From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue May 28 1996 - 17:57:18 EDT

At 2:33 PM -0500 5/28/96, wrote:
>I'm not sure this is valid with respect to koine as a "dialect", but my
>experience has been that Greek dialects involve very obvious orthographic/
>phonetic differences. As examples one can cite the absence of contraction
>in Ionic (and the absence of aorist augments in old Ionic), and the use of
>alpha for eta in Doric (a kind of "twang"). By this reasoning koine appears
>to be a kind of simplified Attic. One of the items on my agenda is to take a
>close look at some 5th cent. "koine" in the area of Athens and see how it
>compares (that is assuming that such exists; I've only taken a very cursory
>look at my PHI discs and my recollection is that there are some promising
>texts, but I could be wrong).

I think the question is more whether there were significant differences
between writers in Syria, Macedonia, Egypt, parts of Egypt where settlers
from different areas of the Greek-speaking world came to. One question
would be readily resolved by a perusal of a representative sampling of
official documents in these different parts of the post-Alexander world: do
scribes in the civil service write what is unmistakably a uniform Greek in
the different successor kingdoms. Papyri should show this pretty clearly,
although the bulk of these must undoubtedly come from Egypt. I suspect Fred
Danker would have an opinion on this and a well-informed one at that; he
might even tell me where to go (to check the sources, that is!); perhaps he
could also tell me when I can expect to be able to buy a new BAGD to
replace my (sob!) BIBLION OLOMENON.

Certainly one would expect the scribes doing official documents to display
a greater degree of regularity of consistency in orthography, etc. On the
other hand, there was considerable literacy in Egypt among those not
highly-educated, and here we might find dialectal differences. I know for a
fact that the orthography is very lax in some of the private correspondence
that has survived in papyri.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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