Tom Recht

Dissertation Fellow
2011-2012
Image of Tom Recht.

Tom Recht’s research in Linguistics traces the linguistic formation of cultural identity in ancient Greece. His dissertation, “Linguistic and Cultural Convergence in the Creation of Ancient Greek,” questions the common assumption that the Ancient Greek language entered Greece in a unified form already well differentiated from the Indo-European parent tongue. Alternatively, Mr. Recht presents the language’s formation as the result of a complex pattern of innovations and diffusions taking place within Greece itself, be it of religious ideas, political institutions, or linguistic forms, both feeding and being fed by a growing sense of cultural cohesion. Using the traditional linguistic tools of relative chronology and the comparative method, as well as newer insights from sociolinguistics and ‘memetics,’ Mr. Recht maps out the most important of these linguistic diffusions in an exploration of the still growing corpus of Greek dialectal inscriptions and literature. He draws conclusions about the development, extent, and nature of Greek linguistic identity in different periods and compares these with the conclusions reached by historians and archaeologists using non-linguistic evidence.