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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

How to Learn the Basic Word List      253
(Part IV) of The Loom is a list of Greek words used to build inter-
national technical terms.
Both in its ancient and modern form, Greek stands apart from other
languages of the Aryan family Two thousand five hundred years ago,
closely related dialects were spoken throughout the Balkan peninsula,
the Aegean Islands, including Cyprus and Crete, in the western part of
Asia Minor, and in many settlements of the Black Sea That people who
spoke these dialects could understand one another was the only tie
between all the constantly warring and rarely united communities called
collectively Ancient Greece By the fourth century B c, a common
standard for written communication based on mainland Aruc was
accepted. This koine., which was officially adopted by the Macedonian
kings, supplanted all its local competitors (Ionic, Done, Aeolic, Arca-
dian, Corinthian, etc) except Spartan, which still survives locally in
modern Greece as Tsacoman The koine spread over the Near and
Middle East After the division of the Macedonian Empire, it disinte-
grated into regional forms such as the Macedonian Greek of the main-
land and the Alexandrian Greek into which the Jews of Egypt trans-
lated their Old Testament (Septuaginta) Even in the third century A D
the Western Church relied mainly on Greek During the fourth, it
began to die out in Gaul, Spain, Italy, and North Africa, and Augustine
could not read Plato in the original When Constantinople fell to the
Turks in the fifteenth century Greek survived as a living language
only in vernaculars restricted to the southernmost portion of the
Balkan peninsula and its vicinity
There was little vernacular writing before Greece won its indepen-
dence from the Turks in 1827 Thereafter classical models had a strong
influence on the form adopted As a written language, modern Greek
is therefore a product, and a highly artificial product, of the last century.
The gap between the written and the spoken language is greater than in
any other European language While Italian spelling has become more
phonetic with the march of time, Greek spelling has relinquished the
claims of convenience to cherish an historic memory of departed glory.
A modern movement to bring the literary language nearer to the
spoken has met with no success In 1911, students of the University of
Athens demonstrated in public against the proposal to translate the
Bible into folk-Greek. Excluding the vocative, classical Greek had four
case-forms corresponding to those of Old Norse, Old English, and Old
German Modern Greek, as prescribed in the text-books used in the
schools, retains three case-forms of the adjective, noun, and article, and