Mitchell, Eva A.
Laconian was one of the group of West Greek dialects known as Doric. Few archaic Laconian inscriptions remain extant, so information about the dialect must be gleaned from a variety of other sources. In the following pages all the available material has been collected and an attempt has been made to analyse how much of it is relevant for an understanding of the ancient dialect. The greater part of the work consists of a complete list of words found in all available Laconian inscriptions, dating from the period VII B.C. - II/III A.D. Personal names and many geographical names have not been included in this section, since space did not permit, and as so many of the personal names come directly from Latin forms. Many of the inscriptions were written in standard xolvn forms, but several were drawn up by draftsmen who were attempting to imitate an archaic style. Their knowledge of the ancient dialect was not always accurate, so every feature must be examined individually in relation to other known factors. Inscriptions from areas speaking related dialects have also been taken into account. The Messenians must originally have spoken another dialect belonging to the Doric tradition, but, when they were defeated by the Laconians in the seventh century, they adopted many of their traditions, including their language. The Heraclean and Tarentine dialects, on the other hand, developed from Laconian when colonists from Sparta settled in Italy. They continued to speak in their mothertongue, but it was now interspersed with native forms as well as being influenced by the xolvn which was beginning to become predominant throughout the Greek-speaking world. The remaining vocabulary in the Word List has been extracted from literature covering a wide range of authors, lexical, historical etc. Some of these words, especially those in the lexica, are specifically attributed to a particular dialect, but others are assumed to be Laconian because the author is discussing Laconian affairs and implies that the word derives from that region. Within the resulting Word List any deviations from the more familiar AttiC/xolvn forms have been noted and discussed, together with any other particularly interesting features, such as the derivation of, and relationships between, individual words. The other major part of this work is an Analysis of the dialectal forms found in the Word List, with particular features grouped together in individual sections. Examples of personal and geographical words have been included here, since they sometimes retained dialectal features for longer than other words. From these two sections it should be possible for the reader to see at a glance whether a particular word or dialectal feature was found in Laconia.