Learn Survival Greek
Wikitravel users have collectively created a free Greek phrasebook with the goal of making it possible for travelers to "get by" while traveling in areas where Greek is spoken.
Wikitravel phrasebooks are available in many languages and each one varies in depth and detail. Most of the phrasebooks include a pronunciation guide, a general phrase list, information about dates and numbers, a color list, transportation-related phrases, vocabulary for shopping and phrases for eating and drinking. Some are even more in depth, and all are free!
Greek is one of the oldest attested Indo-European languages, known from 1400 BC in inscriptions in a syllabary of Minoan origin. The present alphabet was introduced by a Phoenician called Qadmu (Καδμος) about 800 BC, and has been in use, with a few letters added and removed, continuously since then. The 24-letter alphabet used in Classical Greek is the same one used today. Greek is the official language of both Greece and Cyprus, but is only spoken in the south of the latter.
Many Greek words have been borrowed into other languages, so you will find a lot of these words familiar, such as τραυμα (trauma, "injury") and σοφία (sofia "wisdom, knowledge"). Originally they were borrowed into Latin, which became the Romance languages. The changes Greek words underwent in Latin are different from those they underwent in Greek. For instance, in a rare case of someone actually returning a word he borrowed, κινημα (kinema, motion) was borrowed into Latin as cinema, which in French acquired the meaning "movie", and was returned to Greek as σινεμα (sinema).
Greek has changed less in the last two thousand years than English has in the last five hundred. It still has three genders, five cases, and movable ν. Although the dative dropped out of use in Greek before the dative merged with the accusative in English, one can still form the dative of μπαγλαμας (a stringed instrument smaller than the μπουζουκι), even though it belongs to a new declension. So if you know some Attic or Koine Greek and pronounce it as Modern Greek, though you will sound archaic, you will probably be understood.
Greek (ελληνικά, IPA: [eliniˈka] or ελληνική γλώσσα, IPA: [eliniˈci ˈɣlosa]), an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, is the language of the Greeks. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were previously used. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script, and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Coptic, and many other writing systems.
The Greek language holds an important place in the histories of Europe, the more loosely defined "Western" world, and Christianity; the canon of ancient Greek literature includes works of monumental importance and influence for the future Western canon, such as the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey. Greek was also the language in which many of the foundational texts of Western philosophy, such as the Platonic dialogues and the works of Aristotle, were composed; The New Testament of the Christian Bible was written in Koiné Greek and the liturgy continues to be celebrated in the language in various Christian denominations (particularly the Eastern Orthodox and the Greek Rite of the Catholic Church). Together with the Latin texts and traditions of the Roman world (which was profoundly influenced by ancient Greek society), the study of the Greek texts and society of antiquity constitutes the discipline of Classics.
Greek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean world and beyond during Classical Antiquity, and would eventually become the official parlance of the Byzantine Empire. In its modern form, it is the official language of Greece and Cyprus and one of the 23 official languages of the European Union. The language is spoken by approximately 13 million people today in Greece, Cyprus, and diaspora communities in numerous parts of the world.
Greek roots are often used to coin new words for other languages, especially in the sciences and medicine; Greek and Latin are the predominant sources of the international scientific vocabulary. Over fifty thousand English words are derived from the Greek language.
The Greek alphabet is a set of twenty-four letters that has been used to write the Greek language since the 8th century BC. It is still in use today. It is the first and oldest alphabet in the narrow sense that it notes each vowel and consonant with a separate symbol. The letters were also used to represent Greek numerals, beginning in the 2nd century BC.
The Greek alphabet is descended from the Phoenician alphabet, and is not related to Linear B or the Cypriot syllabary, earlier writing systems for Greek. It has given rise to many other alphabets used in Europe and the Middle East, including the Latin alphabet. In addition to being used for writing Ancient and Modern Greek, its letters are today used as symbols in mathematics and science, as particle names in physics, as components of star names, in the names of fraternities and sororities, in the naming of supernumerary tropical cyclones, and for other purposes.
Greek speaking populations are found in Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, Brazil, France, Argentina, Belgium.
The Greek language has the following linguistic heritage: Indo-European Languages > Hellenic Languages > Greek