The Greek language question ((ギリシア語:γλωσσικό ζήτημα, short: το γλωσσικό)) was a dispute about whether the language of the Greek people (Demotic Greek) or a cultivated imitation of Ancient Greek (''katharevousa'') should be the official language of the Greek nation. It was a highly controversial topic in the 19th and 20th centuries and was finally resolved in 1976, when demotic was made the official language. The language phenomenon in question—which also occurs elsewhere in the world—is called diglossia.
== Linguistic background of the problem ==
While demotic was the vernacular of the Greeks, ''katharevousa'' was an archaic and formal variant that was pronounced like modern Greek, but adopted both lexical and morphological features of ancient Greek that the spoken language had lost over time. Examples of this are:
*Morphological features: Strict ''katharevousa'' used the ancient dative case, many participles and various additional tenses and conjugational patterns of verbs.
*Phonological features: ''katharevousa'' contained various pronunciations which did not fit the Modern Greek phonological system. For example, νδρ (Ancient and Demotic /ndr/, ''katharevousa'' /nðr/); φθ (Ancient /pʰtʰ/), ()υθ, ()υθ: Demotic /ft/, ''katharevousa'' /fθ/; σθ; ρθρ.
*Syntactical features: While the vernacular mostly consisted of simple sentences, ''katharevousa'' often applied ancient Greek syntax to form long and complex sentences which would give the impression of educated speech.
*Lexical features: The proponents of the formal language discarded many popular Greek words that the Greek language had borrowed from other languages over time, mainly from Turkish, Latin and Italian, and replaced them either with ancient Greek words or with neologisms. Similarly, words of ancient Greek origin but by now modern in form were archaised or replaced by their standard ancient Greek equivalents (like the Ancient Greek ἰχθύς for ψάρι ''fish'' or the archaised εξωκλήσσιον from the modern form ξωκλήσι ''small chapel'').
These differences meant that ''katharevousa'' was only partly intelligible to a Greek without higher education. There was no single ''katharevousa''. Instead, proponents of the formal language put forward ever-changing variants that were never standardized. These variants approached Attic in extreme cases, but they could also be closer to spoken Greek and could be understood by the majority of the people.
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