Correctness in Comparison. Negotiating linguistic norms in Greek from the Imperial Roman until the Later Byzantine period (I – XV AD)
Linguistic correctness is a concept common to many, if not to all, linguistic systems. It primarily mirrors the basic need for speakers to share acknowledged rules for any form of communication to work. However, it can also have many other implications. For example, it can indicate a user’s (lack of) ability to express their thoughts in what is believed to be a standard language, and thus mark their social, geographical, etc. origins. Further, it can also show how certain social groups were influential in changing existing, or creating new, linguistic norms, etc.
The Greek language is unique among European languages because of the length of its written tradition, ranging from the first documents in the Linear B script (c. 1450 BC) to the present day, and represents an unparalleled terrain for linguistic studies. Among the issues in Greek linguistic theory, linguistic correctness, known as hellenismós, has earned a central status (Pagani 2014). Reflections on the concept can be found as early as the pre-Socratics, and are attested until the late Byzantine period and echoed in the debates on the Katharevousa in the 20th century.
Throughout the ages, hellenismós has been connected to various intellectual traditions: early discussions were framed in a philosophical line of thought, focusing, among other things, on the ‘correctness’ of nouns. Further, reflections on hellenismós can also be detected in the philological tradition, that is, the application of grammatical reflections to literary texts by the Alexandrian school. In the Hellenistic period, hellenismós featured as an object of theoretical speculation in the grammatical tradition: treatises on the criteria that can be used to establish correctness first made their appearance at that time.
In the rhetorical-stylistic tradition, too, hellenismós had a prominent role: it was considered one of five virtutes dicendi by the Stoics. It is in this tradition, and in the work of Dionysius of Halicarnassus in particular, that the origins of ‘Atticism’ are usually situated, a movement that emerged during the Roman period and that searched for purity in vocabulary, as well as in morphology and syntax. This movement had a major impact on the then current conceptions of hellenismós: the main criterion for correctness became a canon of certain Classical authors, and the attitude changed from (positively) advocating Classical features to (negatively) rejecting anything non-Classical. Linguistic correctness, and the proper use of higher-register ‘Attic’ Greek more generally, became a hallmark of elite social identity, and played a pivotal – and very concrete – role in reshaping the inherited literary language.
For a long period of time, this later development, and its effects on linguistic and literary production, did not receive a lot of attention. Horrocks (2010:4), for example, describes how many of his predecessors viewed higher-register Greek ‘as an artificial construct devoid of interest for historical linguistics, a “zombie” language that was incompetently handled by its practitioners throughout its pseudo-history’. In recent years, various relevant issues have been addressed, including the consideration of high-register Medieval Greek as a worthy object of linguistic considerations in its own right (Hinterberger 2014); the value of metalinguistic resources such as scholia and textbooks (Gaul 2007; Cuomo 2017; Tribulato 2019); the influence of the lower on the higher register (Horrocks 2017a, 2017b); linguistic levels in non-literary sources (Bentein 2015); new digital approaches to measuring linguistic levels (Bozia 2016); etc. And yet, many other relevant issues remain to be addressed.
Call for papers
The main aim of this conference is to consider the role and importance of linguistic correctness, hellenismós, in later periods of Greek, that is, from the Imperial Roman to the later Byzantine eras (first to fifteenth centuries AD).
Interested scholars are invited to submit proposals (600 words max.) for 30 min. papers on a topic of interest to MA Katharina Preindl at: firstname.lastname@example.org, by May 31, 2020.
For more information, check www.correctnessincomparison.ugent.be.
Novel Perspectives on Communication Practices in Antiquity.
Towards a Historical Social-Semiotic Approach
Ghent University, October 3-5, 2019
Sociolinguists initially showed little concern for texts from the past, William Labov, the founding father of sociolinguistics, famously characterizing historical linguistics as ‘the art of making the best use of bad data’ (Labov 1994:11). Nowadays, historical socio-linguistics, too, has come to maturity as a sub¬discipline (see e.g. Conde-Silvestre & Hernandez-Campoy 2012), with researchers trying to identify dialectal relationships between language and society. Contemporary sociolinguistic insights form the basis for these descriptions, but given the complexity of the subject, a radically interdisciplinary approach has been in the making, combining insights from corpus linguistics, historical linguistics, philology, and semiotics.
One question which has received relatively little attention so far is to what extent other ‘meaning-making’ dimensions could and should be involved in the investigation. In recent years, scholars such as Bob Hodge, Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen have explicitly drawn attention to the ‘multi-modal’ nature of communication, arguing that people also use – next to language – visual, gestural, musical, choreographic, and actional resources to make meaning. Remarkably, however, the new discipline of Social Semiotics is currently restricted to the analysis of modern-day texts. Parallel to what we have seen with the development of sociolinguistics, there is little interest in texts from the past: one recent textbook, for example, is explicitly entitled ‘Multimodality. A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication’ (Kress 2010; our emphasis).
The main aim of this conference, which forms the opening event of the ERC-project ‘Everyday writing in Graeco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt. A socio-semiotic study of communicative variation’ (2018-2023; www.evwrit.ugent.be), is to explore to what extent it is possible and desirable to found a discipline such as historical social-semiotics, parallel to historical socio-linguistics. Such a novel, interdisciplinary approach is particularly relevant for ‘everyday’ documentary texts: since these texts represent autographs, their external characteristics can also be brought into the interpretation. Jean-Luc Fournet (2007), for example, has recently argued for a ‘paléographie signifiante’, noting that ‘l’analyse matérielle d’un document peut être porteuse de sens’ (2007:353), not only when it comes to text type, but also with regard to the socio-cultural context of writing, and the provenance of the document. Other external characteristics to be considered as expressions of social meaning (functioning as ‘semiotic resources’) are – but are not limited to – writing material, document format, and language choice. Their analysis reveals information concerning hierarchy, status and social relations.
The main focus of the conference will be documentary texts from the Mediterranean region, roughly spanning the period from the first millennium BCE to the first millennium CE. Next to the study of specific (linguistic, palaeographic, material, etc.) features, we consider the following questions to be of particular relevance:
– Which ‘semiotic resources’ should be taken into account when studying Ancient texts?
– How are these different semiotic resources interrelated?
– Can certain semiotic resources express types of meaning which other resources cannot?
– Which types of social meaning are expressed through communicative variation?
– How are these different types of social meaning related to each other?
– Is it possible to identify larger patterns of co-occurrence, extending linguistic concepts such as ‘register’ and ‘genre’ to other domains?
– Which diachronic changes can be observed?
– How do ‘everyday’ texts from Egypt compare to texts found elsewhere?
– Which digital tools are required for the discipline of historical social-semiotics?
– Which theoretical concepts from social semiotics can be further developed?
– What role do scribes play for the social-semiotic analysis of ancient texts?
– What kind of standards were there for ‘everyday’ communication practices?
Conde-Silvestre, J.C. & J.M. Hernandez-Campoy 2012. The handbook of historical sociolinguistics. Malden.
Fournet, J.-L. 2007. “Disposition et réalisation graphique des lettres et des pétitions protobyzantines: Pour une paléographie ‘signifiante’ des papyrus documentaires”. In: J. Frösén (ed.), Proceedings of the 24th international congress of papyrology, 353-367. Helsinki.
Kress, G. 2010. Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. New York, NY.
Labov, W. 1994-2010. Principles of linguistic change. Vol. 1: Internal factors. Vol. 2: Social factors. Vol. 3: Cognitive and cultural factors. Oxford.
Klaas Bentein (email@example.com)
Yasmine Amory (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Antonia Apostolakou – Eleonora Cattafi – Serena Causo – Giovanbattista Galdi – Mark Janse – Geert de Mol – Emmanuel Roumanis – Joanne Stolk
James Clackson (Cambridge)
Mark Depauw (Leuven)
Jean-Luc Fournet (Paris)
Antonella Ghignoli (Rome)
Petra Sijpesteijn (Leiden)
Digital Approaches in Greek Palaeography
Institute of Classical Studies, University of London
Room G37, Senate House, Malet Street WC1E 7HU
10:00-17:20 Friday, December 14, 2018
10:00 Introductions and opening discussion (moderator Gabriel Bodard)
11:00 Script types and scribal hands (moderator Antonia Sarri; short presentations Stewart Brookes/Simona Stoyanova & Rodney Ast)
11:45 Handwriting identification (moderator Oliver Thomas; short presentations Maruf Dhali/Gemma Hayes & Gregg Schwendner)
14:00 Quantitative approaches (moderator Francesco Camagni; short presentations Timo Korkiakangas & Thomas Köntges)
14:45 New projects on documentary texts (moderator Joanne Stolk; short presentations Isabelle Marthot & Yasmine Amory)
15:50 Digitization and corpora (moderator Maria Konstantinidou; short presentations Alberto Nodar & Charalambos Dendrinos)
16:35 Closing discussion (moderator Klaas Bentein)
Klaas Bentein (email@example.com)
Gabriel Bodard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In this one-day workshop, we want to address some key questions, including:
- What new research possibilities does digital palaeography offer?
- Can we arrive at a descriptive standard for (digital) palaeographical analysis?
- What role should the analysis of scribal hands and script types play in future investigations?
- Should new digital tools be developed, or can existing tools be modified and adapted to each researcher’s purpose? How much of the analysis can be done automatically with these tools?
- At what stages in research can digital tools assist the scholar—data gathering, categorization, synthesis, analysis, visualization, publication, etc.?
- What possibilities are there for interdisciplinary collaboration?
The main goal of the workshop is to bring together scholars with an interest in digital palaeography, focusing in particular on Ancient Greek. The workshop will be discussion focused, but will also involve a few short position papers or provocations to raise questions and structure the conversation.
Ghent University – Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
Once a month from January 2019, the EVWRIT team will meet to discuss and develop a new theoretical perspective towards communication practices in Antiquity. Theoretical sessions on fundamental aspects of novel methodologies (cognitive sociolinguistics, social semiotics, paléographie signifiante…) will be interchanged with practical ones (doing statistics, showing a database, presenting a paper…).
The reading group is open to anyone interested.
First session: 15:00-17:00 Friday, January 25, 2019 (Grote Vergaderzaal)
Moderator: Klaas Bentein
Theme: social semiotics & multimodality
Background literature: G. Kress. 2010. Multimodality. A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London & New York.
Second session: 15:00-17:00 Thursday, February 21, 2019 (Grote Vergaderzaal).
Moderator: Yasmine Amory
Theme: social semiotics & palaeography
Background literature: J.-L. Fournet. 2007. “Disposition et réalisation graphique des lettres et des pétitions protobyzantines: pour une paléographie ‘signifiante” des papyrus documentaires” in J. Frösen, T. Purola, E. Salmenkivi (eds.), Proceedings of the 24th International Congress of Papyrology, Helsinki, I, p. 353-367.
T. van Leeuwen. 2006. “Towards a Semiotics of Typography”, Information Design Journal + Document Design 14 (2), pp. 139-155.
Third session: 15:00-17:00 Thursday, March 27, 2019 (Room 110.046).
Moderator: Serena Causo
Theme: literacy, writing practices and materiality in Roman Egypt
Background literature: R. Ast. 2015. “Writing and the City in Later Roman Egypt. Towards a Social History of the Ancient ‘Scribe.’” CHS Research Bulletin 4 (1).
P. Schubert. 2018. “Who Needed Writing in Graeco-Roman Egypt, and for What Purpose? Document Layout as a Tool of Literacy” in Kolb, A. (ed.) Literacy in ancient everyday life. Zürich (Switzerland). Berlin & Boston, pp. 335-350.
G. Woolf. 2015 “Ancient Illiteracy?” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 58 (2): 31-42.
Fourth session: 15:30-17:00, Friday, May 10, 2019 (Grote Vergaderzaal).
Moderator: Geert De Mol
Theme: orthography as social action
Background literature: M. Sebba. 2012. “Orthography as social action. Scripts, spelling, identity and power”. In: Jaffe et al. (ed.), Orthography as social action. Scripts, spelling, identity and power, pp. 1-20.
M. Sebba. 2012. “Orthography as literacy. How Manx was “reduced to writing””. In: Jaffe et al. (ed.), Orthography as social action. Scripts, spelling, identity and power, pp. 161-176.
M. Sebba. 2015. “Iconisation, attribution and branding in orthography.” Written Language & Literacy 18 (2), pp. 208-227.
Fifth session: 15:30-17:00, Wednesday, June 19, 2019 (Grote Vergaderzaal).
Moderator: Eleonora Cattafi
Theme: politeness theory and historical politeness
Background literature: P. Brown & S. C. Levinson. 1987. Politeness. Some universals in language usage, pp. 55-84.
D.Z. Kádár & J. Culpeper. 2010. ‘Historical (Im)politeness: an introduction’, in Culpeper & Kádár (eds.), Historical (Im)politeness, pp. 9-36.
E. Dickey. 2016. “Politeness in ancient Rome: can it help us evaluate modern politeness theories?”, Journal of politeness research, 12 (2), pp. 197-220.
Sixth session: 15:30-17:00, Wednesday, August 28, 2019 (Grote Vergaderzaal).
Moderator: Antonia Apostolakou
Theme: language contact and multilingualism in antiquity
Background literature: J.N. Adams. 2003. Bilingualism and the Latin Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (“Transliterated texts”, pp. 40-67)
D.R. Langslow 2002. “Approaching Bilingualism in Corpus Languages”. In: Adams, J. N., Janse, M. and Swain, S. (eds.), Bilingualism in Ancient Society: Language Contact and the Written Word. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 23-51.
A. Mullen. 2012. “Introduction: Multiple Languages, Multiple Identities”. In: Mullen, A. and James, P. (eds.), Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-35.
Seventh session: 15:30-17:00, Tuesday, October 15, 2019 (Vergaderzaal Camelot).
Moderator: Simon Aerts
Theme: SFL, interpersonal meaning and deictic shifts
Background literature: S. Aerts. forthcoming. “A Three-Dimensional, Systemic Functional Analysis of Tense Usage in Gregory of Tours’ Historia Francorum.” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungarica 59.
R. Kühner & C. Stegmann. 1912. Ausführliche Grammatik der Lateinischen Sprache, II: Satzlehre, vol.1: Syntaxe des einfaches Satzes. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, §39: Gebrauch der Zeitformen im Briefstile.
A.A. Nijk 2019. “Bridging the Gap between the near and the Far: Displacement and Representation”, Cognitive Linguistics 30 (2), pp. 327–350.
G. Thompson. 2014. Introducing Functional Grammar. 3rd edition. London: Routledge (Chapter 4: Interacting – The interpersonal metafunction, pp. 45-87).
Eighth session: 15:30-17:00, Wednesday, November 27, 2019 (Vergaderzaal Camelot).
Moderator: Emmanuel Roumanis
Theme: Atticistic lexicography within the diachrony of diglossia and divergence in Greek
Background literature: M. Karyolemou. 2014. “What Can Sociolinguistics Tell us about Learned Literary Languages?”, The Language of Byzantine Learned Literature, Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 34-51.
J. A.L. Lee. 2013. “The Atticist Grammarians”. In: S. E. Porter and A. W. Pitts (eds.), The Language of the New Testament, Leiden: Brill, pp. 283-308.
C. Strobel. 2009. “The Lexica of the Second Sophistic: Safeguarding Atticism”. In: A. Georgakopoulou and M. Silk (eds.), Standard Languages and Language Standards: Greek, Past and Present, Farnham & Burlington, VT: Ashgate, pp. 93-107.
S. Valente. 2017. “Old and New Lexica in Palaeologan Byzantium”. In: A. M. Cuomo and E. Trapp (eds.), Toward a Historical Sociolinguistic Poetics of Medieval Greek, Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 45-55.
Ninth session: 15:30-17:00, Wednesday, January 22, 2019.
Moderator: Alessandro Papini
Theme: historical sociolinguistics & latin epigraphy
Background literature: B. Adamik. 2012. “In Search of the Regional Diversification of Latin. Some Methodological Considerations in Employing the Inscriptional Evidence. In: F. Biville et al. (eds), Latin vulgaire – Latin tardif IX. Lyon, pp. 123-139.
J. N. Adams. (2013), Social variation and the Latin language. Cambridge, pp. 37-70.
M. Mancini (2014), “Testi epigrafici e sociolinguistica storica. Le ‘defixiones’ sannite”. In: R. Giacomelli and A., Robbiati Bianchi (eds.), Le lingue dell’Italia antica oltre il latino. Lasciamo parlare i testi. Milano, pp. 29-61.
1. Bentein, K. Towards a typology of relative clauses in Post-classical Greek. Paper presented at the PapyGreek colloquium (Helsinki, June 8, 2018)
2. Bentein, K. Deictic shifting in Greek contractual writing. Paper presented at the International Colloquium on Ancient Greek Linguistics (Helsinki, August 31, 2018)
3. Bentein, K. The distinctiveness of syntax for varieties of Post-classical and Byzantine Greek. Paper presented at the Beyond Standards: Attic, the Koiné and Atticism conference (Cambridge, September 14, 2018)
4. Bentein, K. Syntax: a sociolinguistically distinctive level? Some observations from the Life of Euthymius. Paper presented at the Metaphrasis workshop (Nicosia, October 13, 2018)
5. Bentein, K., Amory, Y., De Mol, G. & E. Roumanis. Everyday writing in Graeco-Roman and Byzantine Greek. Paper presented at the Dialing Research Seminar (Ghent, November 8, 2018)
6. Bentein, K. The decline of infinitival complementation in Ancient Greek: A reconsideration. Paper presented at the Classics Research Seminar (Cambridge, November 21, 2018)
7. Amory, Y. Defense of her doctoral thesis [Title: Communiquer par écrit dans l’Égypte de l’Antiquité tardive: les lettres grecques des archives de Dioscore d’Aphrodité [Égypte; VIe s. apr. J-.C.]). Discussed at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris, December 1, 2018).
8. Bentein, K. Variation equals social meaning? Developing a digital approach towards communicative variation in Roman and Late Antique Egypt. Paper presented at the Digital Approaches to Ancient and Modern Texts colloquium (Manchester, December 12, 2018).
9. Amory, Y. New projects on documentary texts. Paper presented at the Digital Approaches in Greek Palaeography workshop (London, December 14, 2018)
10. De Mol, G. Hypercorrection in Greek documentary sources: a historical-sociolinguistic approach. Paper presented at the Linghentian Doctorials colloquium (Ghent, December 18, 2018)
11. Amory, Y. & Schram, V. SPP I 3: un certificat médical? Paper presented at the Greek Papyrology Seminar at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris, January 31, 2019).
12. Amory, Y. Sous le calame d’un scribe digraphe en Égypte byzantine: un dossier épistolaire grec et copte dans les archives de Dioscore d’Aphrodité. Paper presented at the Ecritures en contact: pratiques et interférences conference (Paris, February 28-March 2, 2019).
13. Amory, Y., Marthot-Santaniello, I., & Stoyanova S. Digital methods in ancient palaeography. Session 9 of the Sunoikisis Digital Classics Cours, Spring 2019 (March 7, 2019).
14. De Mol, G. The hypercorrect use of iota adscript in Greek documentary sources: a historical-sociolinguistic approach. Paper presented at the U4 Winter School 2019 on Greco-Roman Antiquity: Challenge and Response in the Ancient World (Rome, March 14, 2019).
15. Roumanis, E. Atticist Manuals, Prescription, and Documentary Greek Texts. Paper presented at the U4 Winter School 2019 on Greco-Roman Antiquity: Challenge and Response in the Ancient World (Rome, March 14, 2019).
16. Apostolakou, A. Multilingualism in Graeco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt: Documented Cases of Linguistic Interference. Paper presented at the U4 Winter School 2019 on Greco-Roman Antiquity: Challenge and Response in the Ancient World (Rome, March 15, 2019).
17. De Mol, G. Hypercorrection in Greek documentary sources: a historical-sociolinguistic approach. Paper presented at the PhD/ReMA Day (Ravenstein, March 29, 2019).
18. Amory, Y. Écrire une lettre dans l’Égypte du sixième siècle : grec ou copte ? Un nouveau scribe digraphe dans les archives de Dioscore d’Aphrodité. Paper presented at the 18de dag van de Byzantinistiek. Belgisch Genootschap voor Byzantijnse Studies (Bruxelles, May 24, 2019).
19. De Mol, G. Iota adscript as an idiolectal feature? The Heroninos archive as a case study. Paper presented at the OIKOS Masterclass 2019 on Collections & collectives in the Greco-Roman World (Rome, June 26, 2019).
20. Amory, Y. Montre-moi ta main et je te dirai… pourquoi tu écris: pour une paléographie signifiante des lettres grecques de Dioscore d’Aphrodité. Paper presented at the 29th International Congress of Papyrology (Lecce, July 28-August 3, 2019).
21. Bentein, K. Expressing Lineage in Roman and Late Antique Petitions and Contracts. A Variationist Perspective. Paper presented at the 29th International Congress of Papyrology (Lecce, July 28-August 3, 2019).
22. Causo, S. Lease for a Single-Room House in 6th-century Oxyrhynchus. Paper presented at the 29th International Congress of Papyrology (Lecce, July 28-August 3, 2019).
23. De Mol, G. Hypercorrect Use of Iota Adscript in Greek Documentary Papyri: A Historical-Sociolinguistic Approach. Paper presented at the 29th International Congress of Papyrology (Lecce, July 28-August 3, 2019).
24. Roumanis, E. Atticism, Atticist Lexica, and Nonliterary Papyri: Syntactic Variation Across the Registers of Postclassical Greek. Paper presented at the 29th International Congress of Papyrology (Lecce, July 28-August 3, 2019).
25. Bentein, K. Γινώσκειν σε οὖν θέλω: Causal particles and their semantic development in Ancient Greek. Paper presented at 14th International Conference on Greek Linguistics (Patras, September 5-8, 2019).
26. De Mol, G. The hypercorrect use of iota adscript in Greek documentary sources: A historical-sociolinguistic approach. Paper presented at 14th International Conference on Greek Linguistics (Patras, September 5-8, 2019).
27. Roumanis, E. It takes all sorts to make the cline: Register variation in documentary Greek papyri apropos of Atticistic prescriptivism. Paper presented at 14th International Conference on Greek Linguistics conference (Patras, September 5-8, 2019).
28. Causo, S. LW06-talk presented at Taalkunde 3000 (Ghent, September 17, 2019).
29. Amory, Y. “Visual signs of deference in Late Antique letters”. Paper presented at the Novel Perspectives on Communication Practices in Antiquity. Towards a Historical Social-Semiotic Approach conference (Ghent, October 3-5, 2019).
30. Apostolakou, A. “How to sign a contract in Late Antique Egypt: a study of linguistic variation”. Paper presented at the Novel Perspectives on Communication Practices in Antiquity. Towards a Historical Social-Semiotic Approach conference (Ghent, October 3-5, 2019).
31. De Mol, G. & Roumanis, E. “The Abinnaeus archive: lexical and orthographic features”. Paper presented at the Novel Perspectives on Communication Practices in Antiquity. Towards a Historical Social-Semiotic Approach conference (Ghent, October 3-5, 2019).
32. De Mol, G. “De taalkundige en sociale contexten van de iota adscriptum in documentaire papyri”. Paper presented at the OIKOS Conference (Katwijk, November 22-23, 2019).
33. Bentein, K. “Grieks in Egypte. Papyri als bron voor historisch-sociolinguïstisch onderzoek”. Paper presented at the Lingua Graeca als Lingua Franca! De Griekse taal door de eeuwen heen conference (Ghent, December 18, 2019).
34. Amory, Y. “More than a simple intuition. Towards a categorisation of paleographical features”. Paper to be presented at the Neo-Palaeography: Analysing Ancient Handwritings in the Digital Age conference (Basel, January 27-29, 2020).
35. Bentein, K. “Breaking the Norm and Getting Away With It? Observations on the Structure and Phraseology of Roman Papyrus Letters”. Paper to be presented at La correspondance privée dans la mediterranée antique: sociétés en miroir conference (Paris, January 31 – February 1, 2020).