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Title: Language and National Identity in Greece, 1766-1976
Written By: Peter Mackridge

This is a history of the great language controversy that has occupied and
empassioned Greeks - sometimes with fatal results - for over two hundred
years. It begins in the late eighteenth-century when a group of Greek
intellectuals sought to develop a new, Hellenic, national identity
alongside the traditional identity supplied by Orthodox Christianity. The
ensuing controversy focused on the language, fueled on the one hand by a
desire to develop a form of Greek that expressed the Greeks' relationship
to the ancients, and on the other by the different groups' contrasting
notions of what the national image so embodied should be. The purists
wanted a writing system close to the ancient. The vernacularists - later
known as demoticists - sought to match written language to spoken, claiming
the latter to be the product of the unbroken development of Greek since the
time of Homer. Peter Mackridge explores the political, social, and
linguistic causes and effects of the controversy in its many and passionate
manifestations. Drawing on a wide range of evidence from literature,
language, history, and anthropology, he traces its effects on spoken and
written varieties of Greek and shows its impact on those in use today. He
describes successive language-planning policies of the state and the
efforts by linguistic elites to achieve language standardization and
independence from languages, such as Turkish, Albanian, Vlach, and
Slavonic, spoken where once Greek was dominant.

This is a timely book. The sense of national and linguistic identity that
has been inculcated into generations of Greeks since the start of the War
of Independence in 1821 has, in the last 25 years, received blows from
which it may not recover. Immigration from Eastern Europe and elsewhere has
introduced new populations whose religions, languages, and cultures are
transforming Greece into a country quite different from what it has been
and to what it once aspired to be.

Publication Year: 2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Subject Language(s): Greek, Modern
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0199214425
ISBN-13: 9780199214426
Pages: 352
Prices: U.S. $ 110.00
U.K. £ 55.00