About the Language of Greece


The Greek language has the longest history of the European languages. This is testified by inscriptions that have been found on Greek soil and that date from the second millennium BC as well as by literary texts which are 2500 years old.

All arts and sciences were born and developed using this language. The first texts of Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Law, Medicine, History, Gastronomy etc. were written in this language. The first plays, comedies and tragedies, the works of Homer, the New Testament, as well as Byzantine literary works were written in the Greek language. The first encyclopaedia was written in the Greek language.

The most remarkable fact, however, is that in 1100 BC the Greeks had the genius idea of ​​creating some written symbols each representing only one phthongal (unlike the Phoenician alphabet which was symphonic and based on any distinct sound, especially that produced by man)

This one to one ratio of letters and letters changed the course of history since the application of this idea constitutes what was called the ‘alphabet’. At first they wrote only in capital letters, without spaces between words and clockwise. But this in the 5th BC. century gave way to the left-handed way of writing. Thus, the first alphabet was presented, which was then used by the Romans, from whom it was passed to almost the entire world. All European alphabets are variations of the Greek alphabet.

The Greek language is one of the few in the world that shows a homogeneous development and is a rare phenomenon in the linguistic history of the human race because it has been spoken for thousands of years without interruption.

The modern Greek language retains the ancient writing and spelling of words and 75% of its vocabulary is based on the ancient Greek language. It is a language with unique virtues: it has expressiveness, flexibility, synthetic power and productive capacity to produce and compose new words as needed.

All languages ​​use words from other languages. The Greek language influenced the formation of the languages ​​of many peoples. The English language, for example, today uses over 50,000 words of Greek origin


From about 1500 BC to the present day, Greek λανγθαγε has gone through a slow, organic, and uninterrupted growth, with four major stages of evolution: prehistoric, classical, Byzantine, and modern. Prehistoric Greek was introduced into the Aegean by a series of immigrations throughout the 2d millennium BC.

The language can be reconstructed in outline from a comparison of ancient dialects and from Mycenaean inscriptions, such as Linear B, now generally agreed to be an early form of Greek.

Ancient Greek includes classical Greek, recorded in inscriptions and literary works from the 7th century BC to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, and Hellenistic Greek.

Ancient Greek

Ancient Greek was spoken in Greece, on Crete and Cyprus, in parts of the eastern Mediterranean and western and northern Anatolia, on Sicily and in southern Italy, on the northern Black Sea coast, and sporadically along the African coast and the French Riviera (see Greece, ancient). Modern Greek is the official language of Greece (the Hellenic Republic) and of the Greek population of the Republic of Cyprus; it is also spoken in isolated villages of Turkey, Sicily, and southern Italy, and in many areas throughout the world to which Greeks have immigrated, notably Australia and North America.

Classical Greek

Classical Greek is known in four main dialect groupsÑAttic-Ionic, Arcado-Cyprian, Aeolic, and DoricÑspoken in independent city-states and creatively adapted for particular genres in the great works of classical literature.

Homeric Greek was a traditional literary language, comprising elements from several dialects, but was never the spoken language of any one people.

The Hellenistic koine, or common tongue, was based on a late form of Attic, and became the official language of the unified Greek-speaking world, later extending to peoples whose native language was not Greek. Invaluable evidence of its spoken form exists in papyrus letters: its best-known literary expression is in the New Testament of the Bible.

Byzantine Greek

Byzantine Greek is notable mainly for its heterogeneity. The koine remained the basis of the language of the early church and of the spoken tongue. Learned writers, however, adhered to an obsolete form of Attic, revived in the aftermath of the Roman conquest in opposition to the koine. Their archaizing Greek replaced Latin as the official language of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century.

Modern Greek

Modern Greek appears in verse from the 12th century and was creatively adapted in Cretan Renaissance literature. The question of a national language did not arise, however, until the 19th century with the emergence of the newly independent Greek state. Katharevousa (“purifying” Greek), an artificial compromise between the archaizing and the spoken forms, was imposed as the official language from 1834 until 1976.

After 1976, demotiki, the language used in speech and creative literature, became the officially taught language. The division between demotiki and katharevousa has its roots in the first centuries of the present era and presents a series of ever-changing oppositions that affect both speech and writing.

The four major dialect groups, Peloponnesian, Northern Greek, Cretan, and Dodecanesian-Cypriot, all derive from the Hellenistic koine. Only the small Tsakonian dialect directly continues a non-koine dialect.

The transition from ancient to modern Greek was gradual and uneven, beginning in the 5th century BC and completed by the 10th century AD. Hellenistic Greek is closer to modern Greek than it is to prehistoric Greek. The differences between classical and modern Greek are scarcely greater than those between middle English and modern English.

Phonology and Morphology

Ancient Greek had an accentual system based on pitch with three tones: rising, falling, and rising/falling. Its phonology was characterized by a tendency to move vowels forward from the back to the front of the mouth  and weakening of final consonants.

Its inflectional system was highly developed, with five cases (nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative), three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), three numbers (singular, plural, dual), four moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive, optative), and a verbal distinction in oblique moods between tense (time) and aspect (mode of action).

The principal changes that distinguish modern Greek are superseding of pitch-accent by stress; further iotacism of vowels transforming the voiced plosives b and d to the voiced fricatives v and dh; loss of modal particles; and less variable word order because of replacement of pitch-accent by stress. Morphological groups that were originally distinct have become unified, with a consequent reduction in the number of inflections,  its vocabulary remains basically Greek.


Greek is pronounced quite differently from other languages. Reading this page won’t make your spoken Greek perfect, but it will hopefully give you an idea of how to pronounce those strange looking words. The main thing here is where to put the emphasis. As you will see, putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable might change the meaning of the word entirely, making it quite rude or just incomprihensible.

Greek spelling

The Greek spelling is also very difficult, even for the Greeks, and even though the words below often are spelt differentely, they sound the same with only the emphasis on a different syllable
These are just a few examples on how the pronounciation can alter the meaning of a word. The little accent makes a huge difference, so once you start reading Greek keep an eye out for its position. Unfortunately, words written in capitals do not have accent.

When you start learning Greek you’ll also soon learn more about your own language. The amazing thing about most Greek words is that they are self explanatory. For example, if you are British, Swedish or German and you hear the word “psychology” for the first time, it doesn’t mean anything to you. The Greek will immediately
understand it, though, because it consists of the two words “psycho”, soul or mind, and “logy”, learning or explaining. So even if it is the first time a Greek hears it, he will understand that it means “the learning of the mind”.

The Greek language is one of the few in the world that presents a homogeneous evolution and is a rare phenomenon in the linguistic history of the human race because it is spoken for thousands of years without interruption. The modern Greek language preserves the ancient writing and spelling of words and 75% of its vocabulary is based on the ancient Greek language. It is a language with unique virtues: it has expressiveness, flexibility, synthetic power and productive ability to produce and compose new words according to needs.

The first Christian hymns and all the books of the New Testament and the Gospels, Apostle Paul’s “Letters” and the first encyclopedia of Gutenberg, were written in Greek. 

The history of lexicography dates back to 2000 years ago in Ancient Greece. In the 5th century BC. Protagoras was the first to compile a glossary containing the rare words found in Homer’s works.
The first philosophical works on the birth of language were written by Plato (427-347 BC).
The first Grammar, the Grammar of the Greek Language was the work of Dionysios Thrace in 100 BC.

The masterpieces of Homer, Aristotle, Pindar, Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Thales, Aristophanes, Menander, Roman emperors, such as Marcus Aurelius, various Roman orators and others were written in Greek.
All languages ​​use words from other languages. The Greek language influenced the formation of the languages ​​of many peoples. The English language, for example, currently uses over 50,000 words of Greek origin.

During antiquity, Greek was the main language of the Mediterranean world. It later became the official language of the Byzantine Empire and evolved into Medieval Greek.In its modern form, Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus and one of the 24 official languages ​​of the European Union. It is spoken as a mother tongue by at least 13.5 million people in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Albania, Turkey and the Greek Diaspora. Also millions of people know Greek, either its ancient form or modern Greek.
Greek roots have been used for centuries and continue to be widely used to form new words in other languages. Greek and Latin, as language reservoirs, are the main sources of international scientific and technological vocabulary.

Historical continuity

Greek is the only language in the world that has been spoken and written continuously for at least 4,000 consecutive years, as Arthur Evans distinguished three phases in the history of Minoan writing, of which the first from 2000 BC. until 1650 BC
One may argue and say that Ancient and Modern Greek are different languages, but of course such a thing is completely untrue.

Odysseus Elytis himself said “I do not know that there is but one language, the single Greek language. For the Greek poet to say, even today, the sky, the sea, the sun, the moon, the wind, as Sappho and Archilochus used to say, is no small thing. It is very great. We communicate every moment by talking to the roots that are there. In Ancient”.

The great teacher of the genus Adamantios Korais had said: “Whoever without the knowledge of the Archaia attempts to study and interpret the Nean, is either deceived or deceived.”
Although thousands of years have passed, all Homeric words have survived to this day. They may not have survived atofifs, but they have remained in our language through their derivatives.
We may say water instead of water, but we say aqueduct, aqueduct and dehydration. We may not use the verb derkomai (to see) but we do use the word perceptive. We may not use the word aude (voice) but we still say stunned and stunned.

Also, today we don’t call clothes lops, but we say the word “lobodytes” which means “the one who dips (dips) his hand into your clothes (lopi) to steal you”.

Linear B is also purely Greek, a genuine ancestor of Ancient Greek. English architect Michael Ventris, based on some findings, deciphered this writing and proved its Greekness. Until then, of course, everyone stubbornly ignored even the possibility that she was Greek.

This fact is of enormous importance as it takes Greek several centuries even further back in the depths of history. This writing is certainly strange, as the symbols it uses are very different from the present-day Alphabet.
Nevertheless, the pronunciation is very similar, even with New Greek. For example the word “TOKOSOTA” means “Sagittarius” (callative). It is known that “k” and “s” in Greek make us “x” and with a simple distributive property, as we do in mathematics, we see that this word has not changed at all for so many millennia.

Even closer to Modern Greek, “wind”, which in Linear B is written “ANEMO”, as well as “tailor”, “desert” and “mosque” which are respectively in Linear B “RAPTE”, “EREMO”, ” TEMENO’, and many other examples.
However, calculating even with the conventional dates, which place Homer around 1,000 BC, we have the right to ask: How many millennia did our language take from the time when the people of the caves of the Greek area first articulated it with monosyllabic phthongs until it reaches the astonishing perfection of the Homeric epic dialect, with words like “rhodactylus,” white-collared,” “ocymorous,” etc.?

Plutarch in “On Socrates the Demon” informs us that Agesilaus discovered in Aliartos the tomb of Alcmene, the mother of Herakles, which tomb had as a dedication “copper tablets with many wonderful, ancient letters…” Imagine how old this writing is, since the ancient Greeks themselves call it “ancient”!!!