4.2.5 Language issues and policies
Greek is the official language of Greece, and the native language spoken by the vast majority of Greek citizens. Modern Greek is the natural evolution of earlier forms of the Greek language, from the late Bronze Age through to Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and post-Byzantine times, and retains to a significant extent the vocabulary base and syntax of earlier forms. The poetics and rhetoric of Modern Greek can be best appreciated with knowledge of earlier literary and linguistic traditions. Through urbanisation and the homogenising effect of national education and the audiovisual media, local variants of the Greek language have become less prevalent, and amount to little more than differences in accent and usage.
During the 1970s, language reform established the commonly spoken demotike as the official language for administration and education, replacing katharevousa, a "cleansed", somewhat archaic form that was the official language for most of the preceding one and a half centuries of the Modern Greek state. The usage of Modern Greek was further simplified by the abolition of breathing signs and the simplification of stress marks. A recent debate concerns the use of an increasing number of foreign words, especially among young people, a fact that is deplored by some as posing a danger to the purity of the Greek language. This debate, clearly, is as much socio-political in nature as it is about language, and it is linked to a broader cultural debate about the distinctness of the Greek culture, and its position between distinct Eastern - rooted in Byzantium and Orthodox Christianity - and Western European cultural traditions.
The vast majority of literary works, dramatic and cinema productions, benefiting from direct or indirect state aid, are produced in Greek. The government has a policy for the promotion of the Greek language that is apparent in integrative programmes for Greek language literacy among children of migrant workers, and of people of Greek origin who were accepted by Greece from Eastern Europe (mainly Russia, Ukraine and Georgia) after the dissolution of the Soviet bloc. Greek language teaching is also provided to children of Greek Diaspora communities, according to the educational system and traditions of their adopted country: in the context of regular schools, in separate Greek language schools recognised by the local educational authorities, or in Saturday classes typically organised by the local Greek Orthodox Church. In addition, the Ministries of Culture, of Education and of Foreign Affairs provide grants to a significant number of departments or academic positions of modern Greek in universities throughout the world, and the Hellenic Culture Foundation, an arms-length organisation of the Ministry of Culture, is active in monitoring and coordinating the teaching of Modern Greek abroad..