Dimotiki

Dimotiki

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Dimotiki'
Start a new discussion about 'Dimotiki'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Demotic Greek or dimotiki is the modern
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

 vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 form of the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

. The term has been in use since 1818. Demotic refers particularly to the form of the language that evolved naturally from ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, in opposition to the artificially archaic Katharevousa
Katharevousa
Katharevousa , is a form of the Greek language conceived in the early 19th century as a compromise between Ancient Greek and the Modern Greek of the time, with a vocabulary largely based on ancient forms, but a much-simplified grammar. Originally, it was widely used both for literary and official...

, which was the official standard until 1976. The two complemented each other in a typical example of diglossia
Diglossia
In linguistics, diglossia refers to a situation in which two dialects or languages are used by a single language community. In addition to the community's everyday or vernacular language variety , a second, highly codified variety is used in certain situations such as literature, formal...

 until the resolution of the Greek language question
Greek language question
The Greek language question was a dispute discussing the question whether the language of the Greek people or a cultivated imitation of Ancient Greek should be the official language of the Greek nation. It was a highly controversial topic in the 19th and 20th centuries and was finally resolved...

 in favour of Demotic.

Demotic and "modern Greek"


Demotic is often thought to be the same as the modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

 language, but these two terms are not completely synonymous. While Demotic is a term applied to the naturally evolved colloquial language of the Greeks, the modern Greek language of today (standard modern Greek; Νεοελληνική Κοινή) is more like a fusion of Demotic and Katharevousa, although with much stronger influence from Demotic; it is actually a variety of Demotic which has been enriched by "educated" elements. It is not wrong to call the spoken language of today Demotic, but such a terminology ignores the fact that modern Greek contains - especially in a written or official form - numerous words, grammatical forms and phonetical features that didn't exist in colloquial speech and only entered the language through its archaic variety. Besides, even the most archaic forms of Katharevousa were never thought of as ancient Greek, but were always called "modern Greek", so that the phrase "modern Greek" applies to Demotic, standard modern Greek and even Katharevousa.

Examples of modern Greek features which do not exist in Demotic


The following examples are intended to demonstrate Katharevousa's features in modern Greek. They were not present in traditional Demotic and only entered the modern language through Katharevousa (sometimes as neologisms), where they are used mostly in writing (for instance, in newspapers), but also orally. Especially words and fixed expressions are both understood and actively used also by non-educated speakers.

Words and fixed expressions

  • ενδιαφέρων (interesting)
  • τουλάχιστον (at least)
  • την απήγαγε (he abducted her)
  • είναι γεγονός ότι ... (it is a fact that ...)
  • προς το παρόν (for now)


Especially dative forms:
  • δόξα τω Θεώ (thank God)
  • εν ονόματι ... (in the name [of] ...)
  • τοις μετρητοίς (in cash)
  • εν συνεχεία (following)
  • εν τω μεταξύ (meanwhile)
  • εν αγνοία (in ignorance [of])
  • συν τοις άλλοις (moreover)
  • επί τω έργω (working, literally on the deed)
  • τοις εκατό (percent, literally in a hundred)
  • ιδίοις χερσί (with [one's] own hands)

Grammatical (morphological) features

  • Adjectives ending in -ων, -ουσα, -ον (e.g. ενδιαφέρων interesting) or in -ων, -ων, -ον (e.g. σώφρων thoughtful) - mostly in written language.
  • Declinable aorist
    Aorist
    Aorist is a philological term originally from Indo-European studies, referring to verb forms of various languages that are not necessarily related or similar in meaning...

     participle, e.g. παραδώσας (having delivered), γεννηθείς ([having been] born) - mostly in written language.
  • Reduplication in the perfect. E.g. προσκεκλημένος (invited), πεπαλαιωμένος (obsolete)

Phonological features


Modern Greek features many letter combinations which were avoided in classical Demotic:
  • -πετ- (e.g. πεταίσεμα "misdemeanor"); Demotic preferred -φετ- (e.g. φεταίω "to err || to be guilty")
  • -κετ- (e.g. κετίσεμα "building, structure"); Demotic preferred -χετ- [e.g. χετίσετης "(stone)mason"]
  • -ευεδ- (e.g. πεσεύεδος "falsity, lie"); Demotic preferred -ευετ- (e.g. πεσεύετης "liar")
  • -σεθ- (e.g. ηρεκέσεθην / αρεκέσεθηκα "I was sufficed / satisfied"); Demotic preferred -σετ- (e.g. αρεκέσετηκα)
  • -χεθ- (e.g. (ε)χεθές "yesterday"); Demotic preferred -χετ- [e.g. (ε)χετές]
  • etc.


Native Greek speakers often make mistakes in these "educated" aspects of their language; one can often see mistakes like προήχθη instead of προήχθην (I've been promoted), λόγου του ότι/λόγο το ότι instead of λόγω του ότι (due to the fact that), τον ενδιαφέρον άνθρωπο instead of τον ενδιαφέροντα άνθρωπο (the interesting person), οι ενδιαφέροντες γυναίκες instead of οι ενδιαφέρουσες γυναίκες (the interesting women), ο ψήφος instead of η ψήφος (the vote).

Radical demoticism


One of the most radical proponents of a language that was to be cleansed of all "educated" elements was Giannis Psycharis
Ioannis Psycharis
Ioannis Psycharis was a French philologist of Greek origin, author and promoter of Demotic Greek.- Biography :...

, who lived in France and gained fame through his work My Voyage („το ταξίδι μου", 1888). Not only did Psycharis propagate the exclusive use of the naturally grown colloquial language, but he actually opted for simplifying the morphology of Katharevousa
Katharevousa
Katharevousa , is a form of the Greek language conceived in the early 19th century as a compromise between Ancient Greek and the Modern Greek of the time, with a vocabulary largely based on ancient forms, but a much-simplified grammar. Originally, it was widely used both for literary and official...

 forms. For instance, he proposed to change the form of the neuter noun το φως gen. του φωτός (=light) into το φώτο (gen. του φώτου). Such radical forms had occasional precedent in Renaissance attempts to write in Demotic, and reflected Psichari's linguistic training as a Neogrammarian
Neogrammarian
The Neogrammarians were a German school of linguists, originally at the University of Leipzig, in the late 19th century who proposed the Neogrammarian hypothesis of the regularity of sound change...

, mistrusting the possibility of exceptions in linguistic evolution. Moreover, Psycharis also advocated spelling reform, which would have meant abolishing the six different ways to write the vowel /i/ and all instances of double consonants. Therefore, he wrote his own name as Γιάνης, instead of Γιάννης. The standard form of Demotic which developed over the next few decades made more compromises with Katharevousa
Katharevousa
Katharevousa , is a form of the Greek language conceived in the early 19th century as a compromise between Ancient Greek and the Modern Greek of the time, with a vocabulary largely based on ancient forms, but a much-simplified grammar. Originally, it was widely used both for literary and official...

(as is reflected in the contemporary standard), and despite acrimony between the "psicharist" (ψυχαρικοί) radicals and the moderates, the radical strand was ultimately marginalised. When Demotic was made official in 1976, the legislation stated that the Demotic used would be "without extremist and dialectal forms"—the "extremism" being a reference to Psichari's forms.