Wiktionary:About Greek/Draft new About Greek

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What I liked about Greece was not just poems and not just books, but the impressive force of the language itself, unconfined by dictionaries, spoken in the streets, in cafes and in the country.   (Peter Levi. The Hill of Kronos. 1980.)

This is a guide for editors of Greek entries, which here in Wiktionary are terms in the Modern Greek language. The classical language is referred to as Ancient Greek, which has a guide of its own. All editors are reminded that our guide Entry layout explained should be their primary source of guidance. All English Wiktionary's definitions are written in English, definitions in Greek can be found in το Βικιλεξικό - the Greek Wiktionary.

Each Greek entry with its English translation, will contain appropriate information about usage and grammar. Most English entries have a Translations section with, eventually, a the Greek translation.

Forms of Greek[edit]

In Wiktionary Greek language terms may be divided between Greek and Ancient Greek, when forms have different diacritical marks they will have separate entries (see: Modern monotonic οδός (odós) and the Ancient and Demotic polytonic form ὁδός (hodós)). When they share the same form (see: βαθύς (vathýs)) there will be two language sections with separate headings, delineated from each other by four hyphens in a line of their own.

The following languages are recognised in Wiktionary:

  1. Mycenaean Greek — the language of Linear B the most ancient attested form of Greek.
  2. Ancient Greek which includes:
    • Ancient Greek — the Greek of Homer and Aristotle, including its dialects, in use before say 300 BC.
    • Classical Greek — sometimes synonymous with Ancient Greek, often refers to the language of Greek classical literature (600-300 BC).
    • Koine (Hellenistic or New Testament Greek) — the common language of the eastern Mediterranean used from say 300 BC until AD 300.
    • Medieval or Byzantine Greek — in use from about A.D. 325 until 1453.
  3. Greek — consists in Wiktionary of all the forms of Greek which have been written or spoken since the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, including:
    • Demotic Greek — the vernacular language which began to develop as early as the 11th century A.D., becoming the official language in 1976.
    • Katharevousa — the classically based "cleansed" Greek language created at the start of Greece's independence, used for formal and official purposes until 1976.
    • Modern Greek dialects — current in Greece, Crete, Cyprus and elsewhere.
    • Standard Modern Greek — the contemporary official language taught in Greek schools since 1982, it integrates elements from previous phases.

Entry structure[edit]

A few details can be found below, but new editors cannot go far wrong if they use, as guides to layout, the examples to be found among these model pages. Examples of the main parts of speech will be found there, together with a selection of terms which raise specific problems when choosing a format. Press the Edit button to see the wikitext which produces the displayed layout.

Most paper dictionaries only contain lemma forms. Wiktionary will eventually contain lemma terms and their inflected or non-lemma forms. The usual lemma form for nouns is the nominative singular, for adjectives and pronouns the masculine, nominative singular, and for verbs the first person singular of the present tense.

Entries should have two obligatory headings — language and part of speech (POS) as in κουάρκ

  • Language heading (wikitext: ==Greek==) — βαθύς — a term where Ancient and Modern share the same form, here Greek follows Ancient with an intermediate spacer of four hyphens.
  • Part-of-speech heading (wikitext: ===Noun===) — αγγούρι — followed by the headword line, {{el-noun|f|αγγούρια}} in this example it displays the headword, gender and plural form.
  • All inflected lemma terms should include an inflection table (either Conjugation or Declension). When inflections are not available, or time is short, the line {{rfinfl|el|noun}} (or verb, etc) should be placed below so that the absence can be noted.
  • Other common headings include: Alternative forms, Etymology, Synonyms, Coordinate terms, Derived terms, Related terms and Further reading.

Writing Greek[edit]

Wikipedia has a section on the Greek alphabet, Standard Modern Greek as taught in schools since 1982 uses the monotonic system with a single stress accent in nearly every word of more than one syllable. In contrast the polytonic system used for Ancient Greek entries has multiple diacritical marks and may be found in Modern Greek terms before 1976.


Nearly all words of more than one syllable will have an acute accent on one of the last three syllables. A few words with a single syllable like πώς (how) are accented, in this case indicating interrogation and differentiating it from πως (that).

  • The diaeresis - used in a word like καϊμάκι (foam, mastic flavour) which requires separated vowel sounds. Occasionally a combination will be encountered, as in καΐκι (caique).
  • Capital letters are usually unaccented as in the abbreviation for Ένωση Σοβιετικών Σοσιαλιστικών Δημοκρατιών (ΕΣΣΔ) and capitalised ήλιο (ΗΛΙΟ). in contrast, words that begin with a stressed vowel should carry an accent (Έλληνας).
  • Enclisis - sometimes when two words are combined phonetically the first will develop an extra stress, as in the statement "Το όνομά μου είναι Σαμ" (My name is Sam).

Input and display[edit]

Modern Greek keyboard layout (monotonic) — with AltGr keys in blue

Systems should display modern Greek characters without further action, but keyboard input will vary between systems.

Microsoft help files should enable Windows systems to produce correct text, the usual layout is shown.

  • The stress accents, indicated in red, are produced by pressing that key (or shifted key) followed by an appropriate vowel.
  • Use of the "AltGr" key may produce the characters shown in blue.

Additional guidance is available from:

FAQs for special cases[edit]