The Greek language is Europe’s most ancient language, at 4,000 years old as an oral tradition and 3,500 years in writing. This means it influenced many other European languages on quite a large scale. For example, the word ‘Economy’. Used now both French and English, the word comes from the Greek ‘oikos’, meaning a home or domain and it’s management. Similarly the word ‘Politics’ originated from the Greek word ‘polis’ meaning “affairs of the cities”. This was used before there was even the idea of a whole Greek identity, when Greece was divided into lots of relatively small poleis, the plural of polis.
Apart from two Chinese languages, it is the only ancient that hasn’t died out.
Apart from been one of the longest living languages and therefore been rich in history, the Greek language is simply just interesting. It is rich with untranslatable words which are an interesting concept in themselves. Words that have no other comparable translations in the 6909 other living languages in the world, imagine! Think of the expanse in what we can say with these words. Like in those moments when you’re lost for words and perhaps the words you need dont exist in your language but in another. So here’s a selection of these beautiful words that I’d love to share with you.
Firstly Meraklis; an individual possessing the ability to thoroughly enjoy. Someone who is drawn by aesthetically tasteful things or delicious food, or who goes about doing things with love and zeal.
A heightened feeling of dignity, honor and responsibility. In ancient Greek, the word meant ambition. Someone who possessed filotimo was determined to gain honor and glory. Possessing filotimo was not seen as a positive thing.
Homonoia This is the concept of order and unity.It means being of one mind together or union of hearts. This was used to create unity in politics in Ancient Greece and saw widespread use when used by Alexander the Great to help him govern the kingdom of Macedon. Though the idea of a “unity of hearts” within politics is an idea that we would all like, the idea of the likes of Jeremy Cornyn and Theresa May finding homonoia with one another is utopian at the very least, and very very wishful thinking.
However beautiful this word is to think of in this concept, I feel the context in which the word reaches it’s full potential is when talking about a couple. The idea of two people who are in love being homonoia; one mind together and one heart, is beautiful. It could link strongly to the idea of soulmates and finding that perfect person. Particularly in literature, if this was a translatable word, this would be a fantastic opportunity for description and characterisation of couples. Again, the opportunities missed by barriers in language.
This is a slang word that refers to the particular “burning sensation” of love, more than having a crush or being in love. It’s the passion that comes with love. Who knew there was a word for that out there.
You know that friend that you’ve known for so long that to class them as simply another friend would be almost insulting to your relationship. They’re more like family. Well this refers to that inner circle of friends who are like family to you.
This work comes from the moral concept of xenia followed diligently by Greeks that stems back go ancient Greece. This is the idea of being welcoming to strangers. To follow proper xenia would be to make the stranger welcome in your home, provide for the stranger with both food and gifts and to finally ensure the stranger has a safe return home. This comes from the ancient idea that Zeus would send beggars or a foreign person in order to test a person’s xenia and so the Greeks would feel a moral obligation to follow the rules of xenia to appease the Gods.
Filoxenia literally means the state of being a friend to strangers.
This refers to the simple but extremely peaceful and calming activity of people-watching.
This is the act of laughing yourself to tears. In this one word we receive a specific description of the kind of laugh a person is doing and the emotion behind it; how it can be so strong you cry. All of this is described so concise, in one word of course. This is in absolute contrast to the English language. In English a description of the things I mentioned earlier are needed; the kind of laugh, the emotion behind it and the action of crying from laughing so much. All of this that is needed to paint an image in a readers head instead but creates waffle.
‘It all sounds Greek to me’.
Here Shakespare pretty much summed up how the Greek language has sounded to foreign ears since always. Unintelligible as it may seem to you, and me as I myself am a useless monolingual person, Greek is a language I have so much interest in. It is notoriously rich in expressions and meanings, so that’s one reason you want to tackle with it if you’re an absolute logophile like me (would you look at that another word with Greek origin). But the most important reason I think we should try learn as much language as we can, both from our first language and any other language is because it creates so many opportunities both work wise and socially. I spend so many hours a week with Greek and Polish people through work but the only words I’ve been able to pick up are words I will not share on here. They may be useful sometimes when customers are being well, customers, but other than that, I find myself wanting to know more and more whenever I hear my colleagues speak in different tongues.
Though this has probably not educated anyone as I am not in any position to do that; that would imply I’m smarter than you and I am most certainly not. All I aimed to do was share my love of language. Thank you.