CORDIS - EU research results

Pre-Hellenic Loanwords in Greek: Lexicon of the Substrate Analysed

Project description

Shedding light on the intriguing journey of Ancient Greek

In the depths of linguistic history lies a profound puzzle - the enigmatic Pre-Hellenic loanwords that infiltrated the Ancient Greek language during the Bronze Age Aegean era. These ancient borrowings, dating back to Mycenaean Greek, have baffled scholars for years. Attempts to explain them from a single source have stumbled upon methodological roadblocks. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the PHILOGLOSSA project will create an open-access linguistic database, enabling a fresh analysis. Recent archaeogenetic studies highlight intense interactions between early Greek speakers and the Aegean’s original inhabitants. Indo-European linguists, Aegean prehistorians, archaeologists, and geneticists will find the project’s results invaluable. This endeavour promises to uncover hidden threads of our linguistic and cultural heritage.


PHILOGLOSSA aims to provide a critical reassessment and analysis of the loanwords borrowed into the Ancient Greek language of from the prehistoric languages early Greek speakers encountered in the Bronze Age Aegean. These 'Pre-Hellenic' (or 'Pre-Greek') loanwords have long been recognised to constitute a significant layer in the Greek lexicon, the earliest of which are already present in Mycenaean Greek attested by Linear B documents. Despite the phenomenon being well known, the historical origins and linguistic interpretation of these loanwords have remained controversial, and attempts to explain them as from a single source (as per the interpretational framework of the latest, controversial Etymological Dictionary of Greek [2010, Leiden] by Robert Beekes) has been fraught with methodological problems. PHILOGLOSSA will build an open-access linguistic database to facilitate a fresh analysis of the material that will be conducted as the main research activities of the project. As new archaeogenetic studies have provided new evidence strongly suggesting intensive and sustained social and cultural interaction between the incoming early Greek speakers and the earlier inhabitants of the Aegean, it is of crucial importance to re-evaluate the linguistic evidence for these exchanges preserved in the Ancient Greek language. As such the results of PHILOGLOSSA will be of interest not only to those interested in the history of the Greek language, but also to Indo-European comparative linguists, Aegean prehistorians, archaeologists, and geneticists more broadly.


Net EU contribution
€ 214 934,40
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data