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Greek is the official language of Greece, and is also one of the official languages of the Republic of Cyprus. There are big Greek and Cypriot communities throughout the Western world and also in neighbouring countries, such as Albania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
Greek is fairly easy to learn and read for English speakers, as most of the letters and sounds found in standard Greek exist in English.
It is estimated that around 30% of English vocabulary has been influenced in some way by words of Classical Greek origin. Most of these words are technical on account of its history, philosophy and its writers. Some of the most famous and influential philosophers of all time were from the ancient Greek world, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
The tendency for Greeks today is to simplify a once complicated language, hence ‘Modern Greek’. Greek pronunciation is strong and easily recognisable. Greek words enrich the language we speak. In fact, around 20% of English vocabulary comes from Greek – the same Greek that is spoken today. More importantly, Greeks love it when you make an effort to speak their language.
While there is no doubt that the Greek language sounds and is a lot different from English, don’t forget that about 20% of English vocabulary comes from Greek. If you work in the fields of mathematics, medicine, chemistry, astronomy or philosophy, you are already using Greek, maybe without realising it. Take the Greek alphabet – you’re sure to recognise most of the letters.
Imagine what a wonderful insight and better understanding of your job knowledge of Greek would give you.
Greek tourism broke every existing record in 2018, when about 33 million people were recorded to have visited, proving that this is the country’s biggest industry. Tourists absolutely love it there. They love the lifestyle, the food, and the people.
While many Greeks do speak English, just imagine if you could visit the most isolated Greek village somewhere on Crete or in the mountains of Arcadia and be able to converse with the locals. All while enjoying some amazing moussaka, souvlaki, dolmades, spanakopita and gyros. If you like visiting Greece, learning the language will transform you from a tourist into a guest and the locals will be sure to help you feel more at home than ever.
Some of you may not be visiting Greece as a tourist, but rather because Greece is partly your home. Whether you are a second or third generation Greek, you have married a Greek person, or you have met Greek friends who have become family, learning Greek is a great idea for you. One of the main reasons many students learn Greek is to reconnect with their Greek family.
Learning a language is a lot more than just memorising vocabulary. It is about absorbing a culture; it is about understanding a people and the different ways in which they express their emotions.
Learning a language is mostly about understanding a culture. If you decide to learn Greek you’ll be amazed by the beauty of Greek music, poetry, and literature.
Greek is one of the oldest written languages on Earth, one of the first Indo-European languages ever written, and the language with the longest history of alphabetic graphology on the planet. The Greeks have always been aware of the special beauty and power of their own tongue. Even the word barbarian comes from the Greek word βάρβαρος, meaning “one who does not speak Greek.”
Remember all the amazing Greek dishes you tried one summer in Greece, or that your friend from school cooked for you? You must remember how wonderful they tasted but maybe you cannot pronounce their names properly. Try it…
For those of you who love food, not only eating it but cooking it, this is perhaps the greatest motivation to learn Greek. Not only will you be able to read recipes and recreate Greek dishes right from the source. But you will also have the privilege of being provided with the best supplies and ingredients from your Greek grocer who will take extra care of you when you speak Greek.
While many learners complain about Greek being a difficult language to learn, there are those who appreciate a challenge. The Greek language, one of the oldest in use today, is distinguished by its extraordinarily rich vocabulary, numbering more than 70,000,000 words. According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), more than 1200 hours are required to learn Greek. However, do not let that put you off. Remember you know some already!
Learning Greek is, by any measure, challenging. However, this actually makes it even more interesting and fun.
Many language scholars call Greek “the language of all languages.” For polyglots, or people aspiring to become polyglots, this means that learning Greek might make it easier to learn other European languages, such as Russian and German — or even Turkish.
Whether it is to keep your brain active, to communicate with a Greek spouse, to get a better insight to your own culture or profession, or to travel, cook, read, learn or have fun, learning Greek will never be something you regret doing. What are you waiting for?
Modern Greek unlocks the door to a civilisation that has evolved from its Classical, Byzantine, and Ottoman pasts. This evolution has continued into the Greek Diaspora, leading thousands of Greek and Cypriot immigrants to the United States.
Historically, Greece and the United States have also been strong allies in every conflict of the 20th and 21st century.
It’s no secret that Greek is the language of philosophy, but it is also the language of STEAM—an acronym for the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and architecture, and mathematics. Learning Greek provides students with a deeper understanding of this terminology by accessing it through its original form.
Today, Greek artists, filmmakers, and writers are being recognised in the United States for their contributions. Most recently, two Greek directors were nominated for the 2017 Oscars.
As member states of the European Union, Greece and Cyprus play integral roles in the geopolitical makeup of Europe and the Mediterranean. Through their strong historical ties in both Europe and the Middle East, Greece and Cyprus are able to bridge East and West politically, culturally, and socially.
Greek has been spoken and used across different civilisations and peoples. Modern Greek history demonstrates that it is the language of multiculturalism, as it is spoken by Greek Orthodox and Catholic Christians, Greek Jews, Greek Muslims, and as an ancient and modern minority language in many different countries.
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It’s been one lesson but I feel I’ve learnt a lot already! George is very patient and good at what he does – teach!
Miya – Learning Greek