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Distribution of Greek dialects in the classical period.[1]
Western group:      Doric proper      Northwest Doric Greek Central group:      Aeolic      Arcado-Cypriot Eastern group:      Attic      Ionic
     Achaean Doric Greek

Ionic Greek was a sub-dialect of the Attic-Ionic dialectal group of Ancient Greek (see Greek dialects).



Ionic dialect appears to have spread originally from the Greek mainland across the Aegean at the time of the Dorian invasions, around the 11th Century B.C.

By the end of the Greek Dark Ages in the 5th Century B.C, 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.

Ionic dialect is generally divided into two major time periods, Old Ionic (or Old Ionian) and New Ionic (or New Ionian). The exact transition between the two is not clearly defined, but 600 B.C. is a good approximation.

The Homeric works (the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Homeric Hymns), and the works of Hesiod, were written in a literary dialect called Homeric Greek or Epic Greek, which consists largely of 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 Homer, the writings of Herodotus, and the close linguistic relationship with the Attic dialect 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 one, as used by the city of Miletus. This alphabet eventually became the standard Greek alphabet used thereafter, its use becoming uniform during the Koine era. It was also the alphabet used by the Apostles to write the Gospels and Acts.




Proto-Greek ā → Ionic ē. — Doric, Aeolic: ā remains. — Attic: ā after e, i, r, but ē elsewhere.[2]

  • Attic νενίς — Ionic νεηνίης "young man"
  • original and Doric (ᾱ) → Attic-Ionic "the" (feminine)
  • original and Doric μτηρ → 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-. — Attic: e, o is not lengthened.[3]

  • Proto-Greek κόρϝ[4] → Attic κόρη — Ionic κούρη "girl"
  • *ὄρϝος → ὄρος — οὔρος
  • ένϝος → χένος — χεῖνος

Ionic sometimes removes initial aspiration (Proto-Greek hV- → Ionic V-).[5]

  • Proto-Greek *hāwéli-os → Attic hēlios — Homeric (early Ionic) ēélios

Ionic contracts less often than Attic.[6]

  • Ionic γένεα — Attic γένη "family"


Proto-Greek before a, o → Ionic k. — Attic p.[note 2]

  • Proto-Greek *ὀκϝω → Ionic ὄκως — Attic ὅπως "in whatever way, in which way"

Proto-Greek ky, khy → Ionic ss. — Attic tt.[7]

  • Proto-Greek τάκι̯ω → Ionic τάσσω — Attic τάττω "I arrange"


Word order

  • Ionic had a very analytical word-order, perhaps the most analytical one within ancient Greek dialects. Moreover the Ionic morphology of noun and verb doesn't have dual-forms.


  • 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[8] 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


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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.


  1. ^ Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51.
  2. ^ Smyth, par. 30 and note, 31: long a in Attic and other dialects
  3. ^ Smyth, par. 37 note: Ionic compensatory lengthening after loss of w
  4. ^ Liddell and Scott, ko/rh on Perseus Project
  5. ^ Smyth, par. 9 note: early loss of rough breathing in Ionic of Asia Minor
  6. ^ Smyth, par. 59 note: contraction in dialects
  7. ^ Smyth, par. 112, 78: ky, khy -> tt; = ss in non-Attic dialects
  8. ^ Athenaeus Deipnosophists 10 425c


See also


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