Posted by: History Of Macedonia | June 24, 2007

Epirus :4000 years of Greek history and civilization

but what language did the Epirotes speak?The answer to this question became apparent, when D. Evangelidis published two inscriptions from Dodona. They showed beyond dispute that the tribes which made up the Molossian state not only recorded decisions in Greek language and with Greek technical terms but also had Greek personal names and ethnic forms in the period 370-368 B.C. Since the personal names of men who were adult then had been given to them c. 420 B.C., the conclusion was unavoidable that these tribes were speaking Greek at the very time when Thucydides was labelling them as barbaroi. This ceases to be a paradox, if one realizes that the contrast in the term barbaros was not linguistic but cultural.

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The dialect of the Greek language which these tribal groups spoke was not the Doric of Corinth and her colonies but a form of west Greek, as is becoming clear from the dececipherment of questions asked by local enquirers, which have been preserved on lead strips at Dodona. Their dialect may well have been retarded and therefore not easy for southern Greeks to understand, just as the dialect of the Makedones proper was unfamiliar to the Greeks on their coast.

[Epirus :4000 years of Greek history and civilization, the entry of Epirus into the Greek world, page 60 ]

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