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Greek Phrases in English: Zolotas’ speech

Greek Sphinx on port of Naxos, Greece

Greek Sphinx on port of Naxos, Greece

As a tribute to Greece’s Olympic legacy, here’s a toast to another: the Greek language which has given so many words and phrases to English and other languages.

This is a speech by Xenophon Zolotas (1904-2004), an old Greek academic and politician who was a member of the IMF in its early stages. He gave two remarkable speeches which have remained historic in linguistics because they contained only English words of Greek origin (barring the necessary structural English word).

There are a few expressions that are pushing the boundaries such as referring to inflation as ‘numismatic plethora‘, calling hospitable natives ‘philoxenous autochthones’ (though the word exists in English) and addressing the Chairman as ‘Kyrie‘ but all in all, it’s a remarkable read.

The speeches were to an international audience at the closing session of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I think the second Zolotas speech of October 2, 1959 is more interesting than the first (on September 26, 1957). He was actually arguing for an old-fashioned inflationary stimulus of the world economy, much as Gordon Brown did in 2008.

Kyrie,

it is Zeus’ anathema on our epoch (for the dynamism of our economies) and the heresy of our economic method and policies that we should agonize between the Scylla of numismatic plethora and the Charybdis of economic anaemia. It is not my idiosyncrasy to be ironic or sarcastic but my diagnosis would be that politicians are rather cryptoplethorists. Although they emphatically stigmatize numismatic 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.

Political magic has always been anti-economic. 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. Numismatic symmetry should not antagonize economic acme. A greater harmonization between the practices of the economic and numismatic archons is basic. Parallel to this, we have to synchronize and harmonize more and more our economic and numismatic policies pan-ethnically. The scope is more practicable now, when the prognostics of the political and economic barometer are halcyonic.

The history of our didymus organization on this sphere has been didactic and their gnostic practices will always be a tonic to the polyonymous and idiomorphic ethnic 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 numismatic policies, although I have some logomachy with them. I apologize for having tyrannized you with my Hellenic phraseology.

In my epilogue, I emphasize my eulogy to the philoxenous autochtons of this cosmopolitan metropolis and my encomium to you, Kyrie and stenographers.

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