|Region||Acarnania, Aetolia, Epirus, western and eastern Locris, Phocis, Doris, Achaea, Elis, Messenia, Laconia, Argolid, Aegina, Corinth, Megara, Kythira, Milos, Thera, Crete, Karpathos, Rhodes, and possibly ancient Macedonia|
Also, colonies of the aforementioned regions in Cyrene, Magna Graecia, Black Sea, Ionian Sea and Adriatic Sea
|Era||c. 800–100 BC; evolved into the Tsakonian language|
Doric or Dorian (Ancient Greek: Δωρισμός, romanized: Dōrismós), also known as West Greek, was a group of Ancient Greek dialects; its varieties are divided into the Doric proper and Northwest Doric subgroups. Doric was spoken in a vast area, that included northern Greece (Acarnania, Aetolia, Epirus, western and eastern Locris, Phocis, Doris, and possibly ancient Macedonia), most of the Peloponnese (Achaea, Elis, Messenia, Laconia, Argolid, Aegina, Corinth, and Megara), the southern Aegean (Kythira, Milos, Thera, Crete, Karpathos, and Rhodes), as well as the colonies of some of the aforementioned regions, in Cyrene, Magna Graecia, the Black Sea, the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea. It was also spoken in the Greek sanctuaries of Dodona, Delphi, and Olympia, as well as at the four Panhellenic festivals; the Isthmian, Nemean, Pythian, and Olympic Games.
By Hellenistic times, under the Achaean League, an Achaean Doric koine appeared, exhibiting many peculiarities common to all Doric dialects, which delayed the spread of the Attic-based Koine Greek to the Peloponnese until the 2nd century BC. The only living descendant of Doric is the Tsakonian language which is still spoken in Greece today; though critically endangered, with only a few hundred – mostly elderly – fluent speakers left.
It is widely accepted that Doric originated in the mountains of Epirus in northwestern Greece, the original seat of the Dorians. It was expanded to all other regions during the Dorian invasion (c. 1150 BC) and the colonisations that followed. The presence of a Doric state (Doris) in central Greece, north of the Gulf of Corinth, led to the theory that Doric had originated in northwest Greece or maybe beyond in the Balkans. The dialect's distribution towards the north extends to the Megarian colony of Byzantium and the Corinthian colonies of Potidaea, Epidamnos, Apollonia and Ambracia; there, it further added words to what would become the Albanian language, probably via traders from a now-extinct Illyrian intermediary. In the north, local epigraphical evidence includes the decrees of the Epirote League, the Pella curse tablet, three additional lesser known Macedonian inscriptions (all of them identifiable as Doric), numerous inscriptions from a number of Greek colonies, etc.. Furthermore, we also have plenty of local coins and names that assist us in our study of the northern Doric dialects. Southern dialects, in addition to numerous inscriptions, coins, and names, have also provided much more literary evidence through authors such as Alcman, Pindar, Archimedes of Syracuse, and many others, all of whom wrote in Doric. Last, we also have ancient dictionaries, such as the one from Hesychius of Alexandria, whose work preserved many dialectal words from throughout the Greek-speaking world.
Where the Doric dialect group fits in the overall classification of ancient Greek dialects depends to some extent on the classification. Several views are stated under Greek dialects. The prevalent theme of most views listed there is that Doric is a subgroup of West Greek. Some use the terms Northern Greek or Northwest Greek instead. The geographic distinction is only verbal and ostensibly is misnamed: all of Doric was spoken south of "Southern Greek" or "Southeastern Greek."
Be that as it may, "Northern Greek" is based on a presumption that Dorians came from the north and on the fact that Doric is closely related to Northwest Greek. When the distinction began is not known. All the "northerners" might have spoken one dialect at the time of the Dorian invasion; certainly, Doric could only have further differentiated into its classical dialects when the Dorians were in place in the south. Thus West Greek is the most accurate name for the classical dialects.
Tsakonian, a descendant of Laconian Doric (Spartan), is still spoken on the southern Argolid coast of the Peloponnese, in the modern prefectures of Arcadia and Laconia. Today it is a source of considerable interest to linguists, and an endangered dialect.
Laconian was spoken by the population of Laconia in the southern Peloponnese and also by its colonies, Taras and Herakleia in Magna Graecia. Sparta was the seat of ancient Laconia.
Laconian is attested in inscriptions on pottery and stone from the seventh century BC. A dedication to Helen dates from the second quarter of the seventh century. Taras was founded in 706 and its founders must already have spoken Laconic.
Many documents from the state of Sparta survive, whose citizens called themselves Lacedaemonians after the name of the valley in which they lived. Homer calls it "hollow Lacedaemon", though he refers to a pre-Dorian period. The seventh century Spartan poet Alcman used a dialect that some consider to be predominantly Laconian. Philoxenus of Alexandria wrote a treatise On the Laconian dialect.
Argolic was spoken in the thickly settled northeast Peloponnese at, for example, Argos, Mycenae, Hermione, Troezen, Epidaurus, and as close to Athens as the island of Aegina. As Mycenaean Greek had been spoken in this dialect region in the Bronze Age, it is clear that the Dorians overran it but were unable to take Attica. The Dorians went on from Argos to Crete and Rhodes.
Ample inscriptional material of a legal, political and religious content exists from at least the sixth century BC.
Corinthian was spoken first in the isthmus region between the Peloponnesus and mainland Greece; that is, the Isthmus of Corinth. The cities and states of the Corinthian dialect region were Corinth, Sicyon, Archaies Kleones, Phlius, the colonies of Corinth in western Greece: Corcyra, Leucas, Anactorium, Ambracia and others, the colonies in and around Italy: Syracuse, Sicily and Ancona, and the colonies of Corcyra: Dyrrachium, and Apollonia. The earliest inscriptions at Corinth date from the early sixth century BC. They use a Corinthian epichoric alphabet. (See under Attic Greek.)
Corinth contradicts the prejudice that Dorians were rustic militarists, as some consider the speakers of Laconian to be. Positioned on an international trade route, Corinth played a leading part in the re-civilizing of Greece after the centuries of disorder and isolation following the collapse of Mycenaean Greece.
The Northwest Doric (or "Northwest Greek", with "Northwest Doric" now considered more accurate so as not to distance the group from Doric proper) group is closely related to Doric proper, while sometimes there is no distinction between Doric and the Northwest Doric. Whether it is to be considered a part of the southern Doric Group or the latter a part of it or the two considered subgroups of West Greek, the dialects and their grouping remain the same. West Thessalian and Boeotian had come under a strong Northwest Doric influence.
While Northwest Doric is generally seen as a dialectal group, dissenting views exist, such as that of Méndez-Dosuna, who argues that Northwest Doric is not a proper dialectal group but rather merely a case of areal dialectal convergence. Throughout the Northwest Doric area, most internal differences did not hinder mutual understanding, though Filos, citing Bubenik, notes that there were certain cases where a bit of accommodation may have been necessary.
The earliest epigraphic texts for Northwest Doric date to the 6th–5th century BC. These are thought to provide evidence for Northwest Doric features, especially the phonology and morphophonology, but most of the features thus attributed to Northwest Doric are not exclusive to it. The Northwest Doric dialects differ from the main Doric Group dialects in the below features:
Four or five dialects of Northwestern Doric are recognised.
This dialect was spoken in Phocis and in its main settlement, Delphi. Because of that it is also cited as Delphian. Plutarch says that Delphians pronounce b in the place of p (βικρὸν for πικρὸν)
Locrian Greek is attested in two locations:
The dialect of Elis (earliest c. 600 BC) is considered, after Aeolic Greek, one of the most difficult for the modern reader of epigraphic texts.
Main article: Epirote Greek
Spoken at the Dodona oracle, (earliest c. 550–500 BC) firstly under control of the Thesprotians; later organized in the Epirote League (since c. 370 BC).
Most scholars maintain that ancient Macedonian was a Greek dialect, probably of the Northwestern Doric group in particular. Olivier Masson, in his article for The Oxford Classical Dictionary, talks of "two schools of thought": one rejecting "the Greek affiliation of Macedonian" and preferring "to treat it as an Indo-European language of the Balkans" of contested affiliation (examples are Bonfante 1987, and Russu 1938); the other favouring "a purely Greek nature of Macedonian as a northern Greek dialect" with numerous adherents from the 19th century and on (Fick 1874; Hoffmann 1906; Hatzidakis 1897 etc.; Kalleris 1964 and 1976).
Masson himself argues with the largely Greek character of the Macedonian onomastics and sees Macedonian as "a Greek dialect, characterised by its marginal position and by local pronunciations" and probably most closely related to the dialects of the Greek North-West (Locrian, Aetolian, Phocidian, Epirote). Brian D. Joseph acknowledges the closeness of Macedonian to Greek (even contemplating to group them into a "Hellenic branch" of Indo-European), but retains that "[t]he slender evidence is open to different interpretations, so that no definitive answer is really possible". Johannes Engels has pointed to the Pella curse tablet, written in Doric Greek: "This has been judged to be the most important ancient testimony to substantiate that Macedonian was a north-western Greek and mainly a Doric dialect". Miltiades Hatzopoulos has suggested that the Macedonian dialect of the 4th century BC, as attested in the Pella curse tablet, was a sort of Macedonian ‘koine’ resulting from the encounter of the idiom of the ‘Aeolic’-speaking populations around Mount Olympus and the Pierian Mountains with the Northwest Greek-speaking Argead Macedonians hailing from Argos Orestikon, who founded the kingdom of Lower Macedonia. However, according to Hatzopoulos, B. Helly expanded and improved his own earlier suggestion and presented the hypothesis of a (North-)‘Achaean’ substratum extending as far north as the head of the Thermaic Gulf, which had a continuous relation, in prehistoric times both in Thessaly and Macedonia, with the Northwest Greek-speaking populations living on the other side of the Pindus mountain range, and contacts became cohabitation when the Argead Macedonians completed their wandering from Orestis to Lower Macedonia in the 7th c. BC. According to this hypothesis, Hatzopoulos concludes that the Macedonian Greek dialect of the historical period, which is attested in inscriptions, is a sort of koine resulting from the interaction and the influences of various elements, the most important of which are the North-Achaean substratum, the Northwest Greek idiom of the Argead Macedonians, and the Thracian and Phrygian adstrata.
Achaean Doric most probably belonged to the Northwest Doric group. It was spoken in Achaea in the northwestern Peloponnese, on the islands of Cephalonia and Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea, and in the Achaean colonies of Magna Graecia in Southern Italy (including Sybaris and Crotone). This strict Doric dialect was later subject to the influence of mild Doric spoken in Corinthia. It survived until 350 BC.
By Hellenistic times, under the Achaean League, an Achaean Doric koine appeared, exhibiting many peculiarities common to all Doric dialects, which delayed the spread of the Attic-based Koine Greek to the Peloponnese until the 2nd century BC.
The Northwest Doric koine refers to a supraregional North-West common variety that emerged in the third and second centuries BC, and was used in the official texts of the Aetolian League. Such texts have been found in W. Locris, Phocis, and Phtiotis, among other sites. It contained a mix of native Northwest Doric dialectal elements and Attic forms. It was apparently based on the most general features of Northwest Doric, eschewing less common local traits.
Its rise was driven by both linguistic and non-linguistic factors, with non-linguistic motivating factors including the spread of the rival Attic-Ionic koine after it was recruited by the Macedonian state for administration, and the political unification of a vast territories by the Aetolian League and the state of Epirus. The Northwest Doric koine was thus both a linguistic and a political rival of the Attic-Ionic koine.
Proto-Greek long *ā is retained as ā, in contrast to Attic developing a long open ē (eta) in at least some positions.
In certain Doric dialects (Severe Doric), *e and *o lengthen by compensatory lengthening or contraction to eta or omega, in contrast to Attic ei and ou (spurious diphthongs).
Contraction: Proto-Greek *ae > Doric ē (eta) ~ Attic ā.
Proto-Greek *eo, *ea > some Doric dialects' io, ia.
Proto-Greek short *a > Doric short a ~ Attic e in certain words.
Proto-Greek *-ti is retained (assibilated to -si in Attic).
Proto-Greek *ts > -ss- between vowels. (Attic shares the same development, but further shortens the geminate to -s-.)
Initial *w (ϝ) is preserved in earlier Doric (lost in Attic).
Literary texts in Doric and inscriptions from the Hellenistic age have no digamma.
For information on the peculiarities of Doric accentuation, see Ancient Greek accent#Dialect variation
Numeral tetores ~ Attic tettares, Ionic tesseres "four".
Ordinal prātos ~ Attic–Ionic prōtos "first".
Demonstrative pronoun tēnos "this" ~ Attic–Ionic (e)keinos
t for h (from Proto-Indo-European s) in article and demonstrative pronoun.
Third person plural, athematic or root aorist -n ~ Attic -san.
First person plural active -mes ~ Attic–Ionic -men.
Future -se-ō ~ Attic -s-ō.
Modal particle ka ~ Attic–Ionic an.
Temporal adverbs in -ka ~ Attic–Ionic -te.
Locative adverbs in -ei ~ Attic/Koine -ou.
The aorist and future of verbs in -izō, -azō has x (versus Attic/Koine s).
Similarly k before suffixes beginning with t.
The North-West group together with Doric (proper) formed the so-called 'West Greek' major dialectal group (or simply 'Doric' […]). However, the term 'North-West Doric' is considered more accurate nowadays […] since there is more emphasis on the many features that are common to both groups rather than on their less numerous and largely secondary differences.
In different regions of Greece, however, different sorts of koinai emerged, of which the best known was the Doric Koinē, preserving general Doric features, but without local differences, and with an admixture of Attic forms. As in the case of the Doric Koinē, the Northwest Koinē (connected with the so-called Aetolian League) displayed the same mixture of native dialectal elements with Attic elements.