The Greek language family, one of the oldest families of the Indo-European classification system, has, linguistically, only one main offshoot: Modern Greek (as it is spoken in Greece today). Yet, the importance of this language family is so astronomical, due to its effect on the formation of the English language, a Germanic language, and many other languages, particularly the Italic, or Romance languages. Many of our word stems and roots come from Greek, particularly Ancient Greek. Many alphabets, including ours, the Roman alphabet, and the Cyrillic alphabet (used in Slavic languages), are based upon the Greek alphabet. The Greek alphabet is based on that of the Ancient Phoenicians, around the time of 700 B.C.E. The Greek language has one family, GREEK (Ancient). As you will see below, I have provided a bit of information (including some samples) of the Greek family.
I) (Ancient Greek)--Although I usually do not give an explanation of the families and sub-families themselves, I believe it to be essential that a brief description of Ancient Greek be given in order to understand Modern Greek. There were four main dialects of Ancient Greek: Ionic (including Attic, the language of Athens and of Ancient Greek literature), Aeolic, Arcado-Cyprian, and Doric. Ancient Greek has not always been written in the standard Greek alphabet. Before adapting the alphabet of the Phoenicians, Ancient Greek had been a written language for perhaps as long as 700 years before. The oldest form of Greek, was that spoken in Crete and at Mycenae and Pylos on the mainland. The written form of this language was termed Linear B, and has still not really been totally deciphered. The Ionic dialect, along with its own dialect, Attic, became the most important regarding contributions to the Greek language. The Iliad and Odyssey were both originally written in the Ionic dialect. As time went by, the philosophers of Athens, such as Plato and Aristotle, employed the Attic form of the Ionic dialect. Thus, it became the standard of classical Ancient Greek, and subsequently, the basis for Modern Greek. Below, I have an example of Phoenician script (no translation available). The Ancient Greek script looks just like the modern script, so I will furnish an example with the Modern Greek description (from World Book Encyclopedia).
II) Modern Greek--Modern Greek is, of course, the Greek as it is spoken today in modern-day Greece, as well as in Cyprus, and in portions of Albania and Macedonia. Modern Greek arose around the period of 900 CE. The written language very closely resembles that of the ancient koine, i.e., a simplified form of the Attic dialect. Today, the language has two forms: demotic and katharevousa. Demotic is the standard spoken and literary form, and katharevousa is the form used in official documents and scientific books. Greek is a very beautiful language when spoken. It does, of course, have many dialects, depending on the region (World Book Encyclopedia). Below is a written sample of Modern Greek (see also Ancient Greek, above):
This is the modern Greek alphabet as it is used today:
Aa Bb Gg Dd
Ee Zz Hh Qq Ii Kk Ll Mm
Alpha Beta Gamma Delta Epsilon Zeta Eta Theta Iota Kappa Lambda Mu Nu Xi
Oo Pp Rr Ss Tt Uu Ff Cc Yy Ww
Omicron Pi Rho Sigma Tau Upsilon Phi Chi Psi Omega
--I would like to thank you for taking the time to peruse my page about the Greek language family. This is a language which must be cherished for all time, as Greek is not only the language from which we acquired much of our own, but Greece is the very nation from which Western Civilization got its start.