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What about Greek?

Greek is the official language of the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Cyprus. Despite the small size of these countries, everywhere you are there seems to be a Greek community. Apart from Greece and Cyprus, Greek is also spoken in the neighbouring countries of Albania, F.Y.R.O.M., Bulgaria, Turkey, Italy and countries around the Black Sea, such as: Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Romania, Armenia. At the same time, Greek is spoken worldwide by large diaspora communites in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada and in other places, like: Israel, Egypt, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile.

The Greek language belongs to the indo-European language family and has the longest documented history from all other European languages. Greek has been spoken continously for the past 4.000 years. "Greek has been spoken in the Balkan Peninsula since around the late 3rd millennium BC. The earliest written evidence is found in the Linear B clay tablets in the "Room of the Chariot Tablets", an LMIII A-context (c. 1400 BC) region of Knossos, in Crete, making Greek one of the world's oldest recorded living languages. Although Greek has undergone morphological and phonological changes comparable to those seen in other languages, there has been no time in its history since classical antiquity where its cultural, literary, and orthographic tradition was interrupted to such an extent that one can easily speak of a new language emerging."

"It is also often estimated that the historical changes have been relatively slight compared with some other languages. According to one estimation, "Homeric Greek is probably closer to demotic than twelfth-century Middle English is to modern spoken English."* Ancient Greek texts, especially from Biblical Koine onwards, are thus relatively easy to understand for educated modern speakers. The perception of historical unity is also strengthened by the fact that Greek has not split up into a group of separate, regional daughter languages, as happened with Latin".

"The Greek language holds an important place in the histories of Europe, the more loosely defined "Western" world, and Christianity; the canon of ancient Greek literature includes works of monumental importance and influence for the future Western canon, such as the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey. Greek was also the language in which many of the foundational texts of Western philosophy, such as the Platonic dialogues and the works of Aristotle, were composed; the New Testament of the Christian Bible was written in Koinè Greek and the liturgy continues to be celebrated in the language in various Christian denominations (particularly the Eastern Orthodox and the Greek Rite of the Catholic Church). Together with the Latin texts and traditions of the Roman world (which was significantly influenced by ancient Greek society), the study of the Greek texts and society of antiquity constitutes the discipline of Classics".

Source: Wikipedia: Margaret Alexiou (1982): Diglossia in Greece. In: William Haas (1982): Standard Languages: Spoken and Written. Manchester University Press.


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Last revision: Jan 29, 2017 -- Rita Koukoulaki -- Check