Does the saying “It’s all Greek to me!” ring any bells?
Do we really need orthography?
So let’s try – first and foremost - to actually define: What is orthography?
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary: the system of spelling in a language (it’s a rather poor definition)
- Triantafyllides Dictionary: The way of writing a word: rules of orthography. Phonetic (or *Phonematic) ~: when for each phoneme there is only one letter, while each letter matches only one phoneme. Historic~: based on the way that a language was written in older historic periods.
“Orthography is defined as the relation between the oral discourse of a language and its written apodosis, through its historic establishment.” (George Papanastasiou, article)
Do you know what kind of orthography the Greek language has? Just have a look at the following:
Διάλειμμα, διάλυμα, ειδύλλιο, εκμεταλλεύομαι, έλλειψη, ελλιπής κ.ο.κ (A small sample of words to help you find the answer!)
- Historic Orthography it is! Like most of the European languages.
Some useful information about languages and the “Glorious, unique, the one and only, Greek”! Let me present my arguments against historic orthography
1. Being stuck to the written/orthographic form of words, it is hard - if not impossible- to catch up with the evolution of the language.
2. We should keep in mind that orthography depicts a former period of the use of the language.
3. Did you know that in 1979 Triantafillides tried to reform orthography by simplifying it? (Rules that are in use nowadays!)
4. How is orthography simplified? - Generally, f there are 2 or more forms of a word, the simplest is chosen! –when the correlation between Ancient and Modern Greek is not obvious, the simplest form is used! (τραβώ> τραβίζω> ταυρίζω = ταύρ(ος)ιζω) etc.
Let’s think of a world without orthography
1. Acquisition of mother tongue or 2nd language (bilingualism - multilingualism cases) would be by far easier!
2. One could learn foreign languages as well! What about Chinese - or would you prefer Russian or Arabic maybe?
IMPROTANT POINT: Language (as a system) MUST NOT be confused with written discourse (orthography) because any correlation between these 2 is scientifically unfounded!!
Conclusion 1: any reform in language changes the “image”/ “picture” of a word - not its meaning! You can still understand what I say when I write: “Σιμαιρα πύγα σχωλίο κε ω δάσκαλως μας αίβαλε διαγόνησμα στιν γλοσα κε τυν χιμοια” [/simera piγa sxolio ke o δaskalos mas evale δiaγonizma sti γlosa ke ti ximia/]
You can still understand this utterance, because you know each and every word in spite of its orthography!
Conclusion 2: Always be skeptical when it comes to “language scientists” supporting arguments that Greek is at stake and it will be “extinct” if we don’t stick to the “Legacy” left by our Ancestorts OR that Greek is the “mother language” of all! All that is NOT SCIENTIFIC AT ALL! (Even when claimed by so-called experts...) These kinds of arguments (if they can be called so) aim to confuse, mislead and carry away the naïve reader and force him to become a language “Nazi”! Keep that in mind: Languages survived even in periods when written discourse had not even been “invented”, won’t they survive in the 21st century? So don't de selfish when it comes to language!
Conclusion 3: Change is always a change! It’s not good or bad! It’s a change that will eventually happen! Languages are living organisms like we are. They evolve and change just like humankind throughout history. Thus, widen your horizons, free your mind and approach scientific thinking.
As Rene Descartes said: “Cogito ergo Dubito ergo Sum”
I Think - therefore I Doubt - therefore I AM.
Written by Popy Eldahan-Apergi