Greek forms an own branch within the Indo-European family of languages. The Greek language and script have influenced Europe’s development immensely and have held an important role in the history of Christianity. Both the Latin and the Cyrillic alphabets are based on the Greek alphabet. Greek words have been widely borrowed by many other languages. Together with Latin, Greek is a main source of international scientific vocabulary.
Greek has evolved over more than 3000 years and is the Indo-European language with by far the longest and oldest documented history. Greek has known different stages of development from Proto-Greek, Mycenaean Greek, Ancient Greek with its various dialects (Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and classical Greek philosophers and playwrights), Koine (Hellenistic Greek) which developed further into Medieval Greek (Byzantine Greek) which in turn led to Modern Greek. Greek played an important role in the Byzantine Empire (it was the language of the Church, of the arts and scholarship and a lingua franca between provinces).
Modern Greek is the official language in Greece and Cyprus and is a recognized minority language in many other countries, among which Turkey, Romania, Albania. It is spoken by about 13 million people as a native language, mainly in Greece, Cyprus and Albania, and the Greek diaspora worldwide. There are traditional Greek communities in neighboring countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, as well as countries around the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea (Ukraine, Romania, Georgia, Italy, Egypt, etc).
Apart from Standard Modern Greek, there are also several dialects, which, with few exceptions, have a low degree of divergence from each other and from Standard Greek and which is why Greek linguists do not classify them as dialects proper.
The ISO language code for Greek is el.
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