Greek is the second fastest disappearing language in Australia


According to a report by the ABC, the Greek language is the second fastest disappearing language in Australia, behind Italian.

According to census data, in 2001 a total of 263,487 people spoke Greek as a second language in their homes. As of 2016, this number dropped to 237,583, which is almost a 26,000 person drop. Judging by statistics, this gap is only set to widen.

Antonia Rubino, a senior lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Sydney says, “there are some factors that have helped the Greeks maintain their language more [than the Italians].” Italian has become a drastically disappearing language with the number of people speaking Italian in their homes dropping over 81,000 in 15 years.

Dr Rubino says these factors include, “the lack of this distinction between dialect and standard Italian.”

“Many post-war Italian migrants spoke dialect as their first language, and often did not pass on Italian to the second generation,” says Dr Rubino.

“The Greeks also had the church,” she says.


The Greek Orthodox church is central to the family and has played a major role in the transmission of culture and language, whereas “Italians very often attended the local Catholic church which was mainly in English,” she says.

Though, Greeks are not too far behind Italians when it comes to language loss.

Statistically, it only takes three generations for migrant families to lose the language they came with, according to the ABC’s report.

“Australia is in many ways a graveyard of languages,” says Ingrid Piller, professor of applied linguistics at Macquarie University.

“Like the US, we’re an English dominant country where language diversity is not valued”, according to Dr Piller.

“Australia is one of the most multilingual countries in the world,” says Ken Cruickshank of the University of Sydney.

Yet, language education is not seen as a high priority and “languages are not part of the core curriculum in any state apart from Victoria in the primary schools,” he says.

In fact, he says, “we come lowest of all OECD countries in the provision and uptake of languages”.

“The result is that a bilingual child has a five in six chance of losing their heritage language by the time they finish high school”, according to Dr Cruickshank.

This statistic suggests that multilingual children often become monolingual throughout the education in Australia, as the education system does not encourage language learning.

According to the ABC report, there are two ways people can lose the languages they speak.

Firstly, linguistic colonisation, which happened to many Indigenous and minority languages that have been forgotten throughout history.

Secondly, via linguistic assimilation, where migrants lose their native languages as they are predominantly influenced by the dominant language in the country they live in.




By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Latest News

Australian Business Summit Council launch fifth issue of ‘Ekonomos’

The Australian Business Summit Council Inc. hosted 250 business leaders, diplomats and politicians at its lavish Annual Gala Dinner.

Dora and George Hatzikiriakos’ fish and chip shop among the best on NSW South Coast

The Eurobodalla on the NSW south coast is home to some of the best fish and chip joints. "Harzikiriakos' Ocean Grill is one of them.

Two Greek beaches among Tripadvisor’s top European beaches for 2024

Greece saw two beaches included in Tripadvisor’s Best Beaches in Europe for 2024, as part of its annual Travellers’ Choice Awards.

Festival Hellenika to host ‘Magna Graecia’ film screening in SA

Festival Hellenika will host the ‘Magna Graecia: The Greko of Calabria’ talk and short film screening on Friday, May 31 at 7pm.

‘From Imbros over the Sea’ exhibition to be displayed at Melbourne’s Greek Centre

The northern Aegean Island of Imbros and its population played a significant but little appreciated role in the Gallipoli campaign.

You May Also Like

Director Jason Raftopoulos takes people beneath the surface of ‘Voices in Deep’

Voices in deep, the second feature film by the director and writer Jason Raftopoulos, was shown on Friday at Palace Cinema Como in Melbourne.

Victoria’s Greek National Day Council to hold elections

Victoria's Greek National Day Council is holding elections on Monday, May 13 at 7pm to appoint a new Executive Committee.

Popular mountain gorge in Crete closed after earthquake rockslide injures tourist

In response to an earthquake that triggered a hazardous rockslide, local officials on the Greek island of Crete have issued a temporary closure order for renowned mountain gorges frequented by hikers.