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Ionic Greek
Region Circum-"Aegean
Era c. 1000–300 BC
Language codes
"ISO 639-3
"Glottolog None
""AncientGreekDialects (Woodard) en.svg
Distribution of "Greek dialects in Greece in the "classical period.[1]
Western group: Central group:
Eastern group:

Ionic Greek was a "subdialect of the Attic–Ionic or Eastern dialect group of "Ancient Greek (see "Greek dialects).



The Ionic dialect appears to have originally spread from the Greek mainland across the "Aegean at the time of the "Dorian invasions, around the 11th century BC.

By the end of the "Greek Dark Ages in the 5th-century BC, the central west coast of "Asia Minor, along with the islands of "Chios and "Samos, formed the heartland of "Ionia proper. The Ionic dialect was also spoken on islands across the central Aegean and on the large island of "Euboea north of Athens. The dialect was soon spread by Ionian colonization to areas in the northern Aegean, the "Black Sea, and the western Mediterranean.

The Ionic dialect is generally divided into two major time periods, Old Ionic (or Old Ionian) and New Ionic (or New Ionian). The transition between the two is not clearly defined, but 600 BC is a good approximation.

The works of "Homer ("The Iliad, "The Odyssey, and the "Homeric Hymns) and of "Hesiod were written in a literary dialect called "Homeric Greek or "Epic Greek, which largely comprises Old Ionic, with some borrowings from the neighboring "Aeolic dialect to the north. The poet "Archilochus wrote in late Old Ionic.

The most famous New Ionic authors are "Anacreon, "Theognis, "Herodotus, "Hippocrates, and, in Roman times, "Aretaeus, "Arrian, and "Lucian.

Ionic acquired prestige among Greek speakers because of its association with the language used by both "Homer and "Herodotus and the close linguistic relationship with the "Attic dialect as spoken in Athens. This was further enhanced by the writing reform implemented in Athens in 403 BC, whereby the old Attic alphabet was replaced by the Ionic alphabet, as used by the city of "Miletus. This alphabet eventually became the standard Greek alphabet, its use becoming uniform during the "Koine era. It was also the alphabet used in the Christian "Gospels and the book of "Acts.



"Proto-Greek ā > Ionic ē; in "Doric, "Aeolic, ā remains; in "Attic, ā after e, i, r, but ē elsewhere.[2]

Proto-Greek e, o > Ionic "ei, ou:[note 1] "compensatory lengthening after loss of w in the sequences enw-, erw-, onw-, orw-. In Attic, e, o is not lengthened.[3]

Ionic sometimes removes initial aspiration (Proto-Greek h"V- > Ionic V-).[5]

Ionic contracts less often than Attic.[6]


Proto-Greek *kʷ before "a, o > Ionic k, Attic p.[note 2]

Proto-Greek *ťť > Ionic ss, Attic tt.[7] This Ionic feature made it into Koine Greek.


Word order[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Among Greek dialects, Ionic was the fondest of long vowels and was thus considered especially suited to solo singing; the more austere, broad-sounding Doric was preferred in choral singing.
  2. ^ A similar divergence occurred in the "Celtic languages between "Gaelic and "P-Celtic languages (including "Welsh), and in the "Italic languages between "Latin and "Oscan.


  1. ^ Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51.
  2. ^ "Smyth, par. 30 and note, 31: long a in Attic and other dialects
  3. ^ Smyth, par. 37 note: Ionic compensatory lengthening after loss of w
  4. ^ κόρη. "Liddell, Henry George; "Scott, Robert; "A Greek–English Lexicon at the "Perseus Project.
  5. ^ Smyth, par. 9 note: early loss of rough breathing in Ionic of Asia Minor
  6. ^ Smyth, par. 59 note: contraction in dialects
  7. ^ Smyth, par. 112, 78: ky, khy > tt; = ss in non-Attic dialects
  8. ^ Athenaeus Deipnosophists 10 425c


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