Greek, language of ancient and modern Greece, one of the oldest Indo-European languages. The ancient and modern tongues use the same alphabet (which the Greeks adopted from the Phoenicians in the 8th century B.C.), but differ greatly in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The earliest known records of ancient Greek date from around 1400 B.C. and use a form of writing known as Minoan linear script. Classical Greek is based on Athenian dialects spoken from the 6th to the 4th centuries B.C. During Hellenistic times a simplified Greek known as Koine became the common language of the civilized world. There are 2 forms of modern Greek: Koine for everyday use and an official state language that incorporates classical forms and words.