Modem Greek is a descendant of Classical Greek and is spoken today by approximately 11,000,000 people living in Greece. In addition, it is spoken (with various modifications) in large Greek immigrant communities in North America, Australia and elsewhere. Although the Modern Greek dialects had largely been shaped by the 10th c. A.D. (Browning 1983), the linguistic situation in Greece has been one of diglossia from the middle 19th c. (the early beginnings of the independent Greek state) and until 1976. The High and Low varieties of Greek diglossia are known as Katharevousa and Dhimotiki respectively. Katharevousa was a purist, partly invented, variety that was heavily influenced by Classical Greek; the term Dhimotiki, on the other hand, loosely describes the mother tongue of the Greeks, which was confined to oral communication. In 1976 the use of Katharevousa was officially abolished and gradually a new standard based on Dhimotiki as spoken in Athens has emerged. This variety is adopted by an increasingly large number of educated speakers all over Greece, who choose it over regional varieties (Mackridge 1985). In spelling, Modern Greek has kept many of the conventions of Ancient Greek, although several simplifications have taken place since 1976. Perhaps the most dramatic of these has been the decision to stop using accent and breath marks (which have not had phonetic correspondents in the language for nearly 2,000 years); these marks were replaced by one accent on the stressed vowel of each word with two or more syllables. The variety described here is Standard Modern Greek as spoken by Athenians. The sample text in particular is based on recordings of two Athenian speakers, a male in his mid-twenties and a female in her mid-thirties. Both speakers read the passage twice in relatively informal style.
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