What Languages are Spoken in Greece?

Greek language road sign at a motorway in Greece.
Greek language road sign at a motorway in Greece.

Greek, the official and primary language of Greece is spoken by the majority of the country's population. English is the dominant foreign language spoken in the business world of Greece and also taught in the schools. Greek is also the de facto provincial language in Albanian. Today, it exists as Modern Greek with many dialects in the different regions of the country. Greek is also one of the oldest Indo-European languages in the world having survived more than 34 centuries, and it is the official language alongside Turkish in Cyprus. Today, more than 15-25 million people speak Greek and in Greece 99.5% of the population converse in the language.

Official Language Of Greece

The Standard Modern Greek is officially used as the standard language form in the country. The Modern Greek stems from Medieval Greek and has many regional dialects. Today, the language exists as a diglossia form with the native system and archaizing written forms. The language has a 5-vowel system and a combined 24 letters of the alphabet. The syntax, morphology and phonology of the Greek language show how it has conserved its integrity, and the innovative tendencies developed across the entire attestation of the tongue from the ancient forms to the modern lingual style.

Regional Languages Of Greece

Different non-official dialects of Hellenic languages exist as well. Modern Greek dialects except for Tsakonian language hail from a common supra region, Attic Greek, spoken in late antiquity. Today, the Tsakonian dialect is spoken by 1,200 people in the Tsakonian regions of Peloponnese where it splits into Northern, Southern, and Propontis dialects. The Tsakonian dialect descends from the ancient Doric dialect. The Cappadocian Greek has very few speakers and is facing extinction. Most of the Cappadocians shifted to Standard Modern Greek. The Cretan Greek is the dialect of Crete with a population of about 500,000 people speaking the language. However, they rarely use it in written forms though it differs less from the Standard Greek. Outside Crete, Athens, and the Ottoman-era Cretan Greek Muslims also speak the dialect. The Maniot dialect belongs to the local area of Mani. The Pontic Greek spoken in Pontus and Caucasus Greeks in South Caucasus region has some 500,000 people speaking the language. The Yevanic Greek also called the Jewish dialect spoken by Romaniotes is almost extinct today. Although some elderly Romaniotes in Ioannina can still tell the dialect, less than fifty people speak the dialect even though 35 of them live in Israel.

Minority Languages Of Greece

According to the 2001 Census, there are approximately 443,550 Albanian immigrants in Greece making the Albanian language the largest minority spoken tongue in Greece. Besides, more than 1 million Greeks have an Albanian descent either by marriage, ancestry, or immigration. Turkish, a widely spoken minority language has a speaker’s population of 128,380 called the Western Thrace, and they make up the Greece Muslim Minority. About 35,000 Armenians live in Greece today with some 20,000 speaking the language. About 41,017 speak the Macedonian Slavic dialect, and although these speakers identify themselves as either Greeks, Macedonian, or Bulgarian, some of the speakers identify as Dopii with the Dopia dialect; the original or local Greek. About 40,000 people in Greek speak the Eastern Romance Language called Aromania or Vlachs related to Romanian. Another Romance language is Romanian spoken by almost 2,500 speakers in Greece and Macedonia. Native speakers of Bulgarian account for 30, 000; living in Western Thrace. The Ladino also called the Judeo-Spanish Language used has about 2,000 and 8,000 speakers in Greece. Another minority language is Romani is spoken by some 160,000 speakers in Greece Today which accounts for 90% of the Roma language.

Primary Foreign Languages Of Greece

English is the primary foreign language spoken by more than 48% of the population. As the international language of commerce, English is included in the Education system of the country and taught as a foreign language from the third grade in Greek schools. German follows as the second choice in most school curriculums with a 9% able to converse in the language. Other foreign languages include French 8.5% and Italian 8%.

What Language Do They Speak In Greece?

1Official Language Of GreeceGreek
2Regional Languages Of GreeceCretan, Tsakonian, Cappadocian, Maniot, Yevanic, Pontic
3Minority Languages Of GreeceTurkish, Macedonian, Armenian, Albanian, Romani, Bulgarian, Aromanian, Ladino
4Primary Foreign Languages Of GreeceEnglish (48%) German (9%) French (8.5%) Italian (8%)

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