I was born in Athens, where I also studied until the completion of my first degree in what we, in the Continental tradition, call Philology, i.e. (Classical, Byzantine and Modern) Greek Literature, as well as Theoretical and Historical Linguistics. I then went on to do an MPhil and a PhD in Linguistics at Cambridge University (Queens’ College). The topic of my thesis, conducted under the supervision of Nigel Vincent, was The History of the Perfect Periphrases in Greek, mainly within the then recently introduced framework of Grammaticalization.
My first academic post was that of lecturer at my original alma mater, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, where I still remain as a professor of Linguistics. Over the years I have taught a large number of under- and postgraduate courses, mainly on Semantics and Language Change. I have also held some administrative posts, including that of Dean of the School of Philosophy.
In terms of research, I have kept working on the Perfect and on Grammaticalization, though my interests broadened to subsume anything to do with Tense and Aspect, both as theoretical issues and with respect to their development in the history of Greek. I have also worked on a team which produced a Grammar of Modern Greek and on another which produced a series of syllabi for the teaching of Greek as a Second/Foreign Language.
Throughout the past thirty years or so my fascination with language has centred around the skill with which each language (or, to be precise, each linguistic community) manipulates the relatively limited number of structures at its disposal to express infinite nuances of meaning; I also marvel at the way in which it manages to constantly change this relationship between form and content throughout its history.
As a member of the School of Philosophy, of which the Faculty of Philology and the Department of Linguistics form part, I feel that all of us should strive towards a revival not just of the interest in the Humanities, but of their modernised and liberalised but systematic teaching throughout secondary education. I firmly believe that not only does any form of learning and research -and that of course includes science- benefit from the study of the Arts, but so does every practical aspect of life. With this in mind and based on suggestions by several colleagues, I called upon a number of fellow deans of Schools of Philosophy / Humanities in countries of the Balkans and the Black Sea and together we founded in 2012 the Athens Humanities Network, an informal group which aims to promote the Humanities in every possible direction. Its first outcome was an exchange project, HERMES (2013-2017), in the framework of Erasmus Mundus, and several other activities are being planned.
In 2007 Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University did me the great honour of awarding me an honorary doctorate.