Modern Greek: origin of the sound 'ts'

Ben Jamin

Senior Member
I have browsed through many pages on the Web, and through the articles on all stages of the Greek language in Wikipedia, but could not find when and how the 'ts" came to Modern Greek. The consonant is only mentioned in the article about modern era Greek, so I suppose that it must have occurred not earlier than the end of the Byzantine period.
Was it a result of historical sound change (from which sound?) or does it occur only in loanwords (Slavic, Turkish, Italian, Aromanian)?
  • Riverplatense

    Senior Member
    German — Austria
    Except for cases where it replaces [ʧ] in loan words, I think the main cause is palatalisation without outside influence. The development ἔτι > έτσι etc. is very similar to what happened in Latin and other languages, cf. Latin PLATEAM > Italian piazza, NOTITIAM > Italian notizia etc.
    Both, here's what Geoffrey Horrocks says:
    Geoffrey Horrocks-"Greek a history of the language and its speakers" said: Early Modern Greek the palatalization of velar phonemes before high front vowels and [◌ʲ] became more marked, e.g. in mainland and many insular dialects, where ultimately [c] (/k/) > [ʧ] or [ts], and [ç] (/x/) > [ʃ] or [s ]; in Cretan [ʝ] (/γ/) also > [ʒ].
    The position of dental affricates in the system was presumably reinforced by the Hellenization of Armenian names containing alveolar and palatal affricates (voiceless, voiced and aspirated in the original), and later by parallel formations in Slavic and Italian (cf the Slav suffix [-iʧ], Italian -izzi, -ucci etc).
    Properly, τσ (ts) should be used to represent the voiceless affricate [ts] and τζ (tz) to represent the voiced [dz] (the latter occurring chiefly in Italian, Turkish and other loanwords), but the distinction was not made systematically until modern times


    Senior Member
    This phenomenon is called tsitakism (τσιτακισμός), the change of κ,τ,σ to [ts], mainly before /i/ or /e/. E.g. τσεκούρι<hellen. σεκούριον, κότσυφας < anc. κόσσυφας, δρωτσίλα < ιδρωτίλα..
    < Previous | Next >