A critical lexicostatistical examination of Ancient and Modern Greek and Tsakonian

  • Nick Nicholas Независимый исследователь
Keywords: Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, Tsakonian, etymology, lexicostatistics

Abstract

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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Published
2019-09-12
Section
Applied Linguistics