Introduction to greek language

It was greek to me!! exclaims Casca in Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar'. (wikipedia)
Graecum est, non legitur used to say the medieval Scholastics, because they did not understand greek texts: (=it is greek, not possible to be read).
But do not be too pessimistic. Yes, it is a difficult language because its 30+centuries-life complicates things. But you may wish to know a little about it. To read the alphabet and understand a few words... After all, you will find that many letters are familiar to you, as are many words.
Here is an outline of greek language through the ages.
4 or 3 thousand years ago, the greeks arrive in the helladic area. They speak greek, write in Linear B. They adopt the phoenician alphabet, add the vowels and create their own alphabet (capital letters used till today). Ancient greek language appeared in many idioms and styles. The attic style was the most refined and it produced great literature. Ancient greek evolved to the koine (KOINH, common) greek of hellenistic times (religious texts of the gospels are written in this language). Small letters developed during these times, pronunciation and grammar was slightly simplified. The KOINH language keeps evolving until we reach modern times: a huge strife between demotic (people's) language and katharevousa (purified-ancientlike) language ended in 1972, with the demotic becoming the official language of the greek state.
When surfing for the greek alphabet and how letters are pronounced: Careful! ancient greek and modern greek are pronounced by us natives in the same way. Buttttt... foreign university courses give an erasmic pronunciation guide, for students of ancient greek, which is a bit different.
If you wish to learn how to read the greek alphabet, here is my GREEK ALPHABET COMPLETE. Complete, because its charts give BOTH pronunciations (erasmic and standard) in International Phonetic Alphabet. Printable chart, each letter's story etc.
When you travel to Greece you will find that most people understand a bit of english. A very short list of words will be sufficient, if you wish to make the natives happy: efkharee`sto (= thanks, I thank) [efxariˈsto](1) and paraka`lo (='your welcome' -answering to 'thank you'- or ='please? excuse me?' -when you want to ask a question- ), are sufficient. If you need more, here are some modern greek phrase sites:  
LINKS: Modern greek at a glance
All the following sites include AUDIO SOUND examples in correct modern greek accent (I do not include links with bad recitations).
Talk Greek classroom activities by BBC in GB and Greek at BBC, GB
Common Expressions in Modern Greek by Harris Foundalis at Greek Language by Harris Foundalis
Omniglot phrases Reliable greek pronunciation at mp3 examples. The formal plural examples are correct, but not indicated.
Transparent Language - Modern Greek Survival phrases
Modern Greek by Angelos Kanlis: click WORDS, PHRASES English-Greek and Italian-Greek. Excellent personal page 1996/7 by a young electrical engineer who loves greek. Check Simple Phrases and Vocabulary.
...more links for lessons of modern greek.

links checked in Aug 2007