Language in Greek and Roman Society (CLA3269)
As Classicists, the first Greek and Latin texts we encounter are from a very limited geographical, social and chronological range – most are written by extremely wealthy white men from Athens or Italy during a span of just a century or so. But we have direct written evidence of Greek and Latin being spoken for well over a thousand years, across thousands of square miles, by men and women of all social classes and backgrounds, many of whom spoke several other languages as well. As a result, there is plenty of variation in the written evidence of Greek and Latin, and the study of this variation is known as “sociolinguistics”. In this module, we will introduce some of the basics of using linguistics to analyse Greek and Latin texts. We will cover variation across space including the Greek dialects, variation between social classes, among genders and among age groups. We will also discover what happens when Latin and Greek come into contact with each other, and with other languages of the ancient world.