Recently, I’ve seen this question posed on the internet. Is Greek a dead language?
It’s the kind of question that’s quite easy to answer on the surface, but a little harder if you want to go in depth. Greek is not a dead language. But will it ever become endangered. And what about Ancient or Classical Greek?
Greek is the modern day language of Greece, a country of over 13 million people who all speak Greek as their native language. It’s clear that Greek is not a dead language, nor is it dying, even though the statistics indicate that the future generations of Greeks will be smaller than they’ve been in a long time. There is, however, no need to fear that the modern Greek language will die out anytime soon, and even if the Greek birth-rate is low, there’s nothing that keeps it from rising in the coming years.
What the question really hints at, of course, is Ancient Greek. Ancient Greek, the Ancestor of Modern Greek is widely regarded as a dead language. It’s the language in which Greece’s famous philosophers wrote their works, and its in the Ancient Greek translation that the modern-day bible was preserved throughout the centuries.
Is Ancient Greek even dead?
One can ask the question, though, if Ancient Greek is really dead at all?
For one thing, literary works and translations are still being produced and translated into Ancient Greek.
Harry Potter is available in Ancient Greek (link to amazon) and in recent times, poetry and other works have been written and published in Ancient Greek as well.
The number of books is not astounding, but the mere fact that there are still being translated, written and published books in Ancient Greek… Is the language really dead, then?
Another question that you could pose is what makes a language. For Ancient Greek to be considered dead, you’d have to consider it a unique language separate from Modern Greek. But if it’s a second language, where did Modern Language come from then?
Modern Greek is, of course, the descendant of Ancient Greek, meaning that it would be wrong to classify the two as two independent units. Ancient Greek became Modern Greek like Old English became Modern English. But would you consider Old English a dead language?
A language is only really dead when it leaves no descendants.
Is Greek a dead language?
To sum up, I don’t believe that you could say that Greek is a dead language. Even Ancient Greek is a language that’s still in uses and produces new works, even if they’re mostly symbolic.
Ancient Greek never died off. It turned into Modern Greek, which is a flourishing, living language, that continues to influence the world and leave its mark today.
If you’d like to learn more about Greek, go read my article on how to learn the Greek language.