The fact that numerous languages from all across the globe, especially in the Western world, have borrowed words, phrases, and expressions from the Greek language, is not news.
It is also well-known that the English language – which is the most spoken language on our planet in terms of its total number of native and foreign speakers – has borrowed a myriad of words from Greek.
Although many linguists and glossologists (another Greek word!) from all over the world, have studied for years the influence of ancient and modern Greek on Latin-based languages and especially on English, there are several different estimations about the exact number of English words that derive from Greek.
most recent publication ‘Greek Words in the English Language’, Greek linguist and author of numerous dictionaries Aristides Konstantinidis presented a thorough study that used a variety of international sources, including prestigious English dictionaries, such as the Cambridge Dictionary and the Webster International Dictionary.
The study confirmed that out of the total 171,146 English words that are currently in use, 41,214 are Greek.
“English is the lingua franca of our time, which means it is the commonly used language of communication around the world, and that is because of its simplicity, the dominance of the USA today and England in the past,” Mr. Konstantinidis writes.
“Greek, on the other hand, is characterised by some as a marginal language, due to the fact that it is spoken and written by the few millions of Greeks and Greek Cypriots.
“However, the effect it has had on the European vocabulary, and especially on English, is immense, but unfortunately, it is not systematically recorded and documented.”
The Oxford Dictionary also explains that even though the influence of classical Greek on English has been largely indirect, through Latin and French, it is largely lexical and conceptual, and out of the 470,000 English words that have been created and used over the years, more than 150,000 have Greek roots.
Even more impressive is the fact that the terminology used in many sciences includes a plethora of Greek words to describe diseases, illnesses, and methods.
In particular, in medicine, out of the 43,716 words that exist, almost half the words (20,346 to be exact) are Greek.
Doctor Marianne McDonald, American scholar and philanthropist, known for her work in the interpretation, sharing, compilation, and preservation of Greek texts, plays, and writings, also explained that “in the Greek language we can find implanted all the advanced knowledge that men of the time had acquired.”
“Every Greek word carries a heavy burden of intellect, a burden that the people who came before us spent time on, in order to cognitively conquer the specific meaning and to baptize it with the specific name-word.”
Many people are of course aware that words such as democracy, politics, biology, chronology, thesaurus, geometry, xenophobia, strategy, philanthropy, and thousands more are Greek.
But here is a shortlist of English words that are regularly used by English speakers and are fully taken from Greek:
CAN = from the verb “káno” (κάνω)
CALL = from the verb “kaló” (καλώ)
DIFFERENCE = from the word “diforá” (διφορά or διαφορά)
AFTER = from the word “aftár”, mostly used by the poet Homer and meaning ‘later’ (αὐτάρ)
BOSS = from the word “póssis”, which means the ‘leader of a house’ (πόσσις)
BRAVO = Latin term from the word “vravío”, which means ‘award’ (βραβείο)