Are stories of Nasreddin Hodja uncopyrighted?

Nasreddin stories count as folklore. That means that, as long as you’re reasonably free in the wording of the story, it’s as out of copyright as Aesop. If you are translating or citing word for word someone’s edition of Nasreddin Hodja, then there may be a copyright issue in the compilation.

Are Middle Easterners considered to be White by Greeks?

Everyone here has spoken well on the topic.

Greeks have a keen sense of Other, and skin colour can factor into that. As Dimitra Triantafyllidou says, we have a history of dismissing Gypsies (like much of Europe); and there’s a lot of anti-Pakistani feeling in downtown Athens. But then again, there was a lot of anti-Albanian feeling in downtown Athens twenty years ago.

But here’s the thing. Swedes are almost as alien to Greeks as Nigerians are. And a good deal more alien than the Lebanese are.

And that’s where the peculiarly American dichotomy of White/Black falls down. As Yannis Gaitanas said, “Us” is not defined in Greek by skin colour—as it was in the US, whose ruling class was a melting-pot of light-skinned cultures. “Us” is defined by culture, whether as religion or ethnicity or education. So light skin on its own doesn’t mean that much. Just because we don’t identify with Nigerians doesn’t mean we identify with Swedes more.

Oh, and the traditional Modern Greek term for blacks—which is now derogatory, but was originally just neutral: arapis. From Arab. Early Modern Greeks knew that there was this place called Araby, and that black-skinned people came from there. They didn’t put Middle Easterners in that category (such as, you know, actual Arabs). As far as Greeks were concerned, those were Turks.

When was Greece’s native name (or “Hellas”) first recorded?

10 instances in the Iliad, where it refers to Achaea Phthiotis in Thessaly, and not to Greece in general.

Wikipedia (Names of the Greeks) is reasonably sure that Hellen, after whom the Hellenes are named, is a Just-So origin myth, and that the more general use of Hellas dates from the Great Amphictyonic League, the first alliance of Greek poleis—which included Thessaly.

In Greek mythology, Hellen, the patriarch of Hellenes, was son of Deucalion, who ruled around Phthia with Pyrrha, the only survivors after the great deluge. It seems that the myth was invented when the Greek tribes started to separate from each other in certain areas of Greece and it indicates their common origin. The name Hellenes was probably used by the Greeks with the establishment of the Great Amphictyonic League. This was an ancient association of Greek tribes with twelve founders which was organized to protect the great temples of Apollo in Delphi (Phocis) and of Demeter near Thermopylae (Locris). According to legend it was founded after the Trojan War, by the eponymous Amphictyon, brother of Hellen.

What are the names of different countries in your language?

Sofia Mouratidis gave names in current Greek. For jollies, I’m going to give names in Byzantine Greek, which are often quite different: the modern names are mostly from Latin, while the older names were usually from Italian.

  • France: Frandza (now Gallia)
  • Germany: Alamania (now Germania)
  • Austria: Aoustria or Osterigon (now Afstria—which is a spelling pronunciation of Αὐστρία)
  • England: Engletera or Inglitera (now Anglia)
  • Flanders: Filandra (now Flamandia)
  • Sweden: Suedzia (now Suidia)
  • Poland: Lekhia or Polonia
  • Croatia: Khrovatia (now Kroatia)

Why do the spellings of ancient Roman and Greek names differ in English than in other languages?

Partly, source morphology. Partly, mediation via Latin. Partly, particularity of English.

Remember first that Classical names in English came in via Latin most of the time. Hence Plato rather than Platon, and Hercules for Heracles.

Second, not all final -ns are the same. So there’s no contradiction about Latin keeping the final -n in Xenophon and not in Plato.

On both, see Why do some Latin borrowings of Greek words ending in -ων end in -o (like Apollo), while others end in -on (like Orion)?

Third, English chops off more final inflections in Latin names, though less than French and (sometimes) German. That I don’t know as much about, but it’s partly to do with how the languages developed (French), and partly just random change.

So English avoids final –anus, and so does French (where English got the names from). So the names have the same ending as the corresponding adjectives, which have the same original suffix in Latin: Octavian, Vespasian, just like Christian < Christianus, quotidian < quotidianus. English and French have done the same with Latin names ending in –alis: we say Martial and martial, both of which are Martialis ~ martialis in Latin.

German does the same with –tus names, changing them to –t: German Herodot, French Herodote, English Herodotus. English does this with Theodoret, but not generally.

What is the weirdest song in your language?

Zavara Katra Nemia, Greek, 1968.

The songwriter Yannis Markopoulos was routinely subject to censorship during the Greek Junta, as a left winger. So he wrote a song with nonsense lyrics and lots of 5/8 and 11/8 metre, which got past the censors. And everyone assumed it was against the dictatorship anyway.

Zavara katra nemia Zavara katra nemia
Hallelujah Hallelujah

Zavarakatranemia Mercy Mercy
lama lama nama nama nemia
Hallelujah Hallelujah

To my disappointment, I find on the Googles that the songwriter himself has provided an explanation of the seeming nonsense lyrics, which turns out to be a call for revolt against the dictatorship. Whether or not it’s past facto, it’s plausible-looking: (Zavara = lavara, katra = katrami, nemia = anemisan, lama “blade”, nama = mana)

Pitch-black banners waving, pitch-black banners waving
Consequence Consequence

Pitch-black banners wave Mercy Mercy
Blade blade Mother Mother Waving
Consequence Consequence

And I have to say, it’s still disjoint enough to be not that much closer to lucidity. Everyone who quotes his explanation says sagely how obvious it is that he’s calling for a popular uprising. Maybe in Greek it is…

Doesn’t matter. The combination of the oracular music and Nikos Xilouris’ even more oracular vocals are meaning enough.

What is the response to “Christos anesti” in Greek? What are some other phrases used around Easter?

Martin Pickering is right. A somewhat more emphatic response you’ll hear occasionally is Alithos o Kyrios, “truly the Lord has”. (It’s in response to Christos Anesti, “Christ is risen”.)

What is the importance of the Hellenistic culture?

Thx4A2A, Anon. As my fellows have asked, we’ll need more detail on what you’re asking.

I’m going to stab at a related question, which is the legacy of Hellenistic culture. In fact, that might be a good approach to vague questions like this, my fellow respondents: we grab a bit each of the possible answers that we can relate to.

We owe the Hellenistic—under which I’ll conflate Greek culture under the Romans:

  • Linguistics, which started in Alexandria (Callimachus and co.) as a way of teaching the now obsolescent language of the Classics.
  • Philology and textual criticism, which started in Alexandria (Callimachus and co.) as a way of stabilising the texts of the Classics.
  • Library science, ditto, Alexandria.
  • The novel, through a circuitous path (including Dictys Cretensis and the Roman de Troie).
  • The comedy as we know it, from Menander via the renaissance revival of the Latin comic poets.
  • Several influential schools of philosophy, including Stoicism and Neo-Platonism.
  • The intellectual wherewithal of Christianity.
  • Statues in Buddhism, through Greco-Buddhist art.

If you want to include a word or phrase in Greek in a novel, should you write it in Greek letters or should you transcribe it by pronunciation?

A novel with mass readership, not in Greek, where you don’t want to alienate readers unnecessarily, and you care to give readers some notion of what it sounds like? Use transliteration rather than original script. Same as if you were putting Hindi (or whatever your language happens to be) into a non-Hindi (or whatever) novel.

Yes, I write Greek in Greek characters here, and when I don’t, I use IPA. But I’m not writing a novel.