Newbie to Greek here, I have a question about compensatory vowel lengthening:

"5. The Severer (and earlier) Doric contracts εε to η, and οε, οο to ω. Thus, φιλήτω from φιλεέτω, δηλῶτε from δηλόετε, ἵππω from ἵππο-ο (230 D.); the Milder (and later) Doric and N. W. Greek contract to ει, and ου. Aeolic agrees with the Severer Doric." - H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar

Does Koine Greek align with severer Doric in contracting εε to η, or does it align with milder Doric in contracting εε to ει?

Strong's Concordance attests the name Φίλητος, which I think is contracted from φιλεέτω as cited by Smyth? Could this suggest the contraction adopted was εε to η, or would we perhaps expected regional varieties?

1 Answer 1


Koine is on the whole descended from Attic, so it inherits the Attic results of contraction and compensatory lengthening, which are the same as in "milder" Doric, i.e. ει, ου.

Note that contraction and compensatory lengthening aren't the same thing, though their results are sometimes the same.

The name Φίλητος is from the verb φιλέω, with the stem vowel regularly lengthened before the suffix -τος. This isn't compensatory lengthening (which is when a consonant is lost causing a preceding vowel to lengthen), nor is it contraction, so the dialectal differences in the results of those processes aren't relevant for this particular form.

  • 1
    Huh, were the contractions no longer productive in Attic? I thought e.g. the contracting verbs were still regular at that point.
    – Draconis
    Jan 25, 2022 at 0:52
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    @Draconis Yes, you're right; I meant to say that the dialectal difference long predates Koine, but stated it badly. Editing.
    – TKR
    Jan 25, 2022 at 0:54
  • Great explanation! Would you happen to know whether adding the suffix -τος to κλέω (to celebrate) would lead to κλει[τος] or κλη[τος] in Koine? Based on the φιλέω -> Φίλητος example, I would guess the latter, but I'm seeing some conflicting info - Hesychius of Alexandria gives both words the same definition in his lexicon.
    – Pelle82
    Jan 25, 2022 at 10:39
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    @Pelle82 There are two different words here: κλητός "invited, welcome" from the root of καλέω "call", and κλειτός "renowned", from the root of κλέω "celebrate" and κλύω "hear". The reason that κλέω~κλειτός don't follow the example of φιλέω~Φίλητος seems to be unclear: κλέω has a variant κλείω, and κλειτός may be formed from that; or it may be because there was originally a digamma in this root (ϝ, a "w" sound which existed in early Greek but was lost) and the suffix was a different variant -ετός, so the original form was κλεϝ-ετός, and after ϝ dropped the two εs contracted regularly into ει.
    – TKR
    Jan 25, 2022 at 17:49

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