THE GREEK LANGUAGE is more than 3,000 years old and has evolved like all languages. But modern Greek remained surprisingly close to ancient Greek. This language shaped the thinking of the greatest philosophers and authors of Western civilization. The intrinsic logic of the Greek language seems to be what allowed its preservation. Like many people in countries with little language, Greeks are fluent in at least one or two foreign languages. Among young people, it is almost considered shameful not to speak English, which comes to the top of the list of foreign languages spoken. But the mastery of English is not limited to the youngest: a large part of the elderly population also speaks this language or French, which is often perfect.

KALIMERA (Hello) should not go beyond noon (messimeri which starts at 1pm and ends at 5.30pm, including lunch and nap)

KALISPERA (Good evening)wishes from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in anticipation of the evening

KALINICKTA (Good night) wants to leave the evening in preparation for falling asleep, but not at night

You will be rewarded almost everywhere with an SAS ya to welcome you and say goodbye. If you engage in a conversation with a Greek, this one can leave you on a more familiar penny, but also more user-friendly. Returning the next day to the same place, the same person will eventually pronounce a simple ya, even more familiar, even friendlier. This way of greeting is very practical.

YAMAS translates as ‘to our health’
ya (actually health) penny is you in Greek and SAS the polite formula in you, Mas is the translation of us: Yamas has our health

OCHI  – no
Ochi means no in Greek, but it is more surely the eyebrow that we will answer you. This somewhat expeditious Sibyllins response is not necessarily typical of the Dodecanese Islands, but is more widespread throughout Greece. Translation: you will often find, in Athens as in the islands, that the Greeks answer “no” with a slightly raised eyebrow. The answer is often accompanied by a very light wink at the subtle top.

NAI – Yes

ENDAXI  – everything is fine

RHONIA POLA:has lived for many years (to say for all celebrations)



The Greek alphabet contains only 24 letters, but many diphthongs and declines make Greek writing a bit complex to read. Also the place names that appear in this guide are sometimes transcribed differently elsewhere. So Hora can be written Chora. Just as Emborios sometimes appears as Emporios even Nimborio or Nimborios. So don’t worry if the place you’re looking for isn’t spelled the same everywhere. It is still quite simple and it is mostly played to a letter.



It has been written since the Mycenaean period (1,400 BC. J.C.). On many various rentals throughout Greece, clay plates were found on which accounts were mostly recorded using the syllable of linear B, the Greek archa’that. (photo below left). But it was not until the 6th century BC that the first literary works appeared written with  the alphabet adopted by the Greeks of the Phoenician people, the oldest marine population in Lebanon today. This alphabet, which can be said of ancient Greek, was the economy of speech and we could express ourselves better since we recorded every sound. The Latin alphabet of contemporary Western languages and the Cyrillic alphabet of Eastern European countries have their roots in the Greek alphabet (see below right). The works that were written from the 6th sc. BC until today consists of so-called “Greek Letters”.



The Greek language developed excellently during the classical period (5th and 4th sc av. J.C.). This development means “richer and more specialized lexicon” followed by decisive historical events (the campaign of Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic States). The Greek language was thus able to spread almost throughout the Mediterranean and became the language of letters, in other words, the “Hellenistic Koiné”. And since the Greek language could express very fine meanings and very particular situations of thought and science, it continued to be used even after the invasion of the Romans throughout eastern Europe and the Middle East.


From the 6th to the 4th sc.BC, Greek letters bloom. The poetic epics ofHOMER (from 8th Sc BC with theIliad and the Odyssey, pictured below), the lyrical poetry of Alcée de Mytilene (from the 7th sc av. J.C.) and Sappho of Lesbos, the tragedies ofAeschylus Sophocles andEuripides, the works of historians of
, THYCIDIDE and XENOPHON, the philosophical discourses of PLATO and
, the rhetorical art of Lysias, Isocrates and Demosthenes were only part of the spiritual creation in the Greek language during the classical era.



The spiritual production of the Hellenistic and Roman periods with the philosophy of the Stoics and Epicurians, the New Comedy, the works of Plutarch and Polybe, the works of Pausanias etc, the translation of the Old and New Testaments are considered common heritage within the Western world today.


 When the Roman Empire split (the eastern part and the western part), Christianity spread to The New Eastern Rome. The most common language was Greek. This language continued to be the language of spiritual creation in the East. In particular, the Greek expressed ecclesiastical rhetoric. Basil of Caesarea (photos below) and John Chrysostome are two of the many writers who have used the inheritance of the Rhetorians to support the new faith and have created fine works of speech. There were, however, a little later, more lyrical uses of language in religious and devout hymnography. We immediately think of Romain the Melode.



As the centuries pass, since the Hellenistic period with the koiné, the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium forges a culture with the Orthodox Christian faith and the Greek language changes, both in terms of lexicon and syntax. From the 10th century AD, literary works can be found in this new Greek language,the Modern Greek. The epic poem by Digénis Akritas (pictured below left) and popular akritic songs, Prodromic poems, the Morée Chronicle and the Chronicle of Leonce Machairas are the most important works of this period. In any case, the political adventures that led to the fall of the Byzantine Empire by the Turks in 1453 did not mean breaking the cultural tradition.



Indeed, there are two linguistic currents. On the one hand, we have an oral production in a language reminiscent of ancient Greek and which presents various works of religious but also cosmic content. On the other hand, we have a literary creation in the popular language that covers the needs of a people who have no political independence but cohesion. Thus, apart from the wonderful works of oral literature which are the songs of the demotic, (songs of the people that pass from generation to generation), we also write important texts in the modern Greek language,which constitutes the continuation but also the evolution, as I said, of ancient Greek. One thinks of the Cretan works Erotokritos(photo below right) , Erophile, Katzourbos, the Sacrifice of Abraam etc.



An intense spiritual movement, in other words, the rebirth of the Greek-modern, toned the national consciousness of the Greeks. At the same time, literary creation is growing. The revolution of 1821, which gave political strength to the new Greek state, is linked to an explosion of Greek poetry. I think of the great works of Andreas Calvos and Dionysios Solomos that glorify the revolution. This is the beginning of the literature of young Greece as a state.



At the end of the 19th century. with the great poet Kostis Palamas, the demotic language, in other words the evolved form of Greek which is the language of the people, is now worked in poetry but also in prose. I think of Kostis Palamas,K.Chatzopoulos, K.Theotokis, Varnalis but also my favorite authors to Angelos Sikelianos (pictured below right), Kostas Karyotakis and Nikos Kazantzakis etc. That said, at the same time, the works ofEmmanuel Roïdis, Georges Vizyinos and my beloved Alexandre Papadiamantis appear in Greece (pictured below left) but also, outside the borders of the new Greek state, in Alexandria, Egypt, the famous poetry of Constantine Cavafy. The latter authors adopt a linguistic form closer to the ancient Greek called katharevoussa or purified Greek.