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Our first Greek lesson

December 18, 2011

Ever since we arrived in Crete we have been wrestling with the Greek alphabet in preparation for the Greek lessons which our host, Inge, had promised to arrange for us.

For anyone not familiar with the Greek alphabet it is a strange mixture of familiar letters and the not so familiar but in reality even those which are familiar are not always pronounced in the way in which we would pronounce them. Indeed, some like the Greek letter P, for example, are pronounced like other letters in the Roman alphabet – in this case the letter R! Confused – well you can understand our predicament with Nicos arriving last evening!

In fact, he is a charming young man – a talented poet by all accounts as well as an accomplished musician and linguist. His first request was somewhat disconcerting in that he wanted us to comment on the English translation of some of his poems and had brought a computer disc with them on for this purpose! Looking at them later, we were not sure whether it was us failing to understand the full depth of his meaning or the inadequacy of the translator’s work. Either way, we are in trouble but that is for next week!

As it happened, the Greek lesson went well. Nicos had an easy manner, laughed a lot with us rather than at us and generally put us at our ease. Clearly our attempts to learn the pronunciation of certain letters caused him much amusement and in particular, he literally fell about when I explained my conversation with the Butcher when I ordered goat chops and how I had remembered the Greek words for same. The Greek for goat is katsika, which I remembered by splitting the word in two – cat and sick and then adding an ‘a’ and chop is brezola, which again I had split in two – a French cheese and the Italian footballer. It seemed logical to me!

He then got us to write down in Greek the words for various types of meat and we then had to practice our pronunciation of same. We had awful problems with the Greek letter gamma, which can sometimes be a Y and at others a G. The G sound is very soft and apparently should be made from the back of the mouth. We made all sorts of noises ranging from growling like a dog to gargling but I am still not certain that I ever did get it right!

Anyway, Nicos is coming back next Friday and in the meantime we have to practice writing our letters. We have a Greek grammar book designed for 4-8 year olds, which we also have to study. As the first lesson seems to be some form of sex education primer, we shall have plenty to occupy ourselves with over the next week! Better get down to it, I suppose. God, it’s a hard life. Now where’s that glass of retsina?

John

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One Comment
  1. kate permalink

    have just read the whole blog – sounds blissful and looking forwward to hearing more about struggling with the language.

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