How different is Ancient Greek from Modern Greek?

The question says it all. Is there a large difference and evolution of the language across time? Some examples would be appreciated.

July 23, 2017


Maybe these videos from langfocus channel could make clear the evolution of the language: And how Greek influenced English (and other languages):

I hope it helps.

About your question, well, it depends on the period we are talking about. There are Homer's Greek, Classical Greek of the 5th-4th c. BC, Greek Koene of the period of Jesus, and later on, Byzantine Greek and finally Modern Greek, Demotiki.

In the meantime there were a split, the scholars insisted writing in Ancient Classical Greek, with varieties of course, and the people's language which evoluted through centuries. This gap was bridged just the last decades where the archaic katharevousa of the scholars were mixed with the simple language of the people to have the Modern language, which the Greeks call it Demotiki, some other Modern Standard Greek. So as one can say that except some idiomatic accents and phrases Modern Greek is a language to be taught even using an mobile app, as Duolingo, even this form is much anglicized, but this procedure is dynamic and the new tree will correct some of these problems.

July 23, 2017

Building off YPSILONZ's comment here - Classical Greek is definitely a different (very different) vocab set to modern, and also has a more complex grammar. Modern Greek has dropped several of the verb tenses and at least one of the noun cases. To make it even more complex, there are several dialects of "classical" Greek, all of which vary from each other in small or large degrees. In my experience, Attic (ca. 5th century BC) and Koine ('biblical") seem the most commonly taught in Classics or History departments where I am, but there are also ancient texts in non-Koine Hellenistic (ca. 3rd century BC) dialects, and poetry in Ionic, Doric and Aeolic dialects. I could read a page of Herodotus or Euripides in the original with no problems, but I'd need my lexicon for the non-Attic dialects, and would have no chance at all with a full page of modern Greek (yet!).

July 25, 2017

@psionpete Can you help me about Anglo Saxon. How many time the planet use Anglo Saxon test? Platon, Aristotle are the more famous in the planet today. The root of many English words is ancient greek and the same for French

July 23, 2017

~60% Latin/French, 6-7% Greek(or pre Greek) in English vocabulary

March 14, 2018

Cause Im Greek, I bearly understand the ancient greek without learning them..They are different..It's like another language with some common words

July 24, 2017

Classic Greek (5th century BC) and Modern Greek are different languages! Several Greeks try to deny this simple truth either because they need to feel connected with the glorious past or because they have been brainwashed to think so by the education system.
Proof is that classic greek drama is always performed translated in Modern Greek, otherwise nobody would understand a thing from the dialogue. Completely unlike Shakespeare's plays in English, where even a non-native speaker such as myself can reasonably follow the original text.
That's also why Classic Greek is being taught at greek schools for like 6 plus years and yet the vast majority of greek students not only have absolutely no idea about the language, but they also hate it with a passion. Because they don't teach it as a foreign language like they should!
The magnitude of the difference is similar to the difference between Latin and Italian. A modern Greek with no classical education presented with a Classic Greek text will be able to recognize a handful of words here and there, half of which have a changed meaning in Modern Greek. He/she won't even be able to tell what the text is about.

July 24, 2017

It is a matter of point of view. What makes a language different? Intelligibility? So some dialects in Modern Greeks as the rural Cypriot Greek cannot easily understood by a speaker in Athens. And if it so, in the oral speech or in the written one? A percentage that is critical? My grandma knew just only to read and write but could understand the liturgy in church and the Gospels, not all of course, but she was used so much to these words to sing hymns in Greek Koene, as it is most of the Greek of Church and could feel them, understanding the general meaning.

There are many theories about and all this is not out of prejudices and stereotypes, but what makes the language the same is so difficult to define! For instance all Romance languages can be considered as Latin, as they evolved through centuries in different parts of Western Roman Empire, except Romanian which belonged to the Eastern part, before the Early Medieval invasions. And there is a certain degree of intelligibility between them.

Greek is language that never stopped speaking in this part of the Balkan peninsula, and more, in many parts of Turkey before population exchange, in Cyprus, even in some parts of Southern Italy, from the Ancient times till almost today. The language enriched by many foreign words, Turkish (which influenced by Arabic and Farsi), Italian during the period after the 4th Crusade, when many parts of Eastern Roman empire including Greece were occupied by Italian mainly crusaders and specially Venetians and Genovese, Albanian, Slavic etc and the last centuries by French and English. Many words became a functional part of the language so as they follow the Greek Grammar rules already. This doesn't happen for words loaned lately, but a language is an alive organization, that the scholars can influence just to a certain degree, but not more. So as many words who introduced by them became a part of the language, some others, no. The result is that the language has so many synonyms of pure Greek and loan words, that make it a fully developed tool for communication. Moreover it's structure makes a language to make new words that introduced in many languages.

Actually Greek is a conservative language, that kept almost all forms of the Greek Koene.

July 24, 2017

Could you be able to describe how modern English differs from old English (or Anglo Saxon)?

July 23, 2017


May 21, 2018

The first line of the Illiad in modern Greek is οργή, θεά τραγουδά την οργή του Πηλέου γιος Αχιλλέα, while in ancient Greek it is μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ πηληϊάδεω ἀχιλῆος

June 28, 2019

The 2nd line might have been the Classic Greek translation from the area around Sparta/Athens (possibly biased) much later. The original was mostly lost. Homer is mythical author(s) from centuries of oral passing. After the Illiad, major Greek authors appeared arond V BC (how many were able to read the original in the meantime?), likely with different dialect(s). It mostly guesswork/mythology. Do you understand this?

June 28, 2019


August 28, 2019
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