Saturday, January 31, 2015


In the top drawer of my desk resides a stained chromolithograph icon of the Three Hierarchs. This was given to me by my grandmother when I was studying for my first exam in year seven. Informed that it belonged to my father and was the sole reason that my father was able to complete his studies, I secreted same in my breast pocket and have ever since, kept it upon my person, not only during exams but also whenever upon receiving advance notice of any impending challenge or trial in which the blessing, intercession and the intellectual prowess of the Three Hierarchs was particularly required.
Honoured in the Catholic Church as "the Doctors of the Church" (the Church of the East also has a feast commemorating the Greek Doctors of the Church, but these, Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsouestia and Nestorius are considered heretics in the Orthodox Church,) the Three Hierarchs, St Basil of Caesearia, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Gregory the Theologian, are considered so important to the Orthodox liturgical tradition, that they are invariably depicted in the apse behind the altar of every Orthodox church. This is fitting since two of these saints, St Basil and Saint John were responsible for writing liturgies that are still in use in the Orthodox church today, as well as, in the case of Saint Basil, in the Coptic Church.  Furthermore, because of their intellectual prowess, they are the patron saints of all Orthodox schoolchildren, which is why the 30th of January, their feast day, is a school holiday in Greece.
The Three Hierarchs all enjoy their own specific feast days and the sole reason for the celebration of a joint feast comes from the pervasive influence each of the three saints had within the church. Such was the importance of their theological writings, that they came to represent distinct spheres of thought within the Orthodox tradition, their followers arguing with each other as to which saint had theological pre-eminence. In a Byzantine Empire often more interested in abstruse points of the theology than anything else, such theological conflicts also brought about political and social conflict as well. 
Such disputes reached a climax in the eleventh century, in Constantinople. Fervent proponents of the virtues of Saint Basil argued that he was superior to the other two saints because of his explanations of Christian faith and monastic example. This is because, quite apart from his immense charitable and welfare activity, (he was responsible for the creation of hospitals and rest homes as well as petitioning the Emperor successfully for tax relief for the poor - feats which in the popular conscience made him the first Father Christmas figure) Saint Basil established such guidelines for monastic life which focus on community life, liturgical prayer, and manual labour, that he is remembered as a father of communal monasticism in Eastern Christianity. Furthermore, he was a famous preacher, and many of his homilies, including a series of Lenten lectures on the Six Days of Creation, and an exposition of the psalter, have been preserved. Some, like that against usury and that on the famine in 368, are valuable for the history of morals while others illustrate the honour paid to martyrs and relics. Most significantly, his address to young men on the study of classical literature shows that Saint Basil was lastingly influenced by his own education, which taught him to appreciate the propaedeutic importance of the classics. His theological writings earned him the epithet of «ουρανοφάντωρ» or revealer of the heavenly mysteries.
 Supporters of Saint John Chrysostom countered that the outspoken Archbishop of Constantinople, known as the "Golden Mouthed" was unmatched in both eloquence and in bringing sinners to repentance.  Saint John's fiery sermons, much like the sermons of Protestant pastors during the Reformation, argued for social reform and offered a devastating critique of the ruling class's policies and greed, at the expense of ordinary people. Echoing themes found in the Gospel of Matthew and in a much more direct manner than the Occupy Wall Street protests, he called upon the rich to lay aside materialism in favour of helping the poor, often employing all of his rhetorical skills to shame wealthy people to abandon conspicuous consumption, asking questions such as: "Do you pay such honour to your excrements as to receive them into a silver chamber-pot when another man made in the image of God is perishing in the cold?"
St John was also an opponent of materialism and excessive luxury within the church and its practices, at a time when poverty was widespread:
 "Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: "This is my body" is the same who said: "You saw me hungry and you gave me no food", and "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me"... What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well."
As a sworn opponent of the arrogance of power, he denounced  the erection of a silver statue of the profligate empress Eudoxia near his cathedral.  Exclaiming: "Again Herodias raves; again she is troubled; she dances again; and again desires to receive John's head in a charger," he was banished, to the Caucasus in Abkhazia, where he eventually died. His writings, liturgy and homilies have been so influential to the development of Christianity as a whole, that he is also honoured by the Anglican, Lutheran and Coptic traditions.
Supporters of Saint Gregory the Theologian, insisted that as a close friend of Saint Basil, he was preferred to the others due to the majesty, purity and profundity of his homilies and his defense of the faith from the Arian heresy. Further, a humble man, he was willing to resign as Archbishop of Constantinople, in order to heal rifts within the church stating: "Let me be as the Prophet Jonah! I was responsible for the storm, but I would sacrifice myself for the salvation of the ship. Seize me and throw me ... I was not happy when I ascended the throne, and gladly would I descend it."

A conflicted figure, throughout his life Gregory faced stark choices. Should he pursue studies as a rhetorician or philosopher? Would a monastic life be more appropriate than public ministry? Was it better to blaze his own path or follow the course of being a bishop, as was expected of him by his father and mentor Saint Basil? Saint Gregory's writings illuminate the conflicts which both tormented and motivated him, so much so that it is easy to suggest that it was this dialectic which defined him, forged his character and inspired his search for meaning and truth. 

As the conflict between the supporters of each saint intensified, Church tradition holds that the three hierarchs appeared together in a vision to Saint John Mauropous, bishop of Euchaita, in Pontus in the year 1084, and said that they were equal before God: "There are no divisions among us, and no opposition to one another." As a result, the 30th of January feast day commemorating all three in common was instituted around 1100 under the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.

While the conflict between the supporters of the Three Hierarchs has long since vanished from popular memory, the importance of the Thee Hierarchs to eastern culture and the Orthodox faith cannot be over-emphasized. It is for this reason, that the troparion to the Saints, sung every 30th January states: "Let all who love their words come together and honour with hymns the three luminaries of the light-creating Trinity: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and renowned John of golden speech, who have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines, and are mellifluous rivers of wisdom who have watered all creation with streams of divine knowledge; they ever intercede with the Trinity for us."

First published in NKK on Saturday 31 January 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015


"We came to serve God and to get rich, as all men wish to do." - Bernal Diaz del Castillo
When asked by a priest as to his motivation for conquering the Inca Empire, and when he intended to begin the work of converting his vanquished subjects to Roman Catholicism, the infamous Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro is said to have responded: "I have not come here for such reasons. I have come to take away their gold." The early conquest and colonisation of the Americas is widely held to have been a largely Spanish enterprise, with intrepid explorers seeking to carve out mini-principalities of their own by supplying the Emperor with gold pillaged from the native inhabitants, while hordes of passionate friars descended upon the unsuspecting natives, variously trying to shield them from the avarice of their Spanish compatriots, convert them to Christianity, by means of persuasion or force.
What is not broadly known however, is the presence of particular personages of Greek origin among the conquistadors who conquered the Americas. Their presence should not surprise us, given that many of the Greek islands, which produced talented seafarers, were at the time under Venetian rule and that Greek seamen were a major export throughout the Mediterranean, yet it is remarkable nonetheless.
It is in this context that we should view the surprising career of a particular Cretan who was a giant in stature, Petros Kritikos, or as he was known in Spanish, Pedro de Candia. Born in Crete in 1485, he became a Spanish conquistador, Grandee of Spain, Admiral of the Spanish Armada of the Southern Seas as recorded in the Spanish Colonial Registry of the "El Libro de Indias", and between 1534 to 1535, as Don Pedro de Candia, was appointed the second Alcalde, or mayor of Cuzco, under the Spanish Crown, by the Queen of Spain herself.
Pedro de Candia's early career mirrors that of many Greek seafarers born in the Venetian colony known as the Kingdom of Candia. Exploiting his mother's connections, he was able to leave Crete and enter service under the crown of Aragon. As such, he became a condottieri or mercenary in Italy, and was trained in the art of contemporary warfare. On the Italian peninsula, he fought in battles against the Ottomans who were attacking and occupying various coastal cities for brief periods of time, before transferring to the Iberian peninsula to serve the Spanish King.
Before long, de Candia established a reputation as a specialist in the use of firearms of artillery and was recruited by Governor Pedro de los Rios, as a valuable addition to his retinue in the ever expanding Spanish colonies in the Americas. Arriving in Mexico, de Candia became known for his incredible strength and endurance. He played a leading role in expeditions to explore Panama in 1527, Colombia and Ecuador, 1528 and Peru in 1530.
Accompanying Diego de Almagro and Francisco Pizarro during their first explorations along the coasts of Peru, he assumed command of the Spanish artillery when a landing was effected at Tacamez. Famously, he was also one of the thirteen men that remained in the islands of San Cristobal with Pizarro, where he almost perished after the rest of Pizarro's band deserted them and during subsequent explorations of the Peruvian ports he undertook to go in person to the Indian towns and investigate their condition.
 A skilled map-maker, he returned from the city of Tumbez, with a detailed map drawn on canvas. 
Present during the defeat and imprisonment of the Inca emperor Atahualpa, he received a large share of the ransom paid him, consisting of the filling of a large room once with gold and twice with silver. Suitably enriched and skilled in the art of the courtier, Pedro de Candia was able to create a favourable impression upon the Spanish court when he returned to Spain with Pizarro in order to present the conquest of the Incas and Pizarro's conduct in the best possible light. It was at this point that he was confirmed Admiral of the Spanish Armada and found a suitable wife, in one of the daughters of the Count of Benavente, a member of the Spanish nobility. His descendants were to become members of both the Italian and Spanish nobility, with land holdings in Europe and the Americas.
Returning to Peru, Pedro de Candia inevitably embroiled himself in the turf war between Pizarro and his erstwhile companion Diego Almagro, making arms and ammunition for Pizarro. After the defeat of Almagro at the battle of Las Salinas, de Candia undertook the conquest of Ambaya beyond the Andes, as he beloved that beyond this region lay the fabled realm of Eldorado. He was unsuccessful and was arrested by Hernando Pizarro, the brother of Francisco. Disgusted at his treatment, and deserted by his old friends, he then joined the followers of Almagro and, with the aid of sixteen other Greek conquistadors, attesting to a sizeable presence of his compatriots in the region, he cast the guns that were taken by Almagro to the battle of Chupas, where de Candia had decided to support the local natives. He performed so badly in the battle that Almagro suspected treason and ordered him to be killed after attacking him with his own hands.
As mentioned above, de Candia was not the sole Greek to join the conquistadors. The life of his associate, Jorge Griego (George the Greek), is equally absorbing. Born in Greece in 1504, he moved to Spain and from there travelled to Panama in 1527, following Pedro de Candia. In the service of Pizarro, he participated in the battle of Cajamarca in 1532 against the Incas and received a large share of Atahulapa's treasure. Jorge later became a resident in the city of Jajua in Peru and was given land and the servitude of a number of the native inhabitants. He achieved greater fame, in 1545 when the forces of Viceroy Blasco Nunez Vela pushed outside the limits of Peru and had no one to manufacture gunpowder. Jorge Griego, though completely lacking experience, applied himself to the task, later going on to make large quantities of gunpowder during the war against Pizarro. 
Having made enough money from his conquistadorial pursuits to retire comfortably Jorge Griego eventually left from Peru and returning to Spain, settled in Seville.
Finally, mention should be made of Doroteo Teodoro, who accompanied the Narvaez expedition to Florida in 1527. Lost in the swamps of the Mississippi Delta, Teodoro was ingeniously able to make pitch from pine trees in order to coat the boats needed for the stranded party to escape. Eventually, facing an Indian attack, Teodoro deserted the expedition, only to resurface many years later as the advisor to Tuscaloosa, leader of the Athachi of southwest Alabama. In his role as advisor, he was able to warn his chief not to trust the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, and with good reason, as de Soto detained him and attacked his people.
Uniquely, in the personages of de Candia and Teodoro, we find would be conquistadores ultimately identifying with the dispossessed or threatened natives of the Americas and actively advocating their interests. Is this a diachronic vein of the freedom loving quality of the Greek that has been struck in the most improbable place in the mines of history? The last word of course, belongs in the modern era to Trevor Richardson, he of Dystopia Boy fame, whose words surely would have struck a chord with his Greek conquistadors, so many centuries ago, had they been into that sort of thing:
"Listen in close, Wall Street Conquistadors, you're spreading like vapor up through people's floors, you're moving en masse under the cracks of our doors and grabbing our children to work in your stores, feeding the needy to make them your whores, but you need to remember the grave you're digging is yours."
Hasta la próxima semana, a la libertad!


First published in NKEE on Saturday 24 January 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015


"Institutions and organizations are not eternal. People are." It was with these words that the late and much lamented journalist Kostas Nikolopoulos accosted at me at the Greek Film Festival last year, Kostas' propensity to apparate seemingly out of the ether, flash a smile as enigmatic as that of a Cheshire cat, pose a contentious conundrum and then reduce me to a quivering mass of inarticulation as he would then expound his own theories, was something of a tradition with us, having its roots in the way I used to flee in terror at his lofty height, piercing gaze and deep voice, as a child. Nonetheless, it was to the soothing sound of that same voice reading the news on SBS Greek Radio that I would wake up every morning. 

Despite attaining the age of majority two decades ago, the almost imperceptible remnants of my irrational childhood phobias ensued that I never ceased to feel a small prickling of terror and unease whenever arguing with Kostas. Furthermore, arguing with someone that has known you since your infancy places you at a distinct disadvantage: they can anticipate how you think, how you will react and which examples you will utilize in pursuit of your argument. There is nowhere one can hide, no manner in which one can dissimulate in order to bluff through. In short, they know you, which is why in the presence of Kostas, I would generally not speak. After all, he had all the answers already.

The Film Festival was one of those times however, when I picked up the verbal gauntlet offered to me.  "Nothing lasts forever," I responded, "but if institutions could be eternal, then people would be immortal. And certain people are institutions at any rate. Yourself for example." Kostas made a self-deprecating sweep of his hand before launching into a detailed line of questioning as to which institutions on our community could be said to be eternal. "That's a difficult one," I responded, "but you make me a list of those presidents of our community organisations who believe that they are not immortal." He raised his eyebrows knowingly and smiled.

Kostas Nikolopoulos was, and, notwithstanding his untimely demise, will always be a Greek community institution. Unlike other journalists who act as voyeurs upon a greater stage, Kostas was heavily entrenched within the fabric of the community, constructing both the stage and the players, as well as analyzing them accordingly. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the Greek community's history, his incisive and analytical mind as well as his playful cynicism permitted him to make lasting contributions to our community, whilst having absolutely no illusions, both as to the motivations of many of the people he dealt with, or the ultimate future of our paroikia. I remember sitting with him on the board of the Hellenic Council, of which he was secretary for a brief period of time. After a while, one becomes adept at identifying the political or personal motivations or alignments of all of those who purport to serve the Greek community. Watching Kostas preside over a Hellenic Council board meeting was an education of its own. He charmed, cajoled, exhorted his way through the meeting, assuaging concerns, papering over hurt feelings and bruised egos, in manner so expert, so defiant of definition, that it was sheer poetry personified. It became apparent that here at last there existed someone who had no vested interests, ideological hangups or other more nefarious motivations as there were relevant to the Greek community and was, in the clear presence of his compatriots, merely holding up a mirror to their own self-serving antics, they all the while being mercifully oblivious of his actions. Here then was someone to be admired and treasured for his insights and unique ability to reduce the mass of justification, obfuscation and excuse with which we seek to shroud our lives and petty purposes to clearly distilled nuggets of truth. We didn't always like what we found in the aftermath of his alchemical processes, yet in his infinite charity, Kostas' journalistic centrifuge, in which the egos of Greek community leaders were separated into their constituent parts, was assuredly a gentle one.

"I enjoy talking to you. Your mind appeals to me. It resembles my own mind except that you happen to be insane." Kostas once remarked to me mischievously, quoting George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four. In many ways we were the inverse - he, mostly measured, calculated and meticulously reasoned upon the page, but highly passionate in his interpersonal relations and I, hyperbolic in print, but silent and forever watchful in his presence. These differences notwithstanding, our world view on a diverse range of topics pertaining to the Greek community and much more besides was often uncannily similar and able to be mutually predicted. On the rare occasion where he believed my views were so enormously skewed as to require comment, he would exclaim: "What have you done? You have offended the powers that be!" It would only be after half an hour of questioning the oracle and obtaining suitably Pythic responses that I would once again return, slowly and surely to the realization that great was skill that remained to be honed and polished. Then he would flash that famous smile of his and immediately you would be reminded of what I believe to have been his guiding principal in life: not to take oneself too seriously.

If Kostas Nikolopoulos was not possessed of his rare journalistic talent and drive to provide the readers of Neos Kosmos with an alternate point of view, his job would have been extremely easy. All he would have had to do, was to paraphrase and/or translate the viewpoints and articles of the mainstream English-language media into Greek. He chose, not to repeat or re-hash these, but rather to absorb them, critique them and, in his elegantly phrased articles,  formulate a particularly Greek-Australian attitude, not only towards Australian society as a whole, but that of Greece as well. In so doing, and in his often brilliant, no hold barred interviews with Australian politicians he taught the rest of Australia that not only do Greek-Australians have an opinion, but it is one that deserves serious consideration. That, in my opinion, was his greatest and most lasting contribution to our community - the one that will ensure that as an institution he remains eternal and this is why his corpus of writing must be collected, annotated and studied.

Two are the most enduring memories I have of Kostas. The first and most harrowing, is of seeing him break down over the tragic loss of his son Bill, whom I often played with as a child, in an accident some years ago. In in our community grief, like everything else in shared and I cried with him. The second, happier memory, is of seeing this cynical, penetrating man, stretch out his arms to greet the multitudes that had swarmed to catch a glimpse of Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis in 2007. He waved his hands, modulated his voice and whipped up the masses to a frenzy of excitation and only I could see that again, this master puppeteer of truth was holding up an enormous mirror to the crowd's self-delusion and insecurities;  that rather than the event being a panegyric to Greece, a quasi-electoral campaign launch for new Democracy or anything else, it was merely an opportunity for Kostas to study them, to dissect and re-assemble their innermost thoughts and fears in order to truly comprehend the dynamic of a community which fascinating him since his arrival in this country. It is this irreplaceable breadth of knowledge, the complexity of a  well concealed but limitless humanity and compassion and a remarkable facility to render this in words that will ensure that Kostas Nikolopoulos, journalist, community activist, reluctant mentor and friend will live on within me, and thousands of others, both as an institution and as the singular personality that he was, eternally. Καλήν αντάμωση.

First published in NKEE on Saturday 17 January 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Καλή Χρονιά. Owing to the indifference of my educators, up until the age of ten, I labored under the misapprehension that the term 'Οράιτ' (alright), optionally suffixed with 'ρε μάιτ' was acceptable Greek. 
Similarly, it took a visit from Greece from my grandmother when I was thirteen to disabuse me of my deeply held conviction that μαρκέτα was not the Greek word for market and that similarly καρπέτο would not be understood in the motherland as signifying a shag pile. Travelling to Greece for the first time at the age of fifteen, I was astonished to ascertain that good Greek words such as χήτα (heater), ουέντζα (wage), ταξέσιο (tax), πενσιούχος (pensioner) and εξπήριος (experienced), as employed by generations in my family, were unintelligible to the modern Greek. Furthermore, exhortations such as 'Λουκ, δεν είναι έτσι', were met with quizzically raised eyebrows. It was then that I determined that the idiom I believed up until that point was Greek, a language my family had painstakingly preserved since 1954 amidst the Scylla and Charybdis of assimilation and monolingualism, was in fact a corrupted, cacophonous conglomerate.
Returning to Australia, I set about establishing myself as the family censor, puritanically bent on purging even the slightest of foreign words from the familial idiolect. While the removal and replacement of Hellenised English words with their Greek equivalents took time, it was, grudgingly, and through attrition, accepted by my antagonised and somewhat incredulous progenitors, who, raised in this country, found it extremely hard to believe that the word φρίζα (fridge), among others, was not Greek. What was not accepted however, was my attempt to purge the overwhelming number of Turkish, Albanian Slavonic and Latin words from our daily discourse, a pursuit which, had I been permitted to bring it to its ultimate conclusion, would have rendered our speech unintelligible to all. (The preponderance of Turkish loan words in Samian have stood me in good stead however. They appear to be in common usage throughout the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, facilitating communication with a number of other members of our local community.) 
In this vein, it proved impossible to convince my grandfather that the word 'ντόμπρος', a Slavic word meaning good, used in Greek to denote a reliable, forthright person, could easily be replaced with 'καλός'. A similar quandary was stumbled into when I discovered that the Samian word we used for bucket (μπαγκράτσ) was in fact Turkish and that Neohellenes employ the term κουβά instead. This term proved eminently unsuitable for my purification purposes, for it too is Turkish and to this day, I have not been able to find a workable equivalent. As a corollary, though one may reject the term μπουτ or μπούτι as denoting a car boot, how does then one justify the equally foreign modern Greek term: 'πορτ μπαγκάζ'?
'Purifying' one's spoken language is one thing. Being intelligible to others is another thing entirely. For within the Greek Australian linguasphere, Greeklish, or Ausgreek, abounds, especially among the older generations who discovered such household items as fridges, stoves, heaters and the like only in Australia and thus were not privy to any Greek equivalents. I thus find in the course of my daily profession that when I attempt to employ, for the benefit of older Greeks, the proper Greek terms for legal concepts, I am met with blank stares. Mention the term 'ενοικιαστήριο' and the brow furrows as the mind attempts to decode the unfamiliar word. Use the word 'λήστ' (for some reason older Greeks almost universally consider the word lease to be the same as list), and one is met with nods of approval and comprehension.
Neohellenes may dismiss our uniquely crafted idiom as quaint or flawed. As an indication of divine nemesis, I recently had the pleasure of a newly arrived couple from Greece pontificate on the flaws in my own usage. According to them, the Samian idiomatic expression 'δεν τον θαρρεύομαι' (i.e. I do not have confidence in him) is somehow not Greek, while my tendency to call my daughter 'μάνα 'μ' or 'μανίτσα' provoked howls of mirth. In like manner, I tend, in my unguarded moments, to hold forth upon the iniquities visited upon the Greek language by its underserving speakers in the motherland. While we here in the Antipodes at least have the creativity to take foreign words and assimilate them within the Greek language (which any linguist will tell you is symptomatic of a vibrant, flexible and ever changing tongue), our Helladic cousins seem to be importing English words into their language wholesale. 
Words such as 'ζάπιγκ', (zapping, i.e. flicking through TV channels) are a case in point, where the word is imported wholesale with no consideration of the appropriate verb suffixes in Greek. This of course can be contrasted with 'γουγκλάρω' (I google), a perfect, though rare, example of proper word assimilation). Not only are the Helladics not adapting loanwords so as to conform to the rules of Greek grammar, they are not even going to the trouble of transliterating them. What ensures is a disturbing agglomeration of sentences recorded in both the Greek and Roman alphabets, juxtaposing unaltered terms such as shopping, marketing and concept in stark contrast to the Greek text, sending the illusory message that Greek, as a language, is becoming ossified and unable to adapt to the modern world. Rather than accepting this to be true, one could argue that, on the contrary, it is its proponents and speakers who have become lazy.
Here in the Antipodes, we tend to adopt such disturbing Helladic linguistic trends wholesale and without question. Take the expression 'Πάμε Ελλάδα', for example. Twenty years ago, no self-respecting, upright Greek Australian would have used this phrase, knowing that the sentence is nonsensical without use of the article, thus: 'Πάμε ΣΤΗΝ Ελλάδα'. Nonetheless, our frequent trips abroad and exposure to the debasement of the Greek language by the Helladics has caused us to lose our linguistic innocence...
This March, unique in the annals of Greek history, our community will celebrate a 'speak Greek' month, a month in which we will all, as much as is humanly possible, attempt to speak Greek to each other, to the exclusion of other languages we may speak on a daily basis. This is a Herculean task, considering that nowadays, members of our community in their sixties struggle to remain monolingual in Greek and furthermore there exists among them and the generation before them, the infuriating social convention that dictates that it is polite and proper to address the younger generations in English, thus negating any attempts we make to preserve our mother tongue down the generations. Regardless, as we prepare for a month of Hellenolingualism, let us revel in the breathtaking diversity, maddening contradictions and innumerable facets of one of the oldest and most intriguing languages of all. Whether our Greek is tinged with English, Gringlish or more besides, let us rejoice in the syllables that emanate from our mouths and breathlessly imbibe the syllables of those who do the same. To this effect we humbly submit some valuable Greek words that we believe are indispensable to the modern Greek vocabulary: φασκώλαρκτος (koala), φασκωλόμυς (wombat), ορνιθόρυγχος (platypus) and φασκολογαλή (possum) and which must be used in a Greek sentence at least thrice a day after meals. If that is not enough to stimulate a deeper delving into things Greek, then why not join me in my quest, this March, in rendering Fatboy Slim lyrics into the Neohellenic tongue. So far I've been able to come up with:
Right about now, the funk soul brother…
τώρα, ο ψυχάδελφος του φανκ...
(Or do we use instead, ο ψυχάδελφος της μπόχας, given that funky has its semantic roots in the Kikongo word 'lu-fuki', which means 'bad body odour'?)
Check it out now, the funk soul brother...
Δέστε τον τώρα, τον ψυχάδελφο του φανκ...
A reward to anyone who can render George Clinton's We Want the Funk into convincing Greek during the Hellenic ides of March.


First published in NKEE on Saturday 10 January 2015.