On February 9th, we celebrate the International Greek Language Day - The universality of the Greek Language and the linguistic coincidence between Greece and Slovenia / 9 Februarja praznujemo mednarod
On the 9th of February each year Greece is celebrating the universality of the Greek language. The date is also the commemoration of the demise of Dionysios Solomos, the poet of the Greek national anthem. Just the day before is also the day of the national poet of Slovenia and author of the Slovenian national anthem, France Prešeren. It is a coincidence? Most probably. But it is another happy coincidence proving how Greece and Slovenia come together, poetically and in our contemporary lives.
The Greek language has a millennial history and universal value. It has been a means of communication between different peoples since antiquity, influencing the Western culture. It is distinguished by the accuracy of attributing complex concepts and has therefore enriched other languages with subtle meanings. It has fundamentally contributed to the expression of the terminology of Medicine, Pharmacy, Mathematics, Philosophy and Economics. An example, coming from the field of economics is the successful attempt by the late Xenophon Zolotas, former Prime Minister, when as Governor of the Bank of Greece in 1957 and 1959 delivered speeches in English using exclusively Greek words in the context of the annual summit of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the World Bank.
Hellenic origins abound even in the Slovenian language, especially in scientific terminologies. For example, the words “etimologia” (etymology) – “etimologija” and “kategoria” (category) – “kategorija” have a Greek origin and usually, the distinctive Greek suffix “-ia” is turned into Slovene “-ija”. For instance, in science the Slovene astronomi (astronomers, Greek: astronomoi), study the various mehanizmi (mechanisms, Greek: mehanismoi) of the planetarni sistem (planetary system, Greek: planetiko systema) and Slovene filozofi (philosophers, Greek: philosophoi) study the ideje (ideas, Greek: idees) of the psiha (psyche, Greek: psihi). In their everyday lives, Slovenian people shop for glasses at the optika (optical/eyewear, Greek: optika) shops and take fotografije (photos, Greek: photografies) with friends.
In that context, the first Greek-Slovenian dictionary was published in Ljubljana in 1915, authored by Anton Dokler (1871-1943) a Slovene philologist and translator together with two renowned linguists, the scholar of Slavic language Anton Breznik and the biblical scholar and translator Franc Jerè. It’s made up of almost 900 pages and it came to be considered by experts of comparable importance to the Slovenian-German dictionary by Austrian linguist Maks Pleteršnik, one of the important pieces of older Slovene lexicography and teaching. Dokler’s Greek-Slovenian dictionary was republished in 2015 with the work of Matej Hriberšek and the cooperation of ZRC SAZU Publishing House, the Department of Classical Philology of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, the Regional School Office for Friuli Venezia Giulia and foreign language teachers. The dictionary is also freely available online.
If you are interested in a head start on the Greek language you can check here.