Performative patterns in the history of Greek (500 BCE – 600 CE)

Start - End 
2023 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department of Linguistics
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Language 



In modern languages, polite formulaic phrases often trace back to performative verbs (e.g. performative verbs of asking such as parakaló in Modern Greek, bitte in German or prego in Italian). Despite the communicative significance of these patterns nowadays, remarkably few researchers have investigated the significance of performatives in ancient languages such as Ancient Greek, even though they provide direct evidence of ancient communication practices. In this project, I aim to provide the first historical pragmatic study of performative patterns in the history of Greek (V BCE – VI CE). To that end, I will investigate their pragmatic diversity, functional distribution across text types and registers, and the diachronic processes that shaped their development. Performatives in the history of Greek such as parakalô: ‘I ask’, eukharistô: ‘I thank’ and boúlomai ‘I wish’ display relevant forms of morphosyntactic, pragmatic and diachronic varation that can expand our knowledge of the meaning of performatives, such as variation in aspectual and modal marking, correlations with the dialogicity of texts and collocational variation with related intersubjective strategies. Moreover, the study of this diachronic corpus, especially of understudied Post-Classical Greek texts, contributes a contrastive perspective on the field of historical pragmatics which until now has focused primarily on English.