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And isn’t Greek at the heart of everything ...

19 August 2010 / 11:08:54  GRReporter
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The Anthology of foreign words of Greek roots "Ιts all Greek indeed" by Vassilios K. Theodorou contains numerous examples of words of Greek origin. Mr. Theodorou is an orthopedic surgeon, but his passion is the language and – like the father of the bride in the movie "My big fat Greek wedding" – he is trying to find the Greek there, where it would not have crossed anybody’s mind. The title of the book "Ιts all Greek indeed" ("And in fact, everything comes from the Greek", published by the Mizonos Elinismu Foundation) is a word game with the English expression "it's all Greek to me", which in Bulgarian free translation sounds like "It’s like you speak in Chinese", ie I do not understand a word of what you are saying.  

“Borrowings from the Greek language began even during the Renaissance and continue to the present day. It is typical that most of the words that are in the English vocabulary are important concepts that can not be replaced by foreign words" says Mr. Theodorou in an interview for the Vima newspaper. For example, the words grammar, arithmetics, history, economy, politics, diplomacy, dilemma, drama, utopia can not be replaced by other words and experts say that if they disappear from the language vocabulary true chaos would come.  

"Even today, when the English can not name any concept it uses the Greek language" the writer added. The same happens with foreign words that have been assimilated by the Greek language. But interesting is the fact that Latin borrowings from the Greek are numerous, as evidenced by medical terminology, where 70% of the terms have Greek roots. Representative examples are all words for phobias - 469 of 533 words that Mr. Theodorou described for phobias in the English language have something from the Greek language. "The difference is that the Greek language has a very small contribution to the science and concepts that are the result of the modern era as the economy, diplomacy and technology."

The book is divided into five parts: the first three sections contain words in different areas borrowed from Greek into English - in science, art and even in everyday life. In the fourth part the writer refers to the Greek mythology, as many expressions are used in the everyday life. For example, "Achilles' heel" for a vulnerable, weak spot, "maze". Mr. Theodorou told the myth in short to clarify the origin of the expression. Finally, the fifth part of the book presents personalities, events and toponyms of the Greek history which have enriched the Greek language with expressions and metaphors that remained in the world history.

"It's all Greek indeed" is a publication of the Mizonos Elinismu Foundation. It works for the preservation of the Greek language and cultural heritage in all forms and supports any attempt in this field as is the book that describes the systematic contribution of the Greek language to the languages of the Western world.

Tags: NewsBookLiteratureWordsGreek languageEtymology
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