Dictionary Georgakas 

Greek-English Dictionary Georgakas 


Preface to the print version

he Centre for the Greek Language is filled with a deep sense of gratitude and solemn remembrance, upon the occasion of its publication the first volume of the Modern Greek-English Dictionary (MGED) of Demetrius J. Georgacas (1908-1990), a renowned linguist who distinguished himself as professor of linguistics at universities in the United States, following twelve years’ service to the Historical Lexicon of the Academy of Athens. Here presented, in approximately 900 triple-column pages devoted to the letter A, are the results of Demetrius Georgacas’ own editing efforts―about one-sixth of the total, according to his own calculations. It would not be an exaggeration, however, to speak of half the total labor, not only because the beginning has been made, but also because first, all planning has been done for a completed lexicographic archive numbering 2.5 million slips, culled from both literary and popular language use over the past two centuries. And secondly, the basic methodological and practical problems involving editing and presentation have been solved.
Of this incomplete life’s work, now being published under the editorial aegis of the Centre for the Greek Language, Georgacas himself observed:

The purpose and contents of the Greek-English Dictionary are designed to incorporate the full range of popular and cultivated (literary) Modern Greek, using as chief sources folksongs (18th century), the poetry of Solomos and the Heptanesian School (19th century), and literature of the 20th century (1880 - ) up to the present. From the past are included lexical elements from both the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods, for there are many terms met with in historical and other works taught at the various educational levels, e.g. παιδομάζωμα, χαράτσι (head-tax), etc., philosophical terms belonging to the past, etc. (…). One factor contributing to the extensive vocabulary of Modern Greek is the phenomenon of scholarly and scientific words of Greek origin becoming internationalized in the world’s major languages, and having naturally returned in part to Modern Greek, in either their original or derivative form.

This rare work will impress general users and specialists alike, for its great distinguishing virtue is the documentation of every meaning and sub-meaning by reference to authentic examples from both spoken and written discourse. There are no ad hoc examples of usage provided; each example has been drawn from the full range of attested Modern Greek usage. This practice exemplifies the scholarly spirit that informed the lexicographical tradition of the national dictionaries of Europe. The documentation functions as a mirror for what modern Hellenism created, what it accepted from others, and what it employed in the arts, letters, sciences, and culture. In this dictionary’s pages, we see a reflection of ourselves, and our entire civilization.

The choice of English as the language in which meanings are provided will make the MGED, and through it, the wealth of Modern Greek, accessible to the world. Its digital web-based format, provided by the Centre for the Greek Language (http://www.komvos.edu.gr), has already been welcomed as an important resource for Greeks and Hellenists worldwide.

To Barbara Georgacas, wife and main collaborator of the late Demetrius Georgacas, who presented the Centre for the Greek Language with the Archive and its accompanying Library on condition that the dictionary be brought to completion, the President and members of the Governing Board of the Centre express their deepest gratitude. Professor Georgacas also owed much to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as this national funding body supported the creation of the archive and editing of the MGED. Thanks are also owed to the Ouranis Foundation and its sister-organization, the Foundation for Greek Culture (EIP). For its part, the Centre for the Greek Language undertakes to fulfill its obligation to complete the editing and publication of Georgacas’ great scholarly work.

Professor Dimitris Fatouros
President of the Board of the
Centre for the Greek Language

Last Modified: 12 Nov 2009, 10:48