The Speak Greek in March campaign is building in momentum, with organisers launching an official website, getting support from parliamentarians and interest from schools.
The campaign, launched on the International Day of the Mother Tongue last Saturday, saw promises of support from both federal and state politicians.
Newly elected member for Oakleigh Steve Dimopoulos says he will be hoping to give a speech in Greek in parliament to coincide with the campaign and celebrations for Greek National Day on March 25.
“What I want to say in parliament is this is a call to arms not just for the Greek community but every community language,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
“What’s the value of our multicultural diversity in trade and foreign relations if we can’t speak another language and if we all default to the common ground of English?”
He will also be briefing Premier Daniel Andrews on the campaign, while taking part in a number of Greek events throughout March.
Federal MP Maria Vamvakinou is taking the campaign to Canberra, and will also be speaking to parliament on the initiative. She will table a motion mid-March and will call on other MPs to give their view of the campaign.
She will use the International Day of the Mother Tongue that passed to promote “that languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage”.
Ms Vamvakinou’s office in Keilor Downs is also adorned with the campaign’s posters and brochures in the hopes it will get the message across to her electorate.
Campaign organiser Mike Zafiropoulos says Speak Greek in March has seen a lot of interest from Greeks around the world.
He’s already been in contact with Greek papers in London, Italy, Spain and Argentina, and hopes by next year the campaign will have gone global.
He used his speech at the launch to draw attention to how many Greek words we take for granted in English.
Every word he used in the speech had Greek language origins.
“The Hellenic lexical thesaurus for aeons has been a tonic for the glossolalia of the cosmos,” he said to a slightly confused crowd.
The launch also coincided with the unveiling of the Speak Greek in March website, a resource organisers hope will give families and individuals a guide on how to increase their Greek speaking during the month.
Already the site encourages people to download learning apps, get Greek keyboards for their phones and utilise ‘Word of the day’ sites for a fun way to engage with the language.
At the launch, Greek consul general to Melbourne Christina Simantiraki voiced her hope that the initiative would encourage more people to continue with their Greek and reconnect to the language in a positive way.
“Greek was the first worldwide language thanks to Alexander the Great,” she said.
“There is almost no language in the world that doesn’t use Greek words.
“We should all speak Greek during March and I say we should use Greek for the following months too,” she said.
Greece’s ambassador to Australia Haris Dafaranos said the campaign is a chance to show the language off to new Philhellenes.
While the campaign doesn’t start for another couple of days, some are already heeding the call and starting early.
President of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV) Bill Papastergiadis said he’s already began using more Greek at home, and to his delight, has noticed his children taking much more of an interest.
A brochure has been created by the campaign organisers to give people tips on how to keep speaking Greek in March.
For more information and to read the brochure online, visit www.speakgreekinmarch.com