By: Catherine Tsounis, East Coast Correspondent
“We could say that the future of the Greek language is not expected to be either favorable or bleak. I do not share at all the pessimistic voices of purists and doomsayers. The future of a language which has shown during the brilliant and long evolutionary course of at least 3,500 years of recorded history that it can endure the most unfavorable circumstances and proceed with youthful vigor, impressive liveliness and expressive completeness, will depend to a large extent on the kind of educational and linguistic policy pursued by the State, as well as (or even more so) by the speakers of the language themselves,” said Dr. Charalambakis. CHRISTOFOROS Charalambakis, when I spoke with him in Greece, was Curriculum Vitae Professor of Linguistics at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Philosophy, Faculty of Philology, and Department of Linguistics.
We had a pleasant afternoon at his favorite restaurant Athenian restaurant Krouskas, a traditional Greek taverna, where he explained to us about his newly completed dictionary and his philosophy. “I visited Florida and explained the future of the Greek language,” he said. “Our ‘Dictionary of Current Greek’ saved us. The work gave us courage and hope for the future. I lived in poverty as a child, but had strength to change our destiny. Our life is not predestined. I have been to the United States three times for scholarship and lecture opportunities. ”
The international professor explained “I am humble, learning how to live from my parents, my eight brother and sister. We lived in two small rooms in Crete. I am proud of my humble beginnings. Keeping contact with their home-country is a major prerequisite for speakers of Greek to keep up with the living and constantly changing language; otherwise one is restricted to the use of a sterilized language of past decades. However, the first and foremost danger for Modern Greek in the 21st century is the shrinkage of the ratio of its speakers, given the low birthrate, unless appropriate measures are taken promptly.”
Dr. Charalambakis believes “the ‘Dictionary of Current Greek’ of the Academy of Athens was a struggle to create in the face of adversity. It is the work of my life. The new Dictionary of Current Greek reflects the dynamics of the twentieth and the beginnings of the twenty-first century Modern Greek language. The most important innovations of this dictionary can be summarized in: (a) the way the entries have been compiled; (b) the re-examination of spelling and the acceptance of double spelling; (c) the systematic use of style and pragmatic markers (d) the restriction of the meanings incorporated for every entry to the absolutely essential; (e) the careful recording of the combination possibilities of words; (f) the treatment of stereotypes or idiomatic expressions and steady lexicological combinations on a totally new basis at the end of each entry; (g) the brief and verified etymological information. One of the most substantial innovations of the Dictionary of Current Greek is that all the large and demanding entries, as well as a number of small ones, are drafted by two different compilers, and their final form comes as a result of multiple reviews. 188.8.131.52 Entries It is estimated that 60-70,000 entries belong to the nucleus of Modern Greek.”
Professor Charalambakis has influenced my professional career. His pleasant manner aided me in completing my research paper for the Alexander S. Onassis Public Foundation in 2003. We have remained colleagues. All persons interested in the “‘Dictionary of Current Greek’, can email Dr. Charalambakis at [email protected] and [email protected].