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This language has the longest documented history of any of the Indo-European languages, dating back over 3,500 years. Today, it is spoken by 15-25 million people in Greece and Cyprus, where it is an official language. It also has official minority status in parts of Albania, Turkey and Italy.
The history of the Greek language can be divided into approximately five periods: Mycenaean Greek, Classical (Ancient) Greek, Hellenistic Greek, Medieval Greek, and Modern Greek. Since the end of the Medieval period, two major forms of the Greek language persisted, namely DhimotikÝ (the vernacular language) and Katharevusa (an imitation of classical Greek). This divergence was brought to an end in 1976 wne DhimotikÝ was declared the official language of Greece.
Like most other Indo-European languages, Greek is highly inflected. Its grammar has come down fairly intact, although it has been simplified to a degree. Greek vocabulary has borrowed many words from other languages, but is also still commonly used as a basis for coinage itself, primarily for international scientific and technical vocabulary.
Greek is written using the Greek alphabet, and was the first alphabet to introduce vowels. In the early Greek alphabet, as in Latin, only upper-case letters existed. Lower-case letters were introduced much later to permit a faster, more convenient cursive writing style. The modern Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters.
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