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Indo-European language spoken mostly in Greece. Its history can be divided into four phases: Ancient Greek, Koine, Byzantine Greek, and Modern Greek. Ancient Greek is subdivided into Mycenaean Greek (14th–13th centuries BC) and Archaic and Classical Greek (8th–4th centuries BC). The language of the latter periods had numerous dialects (e.g., Ionic, Attic). The second phase, Koine (Hellenistic Greek), arose during the reign of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. A common language with simplified grammar, it spread throughout the Hellenized world. Purists who rejected Koine as a corruption of Attic Greek successfully advocated adoption of the Classical language for all writing. Thus, the written form, Byzantine Greek (5th–15th centuries AD), stayed rooted in the Attic tradition while the spoken language continued to develop. Modern Greek, dating from the 15th century, has many local dialects. Standard Modern Greek, Greece's official written and spoken language, is largely based on a form called Demotic (used in popular speech) but includes elements of Katharevusa, the written language formerly used in government and public life.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Greek language, visit Britannica.com.
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