The Impact of the Sea on the Greek Language
Christos Doumas in Papadopoulos, A. (ed), Recent research and perspectives on the Late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean, Talanta XLIV (2012) : 19-26.
The author of this paper supports the view that the natural environment plays a significant role in shaping the character of a culture or civilization. The Greek peninsula became a major crossroad between three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – as soon as the Aegean Sea with its archipelagoes became navigable. Ever since, the role of the sea was of seminal importance in shaping the way of life and behaviour of the populations around it. Maritime trade and foreign ideas had a profound influence on the region, which became the melting pot in which what was later called Hellenic civilization was fused. Since language is one of the archives, in which information about human behaviour is recorded, it is legitimate to examine the impact of the sea on the vocabulary of the Greek language. Here an attempt is made to detect the etymology of words which seem to derive, directly or indirectly, from the most ancient word known in the Greek language for the sea: ἃλς. The numerous examples presented demonstrate the tremendous impact that the diachronic involvement of the Aegean populations in maritime affairs had on the Greek language.