A culture that began thousands of years ago in Mycenaean Greece, gave the world its first Olympics, theatre and drama, a brilliant set of mathematicians, historians and philosophers, some astounding architecture, temples, sculptures. From such diverse mythology and literature, to some inspirational war stories and heroes, a culture as divine as this one certainly belongs to a league of its own! This fantastic civilization is what gave the world the classic Indo-European language – Greek.
Descendant of Ancient Greek
Modern day Greek is the official language of Greece and is spoken by 99% of the population. It is also an official language in Cyprus and is recognised as a minority language in parts of Italy, and in Albania, Armenia, Romania and Ukraine.
While Greek is native to Greece and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean, there are number of minority languages and dialects also spoken here. Interestingly, the most common foreign languages learned by Greeks today include English, French and Italian.
Tracing back the links
Fun fact – The earliest written Greek was found on baked mud tablets, in Messenia, dating between 1450 and 1350 BC, leading many to believe that Greek was the world’s oldest recorded living language. We call this language ‘Linear A’ and it has not been entirely decoded till date.
Even though the Greek alphabet was only intended for the Greek language back then, today it is the root of most scripts used in the western world!
The Greek language holds an important place in the history of the Western world as well as Christianity. While it is also the language in which many of the foundational texts of science, astronomy, mathematics, logic and Western philosophy (such as the Platonic dialogues of Aristotle) were composed, today about ¼ of the English language is said to have been borrowed from the Greek language!
Many English words were formed using Greek roots, stems and prefixes. Keeping aside the whopping 85,000 words for now, some interesting Greek expressions that are good to know include – Greeks bearing gifts, a mercurial disposition, Achilles’ heel, the Midas touch, to harp about something and some words such as mentor, nemesis, phobia, atlas, music, narcissism and psychology all interestingly come from Greek!
And well, the Olympian Gods and Goddesses would be seriously proud of you for learning Greek!