Difference Between Ancient and Modern Greek (With Table)

It is said that Unity in Diversity, and to maintain one, we need to preserve the other. In this diversified world, languages play a crucial role in uniting yet diversifying thousands of people.  

The Greek language is one of the most spoken languages, with its legs stretched up to 34 countries. Having a glorious history, this language holds significance in Greece primarily. However, there are two main branches of this language. One is Ancient Greek, and the other is Modern Greek. Both of these are important yet different.  

Ancient Greek vs Modern Greek 

The difference between Ancient Greek and Modern is that Ancient Greek was found around 9th century BC to 6th century BC. In contrast, Modern Greek became operative around 1453 AD. These two can be distinguished in terms of syntax, pronunciation, and mood expressing words also. However, these two languages have emerged from the same family of one Greek language.  

Ancient Greek was popular as a major Indo-European language between the 9th century BC to the 6th century BC. It is said that this used to be the language of historians, philosophers, and people who used to write plays and dramas.  

On the other hand, Modern Greek is a modified and newer version of ancient Greek and other similar languages. The language staged itself in front of the world somewhere around 1453 AD. This language is different from the previous one in terms of pronunciation, dialect, and many other things.  

Comparison Table Between Ancient and Modern Greek 

Parameters of Comparison Ancient Greek Modern Greek 
Definition  Ancient Greek is an Indo-European language and a branch of the Greek language.                       Modern Greek is a newer version of Ancient Greek and other contemporary languages of the same nature.  
Origin  Originated somewhere between 19th and 16th century BC. It originated around 1453 AD. 
Uses  Mostly used in ancient plays, philosophies, etc.  Used widely by not only Greek people but people from other cultures too.  
Spoken in It is not spoken in its true from anywhere. Spoken in many countries in the name of Greek.  
Letters  Ancient Greek only had capital letters. It has small letters also. 
Vowels  Presence of long and short vowels. Only short vowels.  
Forms of verb It had four moods of a verb, namely- Indicative, Imperative, Subjunctive and Optative.  It had modal verbs, auxiliary verbs, gerund, and participle.  
Relevance Relevant as a historical language. Relevant because of being spoken and written widely.  

What is Ancient Greek? 

Ancient Greek is an Indo-European language to be spoken in over 34 countries. The era of the dominance of this language is divided into many phases. Some of them are- Mycenean Period, Archaic Period, and Classical Period. In each period, the pronunciation and phonological variations were different.  

 As per the data and research available, this language is presumed to be spoken somewhere between the 9th century to 6th century BC. From the period of Renaissance to the early starting of the 20th century, this language, along with the Latin language, gained crucial significance in Europe. Even today, in some of the educational institutes in Europe, this language is taught as a compulsory subject. Apart from this, Ancient Greek is also taught in many universities across the world.  

Coming to the salient features of Ancient Greek, it consists of 24 letters in total. Initially, this language was written in capital letters only. Even the concept of space between the words was not popular then. This language had four basic moods, namely- Indicative, Imperative, Subjunctive, and Optative.  

But nowadays, this language is rarely used by people to writers and speakers. However, some of the major books, such as The Harry Potter, were translated into Ancient Greek to maintain the existence and popularity of the language.  

What is Modern Greek? 

Modern Greek is also referred to as just Greek by the native speakers and common people. This originated as the successor to the Ancient Greek but soon made its own identity with all its distinctive elements and modern textures. This language is mostly spoken in Greece and Cyprus. Speakers of this language are from many communities.  

Modern Greek has made spectacular changes in Ancient Greek. Following are some of such differences or updates- 

  • Modern Greek has both capital and small letters. 
  • It has replaced the B, D, and G sounds of the Ancient Greek with V, TH, and GH, respectively.  
  • It has introduced modal verbs, auxiliary verbs, and gerund to the Greek grammar.  
  • Both definite and indefinite articles are present in Modern Greek. 

All these changes have made Modern Greek outrun Ancient Greek. However, being a branch of Ancient Greek itself, it preserves certain values and attributes of the same.  

Main Differences Between Ancient and Modern Greek 

  1. The origin of Ancient Greek took place around 19th to 16th BC, while Modern Greek became popular during 1453 AD. 
  2. Ancient Greek is older than Modern Greek. 
  3. Ancient Greek is the branch of Greek, while Modern Greek is the branch of Ancient Greek. 
  4. Ancient Greek only had capital letters, but Modern Greek had both capital and small letters. 
  5. Ancient Greek had optative, indicative and imperative moods of the verb, while Modern Greek has gerund and auxiliary verbs in it. 

Conclusion 

The Greek language is a very glorious language, and from the very beginning, it had many phases and branches. Back in the time, Ancient Greek used to be the most popular branch of Greek as it was the branch having elements accepted by the vast majority of people. But with the passing of time, the choices and preferences of people changed. A change in language occurred due to cultural appropriation too.  

While Ancient Greek is found today only in the historical documents, efforts for preserving it are being put on every day. Many schools and colleges have notified that this language shall be taught as a compulsory subject to save this language from extinction.  

On the other hand, Modern Greek emerged later. Soon it became popular for having many new elements included in it. It became not only the language of the Greek people but of other people too. Today, Modern Greek has gained this much following that it is referred to as Greek also.  

References 

  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=h5tKJvApybsC&oi=fnd&pg=PP17&dq=ancient+greek+language&ots=Arx0GX8gzU&sig=_pY_NNyRS8At6vSqoQR6CxrmSyk&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=ancient%20greek%20language&f=false
  2. https://academic.oup.com/dsh/article-abstract/19/2/221/922932

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