Monday, July 25, 2016

Language facts: Greek

The Greek language (or Modern Greek or Hellenic as it is sometimes called) belongs to the Indo-European language family and is the continuity of Ancient Greek. Both languages share almost the same alphabet, grammar, syntax and vocabulary. Latin language and all the Latin-derived languages were influenced by Ancient Greek.

Parthenon and Herodium, Athens, Greece
Source: AdobeStock.com

Nowadays Greek is spoken by over 17 million people around the world, mainly in Greece but also in the U.S.A., Canada, Germany, Brazil, Australia, etc. A dialect of Greek (Greek Cypriot) is also spoken in Cyprus. Greek is the official language in Greece and Cyprus as well as an official EU language.

Language of the Antiquity

Greek is the language that in it's own way has helped to define today's Western culture. Not only is it the oldest recorded living language in the world (written down in clay around 1450-1350 BC), but it is also the core of Ancient literature and knowledge, such as Homer's epic poems Illias and Odyssey, Platonic dialogues, the entire work of Aristotle, even the New Testament – all were written down in Greek. During the time of the Antiquity, Greek was the lingua franca of the Mediterranean and together with Latin (then the language of Romans who competed and eventually overcame the Greeks) it has been the subject of an entire discipline of studies, the so called Classics. 

Alphabet

The Greek alphabet is considered to be the earliest European alphabet (since about 9th century BC). Greek language and it's ancient forms used in fact three writing systems in the course of history – Linear B (a set of 87 syllabic signs and more than 100 ideographs that signify objects and it is believed these ideograms had no phonetic meaning), Cypriot syllabary – closely related to Linear B, but abandoned during the Classical era to be replaced by today's Greek alphabet (current variant is the so-called Ionic). 
Today's Greek writing system has 24 letters, whereas English has 26. 


Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω 
α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω

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