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Conference date: February 15-17, 2016

Conference venue: Fakultätssaal des Philosophicums, Johannes-Gutenberg-University of Mainz

(Call for Papers as pdf)

Greek is one of the few languages in the world with an uninterrupted literary tradition. Nearly all the periods of Greek are well-documented by large amounts of texts. While the pre-classical and classical periods have been receiving much scholarly attention for centuries (for a synoptic overview see Giannakis, ed. and 2014; Bakker, ed., 2010), the study of post-classical Greek, from New Testament Greek until the Byzantine period, is a much recent phenomenon, albeit with a large body of research (cf., inter alia, Browning 1983; Horrocks 2010; Bentein 2014; Gianollo 2010; and Janse 1993).

This interdisciplinary workshop aims at bringing together scholars working on different aspects of post-classical Greek up to the Byzantine period. We strongly believe that only integration of the linguistic and philological knowledge can create a coherent model of the processes that underlay the language change of that period and provide answers as to why Greek of the Byzantine period is the way it is.

To give an example, while investigating the language, we often do not deal with text originals but rather with edited texts. As is well known, editing a text means interpreting and modifying some of the variants that are attested in manuscripts. While creating critical editions is an important and sophisticated tool that allows restoring the original text, and its value for our knowledge of Greek can hardly be overestimated, its machinery is not entirely free of subjectivity, which is why any linguistic research must be informed of the ideas and principles that underlie critical editions. Thus, the question might be raised as of to what extent texts used as the empirical basis by linguists indeed mirror the language usage of their time, and to what extent they are consciously normalized according to specific rules and norms appropriate in the critical editing (such as the correction of itacisms, correction of the punctuation, etc.).

Another aspect important for any linguistic research is good understanding of the social organization of the society. The latter obviously has an important impact on the language: it heavily constrains dialectal and sociolectal variation, multilingualism, language contact, etc. The knowledge of different ethnical and social groups, of their language skills in the post-classical period and how these facts may have influenced the texts we work with are equally important issues that lie in the core of the workshop concept. Immediately related here are the questions on language standardization, language norms and disentangling translational effects from real language usage (cf. Gianollo 2011). Finally, given the heterogeneity of postclassical texts, the exploration of parameters of text periodization within the postclassical period is another important topic.

The workshop aims, furthermore, at the integration of methods and tools from Digital Humanities such as corpus-based analyses (cf. Haug et al. 2009), in addition to and not to the exclusion of, the traditional philological and linguistic methods. The former have the potential to provide more data and insights in both linguistics and philology as well as to contribute to falsifiability of the claims made here.

We aim at highlighting language changes sensu latissimo of that period from different perspectives. The topics we would like to address are among the following (but are not restricted to them):

  • Language standardization phenomena, penetration of the colloquial elements of the period into written texts; the effects of the tradition, as, for example, scribes’ mistakes; what can be gained or lost from studying the manuscripts directly?
  • Parameters and metrics for distinguishing between normalized texts and texts with a stronger penetration of colloquial elements of contemporary Greek; influence of Classical and Biblical Greek;
  • principles that underlie the written tradition; text copying (such as, e.g., amendments/corrections by copyists);
  • The role of Byzantium in the preservation of Classical texts: How much intervention on the part of the Byzantine scribes/excerptors/compilers is there to expect? How do the changes to the Classical texts made in the Byzantine period can be traced and how do they influence our understanding of the Classical period? (cf. Kaldellis 2012)
  • The social, historical and cultural environment that potentially may have constrained the language of that period; influence of other languages and the way the interaction with other languages was organized;
  • The sociolinguistic situation: different registers/lects, diatopic and diastratic variation; multilingualism;
  • Effects of the historical-critical editing (as, for example, normalization or emendations): To what extent do they mirror the linguistic "reality"? Are these effects rather insignificant or do they have a potential to influence our understanding of the language?
  • Is the chronological division of the language tradition into Classical, Byzantine and Modern, which influenced the study of Greek since the Renaissance times, justified?
  • Methods and metrics for dating texts on the basis of linguistic phenomena;
  • Purely linguistic approaches to language change such as grammaticalization, language contact, structural and functional explanations, etc.; emergence of new grammatical categories; disappearance of grammatical categories;
  • How Digital Humanities may contribute to the questions addressed in the workshop? Which corpora do we have? What kind of data, tools and methods are available?
  • Corpus-based approaches to the study of Greek.


  1. Bakker, E., ed. 2010. A companion to the Ancient Greek language, Oxford: Willey-Blackwell.
  2. Bentein, Klaas. 2014. Tense and aspect from Hellenistic to Early Byzantine Greek. In: Giannakis et al. 2014 (eds.)
  3. Browning, Robert. 1983. Medieval and Modern Greek. London [u.a.]: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Giannakis, Georgios, K., V. Bubenik, E. Crespo, C. Golston, A. Lianeri, S. Luraghi & S. Matthaios, (eds.), 2014. Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek language and linguistics. Leiden: Brill online.
  5. Gianollo, Chiara. 2010. External possession in New Testament Greek. In Gualtiero Calboli & Pierluigi Cuzzolin (eds.), Papers on grammar XI, 101–129. Rome: Herder.
  6. Gianollo, Chiara. 2011. Native syntax and translation effects: Adnominal arguments in the Greek and Latin New Testament. Oslo Studies in Language 3(3). 75–101.
  7. Haug, Dag Trygve Truslew; Eckhoff, Hanne Martine; Majer, Marek & Welo, Eirik (2009): Breaking down and putting back together: analysis and synthesis of New Testament Greek. Journal of Greek Linguistics. ISSN 1566-5844. 9(1), 56- 92.
  8. Horrocks, Geoffrey. 2010 [1997]. Greek. A history of the language and its speakers, 2nd rev. edn. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  9. Janse, Mark. 1993. La position des pronoms personnels enclitiques en grec néo-testamentaire à la lumière des dialectes néo-helléniques. In Claude Brixhe (ed.), La Koiné grecque antique. Vol. I: Une langue introuvable?, 83–121. Nancy: Presses Universitaires de Nancy.
  10. Kaldellis, Anthony. 2012. The Byzantine Role in the Making of the Corpus of Classical Greek Historiography: A Preliminary Investigation. Journal of Hellenic Studies, 132, 71-85.