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The Phrygian language (/ ˈ f r ɪ dʒ i ə n /) was the Indo-European language of the Phrygians, spoken in Anatolia (modern Turkey), during classical antiquity (c. 8th century BC to 5th century AD). Plato observed that some Phrygian words resembled Greek ones. Modern consensus views Phrygian to be closely related to Greek.
The Phrygians spoke an Indo-European language. (See Phrygian language.) Although the Phrygians adopted the alphabet originated by the Phoenicians, only a few dozen inscriptions in the Phrygian language have been found, primarily funereal, and so much of what is thought to be known of Phrygia is second-hand information from Greek sources.
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- Geographic Distribution
- Remnants of The Thracian Language
- Fate of The Thracians and Their Language
- See Also
- Further Reading
- External Links
The Thracian language or languages were spoken in what is now Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia, Northern Greece, European Turkey and in parts of Bithynia(North-Western Asiatic Turkey). Modern-day Eastern Serbia is usually considered by paleolinguists to have been a Daco-Moesian language area. Moesian (after Vladimir Georgiev et al.) is grouped with the Dacian language.
Little is known for certain about the Thracian languages, since no phrase beyond a few words in length has been satisfactorily deciphered, and the sounder decipherments given for the shorter phrases may not be completely accurate. Some of the longer inscriptions may indeed be Thracian in origin but they may not reflect actual Thracian language sentences, but rather jumbles of names or magical formulas. Enough Thracian lexical items have survived to show that Thracian was a member of the Indo-European language family and that it was a satemized language by the time it is attested.Besides the aforementioned inscriptions, Thracian is attested through personal names, toponyms, hydronyms, phytonyms, divine names, etc. and by a small number of words cited in Ancient Greek texts as being specifically Thracian. Other ancient Greek lexical items were not specifically identified as Thracian by the ancient Greeks but are hypothesized by paleolinguists as being or probably being of Thracian ori...
The following are the longest inscriptions preserved. The remaining ones are mostly single words or names on vessels and other artifacts.
The Thracian language in linguistic textbooks is usually treated either as its own branch of Indo-European, or is grouped with Dacian, together forming a Daco-Thracian branch of IE. Older textbooks often grouped it also with Illyrian or Phrygian. The belief that Thracian was close to Phrygian is no longer popular and has mostly been discarded. The Thraco-Illyrian grouping has also been called into question. Daco-Thracian or Thraco-Dacian is the main hypothesis. No definite evidence has yet been found that demonstrates that Thracian or Daco-Thracian belonged on the same branch as Albanian or Baltic or Balto-Slavic or Greco-Macedonian or Phrygian or any other IE branch. For this reason textbooks still treat Thracian as its own branch of Indo-European, or as a Daco-Thracian/Thraco-Dacian branch. The generally accepted clades branched from the Proto-Indo-European language are, in alphabetical order, the Proto-Albanian language, Proto-Anatolian language,...
According to Skordelis, when Thracians were subjected by Alexander the Great they finally assimilated to Greek culture and became as Greek as Spartans and Athenians, although he considered the Thracian language as a form of Greek. According to Crampton (1997) most Thracians were eventually Hellenized or Romanized, with the last remnants surviving in remote areas until the 5th century. According to Marinov the Thracians were likely completely Romanized and Hellenized after the last contemporary references to them of the 6th century. This theory holds the Christianization of the Roman Empireas the main factor of immediate assimilation. A quick extinction would intensely contrast the avoidance of Hellenization at least by Albaniantill the present, possibly with the help of isolated mountainous areas. Another author considers that the interior of Thrace have never been Romanized or Hellenized (Trever, 1939). This was followed also by Slavonization. According to Weithmann (1978) when the...V.I. Georgiev, Introduction to the History of the Indo-European Languages, Sofia (1981).Georgiev, Vladimir (July 1966). "The Genesis of the Balkan Peoples". The Slavonic and East European Review. 44 (103): 285–297. ISSN 0037-6795. JSTOR 4205776. Retrieved 31 May 2021.I.I. Russu, Limba Traco-Dacilor / Die Sprache der Thrako-Daker, Bucharest (1967, 1969).Kretschmer, Paul. "Die Erste Thrakische Inschrift". In: Glotta 6, no. 1 (1914): 74-79. Accessed July 7, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40264867.[full citation needed]
- Discovery and Decipherment
- Phrygian Poetry
- See Also
Ancient authors like Herodotus and Hesychius have provided us with a few dozen words assumed to be Phrygian, so-called glosses. In modern times the first monument with a Phrygian text, found at Ortaköy (classical Orcistus), was described in 1752. In 1800 at Yazılıkaya (classical Nakoleia) two more inscriptions were discovered. On one of them the word ΜΙΔΑΙ, 'to Midas', could be read, which prompted the idea that they were part of a building, possibly the grave, of the legendary Phrygian king Midas. Later, when Western Orientalists and Bible scholars began to travel through Anatolia to become acquainted with the geographical background of Homer's world and the New Testament, more monuments were discovered. By 1862 sixteen Phrygian inscriptions were known, among them a few Greek-Phrygian bilinguals. This allowed German scholar Andreas David Mordtmann to undertake the first serious attempt to decipher the script, though he overstressed the parallels of Phrygian to Armenian, which led t...
Phrygian is a member of the Indo-European linguistic family, but because of the fragmentary evidence, its exact position within that family is uncertain. Phrygian shares important features with Greek and Armenian. Between the 19th and the first half of the 20th century Phrygian was mostly considered a satəm language, and thus closer to Armenian and Thracian, while today it is commonly considered to be a centum language and thus closer to Greek. The reason that in the past Phrygian had the guise of a satəm language was due to two secondary processes that affected it. Namely, Phrygian merged the old labiovelar with the plain velar, and secondly, when in contact with palatal vowels /e/ and /i/, especially in initial position, some consonants became palatalized. Furthermore, Kortlandt (1988) presented common sound changes of Thracian and Armenian and their separation from Phrygian and the rest of the palaeo-Balkan languagesfrom an early stage. Modern consensus views Greek as the closest...
The Phrygian epigraphical material is divided into two distinct subcorpora, Old Phrygian and New Phrygian. These attest different stages of the Phrygian language; are written with different alphabets and upon different materials; and have different geographical distributions. Old Phrygian is attested in 395 inscriptions in Anatolia and beyond. They were written in the Phrygian alphabet between 800 and 330 BCE. The Corpus des inscriptions paléo-phrygiennes (CIPPh) and its supplements contain most known Old Phrygian inscriptions, though a few graffiti are not included. The oldest inscriptions - mid-8th century BCE - have been found on silver, bronze, and alabaster objects in tumuli (grave mounds) at Gordion (Yassıhüyük, the so-called "Midas Mound") and Bayındır (East Lycia). New Phrygian is attested in 117 funerary inscriptions, mostly curses against desecrators added after a Greek epitaph. New Phrygian was written in the Greek alphabet between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE and is rest...
From ca. 800 till 300 BCE Phrygians used the Old-Phrygian alphabet of nineteen letters derived from the Phoenician alphabet. This script was usually written from left to right ("dextroverse"). The signs of this script are: About 15 percent of the inscriptions are written from right to left ("sinistroverse"), like Phoenician; in those cases the signs are drawn mirrored: ... etc. instead of BΓ.... A few dozen inscriptions are written in alternating directions (boustrophedon). From ca. 300 BCE this script was replaced by the Greek alphabet. A single inscription dates from ca. 300 BCE (sometimes called "Middle-Phrygian"), all other texts are much later, from the 1st till 3rd centuries CE (New-Phrygian). The Greek letters Θ, Ξ, Φ, Χ, and Ψ were rarely used — mainly for Greek names and loanwords (Κλευμαχοι, to Kleomakhos; θαλαμει, funerary chamber).
It has long been claimed that Phrygian exhibits a sound change of stop consonants, similar to Grimm's Law in Germanic and, more to the point, sound laws found in Proto-Armenian; i.e., voicing of PIE aspirates, devoicing of PIE voiced stops and aspiration of voiceless stops. This hypothesis was rejected by Lejeune (1979) and Brixhe (1984) but revived by Lubotsky (2004) and Woodhouse (2006), who argue that there is evidence of a partial shift of obstruent series; i.e., voicing of PIE aspirates (*bʱ > b) and devoicing of PIE voiced stops (*d > t). The affricates ts and dz may have developed from velars before front vowels.
The grammatical structure of Phrygian, what can be recovered of it, was typically Indo-European. Declensions and verbal conjugations are strikingly similar to ancient Greek.
Phrygian is attested fragmentarily, known only from a comparatively small corpus of inscriptions. A few hundred Phrygian words are attested; however, the meaning and etymologies of many of these remain unknown. A famous Phrygian word is bekos, meaning 'bread'. According to Herodotus (Histories 2.2) Pharaoh Psammetichus I wanted to determine the oldest nation and establish the world's original language. For this purpose, he ordered two children to be reared by a shepherd, forbidding him to let them hear a single word, and charging him to report the children's first utterance. After two years, the shepherd reported that on entering their chamber, the children came up to him, extending their hands, calling bekos. Upon enquiry, the pharaoh discovered that this was the Phrygian word for 'wheat bread', after which the Egyptians conceded that the Phrygian nation was older than theirs. The word bekos is also attested several times in Palaeo-Phrygian inscriptions on funerary stelae. It may b...
Phrygian poetry is rare. The only examples date from after Alexander the Great's conquest of Asia Minor (334 BCE), and they probably originated in imitation of Greek metrical epitaphs. The clearest example is the so-called "Middle Phrygian" inscription mentioned above, which consists of six dactylic hexameter lines. Also, as Lubotsky has proposed, the traditional Phrygian damnation formula on grave monuments may have been slightly reformulated to fit into a two-line hexametric shape (the stress accents, or ictus, on the first syllable of each dactylusare in boldface): 1. ιος νι σε μουν κνουμα νει κακουν αδδακετ αινι τε αμας 2. με ζεμε λως κε δε ως κε Τι η τιτε τικμενος ειτου. 2.1. Whoever to this tomb harm does, or to the grave, 2.2. among humans and gods by Zeus accursed let him be. Alliteration ('b-, b-, b-') may be intended in a peculiar clause found on two New-Phrygian grave monuments from Erten (near Yazılıkaya) and Güney: 1. [ If someone damages this grave, then...] 2. ... Βας...Mallory, James P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (2006). The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-929668-2.Obrador-Cursach, Bartomeu (2018). Lexicon of the Phrygian Inscriptions (PDF). University of Barcelona - Faculty of Philology - Department of Classical, Romance and Semitic Philology.Obrador-Cursach, Bartomeu (9 April 2020). "On the place of Phrygian among the Indo-European languages". Journal of Language Relationship. 17 (3–4). doi:10.31826/jlr-2019-173-407. S2CID 215769896.Woodhouse, Robert (2009). "An overview of research on Phrygian from the nineteenth century to the present day". Studia Linguistica Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis. 126 (1). ISSN 2083-4624.
- Paeonian Vocabulary
Classical sources usually considered the Paeonians distinct from the rest of the Paleo-Balkan people, comprising their own ethnicity and language. It is considered a Paleo-Balkan language but this is only a geographical grouping, not a genealogical one. Modern linguists are uncertain as to the classification of Paeonian, due to the extreme scarcity of surviving materials in the language, with numerous hypotheses having been published: 1. Wilhelm Tomaschek and Paul Kretschmer suggest an Illyrianaffiliation, that is the prevailing scientific opinion 2. Dimitar Dečev and Susan Wise Bauer consider a Thracianhypothesis. 3. Francesco Villari considers a Thraco-Illyrianhypothesis. 4. Karl Beloch, Ioannis Svoronos and Irwin L. Merker consider Paeonian closely related to ancient Greek and ancient Macedonian, namely a Helleniclanguage, but with a great deal of Thracian and Illyrian influence. 5. Vladimir I. Georgiev considers a Phrygianaffiliation. 6. Athenaeus seems to have connected the Pae...
Several Paeonian words are known from classical sources: 1. monapos, monaipos, the European bison 2. tilôn, a species of fish once found in Lake Prasias 3. paprax, a species of fish once found in Lake Prasias. Paprakas, masc. acc. pl. A number of anthroponyms (some known only from Paeonian coinage) are attested: Agis (Άγις),Patraos (Πατράος), Lycpeios (Λύκπειος), Audoleon (Αυδολέων), Eupolemos (Εὐπόλεμος), Ariston (Αρίστων), etc. In addition several toponyms (Bylazora (Βυλαζώρα), Astibos (Άστιβος) and a few theonyms Dryalus (Δρύαλος), Dyalos (Δύαλος), the Paeonian Dionysus, as well as the following: 1. Pontos, affluent of the Strumica River, perhaps from *ponktos, "boggy" (cf. German feucht, "wet", Middle Irish éicne "salmon", Sanskrit pánka "mud, mire", Greek pontos"passage", "way"); 2. Idomenae (Ιδομένη) (nowadays near Gevgelija), name of a city (cf. Greek Idomeneus, proper name in Homer, "Ida", mountain in Crete); 3. Stoboi (nowadays Gradsko), name of a city, from *stob(h) (cf. O...Francisco Villar. Gli Indoeuropei e le origini dell'Europa. Il Mulino, 1997. ISBN 88-15-05708-0Kevin Hodges (November 2010). "Fluent in 60 Seconds: Learning a new language is a breeze—as long as it's Paionian". Smithsonian magazine.
The Phrygian language. Phrygian is one of the oldest and least attested Indo-European languages. It is far from being completely understood and decipherment is still in progress. Unlike other poorly attested languages, Phrygian has written records in the Phrygian and later the Greek alphabet.
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