LANGUAGES MATTER! A UNESCO poster competition

Competition Details

Languages Matter! - Greeklish

by Dimitra Tzanos

The aim of this poster is to communicate the importance that languages have on identity and culture. It focuses specifically on the informal change occuring in the Greek language and the effects that this could have on Greek identity.

The current economic and political importance of English-speaking countries has resulted in the English language dominating the internet. This is having varying effects on global languages, some of which are clearly visible in the Greek language. ‘Greeklish’ describes the case where the Latin script has substituted the Greek script to facilitate electronic communications in a situation where the Greek environment is not available. It is not another language but another way of writing Greek.

But could Greeklish be the beginning of the end for the Greek alphabet? And if so, what effect would this have on the Greek language? And more importantly, on the Greek identity?

The Greek alphabet has been in continuous use for the past 2750 years or so, and is the root alphabet of many modern day alphabets, including the Latin and Cyrillic. But is Greeklish becoming more covenient to use today? The issue has been covered by the Greek media that describe conflicting perceptions of government officials, academics and students. Some believe it is ‘a result of globalisation’, others think it is ‘purely a technical problem’ and few believe it is ‘a betrayal of the national ethos’.

If Greeklish persists, it will sooner or later be responsible for the extinction of 2750 years of culture and identity held within the greek alphabet. Languages, and the script used to write them, not only matter but are fundamentally core to our identity, the way we think and the way we view the world

This poster makes use of a quote by Frederico Fellini stating that ‘A different language is a different vison of life’. It has been written partially in English, partially in Greeklish and partially in Greek to delineate the gradual infiltration of the English language on the Greek script. This transition of scripts and the effects it has on languages is synonymous with globalisation and the effect it has on national identity. To emphasize the confusion that this issue creates, the type has been overlayed with the most distict symbol of national idenity – the Greek flag – only to make the sentence visually less legible for a Greek that would usually easily read the sentence.