I think I may have cracked one of the most difficult puzzles of learning Greek – that of the double syllables. These tend to get skipped out of language lessons as English doesn’t have χ (kh), ps ψ, ts τσ, mp μπ or tz τζ. Need to add in the fact that f φ in Greek is ph in English too eg photo φωτο etc.These are found at the start of common words like khelona χελονα (turtle), psomi ψωμί (bread), tsipouro τσιπουρο (famous Greek spirit and politician) There is also tzomi (window glass) as a window is usually referred to παραθυρο parathyro. The secret to conquering these as I was told long ago and it has only just occurred to me that this is the way, is to ignore the first letter and just continue with the rest. So in effect, these are the silent letters in Greek. So although Greek is a very phonetic language; there is, of course, a catch. Therefore it is (k)helona turtle, (p)somi bread, (p)sari πσαρι [fish], (p)zonizo ψωνίζω verb to shop, (t)sipouro or (t)sipouros τσιπουροσ[Greek prime minister], (t) sea bream τσιπουρα.
Special mention needs to go to the fact that d δ is pronounced th (thelta not delta), b β is pronounced v (vita not beta), tz is pronounced b (hence [George] Best starts tz), χ is pronounced h as in λαχανικα lahanika (vegetables) or χαλι hali (a wool rug), there is no c its k κ instead (akrobates ακροβατες instead of acrobat), there is no j its io instead (Ioannina ιωαννινα ie the Greek city not joannina) and there is no w (not to worry here unless your name is William and then its νασιλλις ). μπ is another that crops up a lot (μπορο boro etc) and is pronounced b so I always have to remember that as it doesn’t logically follow if your English. The ν is an n sound, so while not a double, it is another one that you wouldn’t usually think of if your English ie νησι nisi is island . Also, you have to think that when you want to write th in Greek it is most likely either a θ theta or a δ delta as that’s how they represent those sounds.Penultimately I need to mention about ο and ω. When an English person thinks o they write omicron ο which is usually incorrect and you need to be writing omega ω instead. The last thing that needs mentioning is the eta η meaning the e sound which is most frequently used when an English person wishes to write ε because of the similiarity. ντ is a sound that turns up occasionally but I don’t think I’ve quite mastered that one yet. ντουζινα meaning dozen.
As for spelling that requires a different post later on as spelling is a tricky thing in the Greek language as they don’t tend to spell things in just one way. It also doesn’t help that they change the spelling of simple words like egg αυγα to αβγα to make it easier to spell but easier for who?
I’ve just started listening to the Michel Thomas language learning CDs in Greek for the foundation course and what struck me was the nature of the language is very accusatory. As an example of this take the sentence, “Do you want a sandwich and an ouzo?” It can be said in various ways but is usually a polite inquiry, at least in English anyway. However, when this sentence is rendered in Greek it becomes θελουετε ένα σάντουιτς και ούζο; So literally you want a sandwich and an ouzo? It almost sounds like a mafia Don is trying to make you an offer you can’t refuse. This rails against my English sensibilities and I find it very difficult to be so direct and almost so rude as it’s so abrupt in its tone. I’m always trying to find out what is “Do you …” in an attempt to translate directly from English which is the worst thing you can do as the grammar is so different that it doesn’t work! Breaking away from the boundaries of the English language to speak in a completely differently orientated one is quite a challenge as it almost requires developing a separate personality. This is the only way I can categorize in behaving in 2 ways which are almost at odds with each other in how they tackle even basic questions. My friends are shocked when I try to teach them and I try to impress upon them the need for volume and also for passion with whatever they are trying to say. It doesn’t really work even though I try each year. I admire people that manage to sort out this kind of linguistic difficulty in their head as I’m having great trouble.
This is a key word if you’re trying to take advantage of the multiple ways to do anything nowadays. Gone are the days when things could only be done the one preset way that tradition demanded that things always be done in that manner. Now the world is your oyster but this presents you with a completely different paradox. There are now so many ways to be explored and things that can be done that you become lost in the multitude of options that are now available to you and with the current preoccupation of not settling down and always getting your options open as you never know whats around the corner what do you do? Well to settle this conundrum once and for all you have to analyse all of the possibilities that are currently open to you. Ignore anything that may happen in the future for the time being as we are trying to cull the list now to something that is manageable so there needs to be a cut-off point. Afterwards, when you can see what you can do, you can start making some decisions as to what you would like to do and what you wouldn’t. Feasibility comes later after your preferences have been recorded because if you are sufficiently motivated by something, you will make it happen no matter the difficulties.
If you are someone like me you will have a tough time making up your mind as to which interest you follow next and just let fate decide for you but that’s, no way to live a life. You need to stand up for yourself and be counted amongst the human beings that have done something worthwhile in their lives and left a legacy behind regardless of what it is. A mark on humanity saying I was here is always worth your time as for some it’s their children, others its a work of art, a novel or maybe even an invention. A few contribute such ground breaking advances in science such as the discovery of a new element or DNA but each of us must make sure we are responsible for at least one thing even if it’s just a house we renovated to live in it more peacefully.
I believe achieving this will give you a sense of purpose and happiness because as the noted philosopher Aristotle once mused and maybe I’m paraphrasing a bit too much here – the purpose of life is happiness.
I love reading and I have always done so. I am an excellent reader as I can comprehend pretty much anything in English regardless of subject or complexity and I will do it pretty quickly too. People are quite frequently amazed at how quickly I can accomplish reading anything and that I not only understand it but can reiterate what it said too. Now for a person so versed in the ways of the English language you think I would know all about the different ways and methods of learning to read etc but I’m always finding out new things about my abilities that I didn’t know before like the differences between intensive reading which is reading for quality and making sure that you know the meaning of each and every word that you come across and extensive reading. Extensive reading is for quantity and your skim reading an article to get the gist of it but you don’t fully understand the meaning that is contained in the sentences. Both kinds can be for pleasure although the former is more like the style I use and the latter is a more dyslexic style but is also useful in studying. I have found to help my learning style in Greek that I need to practice more extensive reading as its too difficult to intensively read at my current level. I’m not progressing as well as I would like which is disheartening considering the amount of time that I devote to my Greek studies. I have found a new source of reading material the Gutenberg website which was a previous issue as I couldn’t find anywhere to get any literature but there are lots out there. You just have to find out where its located as it’s not easily accessible if you don’t know what you are looking for. I would like to thank Steve Kaufmann for bringing this to my attention but also Kato Lomb as it was her that first advocated this approach of reading to acquire sufficient knowledge in a foreign language to be able to communicate in it.
As you may know I have Asperger syndrome and that causes a processing overload sometimes as I absorb everything around me in such great detail that I just can’t cope and will become very sluggish until this backlog is dealt with. This can take many forms from isolation, moodiness, listlessness but also a complete of lack of interest in anything as I can’t handle what is currently going through my mind so I certainly don’t want any more input. The confusing thing is I can’t always put into words what is happening to me or why I am in such a state of angst. Writing is soothing and calming as it helps to order the complex array of emotions and thoughts that are whirling round my head like a cyclone. Talking is just too much effort sometimes and I can’t always deal with it. I’m trying to arrange so many things from the past, present and future that it all collides into one gigantic mess and the resulting inevitable explosion is generally not a pleasant thing to experience. Sometimes it’s tears and I won’t know why since I was possibly on top of the world 2 minutes ago and other times its anger built from a couple of days/ weeks tension about many things each of which I don’t have control over and may or maybe not understand fully the reasons for why that is like the way it is. Issues with myself that can’t be changed usually means tears, if it’s someone or something else causing the drama that tends to be anger and I can say quite a volley of swear words which shows how deeply I’m feeling whatever the issue is. After catharsis has been accomplished then all is good until the next occasion when I feel too much or experience an information deluge.