Greek is a language steeped in history, which has gone through many changes over the last several thousand years. It was the language in which many of the original tenets of rationalism and Western philosophy were first expressed – and it has also been integral in translating many old works from the cradle of civilization, including the Bible. However the Septuagint – one of the earliest Greek translations of Biblical texts – has been criticized recently as less of a reflection of the early Jewish people and more of a reflection of later church dogma. In particular, there is controversy over different possible translations of Greek words and how different possibilities and interpretations may have come to influence a modern understanding of the Bible.
In news relating to Greek in its modern day form, there has been more controversy in Australia recently when the Victoria state government reduced the number of Greek interpreters it employs. Australia has a large Greek population and the move has caused concern amongst members of the Greek community. In particular there is concern for Greeks in hospital who will now need to rely on friends and family in order to communicate with hospital staff, where previously interpreters paid by the state would have been available to facilitate communication.
In Greece itself, voices of protest are rising over the Greek government’s decision to cut back on foreign Greek language programs for Greek expats living overseas. The move comes as part of Greece’s strict austerity measures in the face of increasing pressure from the rest of the Eurozone over Greece’s monumental debt problems. Many Greeks fear the result will be that young Greeks abroad lose touch with Greek language and culture and have little incentive to ever return to their homeland. However, the protests seem likely to fall on deaf ears – the Greek government remains in an economic bind and the policy change is likely to be forced ahead due to pressure form Europe and the rest of the international community to avoid a Greek debt default at all costs.