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Size of the manuscript collections

The Archive comprises 1455 manuscript collections of language material, whose size exceeds 280.000 pages. They contain oral dialectal speech. Their collection began a century ago, however some of these manuscripts were written during the second half of the 19thcentury and the language they depict is even older. The Archive is constantly being enriched and nowadays it is expanding with the addition of approximately 10 collections annually.

Origin of the manuscripts

Based on their evaluation order, the manuscripts originate from:

  • the annual assignments of oral speech transcription undertaken by the researchers of the Center who have participated in the project of the Historic Dictionary since 1908. These manuscripts include scientifically documented language material and constitute the richest extant evidence and heritage for the Modern Greek dialects both in Greece and abroad.
  • donations by “The Language Society in Athens” which proclaims competitions for collection of dialectal material and subsequently donates it to the Center.
  • the donation of 80 manuscripts by the “Greek Philological Association of Constantinople” (which has donated 191 manuscripts in total, 80 of which have been copied and are included in the Archive of the 1455 manuscripts used by ILNE. The remaining 111 manuscripts are dilapidated, they are not included in the manuscripts used by ILNE and have been stored in a special Archive for protection purposes).
  • amateur collectors, mainly teachers or other intellectuals, who register in the idiom customs and traditions, toponyms, information, stories, fables, songs and in general language monuments of their region. Often this material may not meet the required scientific specialisation and reliability standards, however it has been collected with love and unselfishness.

Significance of the material rescued in the Manuscript Archive

  • The Archive comprises transcripts of oral speech from all areas within Greece and abroad where the Greek language was or is still spoken.
  • It covers the Modern Greek language in its standard form and mainly its dialectal variations over the last 170 years.

Current status and rescue projects of the Manuscript Archive

The oldest manuscript of ILNE was written in 1854, while 103 manuscripts date back to the 19thcentury. The visible danger of the destruction of the archive due to the delicacy of the paper, the age of the manuscripts and its frequent use calls for its rescue and preservation. In the ‘70s an effort was made to rescue the material by photographing it. An archive of films was created which includes approximately 650 manuscripts of the Archive. In recent years, the efforts for rescuing and preserving the material have turned to the deployment of new technologies. Nowadays an effort is being made to gradually digitise the whole material and to ameliorate the condition of the originals. In addition, the manuscripts are conversed to electronic text files.