Alexander's mother tongue

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vasko

Alexander's mother tongue

Post by vasko »

hello Alexander's lovers. I came across this site and liked a lot your discussions.
What do you think was Alexander's and his Macedonians mother tongue? Some say it was a distinct language, others a greek related language and there are some who claim it was Illyrian. What is your opinion about all this?
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Vergina Sun
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Post by Vergina Sun »

Welcome vasko!

The Ancient Macedonian language is extremely hard to study, since there are no long pieces of surviving text. Without these texts, no one is quite sure what the language was like. A few words and phrases have been picked up, though, and I believe they were very closely related to Ancient Greek. I tend to side with the people who believe Macedonian had roots in Greek. Perhaps they were sibling languages, which had some similarities. Then again, it could have been a sub-dialect of Greek. Macedonia and Greece being neighbors leads me to believe such. I also recall reading once that the Macedonian language was very hard for an Attic Greek to understand, and they dubbed it barbaric and uncivilized. I still believe, however, that Macedonian was related to Greek.
athenas owl
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Post by athenas owl »

Oh...I fear for this topic.

I thnk they might have been an archaic Greek tongue or they might have been more related to the Phrygians and Thracians ( or some other group), but were beginning to Hellenise (certainly the royal house), much like Latin became the language of the upper classes in say, Provence, with the older language still spoken by the lower classes for a much longer time before Greek overwhelmed the old language in the Hellenistic age.

Just because like Latin, it was used in offical documents and on tombs, etc it did not mean the language spoken by the people was Latin. I'm not explainging this very well. I hope it make sense.

Again, it might be a dialect or sibling language as well.

This has always interested me, but the modern politics of it are too much in the forefront so I stay away.
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Efstathios
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Post by Efstathios »

A dialect probably. It had a heavy sounding. The reason why it was called barbaric is Demosthenes speeches against Philip. Since Macedonia was isolated for a long time it is natural that the dialect was maybe influenced by neighboring people also, and generally evolved. But the root is maybe the archaic Greek.
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Post by Semiramis »

Alexander had to give speeches to his troops in Greek and "Macedonian". That could suggest that the two languages/dialects were mutually unintelligible? Class might be a factor here as well?
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Efstathios
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Post by Efstathios »

I will give you an example. Modern Greek are based in ancient Greek. Firstly it was the ancient Greek, then the koine (common), and then a language similar to what we have today. Now, what we speak today has essentially it's roots in ancient Attik. And many of the words e.t.c are the same or similar. But still if one were to speak in Attik, many wouldnt understand him fully. That may had been the case with Macedonian and Attik. Common root, but a different dialect.
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Post by Callisto »

The issue seems to me at present inconclusive based on the scarce archaeological and literary evidence that doesnt allow us to know exactly the structure of the ancient Macedonian language. But from the available evidence like the curse tablet of Pella, literary sources, surviving vocabulary and the formation of Macedonian names, i think its most likely a North-West dialect of Greek mixed with some Illyrian and Thracian elements.
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rocktupac
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Post by rocktupac »

In Robin Lane Fox's "Alexander the Great" he writes:

"[A Greek visitor] was still in a world of Greek gods and sacrifices [speaking about in Macedonia], of Greek plays and Greek language, though the natives might speak Greek with a northern accent which hardened 'ch' into 'g', 'th' into 'd' and pronounced King Philip as 'Bilip'.

If that helps. Otherwise most is speculation.
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Post by aleksandros »

Alexander was 1/4 macedonian.
What was the language of the Mollosians?
I think northwestern Greek, like Thesprotians. Truth is Macedonian languge sounded different than Attic. Attic sounded much different than Doric too. I believe Macedonian was a Doric dialect subgroup but i am not really sure on this subject, after all who is? lol
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