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Speaking English Using Greek: Zolotas’ Historic Speech to World Bankers

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Zolotas was director of the Bank of Greece when he famously spoke at a conference in English using Greek words. Public domain

Many Greeks recall the speeches in English — peppered with Greek-origin words and phrases — given by economist and politician Xenophon Zolotas in the late 1950s.

Zolotas was director of the Bank of Greece when he appeared in front of an audience at an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development conference in 1959.

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He delivered two speeches in English using Greek words to emphasize the wealth of the Greek language and the fact that countless Greek words enrich English.

Greek remains a language which greatly enriches international scientific discourse; more than any other, it is the language which developed, shaped and expressed the beginning of most scientific theories, philosophical thoughts, and literature in most of the modern-day languages of the Western world.

Zolotas’ speech delivered on Oct. 2, 1959


It is Zeus’ anathema on our epoch and the heresy of our economic method and policies that we should agonize the Skylla of nomismatic plethora and the Charybdis of economic anaemia.

It is not my idiosyncracy to be ironic or sarcastic but my diagnosis would be that politicians are rather cryptoplethorists. Although they emphatically stigmatize nomismatic plethora, they energize it through their tactics and practices. Our policies should be based more on economic and less on political criteria. Our gnomon has to be a metron between economic strategic and philanthropic scopes.

In an epoch characterized by monopolies, oligopolies, monopolistic antagonism and polymorphous inelasticities, our policies have to be more orthological, but this should not be metamorphosed into plethorophobia, which is endemic among academic economists.

Nomismatic symmetry should not antagonize economic acme. A greater harmonization between the practices of the economic and nomismatic archons is basic.

Parallel to this we have to synchronize and harmonize more and more our economic and nomismatic policies panethnically. These scopes are more practicable now, when the prognostics of the political end economic barometer are halcyonic.

The history of our didimus organization on this sphere has been didactic and their gnostic practices will always be a tonic to the polyonymous and idiomorphous ethnical economies. The genesis of the programmed organization will dynamize these policies.

Therefore, I sympathize, although not without criticism one or two themes with the apostles and the hierarchy of our organs in their zeal to program orthodox economic and nomismatic policies.

I apologize for having tyranized you with my Hellenic phraseology. In my epilogue I emphasize my eulogy to the philoxenous aytochtons of this cosmopolitan metropolis and my encomium to you Kyrie, the stenographers.

Born in Athens on 26 April 1904, Zolotas studied economics at the University of Athens, and later studied at the Leipzig University in Germany and the University of Paris in France

Zolotas was director of the Bank of Greece in 1944–1945, 1955–1967 (when he resigned in protest at the regime), and 1974–1981. He published many works on Greek and international economic topics. He was a Keynesian, and was active in socialist circles with his close friend, Professor Angelos Angelopoulos.

Zolotas died on 10 June 2004 at the age of 100. He is buried in the First Cemetery of Athens.

Related: Greek Language Day: The Mother of All Western Languages

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