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Katharevousa (Καθαρεύουσα)
Project author Adamantios Korais

Constructed language

Artificial language
Greek language
  • Katharevousa
particularities The Katharevousa was the official language of Greece until 1976
Traces of high-level language in contemporary Greece:
1. Ending -ν in the adjective κλασσικόν
2. Polytonic spelling
3. Vocabulary: οίκος
4. Participle Aorist passive ιδρυθείς
5. Case: dative with the year (τω)

The form of Greek known today as Katharevousa [ kaθaˈrevusa ] (Καθαρεύουσα, the pure [language] ') was first developed in the 19th century on the basis of the Greek vernacular ( Dimotiki ), later more according to the ideal of the classical Attic than was necessary established a modern state and educational language and did not consider the spoken vernacular language to be sufficient for the purposes of the newly founded Greek state.

The one Katharevousa never existed; rather, during the Greek linguistic dispute, a large number of different degrees of antiquing of the Katharevousa (as well as the Dimotiki) were supported by different writers.


The initiator of the Katharevousa was the writer Adamantios Korais (1748-1833), who initially advocated a revised form of the modern Greek vernacular. The basic idea was to cleanse the spoken Greek of foreign language influences (e.g. from Turkish ) and to replace very popular expressions with more sophisticated ones. For the popular word for fish, ψάρι psari , Korais suggested the late antique form ὀψάριον opsarion and not the ancient Greek ἰχθύς ichthys . It was only later that more and more radical forms of language were propagated, which reached as far as pure atticism .

With the founding of the state, Katharevousa was established as the authoritarian and antiquated state language, which no longer had much in common with the ideal of a subjectively, embellished vernacular, originally pursued by Korais, and which no one spoke as their mother tongue . Although it was still always referred to as Modern Greek, in most cases it had a rather ancient Greek appearance. However, it is by no means to be equated with the ancient Greek language, since it also contained forms and words that never existed in ancient Greek.

The Katharevousa was the official language of the state until 1976 . Since then, the naturally developed form of Modern Greek spoken by the Greeks as their mother tongue (also called Dimotiki , later, taking into account more recent Katharevousa influences on the spoken language, more correctly referred to as νεοελληνική κοινή neoellinikí koiní (English Standard Modern Greek )) has been the sole state language of Greece and Official language of Cyprus and the European Union . In 1982 the polytonic orthography was also officially abolished.

The Katharevousa continues to play a role in some areas such as law, medicine, and the church; Many everyday sayings and sayings also come from the Katharevousa. Numerous words and grammatical phenomena of the Katharevousa have entered modern Greek and are no longer perceived as ancient or learned.

The Estia was the last daily newspaper to appear in Katharevousa until 1997 and has been using the polytonic spelling since then .


  • Δ. Β. Δημητράκου (Ed.): Μέγα λεξικόν όλης της ελληνικής γλώσσης. 9 volumes. Πρόοδος, Αθήνα 2000, ISBN 960-815800-1 .
  • K. Petraris: Modern Greek Conversational Grammar . Julius Groos, Heidelberg, 3rd edition 1925.
  • Johannes E. Kalitsunakis: Grammar of the modern Greek written language (= Göschen Collection 947). Berlin / Leipzig 1927.

Web links

Wiktionary: Katharevousa  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations