the Greek Alfaveeto

It’s All Greek to Me

When I was a child, my Opa’s odd sense of humour was often lost on me. Case in point, let’s consider the time he told me he could speak every language in the world.

In disbelief, I asked him to say something in some language I randomly selected, to which he replied “It’s all Greek to me”. It all fell apart when I asked him to say something in Greek.

Fast forward to today, and I’m trying to learn some Greek. This is where I start to learn a bit of every language in the world.

After my trip to Spain, I decided that I was tired of being the tourist that relies on tour guides to tell me what’s going on, or assuming that restaurant staff understand English. If I’m going to travel, I need to be able to communicate a little bit better.

Greek isn’t exactly the easiest language to jump into.

My name, in Greek (Στεφανια)
Στεφανια – don’t judge my penmanship! I’m working at a JK level!

To start, the characters are SO DIFFERENT. The trickiest part, for me, is disassociating certain characters with sounds. My favourite way to learn some of the Greek alphabet was to figure out how to write my name and my husband’s name. His was actually trickier, since he has some letters in his name that don’t have a single-character counterpart in Greek.

I’m actually really happy with some of the resources I’ve found online. Since I’m focusing on useful phrases (as opposed to starting with the basics and verb conjugation), I’ve really latched on to I’ve been listening to their “Survival Phrases” series as I walk to work, trying not to scare the people around me by yelling things like “Nostimo!” out loud. Go figure I keep repeating the Greek taverna lessons.

The first things I learn before a trip:

  • please and thank you (I’m Canadian!)
  • Two beers, please.
  • Two coffees, please.
  • Hello
  • Good morning

I’m happy to say that I’ve added these to my Greek repertoire, as well:

  • Excuse me
  • Do you speak English?
  • I don’t understand.
  • How much does this cost?
  • Where is the toilet?
  • The bill, please.

… and the longest phrase I have learned so far is  <<Μπορείτε να το επαναλάβετε;>> (“Boreíte na to epanalávete?” – Can you repeat that?)

Honestly, I know I won’t be fluent before I go to Greece later this year. My goal is to be able to understand a bit, say a few key phrases and show that I’m willing to learn.