Ancient Macedonian language
This article is about the language of Ancient
Macedonians; for the unrelated South Slavic language,
see Macedonian language.
Macedon (extinct language)
absorbed by Attic Greek in the 4th
Ancient Macedonian was the Indo-European language of
the ancient Macedonians. It was spoken in Macedonia
during the 1st millennium BC. From the 4th century BC,
it was gradually replaced by the Attic-Koine Greek dia-
Knowledge of the language is very limited because
there are no surviving texts that are indisputably writ-
ten in the language, though a body of words has been as-
sembled from ancient sources, mainly from coin inscrip-
tions, and from the 5th century lexicon of Hesychius of
Alexandria, amounting to about 150 words and 200 prop-
er names, though the number of considered words
sometimes differs from scholar to scholar. Most of them
are similar to standard Greek, while some have been in-
terpreted as pointing to a separate lineage from Indo-
Due to the fragmentary attestation various interpreta-
tions are possible. The discussion is closely related to
the reconstruction of the Proto-Greek language. The
suggested historical interpretations of Macedonian in-
• an Indo-European language which is a close cousin to
Greek and also related to Thracian and Phrygian
languages, suggested by A. Meillet (1913) and I. I.
Russu (1938), or part of a Sprachbund
encompassing Thracian, Illyrian and Greek
(Kretschmer 1896, E. Schwyzer 1959).
• an "Illyrian" dialect mixed with Greek, suggested by
K. O. Müller (1825) and by G. Bonfante (1987).
• various explicitly "Greek" scenarios:
• a Greek dialect, part of the North-Western
(Locrian, Aetolian, Phocidian, Epirote) variants of
Doric Greek , suggested by N.G.L. Hammond
(1989) and O. Masson (1996).
• a northern Greek dialect, related to Aeolic G