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Newly formed compromise language that usually arises from a leveling of features distinguishing dialects of a common base language, or of features distinguishing several closely related languages. The new language is hence deregionalized and does not reflect social or political dominance of any one group of speakers. The classical example of a koine (as well as the source of the term) is Hellenistic Greek, which developed from Attic Greek through replacement of the most distinctively Attic features by features of Ionic or other dialects. A koine may serve as a lingua franca and often forms the basis of a new standard language.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on koine, visit Britannica.com.