Do Greeks use the accents when writing to each other, or are they primarily used for teaching and to distinguish words that would otherwise be the same (that is how they are used in Russian, for instance)?
No matter what and to who you are writing, accents are always used and can't be omitted in any case. :-)
Thanks. I just realized that I could simply look up a Greek newspaper, like Η Καθιμερινη (no idea where the accent goes, since the masthead is in all capitals), and see if the accents were present in the articles.
"Καθημερινή", κάθε=every + ημέρα=day + adj. ending that makes it mean daily. :)
It is such a revelation, isn't it. When you have been doing some Hungarian or Vietnamese and then come back to a language like Greek, it sounds so familiar in many ways.
street signs and directions to towns and villages never have the accents, which makes life very difficult. :-)
Accents are sometimes omitted in sms or internet chat, informal emails. Various adaptations of the latin alphabet can even be used. But in any other case, the accents are mandatory.