print version

Toggle English/Dutch


(updated August 4, 2007)

It's pretty easy to make yourself understandable for de Cretans in English. Especially in the tourism areas people speak English very well. Except for English the staff of restaurants, sometimes understands languages like French, Dutch or German. People employed in the public sector are set to tourists, even if they do not speak foreign languages. With a few English words and hands and feet, it is perfectly possible to communicate with these people.

In Crete, it is generally appreciated if you take the trouble to preserve them in their own language. Of course, no one expects complete Greek sentences of a tourist. They are pleased with a short greeting, like Kalieméra (), which means 'good morning'. You will notice the Cretans enjoy it when you greet them in Greek.

Only 11 million on the world speak the Greek language. The language is actually called Dhimotikì, New Greek. The ancient Greek is the 'real' Greek language. But many words in Dhimotikì are still written exactly the same as in the classical Greek language.

The New Greek originated in the first millennium after the beginning of our era. Greek was the language in a large part of the Roman Empire. In the twelfth century, the Greek spoken was about the same as the Greek that is spoken currently. Only since the end of the junta in 1974 is Dhimotikì the official vernacular. From 1821 to 1974 the government used the Katharevousa language officially. This language was a purified form of the Dhimotikì, which contained an excessive amount of words out of the Turkish language.

What particularly strikes at the Greek writing of course, are the strange characters. The Greeks have a different alphabet than we have. This alphabet contains only 24 characters. On the following page we tell you something about this Greek alphabet. You'll also find a small dictionary on this website.