By Andrew Leech

(Written after publication of an article [inGreece] accusing
English of being a degenerate 3rd rate language)

"I want to go pee-pee (inEnglish)," so an enterprising advert (onGalaxy FM), for a rather scholarly chain of schools, exhorts us. What a novel way of starting the language! Basic functions in basic classes until at last you rise to Lower (interesting verbal juxtaposition there) and learn to pass more than just coloured water.In fact, if you are using that degenerate, 3rd rate language -- English -- to say it in, you are probably well on the way to talking first rate shit without really trying. At least, that is what some seem to think!

If there is any truth in this belief then I am so truly sorry for those poor teachers and school owners who had elected, in their youth, to spend the greater part of each working day talking, teaching and perfecting the use of a skill they now learn is only third rate -- and a degenerate one at that.I deeply empathise with your pain! Such a plight must be the most soul destroying torture imaginable.Consider, to daily have to give so much to something so intrinsically worthless; when you could be spending your time improving other things, such as your knowledge of Aristophanes and the delicate croak of an ancient frog--, , (line from Aristophanes' Frogs imitating frog speech). , , ! (I deeply sympathise!)

However, Marietta Giannakou (GreekMinister of Education) did hear these muted cries (and probably read Panagioti Zachariou's eloquent and moving articles) and is determined to rectify this educational error.After earlier announcing she would include a second foreign language in the curriculum, this perspicacious lady --ancient in thought, but modern in execution -- managed a spectacular linguistic pirouette in the third week of September, cut those hours from foreign language learning and devoted them to. . . extra AncientGreek lessons. The only trouble was -- as is usual in the public sector -- she cut the hours from the wrong language, reducing optional French or German instead of halving the wasted and useless time spent on English!What a chance the Ministry had. . .and it truly screwed up once again! You see Panagioti, it's not good enough to convince a government, you actually have to become a minister to make sure the job is done right.

What is needed now is for the strongest believers to find the courage to rebel. Follow your hearts.Close your language schools.Refuse to teach English and substitute even more Ancient Greek lessons.Encourage fresh legislation for children to remain at school until they have passed Panellenios totally written in it. Let all military orders be in the original Spartan dialect during conscription, and make it an offence to speak anything else in camp. Insist on tourists reciting a passage fromThucydides to enter the country and send the Prime Minister to read "the Frogs" to the UN - -in unvarnished original of course! (it will floor them). . . their clucks of approbation mingling musically, in descant, to Mr.Karamanlis' sonorous ancient !

: that insufferable of a mongrel-mixed up-language has been top for long enough. It is time to regain the "linguistic glory ofGreece." The people must become totally regenerated living conduits, once again, and come fully to feel and understand the underlying nuances of the language they have so little used for centuries.Only then will they truly comprehend the utter lingustic paucity of that north western European language that has, like a super-horny rabbit (), spread its genes all over our planet.

Bear with me, continue the sweet dream.The Italians would substitute Latin, the French regress and change their spelling again, the Germans retreat to Hocht Deutch and the Scandinavians return to their Runes.As for theBritish. . . .why, they would be re-learning Celtic,Breton and Gaelic, daubing themselves with blue woad and offering every native-speaker Welshman a senior teaching position in ModernClassics at Oxbridge.What an entrancing thought! While the USAmight even remember that suggestion made in 1776 that a true democracy should only speak Greek and actually do something about it.

Certainly, using Greek for international diplomacy might bring some refreshing changes -- after all, the Middle East has not responded too well, in recent years, to any suggestions made in English! The presidential desk sign of "the buck stops here," could be re-engraved: -- the talent [an ancient sum of money] stops here. Definitely an axiom to engender a fuller notion of national responsibility.

With such a dizzy victory within grasp, who is going to be the first to dare change the taught language in their school. Who will be the first to phase out English and phase in Ancient Greek? Who is going to be the first to lull the ears of neighbours and passers by with the sweet strains of: " , , . . . , , " instead of "Friends, Romans Countrymen. . .how much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" After all, if English really is nothing more than a degenerate, third-rate language, why bother teaching it? Let's end the farce now, once and forever, and devote our time to something much more intrinsically -- if not more financially -- rewarding.

One last question, though, that soundly troubles me. In 146BC the GreekStates lost their battles and came under the control of Rome, but in 1940 AD theGreek nation "soundly whupped the Wops." Was this because the Italians had stopped using Latin or because theHellenes had moved on fromArchaia?

Andrew Leech (

[Edd: Author's accent marks for Greek text eliminated byHCS.]

(Posting date 14 April 2006)

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