OPINION

Commentary

If you ask the opinion of any ordinary Greek citizen on the proposal made by Greece’s European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, former head of the PASOK party’s disciplinary committee, they would reply, in surprise, that they think it self-evident that English already is an official language. No normal, modern person would wish to get involved in a purist discussion driven by the suspicion that some cunning, great-power demon has forced our EU Commissioner to set about abolishing the Greek language. This is something that the famous editor of the controversial dictionary and dean of Athens University, Giorgos Babiniotis, groundlessly rushed to do. The holy indignation of all those who hastened, with a fundamentalist zeal, to castigate the traitor as if she were some adulteress under our common cultural roof was wholly unjustified. Greece needs a second language; a language that is spoken equally well by all its literate citizens. One only has to visit a Cambridge First Certificate examination center to witness the humiliating angst experienced by millions of parents as they apparently calculate what more they will have to spend if their child fails to pass the English language exams. Wouldn’t it be better to organize all this effort in public schools? Greeks have always been multilingual. Being the progenitors, and not merely simple members, of European culture, we feel no fear of accepting that the new generation will need a second language, on top of its native one, in order to move forward in the new world. In any case, the language of mathematics and of computers also need to become official. What we really need is to speak correctly: both the Greek and the foreign language. This would be better achieved if we studied Ancient Greek, like the French do, as well as our linguistic history.