February 9 has officially been declared as International Greek Language Day and is a day for Greeks and non-Greeks to celebrate the important role the Greek language has played in world culture.
According to a report by University World News, the Greek language and culture spread across more than 35 centuries, provides an unbroken link between modern-day Greeks and their ancestors. Unlike Latin, Greek is a living language currently spoken by more than 11 million people in mainland Greece and by several million Greeks spread across the world.
Philologist Francisco Rodriguez Adrados of Madrid’s Complutense University, and a member of the Royal Spanish Academy, recently published the seventh volume of his Spanish Dictionary of the Ancient Greek Language.
Speaking to colleagues during a presentation of the dictionary at the Greek Academy, Adrados said: “Greek is not a dead language. We must all realise that Greek and Chinese are the only languages spoken today whose origin was known more than 3,500 years ago.”
Adrados acknowledges the role of languages of the ancient world such as Egyptian, Sumerian, Hebrew and Arabic. But if judged on the influence exerted over other European languages, he said: “Greek is the first language in the world. The Greek language is not only alive in Greece, but has a second life; its alphabet, vocabulary, syntax and literature are present in all languages.”
February 9 has been selected as the day to celebrate the Greek language because it coincides with the Commemoration Day of Greece’s “national poet” Dionysios Solomos. The aim of this initiative is to highlight the fundamental role played by the Greek language in world culture throughout the centuries and encourage the Greeks of the diaspora and anyone who wishes to get involved and learn about Greek culture, to systematically research and learn about it.
Regarding this year’s celebration, the Ministry of Education announced, “It is important to learn and love the Greek language, because of its virtues but mainly because it has expressed a great culture, that shaped and codified the first and statutory layer of the upper vocabulary and the basic concepts of Western civilization. Over the centuries, its contribution has been decisive as a means of enhancing and spreading Greek culture and today, it is considered as one of the world’s oldest languages”.
The efforts of the diaspora Greeks of Southern Italy to establish the International Greek Language Day and the fact that it was celebrated for the first time at the initiative of the Federation of Greek Communities and Brotherhood of Italy in Naples, May 2016, should also be noted.
Various events are being organised today in all Greek educational institutions across the country, as well as foreign ones that offer Greek language courses or Greek studies.
Happy International Greek Language Day!