eisoexodos' (entry and exit), 'asproforeo' (to wear white) etc.

See Also
Civilization - Language in Antiquity
From the Archaic period to Alexander III
The traditional Macedonian dialect
The Ionic presence
The Attic influence


Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.