Greek is a branch of the Indo-European group of languages. The Greek language has the longest recorded history of any Indo-European language and spans across 34 centuries of written record. For most part of the language's history, the Greek alphabet has been adopted as its writing system. However, the Cypriot syllabary and Linear B have also been used in the past. The Greek alphabet first originated from the Phoenician script, and eventually became responsible for many other writing systems, including Cyrillic, Coptic and Latin.
Greek holds a very significant place in European history as well as Christianity. Greek literature, such as poems of Odyssey and Iliad had a lot of influence on the Western world. Greek is also the language in which much of Western philosophy was documented. For instance, the works of Aristotle and the Platonic dialogues are today preserved in the Greek language. The New Testament of the Christian Bible was also scripted in Greek. Greek today holds a special importance among the historic languages of the world, and together with Latin texts, constitutes the study of classics.
The Greek language was spoken in many parts of the Mediterranean world during the classical times. It also became the officially spoken language during the Byzantine Empire.
Today, Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus; it is also recognized as one of European Union's 23 official languages. More than 13 million people from Cyprus, Greece and other scattered communities around the world speak the language.
Greek is also responsible for coining a large number of words for other languages, especially in the disciplines of medicine and science. The International scientific vocabulary owes much of its development to the Greek and Latin languages.
The earliest form of Greek language is preserved in the Linear B clay tablets that have been around since 1400 BC, making Greek the oldest recorded language that is still in use today. Historically, the language is divided into a number of periods, which include Proto-Greek, Mycenan, Ancient Greek, Aeolic, Doric, Homeric Greek, Madeconian, Koine Greek, and Modern Greek, which is known to be around since 1453.
Interestingly, some older dialects of the language have survived the test of times and are still used in different parts of Greece and elsewhere. For instance, Cappadocian, which was spoken in Cappadocia, Turkey, is still spoken by some of the emigrants who settled from Cappadocia to Northern and Central Greece in 1923. However, the Turkish influence on the speakers' dialect is clearly felt. Cypriot, which takes its dialect from the periods of Koine Greek, is today spoken by more than 800,000 people. Cretan, believed to be the oldest dialect of Greece, is used in Crete. Small communities in Syria and Turkey are also k known speak Cretan.
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