Thursday, 14 February 2019
International Greek Language Day
() (): It gives me great pleasure today to rise and speak about International Greek Language Day. Following years of effort and campaigning by academics, teachers and Greek people around the world, 9 February was declared International Greek Language Day in 2017. The date was selected because it was also the official date for the commemoration of the Greek national poet Dionysios Solomos, who wrote the Greek national anthem, titled Hymn to Libertyor Ymnos is tin Eleftherian.
The main aim of the recent initiatives was to celebrate the vital, fundamental role played by the Greek language in the shaping of Western civilisation throughout the centuries. This initiative encourages Greek people around the world, as well as anyone else who's intrigued by the Greek language and culture, to learn this most ancient and fascinating of Western languages. For those of us of Greek origin, it is important to learn and love the Greek language because of its beauty, its colourful language and its virtues, but mainly because it expresses a great culture.
The Greek language shaped and codified the first layer of vocabulary and the basic concepts of Western civilisation, as you would know, Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, being an academic of the Greek language, speaking it fluently for years and teaching it as well. Over the centuries its contribution to the world has been immense, enhancing and spreading Greek culture, and today it's considered one of the world's oldest languages. It's well known around the world that Greek is the foundation language of science and medicine. We use Greek words every single day, since an astonishing 80 per cent of scientific terms have the Greek language at their roots. Greek words are found across the world in fields such as astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, logic, politics and religion as well as many more areas of the human endeavour. Democracy—what we practice here every single day—is a Greek word.
Together with ancient Latin texts and traditions from the Roman world, the study of Ancient Greek writings and society constitutes classical Western learning. The Greek language is also one of the EU's official languages, with Greek being spoken by millions of people around the world: in Greece and in Cyprus but also in the diaspora in Australia and everywhere that Greeks have made their home. Today I also want to acknowledge Her Excellency, Ekaterini Xagorari, who's here as the ambassador of Greece to Australia, and High Commissioner Her Excellency Martha Mavrommatis, who have done so much to encourage and to promote International Greek Language Day.