Did the Greeks find it amusing, irritating or threatening when they heard another Greek speaking in a different dialect? Were they rude or tolerant when they heard Persians or Scythians speaking fractured Greek? And what about low-class varieties of the Greek spoken in the docks of Piraeus? Our evidence for the sociolinguistic culture of the ancient world is sadly limited, and modern linguistic assumptions and prejudices are often unconsciously projected onto old and alien cultures. This book exploits the evidence of ancient Greek comedy in an attempt to answer some of the questions about language attitude which are important for understanding ancient ideas about language and ethnicity. Conclusions are based on a comparative study of the language of dialect speaking characters and other foreigners in Old Comedy, and on an examination of linguistic attitudes in other genres of Greek literature.
Publisher: Oxford University Press