Item description for A History of the Greek Language: From Its Origins to the Present by Francisco Rodriguez Adrados...
Greek is one of the few languages still known to us after three thousand years that are still spoken today. In this English translation of Francisco Rodrguez Adrados's Historia de lengua griega, an overview is presented of the development of the Greek language at its different stages. Professor Adrados touches on a rich variety of topics, making A History of the Greek Language into a colourful collection of linguistic ideas.
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Not a synthesis of contemporary thought, but the author's setting out of his own research Jun 22, 2007
A HISTORY OF THE GREEK LANGUAGE is a translation of Francisco Rodriguez Adrados' HISTORIA DE LA LINGUA GRIEGA, originally published by Editorial Gredos in Madrid in 1999. Rodriguez delights in the nearly unbroken continuity of the Greek language from its beginnings three thousand years ago, and his book seeks to cover the history of Greek from Indo-European to the modern language.
From the work's title, one might expect a gentle introduction to the evolution of Greek for those who, while they might have some knowledge of either the classical or modern language, are nevertheless new to the field. Well, that's not the case. From the very first chapter, discussing the Indo-European basis of Greek, it's clear that the author expects the reader to have much prior training in all the matters he will discuss. Terms central to Indo-European linguistics("laryngeals", "heteroclitic", "monothematic") are used without definition, and prominent figures at the sides of various debates are mentioned without introduction. Instead, a major purpose of A HISTORY OF THE GREEK LANGUAGE seems to be the setting forth of the author's own views on the subject against possibly competing arguments by his colleagues. For example, Rodriguez holds that Hittite split of from IE long before a number of important features like gender evolved, setting him apart from Beekes (yet putting him together with Cowgill, mention of whom is, for some strange reason, missing here).
Once past the Indo-European stage, the book reveals itself as something of an outline, presentation of material being as bare as lecture notes. Discussion of the history of Classical Greek is heavily skewed towards literary styles, the chief research concern of the author. Coverage of the phonology of Greek is nowhere as substantial as in W. Sidney Allen's VOX GRAECA, but this is somewhat compensated by an intriguing interest in the Greek lexicon and its gradual expansion through borrowings or derivations.
There are some features of the history of Greek that are inexplicably missing. For example, there is no discussion of the Balkan sprachbund, which binds Greek in an important fashion to surrounding languages. Many works one should think central to the field are missing from book's bibliography, perhaps due to the poor holdings of Madrid university libraries (half of my undergraduate studies in Classics with an IE bent were done there, I was miserable with such paltry collections).
Bottom line, if you are looking for a history of Greek that synthesizes the work of the entire scholarly community, look elsewhere. Rodriguez's book is only for those with prior training in the field who want to see the views of a single scholar.