Why are all Harpies female?

Looked up the Pauly at Wikisource (Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft); alas, that page has not been digitised.

Looked up the Roscher dictionary (Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie – Wikipedia), 1884. After noting the frequent conflation of sirens and harpies, it mentions “The meaning of harpies in nature is clear enough: they are the storm clouds that the winds are married to. That meaning was still present for the older commentators: Eustathius of Thessalonica, Scholia on the Iliad. In Suda they are named as predatory demons. In allegorical treatments of myth they are courtesans who ruin any man they come near.”

So yes, the general answer is that the ancients made the equation elemental danger = female; but there was a particular template behind the harpies of wind = masculine, storm cloud = wife of wind.

EDIT: I looked up Eustathius of Thessalonica’s commentary, Iliad (that’s Saint Eustathius to you, btw); it’s a bit crabbed, but what I saw there was harpies explained as winds—that grab objects when you’re not looking. The scholia to the Iliad likewise just say that harpies are female winds, not wives of winds. So from a very superficial reading, it looks like Harpy = Stormwife is a modern, not an ancient notion.

What was the reason for the dramatic changes that marked the transition from Ancient Greek to Koine (Hellenistic) Greek?

I don’t have a good answer, as (surprisingly) I have not paid close attention to the genesis of Koine. But let’s separate out the various things that happened, and that other respondents have highlighted.

Eleftherios V. Tserkezis correctly highlights that the koine was a dialect koine before it was anything else. And the dialect koine did what he said: given several options, it would pick the most consistent or easiest to learn.

1. Phonetic simplification. Arguably underway in some dialects before Koine—Boeotian I think came up with some iotacism way before, for example. The phonetic simplifications were natural trends, of the kinds that Steve Rapaport investigates. Any tendency to simplify the phonemes foreigners had to learn was welcome; but that tendency was likelier to prevail if it was already underway in at least some speakers. So iotacism was likely already underway, and the foreign language learners may have just encouraged it.

The typologically more commonplace changes, like fricatives for aspirates, may have been more a foreigner thing, or just a natural thing nothing to do with Koineisation. The vowel meltdown seems to have been quick; the consonant meltdown was not.

2. Morphological simplification. Here the role of dialect was important, because different dialects offered different options, which foreigners would not have just invented. Hence the abandonment of Attic peculiarities (and they really were peculiar), such as the Attic declension -εώς in favour of Doric -αός, or of -ις -εως in favour of the Ionic -ις -ιος. (Surprised by that? -ις -εως came back in learnèd Greek.)

So foreigners mattered, and there’s a parallel for that kind of scenario in what happened to Old English when the Vikings came to town—the differences in inflection were smoothed over.

But more critical was the increased mobility of Greeks of different dialect backgrounds, outside the city states, and without clear dominance of one group over the other. Ok, the basis was still Attic, but it was an Attic that could pick Ionic and Doric alternatives when they were easier. The dialects only died out around the first century AD.

There’s one parallel in Modern Greek to koineisation: what happened in Athens in the 19th century. The basis is Peloponnesian, but there’s other bits, which randomly came in via prestige (Constantinopolitan, we suspect, for the northern Greek -οῦσα imperfect, and the Northern accusative indirect objects could have been adopted as well); and if a dialect happened to resemble Puristic Greek, its form was boosted (there’s some Heptanesian forms in the standard—I forget which—which are better explained by their similarity to Puristic).

There’s another parallel in Modern Greek, to “contact with non-Greek speaking people”, which is a lot closer to the Koine story, though less well studied. In fact the only statement of it was a throwaway line in paper by Richard MacGillivray Dawkins in… 1940?

Islander Greek and Mainland Greek are different. Islander Greek is more uneven, has more archaisms, has more exceptions all round. Mainland Greek has a smoother, simpler grammar.

There was lots more use of Greek as a second language on the mainland.

Which sounds like another discussion we’ve been having, Dimitra Triantafyllidou.

Can the Greek word Teknon ever be used to mean young or dependent child as opposed to strictly son or daughter of any age?

Ioannis Manomenidis has tackled Modern Greek. Let me summarise:

  • Téknon gets used by priests to their spiritual children, their congregation. There, it means neither offspring, nor child: it’s a metaphorical extension of the “child of God” or “child that I mentor” notion. But that’s an ancient Greek expression, limited to the ecclesiastical register.
  • Evangelos Lolos delicately alluded to the mis-accented variant teknó. That means “toyboy”. It sounds like it comes from Kaliarda, the Greek gay cant (Καλιαρντά – Βικιπαίδεια). The thing is, you expect Romany vocabulary in Kaliarda, or “wrong” genders (Gender bender); but misaccentuation is not supposed to be part of Kaliarda’s repertoire.

    Well, as it turns out, teknó is Romany, from tiknó: Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής. It just sounded so similar to téknon, that the vowel was switched to match.

That was fun.

But I strongly suspect, OP, that you’re after the Ancient Greek meanings of téknon (when it was a current word), and likely you’re wanting some New Testament exegesis out of it.

Etymologically, téknon is derived from tíktō, “to give birth”. So it does originally mean son/daughter, not child.

Was it ever used for generic “child”? Let’s turn to Liddell-Scott, the canonical big dictionary of Ancient Greek, and BDAG, the New Testament dictionary. The other dictionaries don’t have the same kind of coverage, and are later anyway. (Trapp has only new words, and is late Byzantine; Lampe does Church Fathers, and spends more time on theology than generic semantics.)

LSJ. The definition is not that explicit, but in Odyssey 2.363, it is used to address Telemachus, not by his mother, but by his nurse Eurycleia. I’ve looked at several Attic instances, without finding a clear instance where it does not mean offspring. But LSJ itself treats παῖς “child” and τέκνον as interchangeable, and says that Attic tended to use παῖς instead.

Bauer asserts as definition 3 of téknon “one who is dear to another but without genetic relationship and without distinction in age”. That’s the “my spiritual child” meaning.

Can broad Australian English be easily understood outside Australia?

My fellow respondents should be aware the question asks about Broad Australian (= ocker), not General Australian (= “neutral”).

I would like to think I’m General not Broad (as would any would-be member of the middle classes). People in California did have occasional difficulty with my accent; e.g. my pronunciation of Apple Cider coming across as Apple Soda. But I was pronouncing my r’s more often than not within a year (and whenever I’m on a teleconference with Americans since).

Can’t report any issues in Europe. Apart from my aunt in Athens, banning me from speaking English around her 7-year-old, so he wouldn’t grow up sounding like a hillbilly…