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Attic Revivals

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Attic Revivals

Postby daivid » Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:01 pm

Scribo wrote:
daivid wrote:
Scribo wrote:. Because of this discussions of the past tend to be tainted. For example you get those people acquainting the different registers in the past, the late Roman Attic revival and the modern problem as the same thing. Which is...ludicrous to the extreme.

With the knowledge gained from a quick read of the wikipedia article on Katharevousa I begin to suspect that when you say "ludicrous" it is because the difference between Katharevousa and the spoken language of modern Greece is far greater than between Attic and Koine. Am I on the right track?


Sort of. I mean Katherevousa was obviously spoken as Dimotiki was and modern standard Greek is a mix of the two. But yes, it was deliberately obfuscating in the introduction of long outdated grammatical forms, orthography rendered absolutely insane in speech thanks to changes in phonology. I mean seriously, emeis (we) and umeis (you plr) are rendered the exact same /imis/ and yet people were encouraged to use these forms. Yet the overall differences weren't quite as large as Attic > Koine, besides the obvious Atticising pastiche.

One of the problems was the massive ideological baggage each side took. The purists felt that in order to regain Greece's glory one must speak as they did, as closely as possible (Katherevousa really was a very poor approximation though!) whereas the Naturalists believed that a language ought to be the natural expression of how people spoke and felt. There were idiots on both sides when it came to prescriptivist linguistics but the latter one out.

This was what? 60/70 years ago? Ironically some of my friends in the Scientific universities still get screwed over by the fact that some of their textbooks are highly puristic and old fashioned. Its an interesting legacy, but a slightly different problem from the conscious imitation of the medievals.

In Byzantium this was literary imitation, often well done, a sort of code amongst the elites which has been likened to the usage of Sanskrit in south Asia. Katherevousa was an attempt to control the speech of a people. A whole people. As Orwell et all taught us, when you can restrict and mess with a persons language, you can mess with their thoughts.


My knowledge is a slightly bit larger on this issue thanks to JSTOR but my feeling that the issue is not so black and white comes from my experience of living in Croatia. There the efforts to purify the language of Serbianisms (and anglicisms and Germanisms etc) was about changing how the whole people spoke. It was also about the elite (new and rebranded old) displaying their superiority. I doubt very much that the Katherevousa movement was free of that tension between populism and elitism.

Of course Katherevousa was part of a modern nationalist movement but Attic revivals lend themselves to a nostalgia for past glories of Greece and that is going to be political in at least some sense. Plethon (who died only a few years before the fall of Constantinople so as late Roman revivals it was pretty late) did not simply write in Attic. He also stressed a Hellenic as opposed Roman identity and advocated transforming Morea along lines that echoed the aims of Agis and Cleomenes.
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