The Guardian and the Sunday newspaper, highlighted the recent influx of English words in the Greek language.
In the article, Professor Georgios Babiniotis, the foremost linguist in Greece and a former education minister, shared his concerns and “pleads for moderation” as the COVID-related “Greekglish” spreads.
“Usually, Professor Georgios Babiniotis would take pride in the fact that the Greek word ‘pandemic’ – previously hardly ever uttered – had become the word on everyone’s lips,” the Guardian wrote.
“After all, the term that conjures the scourge of our times offers cast-iron proof of the legacy of Europe’s oldest language. Wholly Greek in derivation – pan means all, demos means people – its usage shot up by more than 57,000% last year, according to Oxford English Dictionary lexicographers,” it added.
The Professor is “less mindful of how the language has enriched global vocabulary,” but more concerned about “the corrosive effects of coronavirus closer to home.”
“We have been deluged by new terms and definitions in a very short space of time,” he told the Observer. “Far too many of them are entering spoken and written Greek. On the television you hear phrases such as ‘rapid tests are being conducted via drive-through’ and almost all the words are English. It’s as if suddenly I’m hearing Creole.”
“Almost no tongue has been spoken as continuously as Greek, used without respite in roughly the same geographical region for 40 centuries. Its influence, as the language of the New Testament and as a vehicle of thought for golden age playwrights, scientists and philosophers, helped it withstand the test of time,” the Guardian reported.
Some English terms currently ‘eroding’ the resilience of the Greek language include: ‘lockdown,’ ‘delivery,’ ‘click away,’ ‘click-and-collect’ and ‘curfew’.
“There has to be some moderation,” Professor Babiniotis told the Observer, adding that “we have a very rich language. As the saying goes, ‘the Greeks must have a word for it.’ Lockdown, for example, could be perfectly easily translated.”
“Ever more shops are carrying English-language signage as a way, I’m afraid, of having greater sales and outreach. Instead of artopoieio, Greek for bakery, we’re seeing shops calling themselves ‘bread factories’ while barbers are now ‘hairdressers.’ Next we’ll have ‘hair stylists!’ It won’t stop,” Babiniotis told the Observer.
Babiniotis is not alone in his concerns. Elena Pataki of the family-run publishing company said, “Books are guardians of the language. We recently published a business book about family-owned enterprises and made a conscious choice to limit references to foreign terms,” the Guardian reported.
She also sees Babiniotis’ point, “Why should Greeks in their 90s have to understand English to go and shop? The pandemic has produced a global language for a global problem. My hope is when this is over, we’ll hit delete and forget all these words,” the Guardian reported.