An aberrant form of Greek, with borrowings from Illyrian and Thracian.
A Greek dialect with a non-Indo-European substratal influence, suggested by M. Sakellariou (1983) and Hatzopoulos (2011).
A sibling language of Greek within Indo-European, according to a scheme in which Macedonian and Greek are the two branches of a Greco-Macedonian subgroup (sometimes called "Hellenic") suggested by Joseph (2001), Georgiev (1966), and Hamp & Adams (2013).
From the few idiomatic words that survive, only a little can be said about special features of the language. A notable sound-law is that the Proto-Indo-Europeanvoicedaspirates (/bʰ, dʰ, gʰ/) sometimes appear as voiced stops /b, d, g/, (written β, δ, γ), whereas they are generally unvoiced as /pʰ, tʰ, kʰ/ (φ, θ, χ) elsewhere in Greek.
Macedonian δάνοςdánοs ('death', from PIE *dhenh2- 'to leave'), compare to Atticθάνατοςthánatos
Macedonian ἀβροῦτεςabroûtes or ἀβροῦϝεςabroûwes compare to Attic ὀφρῦςophrûs for 'eyebrows'
Macedonian ΒερενίκηBereníkē compare to Attic ΦερενίκηPhereníkē, 'bearing victory' (Personal name)
Macedonian ἄδραιαadraia ('bright weather'), compare to Attic αἰθρίαaithría, from PIE *h2aidh-
Macedonian βάσκιοιbáskioi ('fasces'), compare to Attic φάσκωλοςpháskōlos 'leather sack', from PIE *bhasko
According to Herodotus 7.73 (c. 440 BC), the Macedonians claimed that the Phryges were called Bryges before they migrated from Thrace to Anatolia (around 8th–7th century BC).
Macedonian μάγειροςmágeiros ('butcher') was a loan from Doric into Attic. Vittore Pisani has suggested an ultimately Macedonian origin for the word, which could then be cognate to μάχαιραmákhaira ('knife', < PIE *magh-, 'to fight')
If γοτάνgotán ('pig') is related to *gwou ('cattle'), this would indicate that the labiovelars were either intact, or merged with the velars, unlike the usual Greek treatment (Attic βοῦςboûs). Such deviations, however, are not unknown in Greek dialects; compare Laconian Doric (the dialect of Sparta) γλεπ-glep- for common Greek βλεπ-blep-, as well as Doric γλάχωνgláchōn and Ionicγλήχωνglēchōn for common Greek βλήχωνblēchōn.
A number of examples suggest that voiced velar stops were devoiced, especially word-initially: κάναδοιkánadoi, 'jaws' (< PIE *genu-); κόμβουςkómbous, 'molars' (< PIE *gombh-); within words: ἀρκόνarkón (Attic ἀργόςargós); the Macedonian toponymAkesamenai, from the Pierian name Akesamenos (if Akesa- is cognate to Greek agassomai, agamai, "to astonish"; cf. the Thracian name Agassamenos).
In Aristophanes' The Birds, the form κεβλήπυριςkeblēpyris ('red head', the name of a bird, perhaps the goldfinch or redpoll) is found, showing a Macedonian-style voiced stop in place of a standard Greek unvoiced aspirate: κεβ(α)λήkeb(a)lē versus κεφαλήkephalē ('head').
A number of the Macedonian words, particularly in Hesychius' lexicon, are disputed (i.e., some do not consider them actual Macedonian words) and some may have been corrupted in the transmission. Thus abroutes, may be read as abrouwes (αβρουϝες), with tau (Τ) replacing a digamma. If so, this word would perhaps be encompassable within a Greek dialect; however, others (e.g. A. Meillet) see the dental as authentic and think that this specific word would perhaps belong to an Indo-European language different from Greek.
A. Panayotou summarizes some features generally identified through ancient texts and epigraphy:
Occasional development of voiced aspirates (*bh, *dh, *gh) into voiced stops (b, d, g) (e.g. Βερενίκα, Attic Φερενίκη)
Retention of */a:/ (e.g. Μαχάτας), also present in Epirotic
[a:] as result of contraction [a:] + [ɔ:]
Apocope of short vowels in prepositions in synthesis (παρκαττίθεμαι, Attic παρακατατίθεμαι)
Syncope (hyphairesis) and diphthongization are used to avoid hiatus (e.g. Θετίμα, Attic Θεοτίμη; compare with Epirotic Λαγέτα, Doric Λαογἐτα).
Occasional retention of the pronunciation [u] οf /u(:)/ in local cult epithets or nicknames (Κουναγίδας = Κυναγίδας)
Raising of /ɔ:/ to /u:/ in proximity to nasal (e.g. Κάνουν, Attic Κανών)
Simplification of the sequence /ign/ to /i:n/ (γίνομαι, Attic γίγνομαι)
Loss of aspiration of the consonant cluster /sth/ (> /st/) (γενέσται, Attic γενέσθαι)
Ancient Macedonian morphology is shared with ancient Epirus, including some of the oldest inscriptions from Dodona. The morphology of the first declension nouns with an -ας ending is also shared with Thessalian (e.g. Epitaph for Pyrrhiadas, Kierion).
First-declension masculine and feminine in -ας and -α respectively (e.g. Πεύκεστας, Λαομάγα)
First-declension masculine genitive singular in -α (e.g. Μαχάτα)
First-declension genitive plural in -ᾶν
First person personal pronoun dative singular ἐμίν
Temporal conjunction ὁπόκα
Possibly, a non-sigmatic nominative masculine singular in the first declension (ἱππότα, Attic ἱππότης)
M. Hatzopoulos summarizes the Macedonian anthroponymy (that is names borne by people from Macedonia before the expansion beyond the Axios or people undoubtedly hailing from this area after the expansion) as follows:
Epichoric (local) Greek names that either differ from the phonology of the introduced Attic or that remained almost confined to Macedonians throughout antiquity
Panhellenic (common) Greek names
Identifiable non-Greek (Thracian and Illyrian) names
Names without a clear Greek etymology that can't however be ascribed to any identifiable non-Greek linguistic group.
Common in the creation of ethnics is the use of -έστης, -εστός especially when derived from sigmatic nouns (ὄρος > Ὀρέστης but also Δῖον > Διασταί).
The toponyms of Macedonia proper are generally Greek, though some of them show a particular phonology and a few others are non-Greek.
The Macedonian names of about half or more of the months of the ancient Macedonian calendar have a clear and generally accepted Greek etymology (e.g. Dios, Apellaios, Artemisios, Loos, Daisios), though some of the remaining ones have sometimes been considered to be Greek but showing a particular Macedonian phonology (e.g. Audunaios has been connected to "Haides" *A-wid and Gorpiaios/Garpiaios to "karpos" fruit).
Macedonian onomastics: the earliest epigraphical documents attesting substantial numbers of Macedonian proper names are the second Athenian alliance decree with Perdiccas II (~417–413 BC), the decree of Kalindoia (~335–300 BC) and seven curse tablets of the 4th century BC bearing mostly names.
Funerary stele, with an epigram on the top, mid 4th century B.C., Vergina
About 99% of the roughly 6,300 Macedonian-period inscriptions discovered by archaeologists were written in the Greek language, using the Greek alphabet. The Pella curse tablet, a text written in a distinct Doric Greek dialect, found in 1986 and dated to between mid to early 4th century BC, has been forwarded as an argument that the ancient Macedonian language was a dialect of North-Western Greek, part of the Doric dialect group.
A body of idiomatic words has been assembled from ancient sources, mainly from coin inscriptions, and from the 5th century lexicon of Hesychius of Alexandria, amounting to about 150 words and 200 proper names, though the number of considered words sometimes differs from scholar to scholar. The majority of these words can be confidently assigned to Greek albeit some words would appear to reflect a dialectal form of Greek. There are, however, a number of words that are not easily identifiable as Greek and reveal, for example, voiced stops where Greek shows voiceless aspirates. Specific words and consonant shifts are, however, present in most dialects of most languages.
⟨†⟩ marked words which have been corrupted.
ἄβαγναabagna 'roses amaranta (unwithered)' (Atticῥόδαrhoda, Aeolicβρόδαbroda roses). (LSJ: amarantos unfading. Amaranth flower. (Aeolicἄβαaba 'youthful prime' + ἁγνόςhagnos 'pure, chaste, unsullied) or epithet aphagna from aphagnizo 'purify'. If abagnon is the proper name for rhodon rose, then it is cognate to Persianباغbāġ, 'garden', Gothic𐌱𐌰𐌲𐌼𐍃bagms 'tree' and Greekbakanon 'cabbage-seed'. Finally, a Phrygian borrowing is highly possible if we think of the famous Gardens of Midas, where roses grow of themselves (see Herodotus 8.138.2, Athenaeus 15.683)
ἀγκαλίςankalis Attic 'weight, burden, load' Macedonian 'sickle' (Hes. Attic ἄχθοςákhthos, δρέπανονdrépanon, LSJ Attic ἀγκαλίςankalís 'bundle', or in pl. ἀγκάλαιankálai 'arms' (body parts), ἄγκαλοςánkalos 'armful, bundle', ἀγκάληankálē 'the bent arm' or 'anything closely enfolding', as the arms of the sea, PIE *ank 'to bend') (ἀγκυλίςankylis 'barb' Oppianus.C.1.155.)
ἄδδαιaddai poles of a chariot or car, logs (Attic ῥυμοὶ rhumoi) (Aeolic usdoi, Attic ozoi, branches, twigs) PIE*H₂ó-sd-o- , branch
ἀδῆadē 'clear sky' or 'the upper air' (Hes. οὐρανόςouranós 'sky', LSJ and Pokorny Attic αἰθήρaithēr 'ether, the upper, purer air', hence 'clear sky, heaven')
ἀκόντιονakontion spine or backbone, anything ridged like the backbone: ridge of a hill or mountain (Attic rhachis) (Attic akontion spear, javelin) (Aeolic akontion part of troops)
ἀκρέαakrea girl (Attic κόρη korê, Ionic kourê, Doric/Aeolic kora, Arcadian korwa, Laconian kyrsanis (Ἀκρέα, epithet of Aphrodite in Cyprus, instead of Akraia, of the heights). Epithet of a goddess from an archaic Corcyraic inscription (ορϝος hιαρος τας Ακριας).
ἀκρουνοίakrounoi 'boundary stones' nom. pl. (Hes. ὃροιhóroi, LSJ Attic ἄκρονákron 'at the end or extremity', from ἀκήakē 'point, edge', PIE *ak 'summit, point' or 'sharp')
ἀλίηalíē 'boar or boarfish' (Attic kapros) (PIE *ol-/*el- "red, brown" (in animal and tree names) (Homeric ellos fawn, Attic elaphos 'deer', alkê elk)
ἀορτήςaortês, 'swordsman' (Hes. ξιφιστής; Homerἄορáor 'sword'; Attic ἀορτήρaortēr 'swordstrap', Modern Greekαορτήρaortír 'riflestrap'; hence aorta) (According to Suidas: Many now say the knapsack ἀβερτὴabertê instead of aortê. Both the object and the word [are] Macedonian.
ἄργελλαargella 'bathing hut'. Cimmerianἄργιλλα or argila 'subterranean dwelling' (Ephorus in Strb. 5.4.5) PIE *areg-; borrowed into Balkan Latin and gave Romanianargea (pl. argele), "wooden hut", dialectal (Banat) arghela "stud farm"); cf. Sanskritargalā 'latch, bolt', Old Englishreced "building, house", Albanianargësh "harrow, crude bridge of crossbars, crude raft supported by skin bladders"
ἀργι(ό)πουςargiopous 'eagle' (LSJ Attic ἀργίπουςargípous 'swift- or white-footed', PIE *hrg'i-pods < PIE *arg + PIE *ped)
ΘαῦλοςThaulos epithet or alternative of Ares (ΘαύλιαThaulia 'festival in DoricTarentum, θαυλίζεινthaulizein 'to celebrate like Dorians', ThessalianΖεὺς ΘαύλιοςZeus Thaulios, the only attested in epigraphy 10 times, AthenianΖεὺς ΘαύλωνZeus Thaulôn, Athenian family ΘαυλωνίδαιThaulônidai
λακεδάμαlakedámaὕδωρ ἁλμυρὸν ἄλικι ἐπικεχυμένον salty water with alix, rice-wheat or fish-sauce.(Cf.skorodalmê 'sauce or pickle composed of brine and garlic'). According to Albrecht von Blumenthal,-ama corresponds to Attic ἁλμυρόςhalmurós 'salty'; CretanDorichauma for Attic halmē; laked- is cognate to Proto-Germanic *laukaleek, possibly related is ΛακεδαίμωνLaked-aímōn, the name of the Spartan land.
λείβηθρονleíbēthron 'stream' (Hes. Attic ῥεῖθρονrheîthron, also λιβάδιονlibádion, 'a small stream', dim. of λιβάςlibás; PIE *lei, 'to flow'); typical Greek productive suffix -θρον (-thron) (Macedonian toponym, Pierian Leibethra place/tomb of Orpheus)
ματτύηςmattuês kind of bird (ματτύηmattuê a meat-dessert of Macedonian or Thessalian origin) (verb mattuazo to prepare the mattue) (Athenaeus)
παραόςparaos eagle or kind of eagle (Attic aetos, Pamphylian aibetos) (PIE *por- 'going, passage' + *awi- 'bird') (Greek para- 'beside' + Hes. aos wind) (It may exist as food in Lopado...pterygon)
περιπέτειαperipeteia or περίτιαperitia Macedonian festival in month Peritios. (Hesychius text περί[πε]τ[ε]ια)
κοῖοςkoios number (Athenaeus when talking about Koios, the Titan of intelligence; and the Macedonians use koios as synonymous with arithmos (LSJ: koeô mark, perceive, hear koiazô pledge, Hes. compose s.v. κοίασον, σύνθες) (Laocoön, thyoskoos observer of sacrifices, akouô hear) (All from PIE root *keu to notice, observe, feel; to hear.
Among the references that have been discussed as possibly bearing some witness to the linguistic situation in Macedonia, there is a sentence from a fragmentary dialogue, apparently between an Athenian and a Macedonian, in an extant fragment of the 5th century BC comedy 'Macedonians' by the Athenian poet Strattis (fr. 28), where a stranger is portrayed as speaking in a rural Greek dialect. His language contains expressions such as ὕμμες ὡττικοί for ὑμεὶς ἀττικοί "you Athenians", ὕμμες being also attested in Homer, Sappho (Lesbian) and Theocritus (Doric), while ὡττικοί appears only in "funny country bumpkin" contexts of Attic comedy.
Another text that has been quoted as evidence is a passage from Livy (lived 59 BC-14 AD) in his Ab urbe condita (31.29). Describing political negotiations between Macedonians and Aetolians in the late 3rd century BC, Livy has a Macedonian ambassador argue that Aetolians, Acarnanians and Macedonians were "men of the same language". This has been interpreted as referring to a shared North-West Greek speech (as opposed to Attic Koiné). In another passage, Livy states that an announcement was translated from Latin to Greek for Macedonians to understand.
As a consequence of the Macedonians' role in the formation of the Koine, Macedonian contributed considerable elements, unsurprisingly including some military terminology (διμοιρίτης, ταξίαρχος, ὑπασπισταί, etc.). Among the many contributions were the general use of the first declension grammar for male and female nouns with an -as ending, attested in the genitive of Macedonian coinage from the early 4th C BC of Amyntas III (ΑΜΥΝΤΑ in the genitive; the Attic form that fell into disuse would be ΑΜΥΝΤΟΥ). There were changes in verb conjugation such as in the Imperative δέξα attested in Macedonian sling stones found in Asiatic battlefields, that became adopted in place of the Attic forms. Koine Greek established a spirantisation of beta, gamma and delta, which has been attributed to the Macedonian influence. Other adoptions from the ancient Macedonian include the simplification of the sequence /ign/ to /i:n/ (γίνομαι, Attic γίγνομαι) and the loss of aspiration of the consonant cluster /sth/ (> /st/) (γενέσται, Attic γενέσθαι), for example as in a Koine inscription from Dura-Europos from the 2nd or 3rd century AD: "τον Χριστὀν μνἠσκεστε".
^Joseph Roisman; Ian Worthington (7 July 2011). A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. John Wiley & Sons. p. 94. ISBN978-1-4443-5163-7. Many surviving public and private inscriptions indicate that in the Macedonian kingdom there was no dominant written language but standard Attic and later on koine Greek.
^Sarah B. Pomeroy, Stanley M. Burstein, Walter Donlan, Jennifer Tolbert Roberts, A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society, and Culture, Oxford University Press, 2008, p.289
^ abVladimir Georgiev, "The Genesis of the Balkan Peoples", The Slavonic and East European Review44:103:285-297 (July 1966) "Ancient Macedonian is closely related to Greek, and Macedonian and Greek are descended from a common Greek-Macedonian idiom that was spoken till about the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. From the 4th century BC on began the Hellenization of ancient Macedonian."
^Eric Hamp & Douglas Adams (2013) "The Expansion of the Indo-European Languages", Sino-Platonic Papers, vol 239.
^B. Joseph (2001): "Ancient Greek". In: J. Garry et al. (eds.) Facts about the world's major languages: an encyclopedia of the world's major languages, past and present.Online paper
^Michael Meier-Brügger, Indo-European linguistics, Walter de Gruyter, 2003, p.28,on Google books
^Roisman, Worthington, 2010, "A Companion to Ancient Macedonia", Chapter 5: Johannes Engels, "Macedonians and Greeks", p. 95:"This (i.e. Pella curse tablet) has been judged to be the most important ancient testimony to substantiate that Macedonian was a north-western Greek and mainly a Doric dialect".
^B. Joseph (2001): "which could more properly be called Hellenic" This terminology may lead to misunderstandings, since the "Hellenic branch of Indo-European" is also used synonymously with the Greek branch (which contains all ancient and modern Greek dialects) in a narrower sense. Online paper
^Eric Hamp & Douglas Adams (2013) "The Expansion of the Indo-European Languages", Sino-Platonic Papers, vol 239.
^A. Meillet  1965, Aperçu d'une histoire de la langue grecque, 7th ed., Paris, p. 61. I. Russu 1938, in Ephemeris Dacoromana 8, 105-232. Quoted after Brixhe/Panayotou 1994: 209.
^Olivier Masson, "Sur la notation occasionnelle du digamma grec par d'autres consonnes et la glose macédonienne abroutes", Bulletin de la Société de linguistique de Paris, 90 (1995) 231–239. Also proposed by O. Hoffmann and J. Kalleris.
^ abA history of ancient Greek: from the beginnings to late antiquity, Maria Chritē, Maria Arapopoulou, Cambridge University Press (2007), p. 439–441
^A. Panayotou: The position of the Macedonian dialect. In: Maria Arapopoulou, Maria Chritē, Anastasios-Phoivos Christides (eds.), A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 433–458 (Google Books).
^C. Brixhe, A. Panayotou, 1994, «Le Macédonien» in Langues indo-européennes, p. 208
^George Babiniotis (1992) The question of mediae in ancient Macedonian Greek reconsidered. In: Historical Philology: Greek, Latin, and Romance, Bela Brogyanyi, Reiner Lipp, 1992 John Benjamins Publishing)
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Crossland, R. A., “The Language of the Macedonians”, Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 3, part 1, Cambridge 1982.
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