Learning Greek as a Second Language

By Surayyo Musayeva

“To have another language is to possess a second soul”

          When someone starts to learn new language he always compares it with his first language. While learning new language a learner studies also influence of the second language with other languages, its people’s life, their culture, and so on. In the meaning, we would like to point out, that now our second foreign language is Greek language at the university. We are studying Greek with English in the same time. Well, while getting acquainted with new language we knew that lots of Greek word came to the other languages, such as English, Russian, or even Uzbek languages.

          As a scientist Kristoffer Troller’s says, according to one estimate, more that 150 000 words of English are derived from Greek words. Telephone, antique, dialogue, grammar, economy, encyclopedia, microscope and etc. – all these words which we use often, which we consider English words have something in common: they’re derived from Greek. To this list, as we mentioned, we could add thousands more words, some common and others less so. It’s clear, that the Greek language has had an important influence on the English language. We use these words even in Uzbek language too.

          During researches we knew, that the Oxford Companion to the English language states that the “influence of classical Greek on English has been largely indirect, through Latin and French, and largely lexical and conceptual…”

          We may consider that more than fifteen thousand words of English are derived from Greek words. These include technical, scientific, medical, literary and like these terms but also more common words like those above.

          Words that start with “ph-” are usually of Greek origin word, for instance: philosophy, physical, photo, phrase, philanthropy and so on. Amount of English words are formed of parts of words (morphemes) that originate from the Greek language, including the following examples: phobia (fear of), as in arachnophobia – the fear of spiders; micro (small), as in microscopic – so small it’s hard to see; demos (people) as in democracy – government by the people.[1]

          We have heard about Greek myths a lot and Greek mythology has been very influential in Western culture, particularly its art and literature. Unsurprisingly, some common expressions in English derive from these ancient myths and beliefs.

          Modern English language is a mutt of a language with a complex and varied pedigree. While English language is commonly referred to as a Germanic language, this is more confusing than enlightening, since there are other equally powerful influences, like French, and also because so much of German is shaped by its own considerable inheritance from Greek. We can see from this that Greek is so old and pervasive it’s easy to overlook.

          The most obvious imprint Greek has left on English involves the alphabet. Many letters in English have been borrowed from ancient Greek, for example, the English letters “a” and “b” is variations on the Greek letters “alpha” and “beta”. And while most of the English alphabet has its origins in ancient Latin, a good deal of the Latin alphabet is a transliteration of Greek. Many words in English, like chemistry and charisma, are formed from this coupling of letters.[2]

                     English grammar is largely copied from German, which has been heavily influenced ny Greek. Even the term “grammar” is Greek word. The most elemental grammatical concepts in English like noun, predicate, adjective, subject, preposition or pronoun are also basic to Greek. While English grammar is not identical to Greek, almost all of its basic grammatical categories are originally Greek.

          Some of the most popular contemporary concepts in English, ones typically understood as characteristically modern were actually invented in ancient Greece. We may say for example, the word “democracy” as well as the political form itself, date back to ancient Greece. Also the many conjugations of the word “auto” are all originally Greek, that’s to say: “autograph”, “autonomy”, “autobiography” and “autograph” are easily recognizable examples. To sum up, so much of the Western world’s cultural heritage, like its linguistic one, is deeply indebted to its Greek predecessors.


[1] Ziyouz.com
[2] Kitob.uz

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