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THE FIRST LARGE INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF COMMON AND CULTIVATED MODERN GREEK1 Demetrius J. Georgacas Early in 1960, I was asked by the then Office of Education of the United States to undertake the task of editing a bilingual dictionary of Modern Greek, the objective being to provide a lexicon for use primarily at the level of higher education in the U.S. and naturally in Greece and other countries. Its target language being English, the Dictionary understandably was supposed to be an international edition for the Modern Greek language, just as the Liddell-ScottJones A Greek-English Lexicon has been for ancient Greek. For various reasons, Greek lexicography has in the past had to struggle with adversities. Some works have been produced through private initiatives but a host of other conceived projects have not even started or have been frustrated or protracted interminably. In its early stages, the Modern Greek Dictionary project was riddled with its own difficulties. Because the Office of Education considered the Dictionary project urgent and wanted it to be completed as quickly as possible, the programming was somewhat hurriedly done, adequate funding was not initially allocated for a comfortable period of collecting the required lexical data, and quite a number of details were not taken into consideration beforehand but naturally emerged later on. Such problems were largely due to unrealistic expectations on the part of the Office of Education. After the twenty-seven month period for collecting material (1960-1962) in accordance with the original plan, I requested a one year extension of the collecting period in Greece and was turned down (1962). Finally, in 1964, after I had resumed my teaching responsibilities, the Office of Education withdrew its support from the project, leaving me with sole responsibility for its completion. I decided without hesitation at that point to continue working on the project and to shape it according to my own plan, in conformity with scholarly principles and standards: The dictionary would comprise more material than the original time constraints allowed for and reflect linguistic and lexicographical principles in order to be of service to scholars and researchers of the modern Greek language. My first task upon deciding to continue with the project was to secure a grant to enrich our collection of material in Athens, an activity necessarily discontinued in 1962. Indeed, our return to Athens for another fifteen months was realized in 1965-66, resulting in a crop of additional material, albeit not so abundant as I had expected since the anticipated aid of the then Greek government did not materialize (the government itself fell). When the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) was founded in 1965, new hopes arose for funding. Indeed, the NEH supported the Dictionary project from 1969 to 1975 with substantial grants. Subsequently the Kostas and Helen Ourani Foundation, under the aegis of the Athenian Academy, granted for three years (1975-77) a total sum of $35,000, a generous subsidy by Greek standards. In 1977, upon my request, the NEH and its panels reappraised the 122 Demetrius J. Georgacas123 scholarly value of the Greek Dictionary project, rescinded the earlier decision to end funding, and made two substantive two-year grants (1978-1980 and 1980-1982).2 The first large international Modern Greek-English Dictionary of the Common and Cultivated Modern Greek (or: of the Common and Literary Demotic) is a reference work for general use, in which the user will find: 1.listed and interpreted Modern Greek words and phrases used in everyday oral and written communications. 2.listed words pertinent to the higher needs of education, thought, the sciences (their terminologies, but naturally not all the very esoteric terms), intellectual and artistic endeavors by educated persons, and generally pertinent to their culture with the trend toward widening, growth, and development to higher levels; and, 3.listed word forms and their usage for the first time documented with phrases and with quoted passages from Modern Greek texts with authors cited by name. The projected dictionary is a tool representing the language of expository prose, of artistic literature and poetry, of historical books, essays, and scientific discourses, and it treats the common language of the Greeks and their learned...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 122-128
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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