Mathilde Bru (UCL) - 2020-21 Students

A socio-linguistic study of variation and change in the Greek lexicon from the Classical to the Roman period

The aim of this study is to examine the factors that drive lexical variation in one of the longest attested languages in the world: Greek. This thesis will investigate aspects of the development of the Greek lexicon from the Classical to the Roman period, and document a phase in the Greek language when the lexicon changed, often, but not always with implications for the development of Modern Greek. This study is significant not only as it will help map the evolution of Greek, but also because it aims to broaden understanding of the principles of lexical change and variation. Its aims are:

  • To plot the development of the Greek lexicon from around 479 BC to AD 300, documenting a transitional phase in the Greek language when the lexicon changed.
  • To understand how the Greeks of the time thought about language change.
  • To look at the evolving, non-fossilised learned language, the language of everyday communication, insofar as it is accessible via the surviving written texts.
  • To answer some key unanswered questions about the post-classical Greek lexicon, e.g. why does a preponderance of diminutive forms appear to be the Zeitgeist of Late Antiquity? Can we come up with any rules for why a lexeme is replaced rather than just morphologically restructured?
  • To advance understanding of the principles of lexical change cross-linguistically.

Primary supervisor: Dr Stephen Colvin, UCL

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