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Evidence of «μακεδονιστί» words in the other greek dialects

Evidence of «μακεδονιστί» words in the other greek dialects and some conclusions on the unity of the Northern Greek Group and the inclusion of the Macedonians in it.

Written by Andreas Kyropoulos

In this article I’d like to present gathered all the evidence of «μακεδονιστί» words from the other ancient greek dialects that I’ve found during my research so far.
My aim is to present enough ancient greek words both panhellenic and dialectal that share the macedonian phonological aberrancy in order to prove that there’s nothing “extra-Greek” in it , but it represents a phonological phenomenon that has affected thereabout all the Ancient Greek dialects (mostly the Northern ones) , with the only difference being the frequency of occurence. This frequency appears to be the highest in Macedonian , relatively high (but always a minority) in Aeolic and the Northwestern Greek dialects and the lowest (but not inexistent) in the southern Greek dialects (that is Attic-Ionic and Arcado-Cypriot).
First let’s define the «μακεδονιστί» phonology , that is the “macedonian manner of speech“. Many of the macedonian glosses , personal names , month names and toponymics that have been writen down and came to us although undoubtedly related to known Greek words show a striking characteristic : they are writen down with the letters [β,γ,δ] where the “standard” Greek forms have respectively [φ,χ,θ] . The phenomenon is known for more than a century and there has been an intense academic debate on it’s interpretation , and this interpretation judged whether or not the tongue of the ancient Macedonians was a Greek dialect or not.
The argument starts from the basic assumption that during the pre-Hellenistic period , that is let’s say before 300-350 BC , the greek letters [β,γ,δ] had the phonemic value of voiced stops [b,g,d] respectively , meanwhile the letters [φ,χ,θ] had the phonemic value of voiceless aspirates [/ph/,/kh/,/th/] (the kind of “breathy” sound that an english speaker produces at the beginning of the words “pen” , “cow” and “ten” respectively. The phonemic values of these letters were not ment to be and from a time that conventionally is put in the Early Hellenistic Period (around 300 BC) all the above letters acquired “continuant” phonemic values : [β,γ,δ] became voiced spirants [/v/,/γ/,/δ/] , meanwhile [φ,χ,θ] became voiceless spirants [/f/,/χ/,/θ/] , that is the phonemic value that they still have in modern Greek.
I have underlined the word “conventionally” , because in reality we don’t know when each dialect begun to shift the phonemic value of it’s consonants and it is widely accepted that there was a substantial ovelapping period between the two consonantal phonemic systems. So we’re pretty sure that the Doric dialects had given a spirant value in «β» and «θ» already in the 5th century BC , when they started to substitute the letter “digamma” («F» having the emiphonic phonemic value of /w/) with «β» (βόρθιος for earlier Fόρθιος) and «θ» with «σ» («μά τῷ Σιῷ» for earlier «μά τῷ Θεῷ»). The phonemic overlap was most intense roughly during the period 450-250 BC , but it doesn’t mean that it was inexistent earlier and later.
Hence during the Early Archaic Period (750-650 BC) when the Homeric Epics were writen down and we are expecting to find [β,γ,δ] with the phonemic value of [/b/,/g/,/d/] the northern Thessalian tribal name Περῥαιβοί already attested in the Iliad shows a «β» in the place of a “digamma” , sinse the name probably means “from the sourse/edge of the river Αous” not far from Ancient Dodona («Πέρῥας ΑἴFoυ» >> «ΠερῥαιFοί») and according to the Iliad [II.749-750] :
“… the valiant Perrhaebi, who dwelt about wintry Dodona …”μενεπτόλεμοί τε Περαιβοὶ οἳ περὶ Δωδώνην δυσχείμερον οἰκί’ ἔθεντο
… a name comparable to the region Παραύια located immediatelly north of the Middle Aous («παρά τον ΑἴFα» , “by the Aous“) , which was inhabited in historical times by the molossian Παραυαῖοι.
Always in the Homeric texts the word ἄβυσσος (”abyss”) is attested and it’s etymology literarelly means “bottomless” («α-βένθος/βύνθος») as we’ll have the opportunity to see below. If this is the case then from early times the word for “abyss” has turned a spirant «θ» into «σ» , which later retro-assimilated the «ν» ,thus forming the double «σσ» in the same time that τέτρα (/tetra/) and ἵππος (/hippos/) were giving a canonical aspirate «θ» in τέθριππον (/tethrippon/).
The above examples are indicatives of the existense of the “consonantal phonemic overlap” already during the Archaic Period and , in the same manner the “rural modern greek” variants δέντρο (/δendro/) , κόμπος (/kobos/) , γκαστρωμένη (/gastromeni/) preserve the pre-Hellenistic phonemic values of /dendron/ , /kombos/ , /gaste:r/.
I hope that the above examples have shown the “conventionality” of saying that between 350-250 BC greek has turned into spirants the consonants «β,γ,δ,φ,χ,θ» and it’s this conventionality that creates the uncertainty in attributing exact phonemic values in words that have come down to us in a writen form.
Sinse the debate about the ancient macedonian tongue is based primarely on the interpretation of words that have come down to us only in a writen form it is logical to understand why it inherited the above mentioned uncertainty.
Having presented the uncertainty in interpreting the absolute phonemic value of a writen «β,γ,δ» as [/b/,/d/,/g/] or [/v/,/δ/,/γ/] and the writen «φ,χ,θ» as [/ph/,/kh/,/th/] or [/f/,/χ/,/θ/] we can be a little more certain in the relative interpretation : that is sinse the same nebulous uncertainty covers both Macedonian and the known Greek dialects , this permites us to postulate that a lets say 400 BC Macedonian «β» is not more difficult to interpret than a Boeotian «β» of the same period. This means that the older the attested writen form is the more probable (but not 100% certain) the writen «β,γ,δ» and «φ,χ,θ» represent respectively voiced stops [/b/,/g/,/d/] and voiceless aspirates [/ph/,/kh/,/th/].


Greek is an Indo-European (IE) language and like all the other IE languages it derives from a partially reconstructed hypothetical Proto-Indo-European (PIE) precursor. That precursor was spoken most probably in the Pontic-Caspian Steppes between ca. 5000-3000 BC. As it’s bearers gradually expanded PIE was first disintegrated in regional dialects and those dialects in time became separate languages , each consisting of it’s own dialects. Each emerging language has made certain innovations common or not with other languages as it has made certain preservations again common or not with other languages.
The original PIE language according to the most accepted linguistic view was characterized by a “breathy voice” , that is it possessed a series of voiced aspirates * [/bh,/gh/,/dh/] , among with a series of voiced * [b,d,g] and voiceless * [p,t,k] stops as it also possessed a series of labiovelar consonants * [kw,gw,gwh].
From PIE to Greek there have been at least two transitional precursors:
1) Graeco-Phrygian , is the linguistic precursor of both Greek and Phrygian and is characterized by the common innovations and preservations between the two , at least until the split of the two emerging languages , that is proto-Phrygian (direct precursor of Phrygian) and …
2) Proto-Greek , that is the prescursor that gave all the known historical and prehistorical greek dialects and which first started to develop the peculiarities that Greek does not share with any other IE language.
Some of these peculiarites are:
I) The devoicing of the PIE voiced aspirates *[/bh/,/gh/,/dh/] in voiceless aspirates [/ph/,/kh/,/th/] (at least before starting to turn in spirants [/f/,/χ/,/θ/] as we have said above).
II) The preservation of the labiovelars at least until the Mycenaean Collapse of ca. 1200 BC (in the Mycenaean Linear B tablets the labiovelars appear to be intact) and the successive relatively rapid transformation of the last during the next 2-3 centuries (ca. 1150-850 BC) , transformation that seems to follow certain rules : /gw/>> /b/,/d/ and more rarely /g/ , /gwh/>> mostly /th/, /ph/ , but also /kh/ and sometimes /b/ and /d/ and finally /kw/ >> mostly /p/ and /t/ and rarely /k/.
So we enter the Archaic Period (750 BC) and the beginning of the alphabetic writing and we find Ancient Greek already disintegrated in a mosaic of dialectal branches (that according to the widely accepted classification of Ernst Risch and Walter Porzig in the 50s there are a northern Greek group consisting of the Aeolian , Northwestern Greek and Doric dialects and a southern Greek group consisting of the Attic-Ionic and Arcado-Cypriot dialects) , each one of which composed by a number of regional subdialects ( For instance Lesbian and Boeotian are both Aeolian dialects , Locrian and Aetolian are both NW Greek and Euboean and Asiatic Ionian both being Ionian ones).
What is the position of the ancient Macedonian tongue ?? Is it a dialect of Greek or a sibling to Greek language ?? Aberrant Greek dialect or sister language to Greek !! This has been the answer that most linguistists hold for a very long time. The vast majority of the historians one the other hand , due to the possibility of a global examination of the ancient Macedonian society , religion and tradition have started much earlier to settle down towards the original Greekness of the ancient Macedonians.
What kept at distance many linguists from sharing the same opinion with the majority of the historians ?
It was the belief that according to the long-established interpretation of the writen «β,γ,δ» and «φ,χ,θ» as respectively voiced stops (/b/,/d/,/g/) and voiceless aspirates (/ph/,/kh/,/th/) , “Macedonian stands apart from every other greek dialect sinse it has deaspirated the PIE voiced aspirates * [/bh/,/gh/,/dh/] into voiced stops [/b/,/g/,/d/] , instead of devoicing them into voiceless aspirates [/ph/,/kh/,/th/] a property that is also shared by the other known Paleo-Balkan IE languages like Thracian , Illyrian and Phrygian.
To give some examples the PIE root *bher- “to carry”/”to bring” has given the greek verb φέρω (/phero:/ , “I bring/curry”) , but the macedonian month name of September was Ὑπερβερεταῖος (”hyper-provider”) which was also found in the macedonian (Dion , Pieria) cult of Zeus Hyperberetas . In the same manner the macedonian variant of the name Φερενίκα (”bearing Victory”) was Βερενίκα , meanwhile the name Χαιτέας from Greek χαῖτη = “mane” (/khaite:/ from PIE * ghait(s)-) in Macedonia has been attested as Γαιτέας (assumed /Gaiteas/) and the Macedonian word δῶραξ (”spleen”) and the month name Ξανδικός show a [/d/]-for-[/th/] relation to “standard” Greek θῶραξ and Ξανθός.


Here I leave aside Macedonian and I’ll examine words from the known Greek dialects that show a «μακεδονιστί» orthography that is forms writen with «β,γ,δ» instead of «φ,χ,θ» from terms that have a PIE reconstructed root containing respectively the voiced aspirates * [/bh/,/gh/,/dh/].
I choose the term “orthography” and not “phonology” , because it’s the writen forms that we can compare to our reconstructions , sinse as I’ve said above there is a phonological uncertainty due to the overlapping of the two consonantal phonological systems [(/b/,/g/,/d/)-(/ph/,/kh/,/th/) vs. (/v/,/γ/,/δ/)-(/f/,/χ/,/θ/).
For the reconstructed PIE terms I'll be using :
"The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European And The Proto-Indo-European World" , by J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams [Oxford University Press , (O.U.P.) 2006]
And sporadically I’ll use :
“The Greek Dialects” by C.D. Buck [first published by The University of Chicago Press (1955) , republished with permission in 1998 by The Bristol Classical Press]
When I’ll be refering to Mallory & Adams I’ll be writing [PIE, page] and when I’ll be refering to C.D. Buck I’ll be writing [TGD, page].
1) “Earth”
The PIE reconstructed word for “earth” is * dh(e)ghom [PIE,120]. Starting from * dhghom , greek has first transposed the complex dhgh in ghdh (as it has done with *dhghu- “fish” in ἰχθύς and with *dhghyes “yesterday” in ἐχθές , [PIE,472]) which apparently followed two paths. The “standard” Greek path gave χθῶν “earth” (hence Chthonic) and Homeric χθαμαλός , before simplifying it to later χαμηλός , meaning “low onto the ground“/”humble” (this latin analog has the same history deriving from latin humus for “earth”).
Odyssey [IX.25]αὐτὴ δὲ χθαμαλὴ πανυπερτάτη εἰν ἁλὶ κεῖται
Interestingly , there is also an “aberrant” Greek path which deaspirates «μακεδονιστί» *ghdhom into * γδῶν and from that eliminating one of the two consontants produces a plethora of Greek words like the δ-forms Δωδῶνα Μακεδονία rispectively “Zeus’ Land” and “Highland” and Ποτίδας («πότις Δᾶς» = “husband of the Earth” , originally an appellative of the archetypic maschuline god Dodonaean Zeus that later evolved into the Sea and Earthquake God Poseidon) , and Δήμητρα («Δᾶ μᾶτηρ» = “Earth Mother”) and the far more known γ-forms as γῆ,Γαῖα,γόνα providing the first synthetic of terms like Geology , Geometry and the Upper Macedonian region Πελαγονία (probably “dark land” like Pelops = “Dark faced”) and it’s river Ἐριγών probably meaning “flowing through the Dark Land” (Erig- is probably related to greek Erebos = “dark underworld” , which in [PIE,330] is derived from PIE * h1regw-es = “a place of darkness“). The modern slavic name of Erigon is Crna Reka meaning “Black River” which confirms the previous connection.
So the panhellenic terms Δᾶ and Γαῖα are the “aberrant «μακεδονιστί»” cognates of “standard” greek χθῶν , but are used by all Greeks sinse time immemorial in both Religious (Demetra , Potidas , Gaia) and Everyday (γεωργός = “earth worker” = “farmer”) language. I’ll end my “Earth” discusion with the two homeric epithets of Poseidon (Potidas = “husband of the Earth”) both meaning “Earth-Shaker” : Γαιήοχος (*dhghom “earth” , *wegh- “shake,set in motion” [PIE,391] and Ἐνοσίχθων.
2) “Be in (com-)motion”
There has been reconstructed a PIE term * dhuh2mos meaning “be in motion/commotion” and “smoke“. It’s “standard” greek cognates are θυμός (”smoke“-> “moving air stream”/”soul“-> “commotion”) and ἐπιθυμῶ meaning “to desire” (”be in motion towards something / be attracted by something”). Naturarelly , Greek has also produced aberrant «μακεδονιστί» cognates:
i) The Δυμάνες were considered to be oldest dorian subtribe and the Dorians were known for their macrochronic migrations before ending in the Peloponnese (Herodotus , I.56) not to mention that in all that time they practised pastoral transhumance , that is moved their flocks back and forth between highland summer pastures and lowland winter quarters. It it obvious why the name Dymanes was applied to a long migratory and nomadic Greek tribe as it is obvious the link with the PIE root *dhuh2mos “be in motion“.
ii) Further confirmation comes from the Odyssey. In [IX.793, XII.311] we find the phrase «νήδυμος ὕπνος» meaning “unshakable sleep” (the νη- has a “steretic” value as in νήπιοn = “small child” from νε-Fἔπος (”the one who can’t talk yet“) , meanwhile the Greek personal name Νήδυμος (with the meaning of “unshakeable”/”intrepid”) has been attested. It is interesting here the name ΑΔΥΜΟΣ found in Macedonia. The excavators related to NW Greek Hadys meaning “sweet”/”pleasant“. I do not know if the spiritus asper was evident in the inscriptions , because if it wasn’t then the etymology “unshakeable”/”intrepid” is also possible just like Nedymos and the mythic Atreus.

iii) Always from the Odyssey [VI.22] we have the phrase «ναυσίκλειτος Δύμας» “Dymas the famous (Phaeacean) Navigator“. Sinse most of the Phaeacean personal names found in the Odyssey are related to naval activities it seems to me obvious the relation between the name Dymas , the PIE root *dhuh2mos “be in motion” and his activity as Navigator (”moving in Sea“).
So again we find Greek terms that date to the homeric epics , if not to the days of the Dorian Migration , that still formed personal names in historical times and present the aberrant «μακεδονιστί» phonology (δ for θ). Dymas , Dymanes , Nedymos , Adymmas and possibly Adymos (if not Hadymos) have the same root (PIE *dhuh2mos) with the “phonologically standard” Greek word thymos. Again the Greeks have been using them sinse time immemorial.
3) “Zeus Thunderclapping from above”

Αυτό το αξιόλογο άρθρο μπορείτε να το διαβάσετε, στην αγγλική,
στην : History of Macedonia

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