Loanwords I. Hellenic
Nothing is ever simple.
A sketch of present-day languages and IE branches in Europe
(high-resolution version, 661 KiB)
- ■ Lemizh
- ■ Celtic
- ■ Hellenic [B. = Brugian, Hept. = Heptengian]
- ■ Waldaiic
- ■ Sabellic
- ■ Albanian [A.]
- ■ Armenian
- ■ Uralic (non-Indo-European) [M. = Magyar]
- ■ Basque (non-Indo-European)
While a number of words took a direct course from Proto-Lemizh or Ghean into Modern Lemizh, many others originated from neighbouring languages. The most important sources are the Hellenic, Waldaiic and Celtic branches of IE, but the Sabellic branch contributed as well. A couple of words were borrowed from Uralic languages, and modern times have introduced some African, American and Austronesian ones.
Because of its rigid word structure and unwillingness to pronounce alien sounds, Lemizh has always had difficulties incorporating foreign words in their original shape. Consequently, it has a strong tendency to assimilate words phonetically, and in modern times frequently reduces the number of syllables by introducing a poststem:
- *edmundÌ. > edmÌjd. ‘Edmund’ (poststem with fortition of n to j)
Often, however, the issue is bypassed by forming calques (loan translations):
- scrapeiskyè. ‘skyscraper’ from Modern Greek ουρανοξύστης, lit. ‘sky-scraper’
- mÌs. ‘mouse’, but also ‘computer mouse’ following the usage of the British word lač ‘mouse’
Hellenic is an Indo-European branch of languages classified as centum, meaning it (originally) preserved Proto-Indo-European labiovelar plosives, while the palatals merged with the ordinary velars. The first Hellenes arrived on the Balkans in the early or middle second millennium BC.
Early Hellenic loanwords in Old Lemizh stem from a southern dialect, likely a close relative (if not an ancestor) of Mycenaean Greek, and are mostly related to agriculture and stockbreeding.
Present-day Hellenic languages include Greek, Troyan in Asia Minor, and Heptengian in Transylvania. Brugian, spoken to the north of the Sea of Marmara, is descended from a language closely related to Proto-Hellenic.
Phonology of Southern Hellenic
The vowels *a *e *i *o *u and the diphthongs *ai *ei *oi *au *eu *ou all had short and long versions.
The consonants were:
|Plosives||*p • *b||*t • *d||*k • *g||*q • *q̌|
|Fricatives||*s • *z||*h|
† *n was pronounced [ŋ] before velars.
Aspirates are plosives with an additional burst of air, as in English ‘pill, till, kill’ (as opposed to ‘spill, still, skill’). The glides *y and *w were nonsyllabic allophones (variants) of the vowels *i and *u, respectively. *l *m *n *r had syllabic allophones transcribed as *l̥ *m̥ *n̥ *r̥. Hellenic had a mobile pitch accent: as in PIE, the prominent syllable was distinguished by a higher pitch.
Diachronically, the Proto-Indo-European palatals merged with the velars (‘centum merger’); *bʰ *dʰ *gʰ *gʷʰ were devoiced; larnygeal consonants vanished while their vocalic allophones merged with *e *a *o, respectively; *s was weakened to *h in many environments; among other changes.
Verbal morphology is rather complex, having innovated a future tense and a passive voice (in addition to the PIE middle) as well as a fair number of participles. We cite Southern Hellenic verbs in the first person singular present indicative active, as is custom (‑ō for thematic verbs, ‑mi for athematic ones, and ‑mai for deponents, i.e. verbs with middle/passive forms but active meaning).
The number of cases has been reduced to six. The citation form of nouns is the nominative singular. For thematic nouns, it mostly ended in ‑os, ‑ā, ‑on for masculine, feminine and neuter words, respectively. Athematic nouns ended in ‑s (masculine, feminine) or were endingless (neuter and words which lost the ‑s due to sound change).
- Jack Nodwhich and Chevalier Mints (1965). No documents in Ancient Greek? Cambridge University Press.
The Koine (κοινή ‘common’) was a Southern Hellenic language, and the language of the Hellenic empire from about 300 BC to 300 AD. The heartland was of course the Greek peninsula, but Koine Greek was the lingua franca from central Europe and northern Africa to Persia.
Late Middle Lemizh borrowed Koine words relating to geometry, architecture, seafaring, poetry, and politics. In modern times, scholars often derive technical terms from the Koine, much as we do from Latin (and also from Classical Greek).
Phonology and orthography
The Koine had the usual five vowels, written α ε ι ο υ in the Greek alphabet, with the long versions ᾱ η ῑ ω ῡ. (The macrons ¯ were not usually written down in Koine orthography.) υ came to be pronounced [y] in its short and long versions, and the old Hellenic diphthongs *ei *ou were monophthongised to η and ου [uː], respectively.
The consonants were as follows. (Note: The transcription that appears when you hover the mouse over Greek letters is unified for all languages using this alphabet; it does not necessarily reflect pronunciation.)
|Plosives||π • β||τ • δ||κ • γ*|
|Plosives + s§||ψ /ps/||ζ /zd/||ξ /ks/|
* γ is a nasal before κ γ χ ξ and a plosive elsewhere.
† σ was written ς word-finally.
‡ /h/ only occurred word-initially before a vowel. The symbol ῾ (dasia) was placed above the vowel: ἁ ἑ etc. Words beginning with a vowel were written with ᾿ (psili) above it: ἀ ἐ etc.
§ These letters are digraphs (shorthands for sequences of two sounds).
The Koine still had a mobile pitch-accent.
Prominent developments from older stages of the language are: The labiovelars merged with the other plosives (with the alveolars before ε η, otherwise mostly becoming labials); the aspirates became voiceless fricatives; *y was eliminated; *s vanished when adjacent to liquids; and *h *w also tended to disappear.
The Greek alphabet, by the way, is used to write all Hellenic languages except Heptengian which is written in the Lemizh script, as well as Danubian, Albanian and the Sabellic languages.
No major morphological changes have occurred since Proto-South-Hellenic. Koine verbs are also cited in the first person singular present (‑ω, ‑μι, ‑μαι), nouns in the nominative singular (‑ος, ‑ᾱ, ‑ον, ‑ς, ‑∅ as well as ‑η for feminine words due to sound change).
- Herbert Weir Smyth and Gordon M. Messing (1956). Greek Grammar (Revised edition). Harvard University Press.
Old Troyan is also a Southern Hellenic language that developed in parallel to mainland Greek on the other side of the Aegean, in Asia Minor. Not surprisingly, we find numerous Hittite loans in its lexicon, but also Lemizh and Waldaiic ones. Legend dates its beginning to the Troyan War in the 13th or 12th century BC, but that would leave hardly enough time to explain the sound shifts and grammatical changes we see by around 900 BC.
Old Troyan loanwords in Middle Lemizh, often reflecting Asian influences, date from the centuries after the Ghean rule.
Phonology and orthography
The language was written in a version of the Greek alphabet. The vowels α ε ι ο υ and their long counterparts were usually pronounced as in Greek (υ retaining its old value of [u]), except for the vowel in the penultimate syllable which was pronounced [a͜u e͜a e͜i o͜u e͜u], respectively, unless long or followed by more than one consonant (including the ‘silent ϲ’): γυν [ɰun], γυνα [ˈɰe͜una], γυννα [ˈɰunna], γῡνα [ˈɰuːna], γυνϲα [ˈɰuna]. Additionally, the original six Greek ‘true’ diphthongs αι ει οι αυ ευ ου existed, albeit only in their short forms; and λ ρ had syllabic variants we will denote as λ̥ ρ̊. (Macros and rings were not written down in the original orthography.)
Here is the consonant inventory:
|Plosives*||ππ /p/ • π /b, p/||ττ /t/ • τ /d, t/||κκ, ϙ /k/ • κ /ɡ, k/|
|Fricatives||φ /f/ • ϝ† /v/||θ /θ/||σ (ς) /s/||χ /x/||ϲ /h/, ϲ̣‡ /hʷ/|
|Approximants||β /ʋ/||δ /ð̞/||γ /ɰ/|
|Plosives + z||ψ /bz/||ζ /dz/||ξ /ɡz/|
* Simple π τ κ were voiced except after μ ν γ /ŋ/; other unvoiced plosives were written as double letters: ππ ττ κκ /p t k/ (and ϙ /k/).
† ϝϝ is /ff/.
‡ ϲ̣, also written , was a labiovelar fricative [hʷ] or possibly [xʷ].
Polysyllabic words had stress accent on the penultimate syllable throughout.
Apart from the diphthongisations described above, notable developments from Proto-South-Hellenic include loss of syllabic nasals (which turned into ε or εN), loss of labiovelars apart from ϲ̣, and weakening of *s *w *y to ϲ in certain environments.
Old Troyan verbs were still heavily inflected, although the number of forms was reduced somewhat: the aorist was lost, the subjunctive and optative moods were merged, the middle voice developed into a pure passive, and there was no dual. Verbs are cited in the infinitive, which generally ended in ‑αι.
Noun morphology stayed largely unchanged apart from the loss of the dual; common nominative singular endings are ‑ος, ‑α, ‑ον, ‑ς, ‑∅.
- Amber van Miry and Barmen van Rhyme (1898). Notes Regarding the Old Troyan Inscriptions of Asia Minor and Major. Finnish Litterature Society.
- Cellar Dream* (2004). A Grammar of Old Troyan. Brill.
* This has to be a pseudonym, hasn’t it?
New Troyan (endonym ηλψσό /l̩pˈsu/) is spoken in present-day Asia Minor. A number of sound shifts have rendered it virtually unrecognisable as a Hellenic language.
Modern Lemizh loans comprise mostly legal terms.
Phonology and orthography
The vowels α ε ι ο υ ω are pronounced /a e i u y o/ (disregarding allophones), and [a͜i i͜u e͜i o͜u e͜u uː] in diphthong position (see Old Troyan above). Otherwise there are no long vowels. Word-final η is silent but counts as a vowel for determining the diphthong position. The pronunciation of υ as [y] is probably influenced by Greek. Word-initial ηλ ηρ ημ ην ηγ are syllabic resonants.
The consonants are:
|Plosives||ψ† /p/ • π /b/||ζ† /t/ • τ /d/||ξ† /k/ • κ /ɡ/|
|Fricatives||φ /f/||θ /θ/||σ /s/||ς /ʃ/||χ /x/||ϲ /h/|
|Approximants||β /ʋ/||δ /ð̞/||γ* /ɰ/|
|Plosives + z||ψ† /bz/||ζ† /dz/||ξ† /ɡz/|
* γ is a nasal before ξ σ ς, when doubled, and as word-initial ηγ, and an approximant elsewhere.
† ψ ζ ξ are /p t k/ in consonant clusters and /bz dz ɡz/ between vowels or between a vowel and a word boundary.
Accent falls on the penultimate or ultimate syllable.
Diachronically, the ultimate and antepenultimate vowels syncopated when short (the ultimate only if not preceded by a consonant cluster); long vowels were shortened (inserting silent ϲ if in diphthong position); diphthongs were shortened unless in diphthong position. Syncopation is the source of the syllabic resonants and of words accented on the ultimate syllable. Consonant clusters underwent complex – not to say quaternionic – shifts, which were elucidated by O. H. Fermi. Highlights include μρ > χ and νδρ > λζσ /lts/.
The Old Troyan infinitive ending ‑αι regularly developed into the present active indicative endings ‑ι and ‑α, which are used for all persons in singular and plural: φερ‑αι /ˈfe͜ara͜i/ ‘to bear’ > φερ‑ι /ˈfi͜uri/ ‘hold (up)’.
Thematic nouns and adjectives go back to the Old Troyan genitive absolute: Proto-South-Hellenic *híqq‑os ‘horse’, genitive *hiqq‑osyo > Old Troyan genitive ϲιϙϙω /ˈhikkoː/ > New Troyan ϲιξξω /ˈhikko/ in all singular cases. Athematic words, by contrast, continue the nominative: Proto-South-Hellenic *hál‑s ‘salt’ > Old Troyan nominative and New Troyan ϲαλ /hal/.
- Lord Herb Runlet I (1976). Troyan Grammar. MIT Press.