Dictionary Georgakas 

Greek-English Dictionary Georgakas 


The Archive and the Dictionary

s regards the compilation of the Archive and the editing of the first volume of the Dictionary, it is appropriate here to cite portions of a brief older description by Georgacas himself, taken from his presentation to the 1st Conference on Modern Greek at Universities in the English-speaking World, held in Athens from 17-21 December 1980: [1]

“The primary material that makes up the corpus of the Dictionary’s archive amounts to 2.5 million slips; these form the indispensable basis for the work of editing entries for the Dictionary of Common and Cultivated Greek (or, Common and Literary Demotic). If collection of archival materials were to begin today, millions of dollars would not suffice, quite apart from the substantial labors of the Director.
“Indeed the entire lexical wealth of Modern Greek, including demotic, literary, and loan words, is reflected in the Dictionary’s rich archive. Approximately 1,000 volumes were chosen for citation purposes (including anthologies and collective works). In the entries composed to date, the name of the author of all passages cited to elucidate various meanings is provided (apart from anonymous popular sayings and passages, i.e. those without a named author).
“The material employed for citations comes from: (a) notes from the spoken language; (b) newspapers, periodicals, announcements, theater programs, etc.; © tales, proverbs, folksongs, collective volumes, prose anthologies (including specialized prose such as texts relating to education, medicine, philosophy, the fine arts, etc.), poetry anthologies; editions of single authors of both poetry and prose; scholarly works dealing with education, political science, the applied sciences, economics, philosophy, the fine arts, etc.
“Chronologically, the archival material contains Modern Greek words, in geometrically increasing number, beginning from the 18th century, with more from the 19th, far more from the 20th, and a particularly high concentration from the second half of the 20th century. This was in accordance with the goals and purposes of the Dictionary, which aims to serve both present and future needs of those using either the archive or the Dictionary. The Dictionary also preserves for the user’s benefit important words and specialized terms from the past, dating back to the 15th century or even earlier. Thus, there are words from descriptions of archaeological artifacts and works of art in museums, words referring to these in the guidebooks of various museums, architectural and construction terms, etc.
“The first large International Dictionary of the Common and Cultivated Modern Greek is a reference work for general purposes in which: (1) there are found words and meanings of lexical items of Modern Greek, as the language is used among colinguals in everyday communication, both written and spoken; (2) there are words related to the expanded requirements of education, philosophy, the sciences (there is some scientific terminology, but naturally no highly specialized terms), to the intellectual and artistic cultivation of the middle range of educated colinguals, male and female, and more generally to their culture, with its tendency towards expansion, development, and evolution towards higher levels; and (3) for the first time, the use of every word is documented by phrases and passages excerpted from texts by Modern Greek writers. It is therefore a representative tool for the language of simple prose, artistic literature and poetry, historical works, essays, the language of scholarly and scientific demotic Greek, etc. This is the language known as ‘Common Cultivated Modern Greek and Literary Demotic’.”
As regards the organization and arrangement of each entry:
1. “The morphological portion of each entry provides the grammatical forms of the word, the phonetic rendering of the entry word, and an indication of its range of use, e.g., words employed in one or more geographical regions.[2][3]
2. The semantic portion,, where the meanings and sub-meanings of the word are provided together with examples from common usage (normally sayings, proverbs, etc.) and from prose, folksongs, artistic poetry, etc. The word’s register is also identified (education, geography, history, archaeology, linguistics, philology, folksongs, applied sciences, medicine, anatomy, psychology, philosophy, political science, mythology, religion, theater).”
3. A brief etymological section indicates the word’s origin, whether it has come down from Medieval Greek, Koine, etc., is a loan from katharevousa or from another learned source, or a loan from a foreign language (including which language).”

He continues:

“In preparing texts for purposes of citation, I was very surprised to discover the astounding wealth of cultivated (or learned) demotic. While reading texts from a variety of categories and by various authors, in order to underline each word (together with its context), and in marking passages which were to be excerpted for the Dictionary’s archive, I discovered in practice that there is a wealth of Greek counterparts for many words, terms and phrases known from the world’s major languages. There are also a great number of synonyms. These facts are worth noting, because in point of fact it is only the lexicographer, working systematically and intensively with the vocabulary, who can ascertain these phenomena on such a large scale, and not the theoretical linguist, who selects one hundred, five hundred, or a thousand words as a basis for study.

1 See Georgacas 1981, 35-66. The quoted excerpts come from his original conference presentation (in Greek, translated here).

2 For the non-specialist, who may be surprised at the inclusion of words labeled as “regional” in this dictionary, of words, that is, employed in large sub-divisions of the entire Greek-speaking area, we note that this is justified in compiling a dictionary for a language which is moving towards standardization.

3 Zgusta, Manual, 187-88: The bigger the dictionary, the more elements of folk speech or of dialects can be taken into consideration. Why should this be so? If the dictionary is not intended to be of a specifically documentary, registering character, it should be as homogeneous as possible. The literary and the cultivated spoken language, and the colloquial language as well, are the most important variants of a language (in the broader sense of this word), because it is in them that the majority of the more important communications take place. This opinion does not militate against lexicographic treatment of folk speech or of dialects; on the contrary: these tasks are of immense value, irrespective of whether they are published separately, in the form of dictionaries of the single dialects or of some proups of them, or of the folk speech, or whether they are published together with the lexicographic treatment of the standard national language. But it is necesary to understand one other thing: a dictionary which contains heterogeneous material, such as, say, the standard national language (mostly its first two levels) plus the dialects cannot be normative in the same degree as a homogeneous dictionary even if it labels the difference in the material by marks, glosses or any other means. This is a very important consideration, primarily when the lexicographer is preparing a dictionary of a language that is beginning to develop its standard national language, because in such a case it is just the effort to establish the norm which is the focus of the lexicographer's attention.

Last Modified: 12 Nov 2009, 10:48