Language Fact File: Greek

Spoken in: Greece, Greek Cyprus, Southern Albania, Calabria and Salento (Italy)and other regions of the Balkans, Black Sea coast, Asia Minor and Eastern Mediterranean.

Number of native speakers: 13.5 million

Learn some: Greet your Greek friends in the morning with ‘καλημέρα!’ (kalimera) and in the evening with ‘καλησπέρα!’ (kalispera).

Interesting facts:

  • The longest word in Greek has a whopping 185 characters! It is ‘lopado­temacho­selacho­galeo­kranio­leipsano­drim­hypo­trimmato­silphio­parao­melito­katakechy­meno­kichl­epi­kossypho­phatto­perister­alektryon­opte­kephallio­kigklo­peleio­lagoio­siraio­baphe­tragano­pterygon’, a fictional dish created by the writer Aristophenes in 391BC. It is the longest word ever to appear in literature.
  • Greek is one of the oldest languages in Europe. There are written records of the language dating back 3,400 years. Its alphabet formed the basis for the Latin, Cyrillic and Coptic alphabets – and in fact, the word ‘alphabet’ is from the Greek ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’, the first two letters.
  • Greek is the only language in its category, the Hellenic category. This is very unusual; even the small Celtic category, for example, has four in the group (Manx, Irish, Scottish and Welsh). This means that, despite being such a huge influence in Europe, there are no languages similar to Greek.

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