Pamphylian Greek
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Pamphylian was a little-attested dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Pamphylia, on the southern coast of Asia Minor. Its origins and relation to other Greek dialects are uncertain, though a number of scholars have proposed isoglosses with Arcadocypriot. It is the sole classical era dialect which did not use articles, suggesting that it split off from other dialects early. Some of its distinctive characteristics reflect potential language contact with Anatolian languages spoken nearby.

Text corpus

Map showing where inscriptions in the Pamphylian script and dialect have been found.

Pamphylian is known from about 300 inscriptions,[1] most of them from the Pamphylian city of Aspendos. Nearly all of them are short and funeral and consist of names only. Pamphylian graffiti giving single names have also been found abroad, in Egypt (Abydos) and Delos. The longest inscription is a 36 line decree from Aspendos, first analyzed in detail in 1880 by William M. Ramsay.[2] Inscriptions are dated from the fifth century BCE to the Roman period, most of them being from the second century BCE.

Coins issued by Pamphylian cities also bear the script. Some 30 Pamphylian single words are known from glosses given by Hesychius, Eustathius, and the Etymologicum Magnum.

Pronunciation and writing

Pamphylian digamma

Pamphylia had a variant local alphabet, which was probably borrowed from other Greek alphabets:

Sign Α Β Δ Ε F Η Θ Ι ΙΙ Κ Λ Μ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ + Ω
Greek equivalent Α Β Γ Δ Ε, Η (Ϝ) Ζ ῾ (Η) Θ Ι Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο, Ω Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ω Ϝ Ͳ
Transliteration α β γ δ ε, ϝ ζ h (η) θ ι ιι κ λ μ ν ξ ο, ō π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ω и ͳ
IPA sound /a/  /b/  /g/  /d/  /e/,/ɛ:/ /v/  /sd/? /h/
/tʰ/  /i/, /j/ /i:ʲ/ /k/  /l/  /m/  /n/  /ks/ /o/, /ɔ:/ /p/  /r/  /s/  /t/  /y/  /pʰ/ /kʰ/ /ɔ:/ /w/  /ss/?

The Pamphylian alphabet made use both of the original Pamphylian digamma (Ͷ) and a standard digamma (Ϝ). It has been surmised that the original sound /w/ in some environments (after vowels) was represented by Ͷ; where the sound had changed to labiodental /v/ in the Pamphylian dialect, it was represented by Ϝ. Sometimes Ͷ also stood in the place of beta.

Pamphylian sampi

There is also a psi-like sampi (Ͳ), used probably to represent the sounds /s/, /ss/, or /ps/. [3]

A conspicuous element in Pamphylian texts are double iotas, where the first iota denotes an /i/-sound and the second a glide /j/.

The Η sign usually represents a /h/-sound (rough breathing); only rarely, in a few late inscriptions, it is apparently used to represent the classical Greek eta vowel (/ɛ:/ or /i:/).

Eustathius, quoting Heraclides, says that the Pamphylians "liked the /b/-sound so much that they often put b's in"; for example, instead of aëlios ('Sun'), they said babelios. And the Etymologicum Magnum says that they tended to swallow /s/-sounds and pronounce them as a 'hairy' (δασύς) sound, i.e., a rough breathing: instead of mousika they said mōˁika.[4] (One may compare a similar phenomenon in the Anatolian languages, where, for example, Milyan masa, 'god', is an older counterpart of Lycian maha.)

An inscription from Perge dated to around 400 BC reads: Ͷανάαι Πρειίαι Κλεμύτας Λϝαράμυ Ͷασιρϝο̄τας ἀνέθε̄κε (Wanassāi Preiiāi Klemutas Lvaramu Wasirvōtas anethēke, 'Klemutas the wasirvotas, son of Lvaramus, dedicated this to the Queen of Perge').[5]

In eastern Pamphylia, the Pamphylian cities Side and Lyrbe-Seleukia used another language and script, called Sidetic.

Relation with the Anatolian languages

Pamphylic Greek appears to have been heavily influenced by nearby Anatolian languages such as Lycian, Pisidian, and Sidetic, in both phonology and syntax. In morphology and lexicon, Anatolian influence apparently was much more limited.[6]

The phonological influence of Anatolian on Pamphylic has been characterized as "massive structural interference", affecting both the consonant and vowel repertoire.[7] Aspirates gave way to fricatives, as did stop consonants.

In syntax three specific peculiarities stand out: absence of the article "the", use of the dative with pre- and postpositions where other Greeks would use a genitive, and the use of a special expression και νι + imperative.

All of these features can be explained as an adaption of the Greek language by imperfect second-language speakers: if a small group of colonizing Greek immigrants remained a minority in an area inhabited by Anatolian speaking people, the heavily accented Greek spoken as a second language by the local population, coloured by their native Anatolian language, would become the norm in the area. Because Pamphylia was an isolated region ("a backwater, relatively inaccessible"), there were few external stimuli to later change this situation.[8]



Source: Brixhe, Dialecte grec de Pamphylie

See also


  1. ^ "PHI Greek Inscriptions". Regions : Asia Minor : Pamphylia. Archived from the original on 2021-11-10. Retrieved 2021-11-11. Based on Claude Brixhe (1976), Le dialecte grec de Pamphylie, documents et grammaire (Bibliothèque de l'Institut français d'études anatoliennes d'Istambul, XXVI, 19). Paris, Lib. d'Amérique et d'Orient Adrien Maisonneuve; with supplements.
  2. ^ Ramsay, William M.; Sayce, A. H. (1880). "On some Pamphylian inscriptions". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 1: 242–259. Retrieved 2021-11-11. (
  3. ^ Nick Nicholas: Proposal to add Greek epigraphical letters to the UCS Archived 2016-08-07 at the Wayback Machine. Technical report, Unicode Consortium, 2005. Citing C. Brixhe, Le dialecte grec de Pamphylie. Documents et grammaire. Paris: Maisonneuve, 1976; and L.H. Jeffery, The Local Scripts of Archaic Greece. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.
  4. ^ Ramsay and Sayce (1880), p. 259.
  5. ^ "PHI Greek Inscriptions – IK Perge 1". Archived from the original on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2017-05-12.. Other editions read "Kleͷutas" and "Lwaraͷu".
  6. ^ Skelton, Christina (2017). "Greek-Anatolian Language Contact and the Settlement of Pamphylia" (PDF). Classical Antiquity. 36 (1): 104–129. doi:10.1525/ca.2017.36.1.104. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-04-17. Retrieved 2021-04-17.
  7. ^ Skelton (2017), p. 111.
  8. ^ Skelton (2017), pp. 117-127.
  9. ^ "Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, Α α". Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  10. ^ Brixhe, 3.7
  11. ^ Pamph. — Sillyon 400-350 BC Brixhe, 3.24. Archived 2008-10-12 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Brixhe, 3.14, 3.8.
  13. ^ Brixhe, 3.2.
  14. ^ Brixhe, 3.19.
  15. ^ a b Brixhe, 3.12.
  16. ^ Brixhe, 3.
  17. ^ a b Eustahius Od.1654; Richard Valpy and Charles Anthon. The Elements of Greek Grammar (12th Edition). New York: W.E. Dean, Printer and Publisher, 1831, p. 297.
  18. ^ Brixhe, 3.5.
  19. ^ Brixhe, 17.
  20. ^ Pamph. — Perge ~400 BC Epigr.Anat. 11:97,1 Archived 2008-10-12 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Brixhe, 3.14,17.
  22. ^ Brixhe, 3.15, Cf. rhum-.
  23. ^ Pamph. — Aspendos 250-200 BC Brixhe, 17 Archived 2008-10-12 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Brixhe, 18 - PHI Greek Inscriptions". Archived from the original on 2022-02-02. Retrieved 2022-02-02.