A critical lexicostatistical examination of Ancient and Modern Greek and Tsakonian


  • Nick Nicholas Независимый исследователь




Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, Tsakonian, etymology, lexicostatistics


This article provides a lexicostatistical comparison of Ancient and Modern Greek Swadesh-100 vocabulary with data from the three recorded dialects of Tsakonian: Southern, Northern, and Propontis. Propontis Tsakonian (now extinct) has undergone the most influence from Modern Greek; Northern Tsakonian is known to have undergone more influence than Southern. Tsakonian is renowned for its Doric heritage, and there are some startling archaisms in its core vocabulary; but its lexicon overall takes Early Modern Greek rather than Doric or even Attic Greek as its departure point. Tsakonian phonology is distinctive compared to Modern Greek, which helps identify loanwords readily; the phonological developments that led from Ancient to Modern Greek, and from Ancient and Modern Greek to Tsakonian, are discussed in some detail. The etymologies of the Tsakonian forms in the Swadesh-100 vocabulary are also discussed in detail. There is a high number of cognates between Modern Greek and Tsakonian, that observe Tsakonian phonology, as well as a significant number of clear loanwords from Modern Greek that do not. Previous lexicostatistical studies on Tsakonian are examined, including the necessity for sound etymological analysis, and the challenges in identifying the primary term for a wordlist item; but also the fragility of interpreting the same etymological data, depending on one’s default assumptions about the relation between the two variants.


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Applied Linguistics