BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



The BBC's Babis Metaxas
"Greeks have not forgotten their language"
 real 28k

Thursday, 11 January, 2001, 14:55 GMT
Campaign to keep Greek pure
The Acropolis
Ancient heritage: Intellectuals also want to safeguard language
Greek intellectuals have launched a campaign against what they say is the corruption of the Greek language as a result of the spread of the internet and English-based "computerese".

A group including professors of philosophy, archaeologists, playwrights and politicians, have circulated a manifesto against "Greeklish" - echoing French fretting over "Franglais".

The manifesto argues that use of computers is responsible for bastardising the language of Aristotle and Homer, resulting in Greeklish, a mix of Greek and English-based computer terms.

The group blames an "unholy plot" by the international computer industry to foist Greeklish on the Greek public.

Polysyllables

However the industry's defenders point out that computers are sold with Greek language software, including Greek versions of the Windows applications.

The Greeks are themselves to blame, they say, if they choose - as many do - to write their e-mails in Latin characters or even truncated English computerese.

Examples of Greeklish
Serfaro: to surf the net
Erkodission: air-conditioning
Frikaro: to freak out
Limitaro: to limit up
Glamourato: glamour
Rockatzis: a lover of rock music
Komputeraki: lap top

Greek computer users say their native language has many polysyllabic words, and it is often easier to communicate online using something approximating to English.

According to media reports, the intellectuals' manifesto claims that the Greeks should not accept the corruption of their script by replacing some elements with foreign characters.

The affair is reminiscent of French concerns about the corruption of their language and the appearance of Franglais - but in France there is a body, the Academie Francaise, which acts as an official protector of the language.

Informality

According to Babis Metaxas, editor of the Greek section of the BBC World Service, the influx of foreign words into Greek usage comes not only from the internet and computing fields, but also from the stock exchange.

"It does not mean that the Greeks forget their language. When they write and want to be formal they probably use Greek, but in everyday speech they would go for these easier foreign sounding words," he says.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

04 Jan 99 | Euro latest
Euroland or La Terre Euro?
08 May 98 | Business
'Le Shuttle' to change name
31 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwanese row over standardised Chinese
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories