Days of the Week
Kuriakí means, “Lord’s day” which is followed by “second, third, fourth, fifth” days (after Sábbato).
Paraskeuí, meaning, “preparation,” is a biblical term used historically by Greek-church fathers. Sábbato or Sabbáto (pronounced in Modern Greek as either SAH vuh toh or suh-VAT oh) means the Sabbath, or “to rest” as in “day of rest”.
day of rest
Special Features of the Greek Language
Greek, Hellenic, is an Indo-European language with a documented history of 3,500 years. Today, it is estimated that it is spoken by 15 million people in Greece, Cyprus, the former Yugoslavia, particularly the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, and Turkey. There are also many Greek emigrant communities around the world; such as those in Melbourne, Australia which is the third largest Greek populated city in the world, after Athens and Thessaloniki.
The The Greek alphabet is available on this page.
Greek is an integral part of world languages; especially, English!
Not only is Greek spoken in many parts of the world, but it is also an essential part of English vocabulary; particularly in scientific terms, but also in many "common" words which may be found in this on-line dictionary source.
Greek is spoken by about ten million inhabitants of Greece and some 82% of the population of Cyprus, numbering a further half million. It is also spoken around the world in the diaspora (dispersion of an originally homogeneous entity, such as a language or culture) of Greeks who have emigrated for political or, far more commonly, economic reasons to the USA, Australia, Britain and elsewhere.
Based on the number of native speakers, Greek ranks well down the list of world languages; however, culturally its importance is disproportionate or out of proportion to its contributions to world knowledge. As the language of classical Greek philosophy and literature and, later, as the language of the Christian Gospels and the early Church it has profoundly shaped Western thought and intellectualism.
Like any other language, Greek has evolved over the ages, but Modern Greek can justifiably trace its pedigree back through the Athens of Pericles to the Trojan wars and indeed to some of European’s first attempts at recording ideas in writing.
Contributions of Greek to world civilization
When considering ancient Greece, it is important to be aware of the cultural and political background which was very different from that of a modern nation state. For much of this period, Greece was fragmented into city states with their satellite colonies, each with its own political system and cultural values; these may, at various times, have traded with each other, fought each other, or formed military alliances. At some time, they did all of these.
This separateness was reinforced by the Greek language which had evolved as a number of regional dialects through successive southern movements of Greek speaking people. The distribution of these dialects reflected patterns of migration and colonization and it did not follow that geographical closeness led to similarities in dialect. For example the Greek of Arcadia, the harsh mountainous interior of the Peloponnese, was closer to the Cypriot dialect than the Doric dialect used in the neighbouring southern Peloponnese. This is usually explained in terms of colonization of Cyprus by Mycenaean Greeks from the Peloponnese in the late bronze age.
The Doric Greeks, who moved into the Peloponnese after the Mycenaeans, never penetrated the inhospitable heartland of Arcadia. A further twist to dialect in ancient Greece is the practice of using a particular dialect for a particular literary form regardless of the native speech of the author; therefore, choral poetry is usually written in Doric even if written by a Boeotian such as Pindar or when used in an Athenian (Attic) tragedy.
While Homer flourished in the 8th century B.C. (and some of his language was archaic even for that period) and Aristotle did not die until 322 B.C., not only do the texts popularly associated with ancient Greek writing span a considerable period of time (at least equal to the period between the present day and Shakespeare), but are composed in a number of distinct dialects. There is, at least in one sense, no such thing as standard ancient Greek common to all speakers; although maybe one such candidate did emerge. During the classical period Athens acquired such political and cultural dominance among the Greek city states that the Attic dialect of the 4th century B.C. began to be accepted as the universal standard, at least for Greek prose.
Politics brought about further and more radical changes to the Greek language, perhaps the most dramatic in its tortuous history. Philip II of Macedon (382-336 B.C.) followed by his yet more ambitious son, Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), a man whose ambition stopped at nothing short of becoming master of "all the known world", swept away the traditional city states, uniting Greece and the near and middle east into a massive empire extending south to Egypt and east into India.
Although the Macedonian court was thought of by other Greeks at the time as provincial and only half civilized, Philip seems to have been a man of culture and used his wealth to bring to his court only the best money could buy. Among his imports was the philosopher Aristotle as tutor for the young Alexander, and his adoption of the Attic dialect as the language of his empire. The far reaching effect of this was, for the first time, to replace the dialects with a standard national language.
The extent of the empire also meant many people whose native tongue was not Greek attempted to express themselves through the medium of the classical Attic dialect resulting in an erosion and simplification of the language and changes in pronunciation that remain until this day. This form of Greek is known as the common language or koine. It is the language in which the Christian Gospels were originally composed and which is still used, largely unchanged, in the Greek Orthodox liturgy.
Did the Romans impose Latin on the Greeks or did the reverse happen?
It may be assumed that when the Romans arrived in Greece, which became a Roman protectorate in 146 B.C., and conquered the near east; Greek would have been superseded by Latin. In fact, the reverse was true! The study of Greek became mandatory for the educated Roman, and the use of Greek was widespread throughout the eastern part of the Empire. Besides that, Greek slaves became the teachers of the children of Romans who were in political and social positions. These teachers certainly left their Greek influences on the future leaders of Rome!
The Roman Empire itself was divided in 395 A.D. with the eastern half being ruled from Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), the capital founded by the Emperor Constantine the Great in 330 A.D. In the 6th Century A.D., Greek became the official language of the Eastern or Byzantine Empire.
Long after the Western Empire and Rome itself fell prey to invaders, the Byzantine Empire persisted under increasing pressure from Islam in the east and crusaders and attacking Frankish and Italian princes in the west until the final fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. By this time, most of present day Greece had been occupied and colonized by Franks and Venetians, themselves later to fall to the expanding Ottoman Empire. Just as western Europe was beginning to emerge with the start of the renaissance, a dark age descended on the Greek-speaking world.
The spoken form of Modern Greek has differed from the written form until more recent times. The latter, referred to as katharevousa, was used by the government, the schools, and the mass media until the mid-1970s and is much more like Ancient Greek than the spoken form, which is called dēmotikē. Dēmotikē, the language of popular speech, has more foreign loan words and a simpler grammar than katharevousa. Although a literature in dēmotikē developed during the 20th century, it was not until 1976 that it was accepted as the official written Greek language.