The diachrony of the genitive case in Greek

When:30 Sep 2014, 3pm - 4pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Dionysios Mertyris
Dionysios Mertyris.jpg

Linguistics Occaisional Seminar

The Greek language has undergone a large number of changes throughout its 3400 years of recorded history. The most definitive of these changes took place during the transition from the ancient to the modern language which includes a few historical stages such as the period of late Hellenistic Koine (1st-4th c. AD) and the first centuries of the Eastern Roman empire (early Medieval Greek). This transitional period had a great degree of impact on the case system of the language, as the four cases of Ancient Greek (nominative, accusative, genitive and dative) were reduced to three due to the loss of the dative during the early Medieval Greek period (5th-10th c.).

Apart from the fact that the functions of the lost dative were inherited by the genitive in the southern dialects and the accusative in (most) dialects of Asia Minor and Northern Greece, the reformation of the ancient case system involved the gradual loss of the semantic uses of the oblique cases due to the rise of prepositions and other analytic strategies, as the genitive and the accusative were limited to only marking grammatical relations (Luraghi 2004: 376). Thus, even though the Ancient Greek genitive could encode ablative and partitive relations , its modern successor is almost exclusively confined to adnominal possession, apart from marking the indirect object in the southern dialects.

This reformation of the case system significantly altered the status of the genitive in late Medieval (11th-1453) and Modern Greek. More specifically, various phenomena of deflexion can be found in every variety of Modern Greek:

Abstract - UNSW DMertyris.jpg

Bio: Dionysios Mertyris' thesis deals with the loss of the genitive in the diachrony of Greek. His interest in language change and the history of Greek was sparked during high school years when he noticed the great differences and similarities between Classical and Modern Greek. Apart from his dedication to Historical and Greek Linguistics, Metyris has conducted fieldwork in Papua New Guinea for the documentation of the language Kara in New Ireland (2008). He completed my BA in Greek Philology (Major in Linguistics; 2006) and MA in Linguistics (2008) at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

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