Heracliotic Greek

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Heracliotic Greek
Pronunciation /iɾaˈʎoðiɣa/
Created by


Date 2021
Language family
Writing system Latin (Heracliotic alphabet)
Official status
Official language in Heraclia
ISO 639-3 qnm

Heracliotic Greek (Irallódiga), also known as Heracleiotic, Heracliot, Irallian, or Atlantic Greek, is a Hellenic language spoken on the island of Heraclia in the northeast Atlantic, near the Canary Islands.

In the age of Greek colonies, or perhaps later than the age in which most colonies were established, some enterprising Greeks passed the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar) and settled an island in the Atlantic, which they named Ἡράκλεια Heraclia. Their descendants still speak a language derived from Aeolic rather than the Attic Greek that gave rise to all modern Greek other than Tsakonian. Their language split off from the rest of Greek after diphthongs had been smoothed and voiced stops changed to fricatives, but before voiceless aspirates became fricatives.

Consequently, while their language is not free from the common observation that Greek resembles Spanish, they arrived at that situation from a slightly different direction, and lack the /θ/ sound. The island was conquered by the Spanish around the same time as the Canary Islands, but failed to transition to being an island of Spaniards due to having a large Greek population and Catholic Christianity already having been introduced to the Heracliots independently, although much later than most of Europe had been Christianised.

The indigenous name for the island is Iralla, and the Spanish name is Ílagra, showing the same metathesis as palabra and árbol. Folk etymology often asumes the Spanish name is a corruption of Isla Griega "Greek Island". From the 16th century onwards, educated people on the island have also spoken Spanish, and Franquismo discouraged the language in the 20th century. The language strongly affects how Heracliots speak Spanish; their habit of aspirating voiceless plosives and devoicing voiced ones has led to the stereotype that they say dotado as tostado /d̥otʰaðo/.



Labial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal ⟨mh⟩
m ⟨m⟩
n ⟨n⟩
ɲ̊ ⟨ñh⟩
ɲ ⟨ñ⟩
(ŋ̊) ⟨n⟩
(ŋ) ⟨n⟩
Plosive ~p ⟨p⟩ ~t ⟨t⟩ ʨʰ~ʨ ⟨ch⟩ ~k ⟨c, qu⟩
~b~β ⟨b~v⟩ ~d~ð ⟨d⟩ ʥ̥~ʥ~ʑ ⟨ċh~ẋ⟩ ~g~ɣ ⟨g, gu⟩
f ⟨f⟩ s ⟨s⟩ ɕ ⟨x⟩ h ⟨j⟩
Lateral ⟨lh⟩
l ⟨l⟩
ʎ̥ ⟨llh⟩
ʎ ⟨ll⟩
Rhotic ~ɾ̥ ⟨rh⟩
r~ɾ ⟨r⟩

After a homorganic nasal, unaspirated plosives become voiced and aspirated plosives lose aspiration.

Unaspirated plosives lenite to voiced fricatives after a vowel or (except for /d̥/ which becomes voiced instead) after a lateral or rhotic consonant.

A rhotic consonant is a tap after vowels, otherwise a trill.

All the above phenomena occur across word boundaries.



Heracliotic has one consonant mutation with morphological significance: provection, where unaspirated plosives become aspirated.

  • /b̥/ → /pʰ/
  • /d̥/ → /tʰ/
  • /ʥ̥/ → /ʨʰ/
  • /g̊/ → /kʰ/

liquid consonants become unvoiced:

  • /l/ → /l̥/
  • /ʎ/ → /ʎ̥/
  • /m/ → /m̥/
  • /n/ → /n̥/
  • /ɲ/ → /ɲ̊/
  • /r/ → /r̥/

Words beginning with a vowel acquire /h/:

  • /∅V/ → /hV/

Provection occurs after words that historically ended in /s/ in Ancient Greek.

There is also nasalisation, where unaspirated plosives become voiced after a nasal and aspirated ones lose aspiration. The nasal becomes homorganic to the plosive:

  • /N pʰ/ → [mp]
  • /N tʰ/ → [nt]
  • /N ʨʰ/ → [ɲʨ]
  • /N kʰ/ → [ŋk]
  • /N b̥/ → [mb]
  • /N d̥/ → [nd]
  • /N ʥ̥/ → [ɲʥ]
  • /N g̊/ → [ŋg]

Nasalisation has no morphological or phonemic significance in mainstream Heracliot and is not indicated in any orthography. The Island of Aya Rava however elides nasals in the syllable coda while maintaining nasalisation effects on plosives. Consequently the Ayaravot dialect promotes the nasalisation process to a full mutation and introduces a three-way phonemic contrast between aspirated, unaspirated and voiced plosives. Few attempt to indicate the mutation in writing outside academic linguistic literature, although Ayaravots often write the silent (to them) Heracliot final nasals erratically.