A couple of weeks ago I visited my good friend, colleague and technical translation guru, Dimi of Mantas Translations and Edinburgh Translators in his home town of Athens. A first visit to Greece for me, it was a nice introduction to an interesting country and vibrant city. Coming from Edinburgh, widely known as the Athens of the North, I was interested to see if Athens would pass as the Edinburgh of the South. I swapped my favourite Café Piccante deep fried Mars bar for some deep fried cheese and tried to find out.
Apparently Edinburgh gave itself the title ‘Athens of the North’ to express its growing importance and sense of achievement. Not at all big-headed. Scottish travellers to Athens brought back images of Greek structures and sought to recreate them at home. Back then Edinburgh was sometimes described as ‘Modern Athens’. While the Edinburgers may have taken inspiration from Athens, I don’t think the Athenians took ideas from Scotland and my theory of an Edinburgh of the South was quickly put to bed.
As far as the language went, I excelled. Greek accounts for roughly 12% of the English vocabulary so I spoke Greek roughly 12% of the time. Good for me. My host was SO impressed with my affinity for the language. In all the years we’ve known each other I’ve kept my Greek skillz pretty quiet so it felt good to pull this rabbit out of the hat at long last.
The Greek language is spoken by over 13 million people, mainly in Greece, Albania and Cyprus, although pockets of speakers exist worldwide. Greek is the official language of Greece and is spoken by most of the population and is also recognised as a minority language in Italy, Albania, Syria, Armenia, Romania and Ukraine. I think it would be a great language to learn and hope to learn the remaining 88% before my next trip.