Ionic Greek was a subdialect of the Attic–Ionic or Eastern dialect group of Ancient Greek (see Greek dialects).
The Ionic dialect appears to have originally spread from the Greek mainland across the Aegean at the time of the Dorian invasions, around the 11th century BC during the early Greek Dark Ages.
By the end of Archaic Greece and early Classical Greece in the 5th-century BC, the central west coast of Asia Minor, along with the islands of Chios and Samos, formed the heartland of Ionia proper. The Ionic dialect was also spoken on islands across the central Aegean and on the large island of Euboea north of Athens. The dialect was soon spread by Ionian colonization to areas in the northern Aegean, the Black Sea, and the western Mediterranean.
The Ionic dialect is generally divided into two major time periods, Old Ionic (or Old Ionian) and New Ionic (or New Ionian). The transition between the two is not clearly defined, but 600 BC is a good approximation.
The works of Homer (The Iliad, The Odyssey, and the Homeric Hymns) and of Hesiod were written in a literary dialect called Homeric Greek or Epic Greek, which largely comprises Old Ionic, with some borrowings from the neighboring Aeolic dialect to the north. The poet Archilochus wrote in late Old Ionic.
The most famous New Ionic authors are Anacreon, Theognis, Herodotus, Hippocrates, and, in Roman times, Aretaeus, Arrian, and Lucian.
Ionic acquired prestige among Greek speakers because of its association with the language used by both Homer and Herodotus and the close linguistic relationship with the Attic dialect as spoken in Athens. This was further enhanced by the writing reform implemented in Athens in 403 BC, whereby the old Attic alphabet was replaced by the Ionic alphabet, as used by the city of Miletus. This alphabet eventually became the standard Greek alphabet, its use becoming uniform during the Koine era. It was also the alphabet used in the Christian Gospels and the book of Acts.
Proto-Greek ā > Ionic ē; in Doric, Aeolic, ā remains; in Attic, ā after e, i, r, but ē elsewhere.
- Attic νεᾱνίᾱς, Ionic νεηνίης "young man"
- original and Doric ἁ (ᾱ) > Attic-Ionic ἡ "the" (feminine nominative singular)
- original and Doric μᾱτηρ > Attic-Ionic μητήρ "mother"
Proto-Greek e, o > Ionic ei, ou:[note 1] compensatory lengthening after loss of w in the sequences enw-, erw-, onw-, orw-. In Attic, e, o is not lengthened.
- Proto-Greek *kórwā > Attic κόρη, Ionic κούρη "girl"
- *órwos > ὄρος, οὔρος "mountain"
- *ksénwos > ξένος, ξεῖνος "guest, stranger"
Ionic sometimes removes initial aspiration (Proto-Greek hV- > Ionic V-).
- Proto-Greek *hāwélios > Attic hēlios, Homeric (early Ionic) ēélios "sun"
Ionic contracts less often than Attic.
- Ionic γένεα, Attic γένη "family" (neuter nominative plural)
Proto-Greek *kʷ before a, o > Ionic k, Attic p.[note 2]
- Proto-Greek *okʷō > Ionic ὄκως, Attic ὅπως "in whatever way, in which way"
Proto-Greek *ťť > Ionic ss, Attic tt. This Ionic feature made it into Koine Greek.
- Proto-Greek *táťťō > Ionic τάσσω, Attic τάττω "I arrange"
- Ionic had a very analytical word-order, perhaps the most analytical one within ancient Greek dialects.
- ἄβδης ábdês scourge ( Hipponax .98)
- ἄεθλον áethlon (Attic ἆθλον athlon prize)
- ἀειναῦται aeinaûtai archontes in Miletus and Chalcis (aeí always + naûtai sailors)
- ἀλγείη algeíē illness (Cf.Attic ἀλγηδών algēdṓn pain) Algophobia
- ἄμπωτις ámpōtis ebb, being sucked back, i.e. of sea (Attic anápōtis, verb anapínō) (Koine, Modern Greek ampotis)
- ἄνου anou (Attic ἄνω ánō, up)
- Απατούρια Apatoúria Pan-ionic festival ( see also Panionium )
- ἀππαλλάζειν appallázein (Attic ἐκκλησιάζειν ekklesiázein gather together,decide) (Doric apellazein)
- ἀχάντιον achántion (Attic ἀκάνθιον akánthion small thorn acanthus)
- βάθρακοι báthrakoi (Attic βάτραχοι bátrachoi, frogs) in Pontus babakoi
- βροῦκος broûkos species of locust (Attic akrís) (Cypriots call the green locust βρούκα broúka)
- βυσσός byssós (Attic βυθός bythós depth,bottom,chaos)
- γάννος gánnos Ephesian (Attic huaina (glanos Aristotle.HA594a31.) (Phrygian and Tsakonian ganos
- εἴδη eídē (Attic ὕλη hýle forest) (Aeolic Greek eide also) (Greek Eidos)
- ἐνθαῦτα enthaûta here (entoutha also) (Attic ἐνταῦθα entaûtha) (Elean ἐνταῦτα entaûta)
- ἐργύλος ergýlos (Attic ἐργάτηςergátēs worker)
- ἑστιᾶχος hestiâchos ionic epithet for Zeus, related to Hestia (oikourós, housekeeper, οἰκῶναξ oikônax)
- ἠγός ēgós (Attic εὐδαίμων eudaímon happy) (Hesychius s.v. εὐηγεσίη) (τ 114)
- ἠέλιος êélios (Attic hḗlios sun) (Cretan abelios)
- Ἰαστί Iastí, "the ionic way" ( Ἰάονες, Iáones, Ionians; Ἰάς, Iás, old name of Attica, Strabo IX, 1.5 )
- ἴδη ídē forested mountain (Attic δρυμῶν ὄρος drymôn óros) (Herodotus 4,109,2) (Mount Ida)
- ἰητρός iētrós,iētēr (Attic iatrós,iatēr doctor)
- ἴκκος íkkos (Attic ἵππος híppos, horse) (Mycenaean i-qo )
- κάρη kárē head (Common kara) (Poetic kras)
- κιθών kithṓn (Attic χιτών chitṓn)
- κοεῖν koeîn (Attic νοεῖν noeîn to think) noesis
- κοῖος koîos (Attic ποῖος poîos who?)
- κύθρη kýthrē (Attic χύτρα chýtra cooking pot)
- μύτταξ mýttax (Attic πώγων pṓgōn beard)
- Ξουθίδαι Xouthidai Ionians from Xuthus
- ὀδμή odmḗ (Attic ὀσμή osmḗ scent, smell)
- πηλός pēlós thick wine, lees (Attic πηλός pelós mud, silt) (proverbial phrase mê dein ton Oinea Pêlea poiein, don't make wine into lees, Ath.9.383c, cf. Demetr.Eloc.171)
- ῥηχίη rhêchíê flood-tide, loanword to Attic as ῥαχία rhachía (Homeric,Koine,Modern Greek πλημμυρίς plêmmurís -ída)
- σαβακός sabakís (Attic σαθρός sathrís decayed) Chian
- σάρμοι sármoi lupins (Attic θέρμοιthermoi} Carystian
- σκορπίζω skorpízô scatter, disperse (probably from skorpios scorpion and an obsolete verb skerpô, penetrate)
- ταῦροι taûuroi (Attic tauroi bulls) (Ephesian word, the youths who acted as cupbearers at the local festival of Poseidon)
- φοινικήια phoinikḗia grámmata Lydians and Ionians called so the letters
- χλοσσός chlossós (Attic ἰχθύς ichthús fish)
- ὦ οἰοῖ ô oioî exclamation of discontent ἐπιφώνημα σχετλιαστικὸν παρ' Ἴωσι
- ^ Among Greek dialects, Ionic was the fondest of long vowels and was thus considered especially suited to solo singing; the more austere, broad-sounding Doric was preferred in choral singing.
- ^ A similar divergence occurred in the Celtic languages between Gaelic and P-Celtic languages (including Welsh), and in the Italic languages between Latin and Oscan.
- ^ Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51.
- ^ Smyth, par. 30 and note, 31: long a in Attic and other dialects
- ^ Smyth, par. 37 note: Ionic compensatory lengthening after loss of w
- ^ κόρη. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
- ^ Smyth, par. 9 note: early loss of rough breathing in Ionic of Asia Minor
- ^ Smyth, par. 59 note: contraction in dialects
- ^ Smyth, par. 112, 78: ky, khy > tt; = ss in non-Attic dialects
- ^ Athenaeus Deipnosophists 10 425c
- A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity by A. Panayotou; Ionic and Attic
- A Grammar of the Greek Language by Benjamin Franklin Fisk; Ionic
- Bakker, Egbert J., ed. 2010. A companion to the Ancient Greek language. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
- Christidis, Anastasios-Phoivos, ed. 2007. A history of Ancient Greek: From the beginnings to Late Antiquity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- Colvin, Stephen C. 2007. A historical Greek reader: Mycenaean to the koiné. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Horrocks, Geoffrey C. 1987. "The Ionian epic tradition: Was there an Aeolic phase in its development?" Minos 20–22: 269–94.
- ––––. Greek: A history of the language and its speakers. 2nd ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
- Palmer, Leonard R. 1980. The Greek language. London: Faber & Faber.
- West, Martin L. 1974. Studies in Greek elegy and iambus. Berlin: de Gruyter.