Letters to the Editor

The commentary Linguistic hypocrisy by H.A. Papadimitriou (November 21) must be complimented. Kathimerini must also be complimented for projecting an issue so important for the future of the country and for the new generation. As with the issue of the ID cards, the professional superpatriots, the fanatics, and the self-appointed protectors of the Greek heritage took to the trenches. One member of Parliament, who serves his parliamentary duties chairing TV panels that are intended to promote the agenda of the opposition in which it belongs, characterized the proposal for a second official language as comical. However, he never misses the chance to sprinkle his talk with English words like debate, meeting, channel, breakfast, relax and so on. It is true that the Greek language during its long history was subjected to many cosmetic surgery operations, but nothing can change the fact that it was a dead language even before being executed by its reformers. This, however, does not mean that it has lost its glory. The Parthenon did not lose its glory, even though it is a ruin. Those who travel around the world know that nobody speaks Greek besides the Greeks. On the contrary, by knowing even a few English words you can move around. In the new millennium the English language is the language of communication, science and commerce. It is the language of the future. Airplane pilots communicate with control towers in English and not in Greek. World products, in their packaging, provide instructions in English. The Internet language is English. With Greece an integral part of Europe, Greeks may seek employment in other European member countries, and Europeans may seek employment in Greece. What chances does a Greek have if he or she does not claim as his language a commonly accepted and recognized one? Or what chances does a European have in Greece? Let the hypocrites be assured that nobody will deny them the freedom to communicate in Korakistika. So speak away. Vassilis Zarboulas Athens Greek as Europe’s tongue? The editorial by H.A Papadimitriou (November 21) accurately defends the benefits of English as an official second language for Greeks and the challenge of speaking it, as well as Greek, correctly. While admitting that Greece is the progenitor of European culture, I believe the editorial does not go far enough. If we, the progenitors, admit the benefits of learning a derivative tongue (English), shouldn’t the derivative cultures consider adopting the progenitor’s tongue as their official second language? Although English might be the language of computers, it is Greek letters that represent mathematical concepts. Our collective European political, economic, athletic, philosophical, and possibly Christian heritage might be better understood and nourished over the coming centuries by our European Union if more of its members spoke, read, and studied Greek. After all, all these words are Greek derivatives, which further highlights the point that non-Greek speakers’ learning of Greek would actually help them understand their own language better as well. If the Founding Fathers of the United States considered resurrecting Ancient Greek for their newly formed republic, shouldn’t our union of European states consider the benefits as well? In the long run, are we all better off learning the language whose main selling point is that it is mostly understood by the current generation of Europeans, or rather the one language that truly encompasses our common heritage? Dimitris Triantafyllides Charlotte, North Carolina Before and after In last Thursday’s paper (November 15) you ran a cartoon suggesting that nothing has changed in Kabul over the past few days other than the addition of music to the lives of its citizens. If this cartoon was meant to trivialize or ignore what this change has meant to the women of Kabul – and now most of Afghanistan – it is simply an ignorant affront to their freedom and their dignity. If it is meant to trivialize or ignore the importance of limiting the destructive reach of the Al Qaeda network, it is an ignorant affront to all of the families around the world who lost loved ones on September 11 and in previous attacks carried out by this terrorist network. Perhaps, though, it is simply a reflection of the thinking of a nation whose effect on world affairs is so trivial that they are incapable of recognizing meaningful action when it is taken. D.A. Stone Thessaloniki Editor replies: The cartoon by Ilias Makris depicts two almost identical views of a destroyed city under a warlord’s boots. The only difference is that in the second picture there is a little radio playing music. Kabul, as we are all aware, was destroyed long before the Taleban came to power, by the warring of the factions that have now come together and retaken the city. Although our reader is quick to condemn both our newspaper and, somehow, Greece itself, we do not say that things are not much better in Kabul (especially for its women) nor that those who sowed the destruction of September 11 and other attacks should not be punished. The cartoon’s comment was that a change of warlords does not in itself mean that Afghanistan’s problems are over. Of course, now there is hope. And music on a little transistor radio symbolizes that. Numbers game I found it quite interesting that in the November 19 edition you had an article describing the relatively low turnout marking the November 17 Polytechnic anniversary and also an article describing the attack on a train by soccer fans. Greeks appear to have gone from being passionate about politics to being prepared to kill large numbers of people over soccer. How very sad. Chris Angelou Clearwater, Florida Editor replies: An interesting conclusion, given that 5,000 people were involved in the November 17 march and all of 50 hooligans in the train incident. The rest of the nation was going about its life on a chilly Saturday.

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