Greek prounciation

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.

Completed book projects

As you may know, April is Autism awareness month and since I have Aspergers Syndrome I wrote a book about our preferred forms of communication. Aspergers and preferred methods of communication

Also my most recent Autistic interest has been learning Modern Greek and I have learnt it sufficiently to write a small ebook about it. How I learnt Greek – An English Introvert’s guide

I published them at the same time as there both related to language and speaking and one helped the other etc.

Odd things about colours in English and Greek

I had a discussion yesterday about how in Greek you can have more than one sheep unlike in English. In fact you can have as many sheep as you like 2,3,4 … sheeps. Or I should say as I have mentioned before ena provato, duo provatos etc.

This then continued onto the fact that Greek differentiates between orange the colour, portokali and the fruit also portokali but the emphasis switches to the end of the word. We also talked about lemonia being a lemon tree but lemon being a single lemon and lemones being plural. There is also the colour aspect here but in English we don’t say a lemon lemon, it would be a yellow or green lemon even though we say lemon yellow. I think this is because lemons can be all different shades of yellow, not just lemon!

I also thought that we don’t say that lavender is lavender coloured although we can describe a particular shade of purple as lavender. The same for periwinkle which is a light blue/purple flower. I then went on to think about mint as since there are so many types ranging from ‘mint green’ to dark green and back to very pale green leaves. I also covered roses in this thought process as it’s a type of pale pink but we don’t describe roses as being rose coloured since they encompass so many different shades from white to  red, yellow, orange and combinations of the above.

This is just some of the odd thoughts that pass through my head and recently my head has been very odd indeed.

Reading ability crossroads

An interesting thing has occurred to me recently. When I try to read Greek and there is English present, my brain either gets lazy and tries to read the English or just gets confused trying to process the Greek. Sometimes, yes, it’s easier to figure out the Greek upon seeing the English and then reverting back to the Greek but I must be at the stage where a new strategy is required. Since Greek has a different way of organizing its sentences, I have to stop thinking in English and trying to translate them as they don’t follow exactly. Continuing to read Greek in English mode needs a lot of cognitive effort as the sentences have to be reconstructed in order to be understood like a dyslexic would and this is therefore quite inefficient, at least for myself. This is no good really as it impedes progress. I am a fantastic reader but I’m approaching this all wrong. I’ve been able to read since I was able 18 months old which is incredibly early. In fact, I couldn’t even talk until 4 months later. This is why it’s so irritating when I try to read Greek. I’ve tried learning the verbs and the joining words but this doesn’t help as it’s a piecemeal approach more akin to pattern recognition ie how a dyslexic reads. In other sentences its more like I’m hyperlexic, ie I read but don’t understand. This is so unbearingly frustrating as I love my ability to consume knowledge in the printed form so very quickly. Reading in Greek at the moment is painful and I generally don’t get past the first couple of sentences. I’ve asked for help and got nowhere so I took to the internet and found