[Published in Paschalis M. Kitromilides (ed.

), Adamantios Korais and the European Enlightenment (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2010)]

Korais and the Greek language question (revised 2 Oct. 2009)

Peter Mackridge

In her chapter in the present volume, Roxane Argyropoulos describes Korais as a Hellenist, a philologue,1 a physician and a political theorist; significantly, she does not call him a linguist or language reformer. In fact, Korais’ linguistic theory and practice were the weakest aspects of his work. Yet his example and his precept – in particular his view that only Ancient Greek words and forms are correct and pure, while modern deviations from this norm are the result of barbarization and corruption – have been highly influential in the development of the Greek written language. In this chapter I intend to place Korais within the history of the language controversy and to analyse and assess his attitudes towards the modern Greek language.

The Greek linguistic situation before Korais

The Greek language controversy started when writers of the Greek Enlightenment began to argue about which variety of Greek was most suitable for educational and scholarly writing. The controversy had two dimensions. The first was the dispute between those who believed that Ancient Greek alone was suitable for such writing and those who believed that Modern Greek was appropriate. The second was the disagreement among proponents of the written use of the modern language as to which variety of it should be used. In these disputes Korais was on the side of the modern language, but he believed that it needed to be corrected in order to be usable for educational and scholarly purposes.2

The so-called Petit Robert (Paul Robert, Dictionnaire alphabétique et analogique de la langue

française (Paris, 1970)) defines philologue as ‘Spécialiste de l’étude grammaticale, linguistique des textes’.

Material in English on the Greek language question includes Peter Bien, Kazantzakis and the

linguistic revolution in Greek literature (Princeton, 1972), p.13-146; Roderick Beaton, An introduction


Greek writers of the late eighteenth century used various different versions of Greek, ranging from the Classical Attic of the archaist Evgenios Voulgaris (17161806) at one extreme to the transcription of the spoken tongue by the vernacularist Dimitrios Katartzis (c. 1730-1807) at the other. Most writers, however, used an amalgam of features belonging to Ancient and Modern Greek, in terms of both vocabulary and grammar. They tended to impose most of the morphological rules of Ancient Greek (that is, declension and conjugation patterns) on to a mixture of ancient and modern vocabulary, while their syntax was generally modern and often influenced by the sentence structure of western European languages. The amalgam varied according to the educational level of the author and the aims of his writing, which included the expectations and educational level of his intended audience. Some writers bemoaned the ugly and chaotic character of this mixed language, which they sometimes termed ‘macaronic’ or mixovarvaros [mixed-barbarian], but most continued to write in it.3 The first Greek writer of the Enlightenment period who wrote about the need for ‘correcting’ Modern Greek was the teacher Iosipos Moisiodax. In his prologue to his translation of Lodovico Antonio Muratori’s book La filosofia morale esposta e proposta ai giovani, which he published in 1761, he wrote: ‘I first had to think in which yfos I should translate the work, that is, in the Hellenic or the common one’.4 At that time, the term yfos was commonly used to refer to language variety rather than style (which is what the word means in Greek today). Ancient Greek was known as ‘Hellenic’, while various terms were used to refer to Modern Greek, including ‘common language’, ‘common yfos’, ‘simple language’ or ‘simple yfos’; Greek authors seldom used the word ‘modern’ to refer to the language of their day. Moisiodax goes on to state that he chose to use ‘the simple yfos’. However, he calls for this language to be ‘corrected’ in order to reverse its ‘adulteration’ and

to modern Greek literature (Oxford, 1994; revised ed., 1999), p.296-368; Geoffrey Horrocks, Greek: a history of the language and its speakers (London, 1997), p.344-65; Peter Mackridge, Language and national identity in Greece, 1766-1976 (Oxford, 2009).

Macaronic writing was a kind of comic literature in vogue in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth

centuries, in which vernacular Italian elements are mixed with classical Latin.

Iosipos Moisiodax, prologue to Ithiki philosophia [Moral philosophy] (Venice, 1761), quoted in

Paschalis M. Kitromilides, Iospios Moisiodax: oi syntetagmenes tis valkanikis skepsis ton 18o aiona [Iospios Moisiodax: the co-ordinates of Balkan thought in the 18th century] (Athens, 1985), p.332.


he gradually replaced certain modern features with their ancient equivalents.5 In his own writings.6 Although he did not name him. In order to cure somewhat that roughness and unevenness. in 1803. On the one hand. 1927). is insufferable and monstrous for those who know the old Hellenic. because of the admixture of foreign and barbaric words. Korais implied that Voulgaris’ Logic and Theotokis’ Elements of physics.‘barbarization’ and to render it more precise. however. Evgenios Voulgaris. it is incapable of representing a relevant meaning. ii (Athens. it is impossible to listen to. chez nous. the Hellenes of today.xlvi. speak. 1803).49. renferme la connaissance de toutes les sciences et de tous les arts.’7 Voulgaris’ opposition to writing on ‘philosophy’ in the vulgar language did not. 1827). I Logiki [Logic] (Leipzig. Konstantinos Minoides Minas makes it clear that the term ‘philosophy’ covered a far wider range of discourse than it does nowadays: ‘Le mot philosophie. 3 . It is no coincidence that. p. both published in 1766.336. 7 C. marked the beginning of the regeneration of Greek culture (Coray. but it seems to have been A.146-7). p. Iospios Moisiodax . Voulgaris initiated the Greek language controversy by arguing that in order to study philosophy it was necessary to know Ancient Greek and that ‘the worthless little books that profess to philosophize in vulgar language should be hissed off the stage’. one must 5 6 Kitromilides. 1766). p. In a passage from a book published in 1770 he argues for a variety of language that foreshadows the linguistic theory and practice of Korais: One may reasonably add here the weakness and imperfection of our common Dialect. E. Théorie de la grammaire et de la langue grecque (Paris and London. Voulgaris’ preface is quoted by Konstantinos Sathas (Νeoellinikis philologias parartima: istoria tou zitimatos tis neoellinikis glossis [Appendix to Greek philology: history of the question of the Modern Greek language ] (Athens. as the years went by. Mémoire sur l'état actuel de la civilisation dans la Grèce (Paris. The language that we. p. p. Six years after the publication of Moisiodax’s translation of Muratori. apply to works on non-scholarly subjects. 1870). if it happens to be that of the streets such as the vulgar people have in use. and this weakness and indigence. and on the other. Megas (Istoria tou glossikou zitimatos [History of the language question]. p. Voulgaris’ chief target was his own pupil Moisiodax. Minoide Mynas. because of the lack of necessary words and phrases.12-13). With reference to this passage from Voulgaris.5) who first identified Voulgaris as ‘the instigator of the language controversy’.

from which the newer has deviated and become corrupted. to be called katharevousa. As we shall see. that he found it insufficiently expressive for abstract discourse. Yli gallo-graikikou lexikou [Material for a French-Greek dictionary] (Athens. N. yet more effective and fulfilling the need.often resort to the more ancient language. 1770]). n.p. Korais too was not exempt from this confusion between the expressive and the aesthetic aspect of language. [Moscow.d. and approaching the peculiarity of European languages in its syntax and yfos [style]. second. He does not seem to have realized that these two factors are not necessarily related: the expressive weakness of the language is confused in his mind with its negative aesthetic aspect. introduction to Eisigisis tis Aftokratorikis Megaleiotitos Aikaterinis … [Decree of Her Imperial Highness Catherine…] (n. a language that is more Hellenic as regards its words [vocabulary].9 The five-volume 8 Evgenios Voulgaris. The nature and origins of Korais’ linguistic theory As Roxane Argyropoulos says in her chapter. ‘Proima schediasmata tou Korai gia mia “Grammatiki tis 4 . 1994). Korais was an ‘enemy of systems’. The fact that Moisiodax progressively archaized his language with the aim of making it more expressive and precise shows that he shared the same confusion. that he found the language ugly and. nor did he ever publish a grammar or dictionary.30*-1*. neither of these was published during his lifetime. 9 A Grammar of the Greek language. the only element missing from his description is katharevousa’s use of most of the features of Ancient Greek morphology. Although he drafted a grammar of Modern Greek and began to compile a French-Greek dictionary. which Korais was working on in 1800. less barbarizing and solecistic. p. first appeared in 1888 and was never republished (Emm. Frankiskos. so that a middle language will be created.. quoted by Alkis Angelou in his introduction to Adamantios Korais.8 Towards the end of this passage Voulgaris provides a description of what came. Voulgaris makes it clear that he encountered two difficulties in writing Modern Greek: first. He did not encapsulate his ideas in a single book. Such a Dialect is used for the most part by our educated men. and this is what I have preferred to use for the present. This hostility extended to his views on the modern Greek language. almost a century later.

wrong-headed notions that are accepted without being based on empirical observation and without being subjected to the scrutiny of reason. His expertise in textual criticism. There is a revealing passage in a private letter he sent to his friend Alexandros Vasileiou in 1804. together with the behaviour that inevitably follows from them. But his ideas on language were chiefly expounded in the prefaces to his editions of ancient Greek texts. in Diimero Korai [Two-day conference on Korais] (Athens. published from 1807 to 1812. In his view the ancient Greeks had attained a peak of freedom and moral perfection. 5 . After the Classical period. which involved the emendation of corrupt texts. 10 For more on Korais’ career as a textual critic see Vivi Perraky’s chapter in this volume. he believed.10 His desire for the correction of the Modern Greek language seems to have stemmed from his desire for the correction of the Greeks’ ‘morals’. they were consequently deprived of correct ideas. which were replaced by prolipseis (preconceptions. Korais was the first Greek of modern times to gain an international reputation as an editor of Classical texts. which he treated as if it was a vast collection of manuscripts containing corrupt readings of Ancient Greek that required correction.collection of material entitled Atakta (1828-35) includes lists of about 8000 Modern Greek words with comments on their etymology and usage. 1984). préjugés in French). from which the Modern Greeks had lamentably fallen. It is characteristic of the unsystematic nature of Korais’ work that the prefaces to the volumes of the Hellenic Library bear the title ‘Improvised reflections on Greek paideia [education/culture] and language’.70-82). and again in 1994 (see note 8 above). laying out some ideas which. that is. greatly influenced his attitude to the Modern Greek language. beginning in 1804 with his edition of the Hellenistic novel Aethiopica by Heliodorus and continuing in the Precursor to the Hellenic Library (1805) and in the first six volumes of his series entitled Hellenic Library. by ‘morals’ he seems to mean beliefs and opinions about the world. he said. at a time when the Greeks were deprived of the arts and sciences. he had been unable to include in his prologue to his edition of Heliodorus. p. published in the same year: Graikikis”’ [‘Korais’ early drafts for a “Grammar of Greek”’]. Although he does not define the term precisely. His draft Material for a French-Greek dictionary was published in 1881. As a philologist.

9 Aug. as Solon put it explicitly to those who criticized his laws. according to the Hippocratic rules. in Allilographia. with a preparatory stage preceding the drastic one. vol. the best laws. I shall say more about some of these points in the course of this chapter. Secondly there is the analogy between language and morals. Korais was very much an educated European of his time in his reverence for ancient Greek language and civilization. Associated with this is the concept of the ‘best possible’ solution. ii (Athens. […] When you speak and write. Thirdly. nor can he give them. according to which Korais envisages a pathology of language. 180-81. First there is the medical analogy. the wise legislator who wishes to reform his fellow-citizens does not give them. Finally. but that this is not feasible in practice. just as doctors prepare the impure body with potions that are either lighter or suitably emollient before they give it the cathartic. its true friend.11 There are several points to notice in this passage. according to which the ‘cure’ is applied in stages. et qu’on veut sincèrement le bien de sa nation. […] Adapt this whole theory to the corruption of the language. 11 Korais to Vasileiou. […] [The legislator] therefore enacts the best possible laws. The ancient Greek language. it is not surprising to find such analogies in the work of a man whose formal academic training was in medicine. which alludes to his view that the ideal situation would be for the Greeks to write Ancient Greek. 6 . always have in mind that you are speaking and writing for a nation that is barbarized and more prone to follow the vulgarists and flatterers than to follow you. in particular. 1804. the last sentence quoted is in French in the original. not as a correction but as the preparation and introduction to the correction that is hoped for in the future. 1966). demands a related and similar cure. he plans to pre-empt their efforts by formulating his own proposals first. When the nation corrupts its morals. there is the gradualistic attitude to the correction of language. in this private letter Korais lays bare a Machiavellian strategy that is veiled in his published works: fearing that those who promote the use of the colloquial language in written use will enjoy greater popularity among ordinary Greeks than his linguistic reform programme.I think that the corruption of language is a disease related to the corruption of morals and. Il faut un peu de ruse quand on a affaire à la canaille. but ‘the best possible’.

It is a rare thing […] for someone to be enslaved like a bondsman to bodily pleasures if he has once drunk to the full the cup of that enchantress. 14 7 .was for him a thing of supreme beauty and a rich instrument appropriate for the precise expression of the noblest achievements of the human mind. 13 Quoted in Manolis Triantafyllidis. As far as the Greek language is concerned. and what the elderly Trojans said about beautiful Helen.239 [1807] and p. which prevented complete and precise expression. i (Athens. vol. by means of which it softens the morals of the young but also makes them more modest and prudent. In particular. p. Impoverishment entailed the loss of many native vocabulary items. while adulteration consisted of the presence of many words of foreign origin. ‘Small blame that Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans should long time suffer woes for such a woman’. […] The acquisition of the Hellenic language is difficult […]. he urged. book 3.452. he saw the loss of the infinitive as ‘the most frightful vulgarity of our language’. p. which Korais perceived as shameful stains on the face of a once noble language. i. is even more applicable to the beauty of the Hellenic language. 1984). and children should be taught how to read with the use of modern rather than ancient words and phrases. grammar: historical introduction] (Athens. Neoelliniki grammatiki: istoriki eisagogi [Modern Greek Korais. together with its language.38-9 [1804]. and that it was impossible to resurrect Ancient Greek. and of certain grammatical categories such as the infinitive. Korais considered that the modern Greek nation. but the reward for one’s labours is inexpressible pleasure. Prolegomena…. lines 156-57. had been barbarized by its subjection to foreign tyrants.12 As we have seen. We should read Ancient Greek but write in Modern Greek. vol. Prolegomena….14 He also argued insistently that Ancient Greek should be taught through the medium of the modern language. in contrast to the existing grammars of Ancient Greek aimed at 12 Adamantios Korais. this ‘barbarization’ took the form of impoverishment and adulteration. p.353-54 [1809]. The following passage is indicative of his view of the ancient language: The Hellenic language […] has a certain special charm.13 Nevertheless. quoting the Iliad. the language of the Hellenes. 1938). he believed that the language spoken by a nation must be respected and preserved. with no reference to the original source.

17. p. Apantisis Germanou tinos eis tin tou N. in Allilographia.Greek pupils.20 In his view. 19 20 Adamantios Korais. ii (Paris. Dimaras. ‘It is not enough that we have thrown off the yoke of an iniquitous tyrant if we do not wash off the stains with which tyranny has contaminated our souls. ‘the entire nation returns to its original barbarity’.103-4. O Eranistis 7 (1969). Korais believed that the natural state of man (and of language) is barbarity. 10 Jan. When a nation’s civilization is killed off by slavery. 18 linguistic theory: ideological roots and psychological motivations’].’16 This attitude formed one of the bases of his linguistic theory. Korais lived more than half of his life in the eighteenth century.53. In an anonymous article he wrote: ‘The resurrection of Hellas does not depend on the regaining of the ancient language. he writes. For more on Korais’s belief in human perfectibility and on the relationship between civilization. decadence]. Although he saw Modern Greek as a continuation of the ancient language.18 Like many eighteenth-century thinkers. As Konstantinos Dimaras pointed out. 1982). ‘“Logios Ermis”: athisavrista keimena 1813 -1815’ [‘“Logios Ermis”: uncollected texts 1813-1815’]. in Diimero Korai . ‘O Korais kai i glossa: i theoria’ [‘Korais and language: the theory’]. the ‘decline’ of the Greek language since ancient times was due to the ignorance and obscurantism that had prevailed in the Greek world since the end of the Classical 15 Narrenhasser [= Korais]. but on the resurrection of the arts and sciences. However. 1822. which cannot be carried out in an unusual language’. p. which were written in the language they professed to teach. savagery and barbarity in his thought see the chapter by Roxane Argyropoulos in this volume. K. Atakta [Miscellany].327. p. he also conceived of it as a distinct language that characterized a distinct nation. 1829). p. vol. 23. vol. Th. and his attitudes chiefly belonged to that century17 – though in fact Korais was more conservative in his linguistic views than the more conservative contributors to the French Encyclopédie. despite his belief that the natural inclination of man (and of language) is towards parakmi [decline. ‘I glossiki theoria tou Korai: ideologikes rizes kai psychologika kinitra’ [Korais’ Korai.15 He constantly defended the use of the modern language in serious writing and accused those who insisted on using Ancient Greek of being obscurantists. 8 . 16 17 Korais to Peloponnesian notables. iv (Athens. he argued that men’s morals (like their language) are perfectible. whose members he normally called Graikoi [Greeks] rather than Ellines [Hellenes]. Douka pros tous sofous tis Evropis epistolin [Response of a German to Doukas’ letter to the wise men of Europe] (‘Vernunftstadt’ [Paris] 1815).19 Nevertheless.xxiv. quoted in Aikaterini Koumarianou. p. in Diimero Vincenzo Rotolo. he wrote in a letter of 1822.

Nineteenth-century linguistics [Giulio Lepschy (ed. and the 1st century A.23 Bad linguistic expression.22 Korais shows no awareness of these new developments that were taking place during his time. for Locke. Locke sees rhetoric and poetry as the enemies of rationality. According to Bauman and Briggs.21 Linguists. vol. ii. i. ‘[p]oetry. Nineteenth-century linguistics. and especially the study of grammatical criteria as the basis for the classification of languages. vol. thought and morals as existing in a complex reciprocal relationship: ‘language is the instrument by which the soul first forms its thoughts inwardly and then utters them’. 22 23 Davies.24 In these views he was influenced by the writings of John Locke and Etienne de Condillac. i. 515 [1812]. were not only becoming professionalized.xxvi. p. p.). iv] (London and New York. results in the perversion of morals’.42 [1804]. 9 . vol. Prolegomena…. p. vol. is 21 Anna Morpurgo Davies. chiefly in consequence of the absence of self-government and democratic rule before and during the Roman conquest and the oriental despotism of the successive Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. He continued to hold a philosophical attitude to language that was characteristic of the eighteenth century. cf. In linguistics the nineteenth century marked the end of the era of the independent polymath and the beginning of specialization and teamwork. Prolegomena….61. i.D. For Locke. conventional and man-made. This pair of terms (designating the concept or thought and its linguistic expression) appears to have been developed by the Stoic philosophers in the 1st century B. p. Korais is here referring to the ancient Greek idea that speech (prophorikos logos) is the outward representation of thought (endiathetos logos). language is a social institution. but they were eschewing philosophical speculation in favour of empirical data that showed not only the systematic structure of each individual language at a particular time. History of Linguistics. Atakta. particularly in Germany.41. p.492-93. vol. words correspond not to things but to ideas. Korais. 24 Korais. p. Korais frequently conceives of language. Concurrently there was a shift in emphasis from the study of vocabulary to the study of grammar. 1998). Prolegomena….504 [1812]. bad thinking and bad morals influence each other: ‘the barbarization of the language. thought and morals. particularly a concern with the relationship between language.period.C. which perverts the true meanings of words. but also the historical development that had led to the present state of the language.

Kroskity (ed. whose poetry he saw as being of high educative value. vol. 2000). p.292. in Paul V. p.492) quotes the relevant passage from the French translation. and he who speaks badly prevents the mind from discovering the faculty of thinking. Korais claims that those who are congenitally deaf are mostly imbeciles because they lack language. Polities. and Identities (Santa Fe. Merian and A. P. it is language that provides mental concepts. ii. Nineteenth-century linguistics. Briggs. B. whose outlook was beginning to have a significant influence on the romantic nationalism that was developing in other European countries in Korais’ time. to reform a language would be to contribute to the reform of the national character. p. referring to passages in the Old and New Testament where the word ‘language’ is used to mean ‘nation’. like rhetoric. Herder valorized the emotional component of sensory experience and promoted the immediacy of oral poetry (which he characteristically called Naturpoesie) over the 25 Richard Bauman and Charles L. it is not surprising that Korais’ implicit assumption was that language. the soul of the nation is embodied and expressed in the language and songs of the folk.29 This is a very different view from the one proposed by Herder.’ he writes. Korais. Johann David Michaelis. 115. but for him language not only influences thought but is the precondition for it. or even abolishes it completely. Regimes of Language: Ideologies. and Oxford.34-35. although he made an exception for Homer. poetry embodies the excesses of language. J. which is precisely what Korais wanted to do with the Greeks. et du langage sur les opinions. It is in relation to this that he writes: ‘He who thinks badly speaks badly. tr.28 accordingly.).26 Quoting Johann David Michaelis. Given these ideas. rather than religion. i. For Herder.xxi. Nineteenth-Century Linguistics. Korais (Prolegomena…. this is the opposite of the Darwinian view that language was produced by thought. ‘Language philosophy as language ideology: John Locke and Johann Gottfried Herder’. Condillac followed Locke.’27 Condillac and others in the eighteenth century believed that language influences national character as well as being influenced by it. 28 29 Davies. Atakta. 1760). For Condillac. as for Korais. vol. De l’influence des opinions sur le langage.25 Korais shared this view somewhat. 26 27 Davies. NM. 1762). le Guay de Prémontval (Bremen.simply referential redundancy’. p. und der sprache in die Meinungen (Berlin.139-204. Beantwortung der Frage von dem Einfluss der Meinungen in die Sprache. p. was the chief or sole marker of Greek national identity. 10 . ‘The language is the nation itself.

Korais talks of the Greek language as being in ruins. Chants populaires de la Grèce moderne. the Greek nation had existed in a barbarized state until the recent beginning of its enlightenment. Although younger than Korais. Soon after the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence Fauriel published the first ever collection of Greek folk songs. It is as though the Greek people were no longer capable of expressing themselves coherently.31 but it is likely that he passed on the manuscript to him without reading it.32 By contrast. i (Paris. nor did he show any interest in the Greek folk songs: he supplied Claude Fauriel with the texts of Greek folk songs collected by another Greek scholar. albeit with some exaggeration. Korais made comparisons and contrasts between Ancient and Modern Greek without being sufficiently aware of the evolutionary processes that had led from one to the other. He felt he was drawing his ideas directly from Classical Greece and enlightened Europe.cxxii-cxxiii. and he deliberately avoided conveying a sense that he was following a tradition. a poet ‘is the creator of a nation around him. Moreover. his language and his nation as being new. Since. Korais and other Greek purists ignored the synchronic functional cohesiveness of the spoken language in favour of an imaginary diachronic cohesiveness. ‘Language philosophy as language ideology’.30 Korais was decidedly a man of the Enlightenment. pp. 1824). This meant that he took a rational and utilitarian view of language and did not feel obliged to respect the language of the common people. 11 . For Herder.written word. In his introduction he claimed. O Eranistis 11 (1974). It is striking that Korais presented his ideas. His radical break with tradition was one of the reasons why he alienated many other Greek intellectuals of his time. that the language of the Greek songs is ‘une langue régulière et fixe. ‘Korais kai Fauriel’. The relationship between Korais’ political and linguistic views 30 31 32 Bauman and Briggs. Alexis Politis. Fauriel (1772-1844) was a friend of Idéologues such as Destutt de Tracy and Cabanis. he shows them a world and has their souls in his hand to lead them’. p. une et homogène’. virtually untouched by the romantic movement. from which linguistic relics must be salvaged. who influenced Korais. p. He seldom makes complimentary remarks about Greek writers who had lived during the previous two hundred years. Korais felt that writers of the immediately preceding period had little of interest to say to him and his fellow-Greeks. in his view.264-95. Claude Fauriel.178 -83.

the learner must unlearn those distorted ideas that he previously held. are also ignorant of its use. where he focuses on semantics rather than linguistic form. the investigation of words becomes yet more necessary. […] On these meanings [of words] often depends the happiness or misery of men. i. he must first sweep away all the rubbish that ignorance has piled up inside it. arguing that a word that is distorted or corrupt in its form must necessarily be 33 Paschalis M. Neoellinikos diaphotismos [Modern Greek enlightenment] (Athens. ‘simplification’ meant abandoning Ancient Greek as the medium for writing and teaching.398-401. as opposed to abandoning it to a fate that had been ordained by its recent historical experiences.494-95 [1812].33 Korais’ intervention in the language question was consistent with his belief in the need for and the efficacy of intervention in the affairs of a nation. for before learning correct ideas. and they become miserably deprived of it. Kitromilides. Prolegomena…. in his work on language he tended to confuse semantics with form. p. that Korais believed passionately in the power of language to liberate or enslave mankind. In order to prepare his head to receive the good ones. p. Kitromilides goes on to talk about Korais’ simplification and purification of language.34 It is clear from this passage. This is impossible to achieve without the investigation and purification of language. However. […] Entire nations. 1996). turning from men into ridiculous slaves. while ‘purification’ meant bringing Modern Greek closer to the ancient language. Korais. 34 12 . so he thinks.As Kitromilides has written. Korais waged a campaign on two fronts. for Korais ‘the reform of the language was an organic part of the more general effort at the cultural rebirth of the nation’. not knowing the true meaning of liberty. vol. with the aim of improving the modern Greek language and teaching the Greeks to understand the value of liberty. In keeping with his belief in the reciprocal influence of language and morals. since as a man speaks. democracy and civic virtue: When it is a question of a barbaric or barbarized nation.

vol. 18 June 1804. 1979) p.129. as he expressed it elegantly in a private letter.xviii. vol. Korais to Vasileiou. vol. 1811. In his ‘Improvised reflections’ Korais provided some examples of suggested dictionary definitions of Modern Greek words. Atakta. as it were. i. 37 38 Korais to Vasileiou. with democratic equality’.50.41 [1804]. incorrect speech). ii.36 In language. vol. By this he means the comparison of the two languages by means of juxtaposition. in Allilographia. p. Prolegomena…. Prolegomena…. Korais carried out this comparison only on the level of vocabulary.distorted and corrupt in its meaning. he famously used the analogy of parliamentary democracy: ‘language is one of the most inalienable possessions of the nation. In order to convey his position. Korais’ linguistic compromise between Ancient and Modern Greek went together with the moderate nature of his political ideas: he saw language. Prolegomena….49 [1804]. as being based on compromise between conflicting interests. i.38 In practice.35 He stated that he was equally against linguistic tyranny or oligarchy (the imposition of a particular variety of language by dictatorial decree) and linguistic demagogy or mob rule (the imposition by the common rabble of their vulgar. p. vol. we should be ‘neither the tyrants of the vulgar nor the slaves of their vulgarity’.37 His linguistic precepts I will confine myself here to defining three of Korais’ concepts: parathesis. He urges teachers and their pupils to practise what he calls the parathesis or paravoli of Ancient Greek and Modern Greek. 17 Aug. This is the origin of his desire to ‘correct’ the modern Greek language by bringing its form closer to Ancient Greek. iii (Athens. vol. p. by rubbing and washing away the many unsightlinesses that have become attached to it as a result of the long misery of the Hellenic nation’. ii. The two concepts of correction and embellishment had already been mentioned as a pair in Korais. p. including comments on definitions 35 36 Korais. like democratic politics. Korais. with the purpose of helping pupils both to learn the ancient language and to ‘correct and embellish the modern living language spoken by living people. in Allilographia. Korais. i. The whole nation shares in this possession. the mesi odos and metakenosis. 13 . p.164.

introduction to Korais.330-41 [1809]. indeed. in his heart of hearts.provided by earlier dictionaries. It should be stressed that such comparison is no substitute for a truly historical approach. Korais begins with the modern forms and meanings of the word in question. vol. and then typically goes on to say how the ancients used their version of this word. but mostly phrases from everyday speech) to illustrate the meanings of the word.89. Parathesis. He defined the linguistic mesi odos in the following way: 39 40 41 Korais. p. the ancient and the modern. vol. ii. Prolegomena…. i. it would certainly be desirable for the common language to be subjected to the same rules as the ancient one. consists largely of the comparison between two separate synchronic stages of the language.21*.39 These show what he means by parathesis when it comes to compiling a dictionary of the modern language. 14 .40 Angelou rightly stresses that Korais’ approach is not historical but synchronic. the examination of the form and meaning of individual words in isolation from each other and from the grammar that governs their use blinds the investigator to the synchronic grammatical systems of both the ancient and the modern languages. in Allilographia. p. Alkis Angelou surmises that Korais must have kept notes from everyday conversations that provided him with examples.41 This statement reveals that. which would have examined the evolution of the form and meaning of a word over time.e. Korais to Vasileiou. i. He includes examples of use (including proverbs and verse quotations. p. and he urged his compatriots to do the same. then. Angelou. Yli gallo-graikikou lexikou. he strove to walk what he called the mesi odos [middle way] between the language of the archaists and that of the vernacularists. if only it had been feasible. 28 May 1803. Korais wrote to Vasileiou in 1803. a year before the publication of his first public foray into the correction of Modern Greek: Regarding the restoration of the Hellenic dialect. Furthermore. but this seems to me impossible. Korais would have liked to resurrect Ancient Greek. Instead.

43 Korais to Vasileiou. Iosipos Moisiodax. Ekdoches neoterikotitas stin koinonia tou genous: Nikolaos Mavrokordatos. p. Koraìs e la questione della lingua in Grecia (Palermo.322. 13 July 1812. With regard to language. quoted in Vincenzo Rotolo.106-7). the middle way entailed the use of a mixture of ancient and modern linguistic features. not those who seek the correction of the language prudently and calmly. 3rd edn (Vienna. 1812). in a letter written to Vasileiou in 1812 Korais responded as follows to the news that Konstantinos Koumas had placed him among the macaronists: He too. vol. Iosipos Moisiodax. and in Prolegomena…. including politics (as early as 1791).208. p. 1804 and 5-12 Dec. 1 May 1806. iii. vol. Adamantios Korais [Versions of modernity in the society of the nation: Nikolaos Mavrokordatos. 15 .What other course remains for the learned of the nation than the middle way. iii. When I ridiculed the macaronists. i. and I.185-88). It is significant that in the same year the archaist Neophytos Doukas too called himself a macaronist. A. p. Korais used the term mesi odos with regard to other areas of human activity besides language. ii. in Allilographia. vol. arguing similarly that ‘Macaronism is the gradual progress of the language towards its ancient perfection’ while a t the same time reviling the corrections proposed by Korais (Doukas. the other passages are in two letters from Korais to Vasileiou. and all of us are more or less maraconists. p. The formation and transition of one language to another is inevitably accompanied by macaronism. and far from Hellenism [i. because it is probable that neither the Platos nor the Isocrateses wrote like the oarsmen of Athens. p.e. that is. p. Indeed.5-7. ii. vol. textual criticism. Adamantios Korais] (Thessaloniki.162-63). I meant those who macaronize deliberately and pretentiously. writing in Ancient Greek] and Hellenic macaronism. and the relationship between philosophy and grammar. 1965). p. in Allilographia. far from vulgarism. 498 [1812] (Miltos Pechlivanos. out of an idiotic revulsion towards the commonly spoken language. 201. 1999). p. because it is likewise probable that the Platos and Isocrateses wrote in such a way as to be understood by the oarsmen?42 For Korais. and vol.43 42 Korais to Vasileiou. 9 Oct. 1811 (in Allilographia. Grammatiki Terpsithea [Terpsithea grammar].

p. it is obvious that Korais’ ‘correction’ of spoken Greek was bound to be a contentious issue. vol. modern European concepts were successfully clothed in Ancient Greek dress. vol. ii. literally ‘one hundred myriads’.Given that ‘pretentiousness’ and ‘prudence’ were impossible to define objectively. He avoids using ancient features such as the dative case. p. in Allilographia. Korais to Vasileiou. It first appeared in his published works in 1814 (Korais . misallodoxia (intolerance. 16 . it could be said to refer to the pouring of modern European concepts into the shells of Ancient Greek morphemes. 44 Korais first used this term (in the form metakenoma) in a private letter in 1811 (Korais. At the linguistic level. vol. ‘hatred of other beliefs’).561-62). p. p. 1 May 1804.153-55. that is. such as alexikeravnon (lightning-conductor. rather than the genitive. as in Ancient Greek. 6 March 1805. Allilographia. ii.244. 45 46 Korais to Vasileiou. The practical consequences of Korais’s middle way can be exemplified by what he avoids. We shall say more about this below. What Korais meant by it was the transfer of modern European thought into the Greek language and into the Greek consciousness in general. the dual number. he rejects words of non-Greek origin and shuns most of the phonological and morphological innovations that had taken place in the Greek language since antiquity. As for the vernacular features he avoids. iii. i. French paratonnerre). vol.156-57. The most famous term that Korais invented to describe his cultural project was metakenosis. replacing milliounion45). in Allilographia. This can be rendered in English as ‘decanting’. logokrisia (censorship). He also construes the preposition apo [from] with the accusative. Prolegomena…. as in Modern Greek. the optative mood and the single-word future and perfect tenses. many of which are still in everyday use in Greek today. For more on Korais’s metakenosis see the chapter by Vivi Perraky in the present volume. literally. This is the basis of his linguistic coinages.44 a term that is hardly used in Greek today except with reference to his ideas. mythistoriographos (novelist) and politismos (French civilisation). the emptying out of a substance from one container into another. ekatommyrion (million.46 In the formation of these new words.

but also the retention of many others. Korais. the modern form is a diafthora [corruption]. Korais.The theory and practice of linguistic correction47 Korais sums up his concept of linguistic correction in the following way: I call the correction of language not only the transformation of various barbarously formed words and constructions.37 [1804]. vol. Prolegomena….50 The fact that the Greeks were familiar with archaic Greek from church services provided Korais and others with the excuse to archaize the modern spoken language. vol. p. p. Where the form has changed since ancient times. iv (Paris. p. like Locke.ix.52 The moral overtones of these labels are obvious: linguistic ‘corruption’ accompanies the ‘distortion’ of moral character. vol. he was respecting the way it was actually used. Korais. p. Korais was usually content to use modern words in their 47 Korais normally uses the term diorthosis (correction). Prolegomena….48 According to Korais.329 [1809]. iv. Korais. the fact that the Bible was heard every day in church ‘has somewhat coloured the commonly spoken language’49 and was perhaps one of the reasons why the Greek language had not become totally barbarized. vol. but he sometimes uses the term kanonismos (regulation. p. p. even when he was ‘correcting’ their language according to the rules of Ancient Greek.339 [1809]. vol. vol. Whenever the meaning of a word in Modern Greek differs from its ancient meaning. ii. vol. i. 48 49 50 51 52 Korais. the Modern Greek ending (if it is different) is ‘barbarous’. i. Korais aimed to correct the abuses of thought by correcting the abuses of language. 17 . Atakta. which those who have not carefully investigated the nature of the language seek to exile from it as being barbarous. Korais.g. Prolegomena…. Atakta. Prolegomena…. Nevertheless. Atakta.36 [1804]. 1832). Since ecclesiastical Greek was part of their everyday linguistic experience – albeit only at the level of passive comprehension – Korais was able to claim that. or what we might nowadays call standardization): e. Korais characterizes the modern meaning as a katachrisis [misuse/abuse].51 Whereas the Ancient Greek ending of a word is ‘genuine’. ix. i. i.xxx.

18 . but these too by the handful and not by the sackful. 1803. 1831). the hen put out her eyes’). he was enough of a realist not to insist on applying this belief rigidly in practice. 23 Feb.e. vol. in Allilographia.54 literally meaning ‘for a piece of bread’ (i.51-52 [1804]. Korais’ piecemeal and gradualistic ‘correction’ of Modern Greek can be summed up in the following extract from his open ‘Letter to Alexandros Vasiliou’ (1804): Root out from the language the weeds of vulgarity.xxvi. Even though he believed that etymology is the key to the true meaning of a word. vol. Despite his defence of Modern Greek against the contempt in which it was held by the archaists. yet not all at once by the forkful. It is difficult to see how tinkering with these phrases in this way made their form more elegant and their meaning more precise. for peanuts). but gradually with the hand. Adamantios Korais. ‘by scratching around. ii. ‘i ornitha skalizontas evgale ta matia tis’ (literally.modern meanings. but in the following ‘corrected’ version: ‘i ornitha skalizousa ekvale ta ommatia tis’. as the proverb says’. for very little expense. it is also difficult to see by what criteria he considered his versions to be more correct. You will be surprised how in a short while your words and phrases have passed from the book into the mouths of the people. Synekdimos ieratikos [Priest’s handbook] (Paris. ‘beautification’ may simply be the addition of decorative features that are unnecessary for the direct communication of ideas. Prolegomena…. By way of example. Korais. whereas the genuine popular phrase is ‘gia ena kommati psomi’. he refused to write down any modern word that did not conform to an Ancient Greek pattern without first subjecting it to correction. as long as they were restored to their ancient form. i. one after the other. p. In a letter he quotes the proverb. sow Hellenic seeds in it. I will quote two colloquial proverbial expressions that Korais notes.55 Reactions to Korais’ linguistic theory and practice 53 54 55 Korais to Vasileiou. 71. p.53 Elsewhere he talks of buying something ‘dia kommation psomiou. Correctness in language is not the same as beauty.

Korais was critical of the archaists. although Korais wanted every Greek to enjoy the advantages of learning Ancient Greek. as I have said. Doukas believed equally strongly that only by learning to use Ancient Greek on a daily basis could Greeks commune with the spirit of Classical Greek civilization. took these ideas to an extreme that Korais characteristically avoided. A pamphlet war was waged during the period 1808-15 between the supporters of Korais and Doukas. and learned books should be written. a member of the Phanariot circle. By contrast. Doukas was influenced by Condillac’s ideas about the mutual relation between language. as luck would have it. The most vituperative reactions came from the first two groups. he even hoped that Greeks would eventually abandon their mother tongue and begin to speak Ancient Greek as their natural language.Some Greek writers accepted and adopted Korais’ linguistic proposals almost immediately. Pechlivanos points out that Korais’ belief in the potential. in the modern language. apart from the vernacularists. including editions of Classical Athenian prose-writers with prefaces on Greek education.57 Like Korais. began a massive publishing programme. in 1804. his proposals met with significant negative reactions. ideal perfection had already been reached in ancient times. all writers in Korais’ time somewhat archaized the grammar of the modern language when they wrote it. 1760-1845). gradual perfectibility of language contrasts with the belief held by archaists such as Doukas belief that absolute. For this reason he insisted that grammars of Ancient Greek should be written in that language. however. Furthermore. who. he looked forward to a time when the subjugated Graikoi would be reborn as free Hellenes. These came from three directions: archaists. thought and morals. conservatives and vernacularists. he strongly believed that education should be carried out. who had worked as secretary to both the Patriarch of 57 Pechlivanos. whereas Korais did not. Doukas saw Ancient and Modern Greek as being essentially the same language. Doukas. However. accusing them of keeping the people in ignorance.205 19 . The chief of his conservative critics was Panagiotis Kodrikas (1762-1827). It should be borne in mind. and he believed that this could only come about if they adopted Ancient Greek. the very same year that Korais initiated his own publishing project. Ekdoches neoterikotitas…p. however. The chief of the archaists was the schoolteacher and cleric Neophytos Doukas (c. A romantic nationalist. that.

The dispute between Korais and Kodrikas became so vituperative and divisive that in 1819. and a pamphlet war between members of the Korais and Kodrikas camps continued until the outbreak of the War of Independence. In 1818. eventually serving as First Secretary of the Ottoman Embassy in Paris (1797-1802). In Korais’ eyes.58 It has rightly been pointed out that the actual varieties of the language written by Korais and Kodrikas only differ in small details.302-9. the archaist Doukas. Kodrikas published the only full-scale book devoted to the Greek language question before the War of Independence. after the public dispute between Korais and Doukas had died down. Korais’ language was macaronic. i [and only] (Paris 1818). p. shortly before the outbreak of the revolution. namely the variety of Greek used by the Orthodox hierarchy and the Phanariot nobility. he stayed on in the French capital as a translator and interpreter at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What he objected to was interference in the sociolinguistic situation in the form of ‘correction’ by what he called ‘self-appointed legislators’. Kodrikas represented precisely the kind of Greek who was doing most harm to his nation by profiting from collaboration with its Ottoman oppressors and looking forward to taking power unelected once the Ottoman authority had been overthrown. entitled Study of the Common Greek Dialect. 58 Panagiotis Kodrikas. After the Embassy closed down. ranging from the archaic to the colloquial. which meant that Kodrikas was quite tolerant of the existing linguistic diversity. Since Korais was ideologically opposed to any kind of aristocracy. 20 . The language varieties used by these groups were numerous. what enraged Kodrikas was that someone from a merchant background should presume to criticize the language used by what he termed ‘the leaders of the nation’. in so doing. who was no less of a true patriot than Korais. as macaronic Latin adapts Italian or French words. Korais adulterated both Ancient and Modern Greek.Jerusalem in Constantinople and prince Michail Soutsos of Wallachia and Moldavia. called for reconciliation in the name of national unity. He had also worked in the Dragomanate of the Ottoman Fleet. adapting Modern Greek words to Ancient Greek forms. In it he defended what he considered to be the linguistic status quo. Meleti tis koinis ellinikis dialektou [Study of the common Greek dialect]. vol. it was inevitable that his response to such criticisms was almost equally violent. According to Kodrikas.

This group called for the use of an uncompromising transcription of colloquial spoken language into a phonetic version of the Greek alphabet. They exchanged letters with each other and with a number of other men living in various places. but a struggle between two worlds’. who were based in Yannina. Th. There were two chief groups of vernacularists. which had aimed to preserve the ancient spelling irrespective of changes in pronunciation. ii: Adamantios Korais [Historical interventions.59 What was at issue here was whether the Greeks would be governed democratically or oligarchically once their independence was won. 21 . Dimaras. but from the whole of the intervening written tradition. Istorika phrontismata. vol. They abolished the diacritics (breathings and accents) and spelled every word exactly as it sounded. the other in the British-‘protected’ Ionian Islands during the 1820s. this project would have cut Modern Greek off not only from the ancient language. The response from the vernacularists was less effective than those that emanated from the archaists and the conservatives. Poets such as Antonios Matesis (1794-1873) and Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857) attacked Korais using arguments similar to those of Kodrikas. Plato and Thucydides. because most of their writings were not published until many years later. which contained poems. p. If successful. The proposals of the vernacularists in the Ionian Islands were less radical and therefore closer to the actual outcome of the Greek language controversy in the twentieth century. This removed the orthography of the modern language from the tradition of written Greek since antiquity.98. The only fruit of this project to be published was Vilaras’ little book entitled The Romaic Language (Corfu 1814). The leaders of the mainland group were the doctor Yannis Vilaras (1771-1823) and the teacher Athanasios Psalidas (1767-1829). translations of Anacreon. Dimaras has written that this dispute was ‘not a difference of opinion between two individuals. since it revolved round the nature of the relationship between the modern Greeks and the ancients. ii: Adamantios Korais] (Athens 1996). and a brief account of the author’s orthographic system. But in the dispute between Korais and Kodrikas the stakes were even higher. Such a radical project has hardly ever been proposed again since then.The dispute between Korais and Doukas was important enough. It is not surprising that both Kodrikas and Matesis alleged that Korais’ language was 59 K. one operating on the Greek mainland before the War of Independence.

325. p. vol. 62 Dionysios Solomos. or the Correction of the Romaic language (written in 1811 and first published in 1813) by the Phanariot Iakovos Rizos Neroulos (1778-1850). Apanta. Apanta. which remained unpublished until 1859. it is significant that the young 60 Antonios Matesis. like Solomos.17. in G. 22 . rather than words. in order to be ‘corrected’. Dante’s ‘barbarous’ verse. he alleged. He concludes that only thoughts.60 Where Solomos and Matesis differed radically from Kodrikas was in their passionate romantic dedication to the cause of Greek liberty. Poiisis kai pezographia tis Eptanisou [Poetry and prose of the Ionian Islands] (Athens. Linos Politis (Athens. vol.63 Lastly one should mention a curious satirical comedy aimed at Korais’ proposals for linguistic correction. The title of Neroulos’ comedy (meaning ‘the language of the ravens’) is the name of a secret language used by Greek children. 1953). Solomos argued that the creativity and nobility of the writer are manifested not in the forms of his words but in the way he puts the words together. Despite the often emotive tone of the argument. Thus. Zoras. but it is also a pun on Korais’ surname. can be base or noble. iii: Peza kai italika [Complete works. ‘Pragmateia peri glossis’ [‘Treatise on language’]. Solomos brilliantly and humorously demonstrated the futility of any attempt at the grammatical ‘correction’ of the vernacular by taking the first line of Dante’s Inferno and ‘translating’ it word for word by fitting the Italian vocabulary into Latin grammatical structures. p. This was the Korakistika. 63 Solomos. Matesis belonged to the Ionian Island nobility who saw the traditional use of the vernacular in their local literature as quite acceptable and proper. Matesis too attacked the linguistic innovations of ‘self-appointed legislators’. 1955). ‘Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita’.62 Solomos realized that this ridiculous macaronism was precisely what Korais’ correction consisted of: the dressing up of modern words in ancient clothes. Like Kodrikas.only fit for grocers. iii. should become ‘In medio cammini nostrae vitae’ – which is neither Latin nor Italian. vol.20-1. since. ed. p. and they were therefore as indignant as Kodrikas at Korais’ assertion that the modern language needed correcting. iii: Prose and Italian]. In 1823 Solomos wrote a ‘Dialogue’ on the language question. the ‘Dialogue’ is one of the most eloquent and intelligent defences of the use of vernacular Greek in poetry. The central character against whom the satire is directed is a pedant who is ridiculed by other members of his household for insisting on trying to speak in Korais’ ‘corrected’ language.

Konstantinos Sathas wrote that Korais ‘drew almost all of the learned men of that time into implacable warfare against the purifying idiom’ of Nikiphoros Theotokis. however. Commenting on a passage from Korais. Thereupon he recants his ideas. Kodrikas was the winner in this contest: ‘after Greek independence. Nevertheless.). it was inevitable that his successors would be much less restrained. including some of his erstwhile disciples. many Greek writers. after Korais’ death in 1833. set about making the written language progressively more archaic.153. and the pronouncements of the Greek revolutionary assemblies adopted a compromise variety of Greek that was not far distant from Korais’ language. Michael Jeffreys. within constraints which seem basically aesthetic. published in 1870.enlightened characters who seem to enjoy the author’s sympathy and support speak in the vernacular.65 Assessment In his history of the Greek language question. According to Sathas. in Roland Sussex and J. hostilities in the language controversy died down. ii. an enormous polysyllabic archaic compound word that the pedant has invented to denote cabbage salad (eladioxidioalatolachanokarykevma) gets stuck in his gullet and almost chokes him to death. 23 . and common sense prevails. 53. 1985). During dinner one evening. the 64 65 Dimaras.64 Once the War of Independence broke out in 1821. the cleric whose more archaic version of Modern Greek around 1800 was most to Sathas’ liking. using very few archaic forms. ‘Adamantios Korais: language and revolution’. Culture and nationalism in nineteenth-century eastern Europe (Columbus. 235. Neroulos felt obliged to renounce his comedy as a frivolous jeu d'esprit which had been published without his knowledge. He himself exercised this function with sensitivity and fair restraint. C. Only when he is persuaded to utter the ‘vulgar’ word lachanosalata is he cured. ignoring Korais’ moderation and good sense. Eade (ed. Istorika phrontismata. p. Michael Jeffreys writes: Korais is here claiming for some linguistic arbiter the right to correct the language as he wills. This variety of Modern Greek went on to become the de facto official language of the Greek state. Very soon. but the principle once established.

as in the third-person plural forms onomazousin ‘they name’ (with the ancient ending) and arpazoun ‘they snatch’ (with the modern one).67 Vincenzo Rotolo’s verdict on Korais’ linguistic project is. Korais. ii. A. Neoellinikis philologias parartima. p.115) that he uses the ending –oun as a variant when he has already used several verbs ending in –ousi. Kitromilides. i. 1803. and his language is a jumble of disparate linguistic features. in apodeichnousi ‘they prove’. On the contrary. in Allilographia.495 [1812]. while the morphological suffix –ousi is ancient (or at least dialectal). though he is far from sharing Sathas’ satisfaction with this outcome. Kitromilides agrees with Sathas that it was Kodrikas’ illiberal and undemocratic ideology that prevailed in Greece after the War of Independence. the basis of his choice is therefore aesthetic and stylistic at the expense of grammatical uniformity.151-60.70 It is telling that the standard form of this verb today is apodeiknyoun. Neoellinikos diaphotismos. Korais told Vasileiou in a letter (27 Nov. vol. In this way Standard 66 67 68 69 Sathas. For instance. Rotolo concludes that it is impossible to reconstruct a linguistic system from Korais’ oeuvre. in which the stem is ancient but the suffix is modern – the opposite of what Korais proposed. Rotolo. Prolegomena…. but which eventually came to cover the whole of the Greek language.66 Sathas uses the word Graikika sarcastically instead of Ellinika. a fair one: ‘Korais’ theories lack the organic unity of a sincerely meditated and matured argumentation’.is modern. This is because Standard Modern Greek has adopted the morphological system of the spoken language. the stem -deichn. the term that in Korais’ day had normally been used to denote Ancient Greek. p.68 The unsystematic nature of Korais’s linguistic practice is illustrated by the fact that in consecutive lines he may use two different forms for the same grammatical category. p. p. Rotolo continues. p. vol.211. 1803. I think. Koraìs e la questione della lingua in Grecia . the same author criticizes Korais’ linguistic timidity and his insufficient confidence in the popular language. his project contains many oscillations and many contradictions. Finally. which it uses even when the stem of a word preserves its ancient form. ii.Graikika of Korais was forgotten even by his former followers and allies’.508. Allilographia. 23 Feb. p.71.69 Even within a single word he was capable of mixing features of the ancient and modern language. vol. 24 . 70 Korais to Vasileiou.

25 . 72 Dimaras. in 1888. However. p. p.143-207. Dimaras too had written about Korais’ ‘external adherence to the letter of demotic’. in Diimero Korai. the linguistic pendulum swung to the other extreme with the uncompromising and utopian demoticist proposals of another would-be corrector of the Modern Greek language. Istorika phrontismata. There is no doubt that Korais left a positive legacy of political liberalism and civic virtue. it took almost another ninety years for the more realistic demoticists such as Manolis Triantafyllidis to convince the Greeks – officials and non-officials alike – that a variety of the vernacular that incorporates a limited number of essential grammatical features from katharevousa is the most appropriate vehicle for all written purposes. ii. 154. [‘Ideological uses of Koraism in the twentieth century’].72 This is a linguistically indefensible view that completely overlooks Korais’ morphological archaizations. ‘Ideologikes chriseis’. After that. 71 Filippos Iliou. ‘Ideologikes chriseis tou Koraismou ston eikosto aiona. Neither Korais nor any of the other Greek purists ever explicitly contrasted their procedure with the process of elaboration.71 Before him.Modern Greek acknowledges that a language is chiefly characterized not by its vocabulary. For ‘learned demotic’ see Iliou. Korais completely disregarded the French example by tampering with some of the most basic features of the vocabulary and the grammar. Iliou claims that Korais’ language was a ‘learned demotic’. his language is chiefly distinguished from demotic by its morphology rather than by features such as sentence structure. Despite the fact that he was living in France and using the French language on a daily basis. in his desire to highlight Korais’ liberal and radical political ideas. Yannis Psycharis (18541929). but by its grammar. Filippos Iliou devoted a major study to the way that Korais was used as a straw man by his opponents in the twentieth century.34. enrichment and standardization that had been carried out in French since the sixteenth century. yet his linguistic legacy – a national written language (katharevousa) whose grammatical structure was both artificial and highly unstable because it was not based on the spoken language – was a confusing one. His linguistic gradualism encouraged succeeding generations to outdo him by taking the modern written language ever closer to Ancient Greek until.

there was a gap between his political and linguistic ideas. not an archaist (Rotolo. It is clear that Korais’ language and his linguistic ideas need to be studied and analysed directly rather than through the distorting lens of his political ideology. As far as Korais is concerned. 74 Giannis Kordatos.).179-87. Ironically. and his archaism was intended to be politically progressive and liberating. In his Marxist zeal. the mechanical equation between Korais’ social and political views on the one hand. 73 Rotolo rightly calls Kodrikas a linguistic conservative. he was a faithful senior official in the Phanariot administration of Wallachia and a supporter of enlightened despotism. According to this schema. in Paschalis M. Koraìs e la questione della lingua in Grecia. 75 For Doukas’ socially progressive views see Neophytos Charilaou. p. Doukas passionately believed in justice.73 while Korais represented the progressive bourgeoisie who overturned the Ottoman-Phanariot rulers in the War of Independence. ‘The critical stance of Neophytos Doukas towards the social structure of the Danubian Principalities’.41. p.75 As for Katartzis. p. Kitromilides and Anna Tabaki (ed.119). and his linguistic attitudes on the other was initiated by Kodrikas. Kodrikas represented the feudal ruling class (and must therefore have been an archaist). Conversely. Kordatos branded Doukas a ‘representative of feudalism’ on the grounds of his linguistic archaism. 26 . 57. Relations gréco-roumaines (Athens. Kordatos wanted to fit the opposing camps in the language controversy into the tripartite schema of feudalists. far from representing the working class. 2004). who interpreted Korais’ idea that the nation shared its language with ‘democratic equality’ as implying the defence of mob rule in both the linguistic and the socio-political spheres. which seems to have originated from the Marxist historian Yannis Kordatos. there is no simple correlation in Greece between conservatism or radicalism in social attitudes and their apparent counterparts in linguistic matters. while he erroneously labelled Katartzis as ‘left-wing’ because of his vernacularism.74 In fact. 1974 [1st edn 1927]). A. bourgeoisie and working class.Contrary to the received wisdom. Dimotikismos kai logiotatismos: koinoniologiki meleti tou glossikou zitimatos [Demoticism and pedantry: sociological study of the language question ] (Athens. freedom and equality.