Cognitive Linguistics in Classical Greek Studies, a new open access book

On the B-Greek discussion list Stephen Carlson recently announced the open access version of Toward a Cognitive Classical Linguistics, and Mike Aubrey discussed it briefly at

I’m adding a few comments that may be of use to readers here at

The volume is a collection of papers on Greek and Latin from the perspective of Cognitive Linguistics. What the title means by “Classical Linguistics” is the use of linguistic theories in the field of Classical Studies.

Many of the papers gathered in this volume were presented at the 13th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC-13) in Newcastle, UK in July 2015. Others were invited by the editors to broaden the book’s theoretical horizon and include voices from a wider range of disciplines.

Here’s what you will find inside:

Frontmatter, pages I-IV

Contents, pages V-VIII

Introduction. Toward a cognitive classical linguistics
Egle Mocciaro and William Michael Short, pages 1-15

1 Aspect and construal A cognitive linguistic approach to iterativity, habituality and genericity in Greek
Rutger J Allan, pages 16-41

2 A construction-grammar analysis of ancient Greek particles
Annemieke Drummen, pages 42-68

3 The embodied basis of discourse and pragmatic markers in Greek and Latin
Chiara Fedriani, pages 69-92

4 Reversive constructions in Latin: the case of re- (and dis-)
Luisa Brucale, pages 93-125

5 Autόs and the center-periphery image schema
Anna Bonifazi, pages 126-148

6 Aspects of aural perception in Homeric Greek
Silvia Luraghi and Eleonora Sausa

7 The role of spatial prepositions in the Greek lexicon of garments
Maria Papadopoulou, pages 176-206

8 Metaphor by any other name. A cognitive linguistic reassessment of Aristotle’s theory of metaphor
Greg Membrez, pages 207-227

9 Animus inscriptus An out-of-body embodiment?
Christopher Collins, pages 228-244

10 Metaphorical word order
Luca D’Anselmi, pages 245-270

pages 271-273

Wooden Nativity Scene

Kαλὰ Χριστούγεννα / Merry Christmas 2019

While no one in the first century would have said Merry Christmas (Kαλὰ Χριστούγεννα) because the early Church had not yet begun celebrating Christmas, if they had said it, it would have sounding like the recording above. At least that’s what the best evidence for Hellenistic Greek pronunciation suggests.

In 2019 Merry Christmas is a widely used greeting at this time of year, of course, and if you would like to deliver the message in Hellenistic Greek, I hope the recording helps. May you and your family have a beautiful Christmas this year.

Today I received notice that (Benjamin Kantor) has completed the remaining chapters of the reading of the Gospel of Mark in Koine Greek, including the addition of subtitles. This is a wonderful Christmas gift to the larger community of people learning Hellenistic Greek.

You can view the videos (chapter by chapter) at

Kαλὰ Χριστούγεννα.

Recommended Blog Post

A couple of days ago, Seumas Macdonald, on The Patrologist blog, posted a great list of useful questions to use in communicative Ancient Greek classes. They will work just as well for Koine or Classical Greek. You can find his list here:

Baby beginning to speak Greek

Pronouncing Ancient Greek

This week I have completed a major overhaul of the Alphabet page at Now there are pronunciation examples for every letter in Modern Greek, Hellenistic Koiné, and Attic Greek. Most of these examples include an audio recording for clarity.

The audio recordings for ancient Greek use the reconstructed historical pronunciations. The Erasmian pronunciation is not included since it does not represent a well researched reconstruction of the actual pronunciation of Greek at any period.

Choose a letter below to see an example.

α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω

Diphthongs and Digraphs

I have also added a section on diphthongs and digraphs. Where possible I have included recordings for these as well, but I do not have good recordings for all of them yet.

A diphthong is a pair of vowel sounds pronounced as a single syllable with the first sound gliding into the other.

A digraph is a pair of letters used to represent a single meaningful sound (phoneme).

Some of the pairs of letters below were true diphthongs in one historical period, but had become digraphs by another. In the case of αυ, ευ, and ηυ they were diphthongs in the classical period (Attic), but had become vowel/consonant pairs by the hellenistic era.

αι ει οι ου υι αυ ευ ηυ μπ ντ

I hope you find these materials helpful.

Smyth Greek Grammar and a diagram

Semantic Roles in the Ancient Greek Dependency Treebank

I have added the following article to the bibliography at

While the use of the term “semantic role” in the title of this article sounds like what is discussed in posts on argument structure or Construction Grammar here at, the list of such roles referenced by Celano and Carne is quite different. They used Smyth’s, A Greek Grammar for Colleges to derive their list.

While this is an understandable decision, since that text is freely available online and it uses traditional categories students of Greek Grammar will readily recognized, Smyth’s grammar was written well before modern approaches to semantic roles were invented, so the names of some of the roles, and to a significant extent their definitions, will seem odd to linguists not familiar with traditional approaches to Greek Grammar.

Journal of Greek Linguistics

Verbal Semantics in Ancient Greek Possessive Constructions with eînai

In 2015 Maria Carmela Benvenuto and Flavia Pompeo published an article in the Journal of Greek Linguistics with the title above. The theoretical framework they use is Construction Grammar. The version of “Ancient Greek” they examine spans from Homer to the mid 300’s BCE, so it is prior to the era of our focus, but it fits well with work done by others on the Greek of the New Testament.

Both Simon Wong and Paul Danove have applied Construction Grammar to New Testament texts.

While I do not work within the Construction Grammar framework, I have argued elsewhere that similar information should be included in new lexica/dictionaries for ancient Greek and could be very useful in the context of language acquisition resources.

In my paper “Argument Structure in Hellenistic Greek” I used terminology intended to be understandable from the point of view of multiple theoretical frameworks, but the data are the same as those discussed by these proponents of Construction Grammar.

The value of Benevuto and Pompeo’s paper is that it demonstrates a specific difference in semantic relations correlating with a particular difference in morph-syntactic marking in Greek (genitive versus dative possessive constructions). Do their conclusions hold for the hellenistic data? Are any of you willing to take on the task of doing the research to see?

Benevuto and Ponpeo’s paper is available online. You can read it on Brill’s website or download a PDF copy there.
(They use transliterated Greek text, probably to make their work more accessible to readers who have not mastered the Greek alphabet, but it is not too much of a annoyance for those of us who have.)

Coderch, Classical Greek: A New Grammar

World News in Ancient Greek

Dr. Juan Coderch, University of St. Andrews (Scotland) maintains a website that provides world news in Ancient Greek. The site provides thoughtful discussions of some of the difficulties faced in producing current news articles in an ancient language.

In 2012 Dr. Coderch published a new reference grammar for Classical Greek. Reviews of the book have been very positive. A reference grammar is not necessary for acquiring ancient Greek, but it’s a great help for resolving difficulties you encounter in advanced texts, including his own news articles.

You can download a copy of the grammar as a PDF file for free, but at nearly 400 pages it will probably cost you as much to print it yourself as it would to order the bound copy from

Acquiring Hellenistic (Koine) Greek

Donovan Nagal runs a podcast at In this episode he discusses his ongoing experience in learning Koine Greek. He has a clear awareness of both the need to study Greek the without focussing on grammar, and the need to know the grammar well for theological studies.

Feel free to leave a comment below giving your reaction after you watch the 12 minute video.

Mark 8 in Koine Greek

Here’s chapter 8 of Mark’s Gospel from the LUMO Project, Faith Comes by Hearing, and

As with chapter 7, there are no captions (yet) in this video, so I recommend listening with your Greek New Testament in hand and stopping the video from time to time to read what you have just heard.

Movable ν in the Communicative Greek Classroom

An astute reader pointed out that I have listed the following phrases in my “Classroom Words and Phrases for Hellenistic Greek” and raised the question of why I included the ν in the first case and why it appears as optional in the second.

  • τί ἐστι(ν) τοῦτο;
  • τί ἐστι(ν) ἐκεῖνο;

This is a great question, and it prompted me to add some usage notes in the spreadsheet.

According the the rules for Attic and Ionic Greek the ν should not be used in the first example, but it should in the second. It was added to words ending in a vowel when the following word began with a vowel to avoid having two vowels in successive syllables with no intervening consonant. So… according to this rule, I could have listed the questions as follows:

  • τί ἐστι τοῦτο;
  • τί ἐστιν ἐκεῖνο;

The problem is that by the hellenistic period this rule was no longer consistently followed, so we find, for example, τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; in Mark 1:27 and John 16:18, Εμμανουήλ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν ὁ θεός (Emmanuel, which being translated is “God with us”) in Matthew 1:23, θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ θεοῦ (It is the throne of God) in Matthew 5:34, etc., all of which violate the classical rule. Unfortunately for students of Hellenistic Greek, the rule was regularly violated by many writers.

So, the question becomes, “What should we do in class?”

Do you have opinions on the topic? I tend to think it is worth teaching the rule, but being very clear with the class that Hellenistic Greek authors frequently violated it.

If you take this option, what should we do when a student places the ν where it shouldn’t be according to the rule or leaves it out where the rule requires it? Should we ignore it? Point it out? Restate what the student said using the ‘correct’ form? What do you think?