How to learn conversational Greek

https://www.alphabetagreek.com/about-me

Danae Florou is a lovely lady that writes for this website. It is her passion that she started and she saw that there was a gap in the market for those that had surpassed basic tourist knowledge but wanted more and to be able to converse with locals in a more natural manner. It would seem the blogosphere also adores her as my ratings rocketed after posting yesterday’s email from her. As much as I would like to keep this information to myself, it isn’t right so I’m sharing it all for you to help yourselves become better learners.

Which gems have you come across recently?

Best wishes

Angela

C F Cavafy Greek poet (1863-1933)

Each of these poems that I’m sharing with you today is quite evocative in there language. From the brevity of life, the restlessness of youth, the pretense that some of us think we need to fit in and finally the pain of dating. These are struggles we have all been through at some point. Human nature doesn’t change despite our attitudes being modified, our lives changing beyond all recognition due to technology and the world around us morphing due to the effects of our industry.

Here is a Greek view on the subject C F Cavafy and here is the Wikipedia article on this gentleman C P Cavafy. It’s good to compare and contrast different viewpoints. It helps to create a more balanced view.

  • This is the second post on my series of famous Greek but mainly Lefkádian poets and authors. Aristotle Valaoritis ,
  • Angelos Sikelianos
  • Lefkadia Hearn
  • George Seferis
  • C G Karyotakis
  • Ioannis (Nanos) Valaoritis
  • Odysseus Elytis
  • Andreas Emberikos
  • Here is a bonus post by Sententiae Ancientae on Sappho.
  • Other series include Greek Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

    Do you have a favourite poet and would you like to share with me?

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Brexit: The uncivil war

    In a follow up article to the one I previously wrote on Brexit and Grexit; I have just watched Brexit: The uncivil war. It’s a brilliant show which shows exactly how Brexit happened.

    I love Benedict Cumberbatch as he is such a talented actor. I adore the erudite way he speaks and acts. His intellect is phenomenal. No matter his role he is utterly convincing.

    Now having learnt about Brexit from both sides, what is your opinion on the matter?

    Best wishes

    Angela

    The philosophy of WestWorld

    This tv show is the philosophical successor to the Matrix. This show is so amazing in how it captures your attention and makes you think so deeply about what is real and what is worthy of your attention. It strips away all artifice and lays bare who you really are at your core. I dare you to watch this show and not be transformed after viewing it. It’s a good way to analyse your own psyche without having to under go hypnosis, meditation or even go as as far as visiting a retreat or taking transcendental drugs.

    To examine what is real and what is not is a very Buddhist way of thinking. Becoming one with yourself and seeking the true path to enlightenment is quite some task. This is what religion has tried to inspire in us over the millennia to varying degrees of success. Since it is so difficult to achieve and none is ever sure how to do it or what happens when it has been achieved. Numerous books have been written on the subject with their own version of attaining self actualisation. I believe we all try to attain this state at some point in our lives. We just differ in our methods of attempting this process.

    I believe my way of entering this trance state is every time I watch a programme that commands my entire attention. This is rare that I enter this flow state but it is beautiful. I feel reborn and that I am connected to everything in the universe. I know that everything is going to be fine because I am at peace with the world. The state of catharsis is the most blissful feeling you can have. It is the absence of feeling but also a complete and utter fulfilment. So you are full of the most magnificent cleanliness. It is difficult to describe the fullness and emptiness at the same time.

    This is however when we are at our most free and at our most creative. When we connect to ourselves and our very being it is a marvellous thing to behold. We need to hold on to this higher state of being for as long as possible as we all want to reach nirvana one day and to remain for as long as possible if not for eternity.

    Since we are currently in both catholic and orthodox Lent, it is fortuitous that I am currently feeling that way and it’s only just begun. The whole purpose of this time is to get to get closer to the most pure version of ourselves. When we purify through lack of stimulants both external and internal; we open our minds and bodies to the possibility of greatness. When we stop all the different versions of ourselves that we need for our daily lives and become the one that is the crux of our being; then we can rise above everything and be the very best version of ourselves. In doing so we can help all those around in their personal quests too. For a healthy community nourishes the land, life and everything.

    Have you ever thought you would be able to achieve such a state of peace?

    Wishing you all well,

    Angela

    How our native language shapes our grammar

    This video shows that there is a structure to the formation of sentences and that all languages follow it. There are many ways to organise a sentence but they all contain the same elements. This is even true when translated to hand gestures to explain a picture when the person doesn’t know a sign language.

    Hope you enjoy watching

    Angela

    Aristotle Valaoritis 1824-1879 Lefkadian Poet

    https://greatestgreeks.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/aristotelis-valaoritis/

    This Reblog goes into great detail about the life of the man Aristotle Valaoritis Lefkadian National Library

    Aristotle Valaoritis Lefkadian National Library
    Aristotle Valaoritis National Library
    Aristotle Valaoritis National Library

    who wrote the Greek national anthem. He also wrote many poems. If you want to see where he born Aristotle Valaoritis birth plaque

    Aristotle Valaoritis birth plaque

    there is this plaque on the wall in Lefkás town commemorating the spot. He later lived on the island of Madouri Madouri by Wilhelm Dörpfeld

    Madouri by Wilhelm Dörpfeld

    near Lefkás you will find a shrine dedicated to him. Aristotle Valaoritis Shrine by Wilhelm Dörpfeld

    Aristotle Valaoritis shrine by Wilhelm Dörpfeld
    Aristotle Valaoritis shrine

    His family still live in the area and are going to stay there forever. Even Aristotle Onassis with all his money and charm couldn’t persuade them to sell their land. This is what Wikipedia has to say about the matter. Aristotle Valaoritis

    He also has a statue dedicated to himself with a lengthy description in Lefkás town. Aristotle Valaoritis statue

    Aristotle Valaoritis statue
    Aristotle Valaoritis tomb, Lefkás Town
    Aristotle Valaoritis tomb, Lefkás Town
    Angelos Sikelianos poem on Aristotle Valaoritis tomb
    Angelos Sikelianos poem on Aristotle Valaoritis tomb

    This is the first of my series of posts on famous Greek but mainly Lefkádian poets. With a bonus post on Sappho from Sententiae Ancientae.

    C F Cavafy,

    Angelos Sikelianos,

    Lefkadia Hearn,

    George Seferis

    C G Karyotakis

    Ioannis (Nanos) Valaoritis

    Odysseus Elytis

    Andreas Emberikos

    Kostis Palamas

    Ioannis Zampelios

    Spiridon Zampelios

    Other series include Greek authors, Painters, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. These can all be found here Series links.

    Do you have any favourite poets? Drop me a line so we can discuss in the comments.

    Hope your enjoying yourself,

    Angela

    How learning foreign languages enables connection

    This video contains the quote from Nelson Mandela where if you speak to a person in a language they understand it goes to there head but if you speak to them in their language it goes to their heart. This is so very true of the Greek people and inside the speaker Louka will detail his journey to connect with his heritage but also the indigenous people of Australia. He will empower you to learn a language for yourself if only to keep your brain healthy and stop neurodegenerative diseases from taking hold and destroying all that you hold dear.

    Wishing you all well.

    Angela

    Reasons for and against monetisation

    I watched this video and she brings up some amazing points. These are things we all know and we all do yet we powerless to prevent them. It’s autonomy that we all crave and control. The ability to decide for ourselves what we are going to do when, how and also why. We can all live richer lives but without the riches that we think we need to do so. She draws upon Ancient wisdom but also the knowledge we learn growing up and foolishly discard as being outdated. We need money but not as much as we think. It’s about learning that self discipline and if we cannot planning accordingly so that we never run out of money.

    This is the first video that deals with making money and my issues with this :-

    How to make money from blogging

    Best wishes

    Angela

    The enjoyment of reading

    I’ve just been reading the BFG to myself in Greek and this makes me quite happy that I can follow what is happening in the story. I don’t quite get all of it yet but if I continue I should be a lot better than when I started.

    The first time I tried to read this book I was concentrating far too much on what I didn’t know so I didn’t understand the story at all. I know the story and I’ve seen various film adaptations but to actually read the original is quite different. I also referred to the English version far too much so I lost the flow as they don’t always correlate. What I do hate in writing though is the justification of words to fit in columns that results in lots of hyphens. It’s difficult enough to read the words and to have them split across 2 lines is just plain irritating. How am I supposed to read it out loud and put the emphasis on the correct part if I don’t even know what the word is?

    This is The negative side of trying to learn to read in a foreign language.

    Wishing you all the happiness in the world.

    Angela

    Word origins

    Now the origins of words is a subject that I love dearly so I’m very grateful when a native Greek not only teaches me many but also provides the translations for me in my native language. So very useful and helpful to have these around.

    I didn’t realize until watching the videos a second time just how many words had entered from French, Italian and Turkish. French as I’m learning was such a popular language in Europe and in Russia in the 18th. It was the lingua Franca or universal language of its day.

    I do have an affinity for certain words and I did wonder when going into a bakers why a particular type of bread was mia fragiola parakalo (one loaf of fragiola bread please). Now I know it’s a word of Turkish origin as it does stick out from the rest of the language. As does karpousia or watermelons. One of the very first words I learnt and it’s not really even Greek!!!!

    Here is the first video in the series

    Basic Greek

    This the second video in the series

    The effect Greek has had on English

    Wishing you all luck in your language adventures

    Angela

    The influence Greek has had on the English language etc

    Now I have previously commented lots on the many things contained within this video so I thought for a change you would like to see a Greek talk about his own language and history. He goes into much greater depth about everything than I ever could. Pronunciation is the biggest factor here. Its useful for those learning Romance languages and Russian too as there all connected.

    Here is the link to the first video in this series if you missed it.

    Basic Greek

    This is the third in the series in case you wish to jump ahead.

    More complex Greek

    Enjoy the bounty contained within.

    Angela

    Basic Greek for those that are unfamiliar

    I remember doing posts like this on YouTube in my early days but they were so bad that I deleted them after a couple of years. They are still in Facebook ‘s memory bank though so when that the day turns up in memories I get reminded of the progress I have made.

    Dimitri, the presenter does these videos so much better than I could ever do and with more subtitles as they are very difficult to synchronise.

    In case you are wondering why I am promoting these videos it’s to show the Greek language in the best possible way since who better than a native speaker in his home country. I most certainly couldn’t do a better job. It shows the different levels of understanding that are present as you progress in your language learning journey. I hope you all find them informative like I have.

    As this is the first video in the series there are 2 to follow and if you wish to just watch them without my commentary here they are :-

    The effect of English on Greek

    More complex Greek

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Some real Greek to practice on

    www.youtube.com/watch

    A video demonstrating that you can learn Greek whatever your circumstances. It’s very difficult to listen to the Greek as it’s spoken at normal pace, to read the Greek as it’s exactly as it’s said so therefore different grammatical arrangement to English and to read the English translation all at once. I suggest you concentrate on one aspect each time you watch it otherwise all you will get is a feeling about what is being discussed but not really any understanding.

    A rest from cerebral matters

    Today I wasn’t sure what to do so I got creative and made some fairies. I also looked up the Greek for the phrases that I wrote. By the way the word Eirini while meaning peace is also a girls name.

    You can also see a book I’m reading, Max Tegmark’s Our Mathematical Universe, My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. So you see that I can’t always be intellectual. Sometimes I need a break to be a little more childish.

    Lightbulb moment!

    I read an article about Keira knightly who said that she was dyslexic but that they only found out a year into her schooling. This was because her mother read lots of books to her and it’s only when they came across new ones that problems were discovered. Keira had memorised them and that’s what I do with words.

    It explains why I read everything in sight so this would not ever be an issue. My autism allows me to combat my dyslexia in a novel way but it’s still an acquired skill that can disappear if I’m not feeling top notch. I covered up my problems so well, that despite a few grammar issues that persisted throughout my education; nobody including myself ever thought I was dyslexic.

    I only uncovered this with my attempts to learn Greek and the fact that I most certainly do not read in a normal manner. This causes lots of additional difficulties in Greek because of genderized conjugation. Grammar is also completely different and highly flexible. This requires a lot of attention to learn all of the spelling patterns and word pairings especially since I have sequencing issues due to my autism. The cases (dative, accusative etc) are a big thing here which is not quite so obvious in English. There is also the tonos to account for which isn’t present in English. Thank goodness they got rid of all the other accents and breathing marks from modern Greek that are still present in older styles of Greek.

    As regards my reading I can sight read to pick up the gist of something but I may miss subtleties or I can read all of the words in a normalise fashion. I know when I’m tired as I’m reading words and there just not sinking in. They remain on the surface like bread floating on a pond instead of being submerged as they have absorbed water.

    This also explains my difficulty with speech as there are so many different ways to pronounce a word and the right way depends on so many factors. Your country, age, education, class, the influence of those around you, the language(s) you speak and for what purpose you use them as well.

    I have more difficulties with grammar and spelling now with the English language as well. Which is why it is helpful to write my blog as I continue to keep my level up. Without this constant practice I will certainly diminish my skill level.

    Just like a muscle wastes away without use so does the skills that we learn throughout life and the abilities present in your brain. So keep active and keep positive. If you do the things that you enjoy even if your not initially good at them. This will cause neuronal growth and you will learn that activity. So nothing is impossible. As the saying goes, even the word says I’m possible.

    Good wishes to you all,

    Αγγελα (pronunciations produce all manner of spellings and there all right as Greek is a phonetic language.)

    Mythos by Stephen Fry

    I’ve been reading his retelling of the Greek myths and there even more fascinating that I expected. Most of us are raised on them so we know the principal gods and some of the adventures they got up to. This contains how all the different gods, goddesses, Titans, titanesses, nymphs, dryads and every other creature came to be. It gives their family tree, the stories of their birth and what they were responsible. It also explains how we get many of our words and how these words are also still present in the Greek language today. It’s written in a very amusing way that you would expect but also an intellectual one. A student of history or classics will love this just as a person studying languages, art, philosophy or just Greece and its people in general. It just goes to show that facts are forever reinterpreted by different cultures but that doesn’t stop them from being true. Or being based on real life events that previously we may have doubted since there only record was in religious texts. This is the best book I’ve read for a long time and I would most certainly recommend it.

    Happiness comes from surprising places

    I saw this and then I read it – it’s the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime. Followed shortly after by this as it’s on the adjacent page. I knew nothing of what it contained so it was a real joy that I could actually read this without resorting to Google translate.

    The article starts with Penelope Cruz talking about what she thinks of what I now know to be world famous Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. This bit didn’t initially make sense so I had to read it a couple times and keep coming back to it. It makes sense when you realise Penelope Cruz is Spanish and he has worked in Spain. I read this in a rather bizarre manner hence this is constructed in a rather odd way. A bit like myself really.

    Where an Iranian filmmaker Asgkar Faranti, is talking about his love for his home country Iran and how long it took for the film displayed in the picture of the article and that he has just been in; to be made. He mentions being lost and without purpose as he had stayed so many years away from his country of origin. As he had previously worked in the USA, Spain and Paris. He hopes you will understand his longing to make a film in his home environment.

    The article goes into detail about the struggles the actor has faced trying to build his craft and get his catalogue of films to market. It hasn’t been easy due to the political situation but he has studied hard gaining a bachelors of art in 1998 that allowed him to pursue a dream that he created for himself when he was just 14 years old. He had previously had to satisfy himself by working on Iranian television but by 2006 had transformed Iranian cinematography with 4 films.

    A win at the Cannes film festival and Oscar nod in 2012 has suddenly brought his discography into the limelight. He was the first from his country to win an Oscar for a foreign language movie. Which he repeated in 2017 with honours from the Berlin festival too. He believed it was so important to showcase everyday life in Iran. It has stories about how family life still goes on despite difficulties. For the longest time he was not able to work in Iran. It mentions Donald Trump too and his fear of Iranians that was quite an issue for himself in 2015. However since he is now the biggest artist in Iran, he has become a celebrity.

    Άνγκελα (This is how Angela Merkel’s name was written in a recent newspaper report and it’s always said with a hard g sound).

    Reading

    Reading is very important for comprehension but also so is understanding. Reading is difficult for dyslexics of which they are many in both my own and married families. I’m starting to think that in my adopted language of Greek that I possibly have this too but not in the way that any of them have. You can also read in a hyperlexic way. While a dyslexic has an inability to read hence the term coming from 2 Greek words dys and lexic; a hyperlexic can very easily read and in fact will do quite quickly. It is this apparent ability that causes issues. The problem with a hyperlexic is that they don’t understand what they are reading. This is similar to how an autistic reads. They can do sight reading because that is just pattern recognition after all. This is another thing that is common across all 3 conditions. The ability for words to transform into hieroglyphs so you recognise the symbols (letters) but when they are combined in new ways, you don’t always get what they are trying to tell you in terms of content or pronunciation.

    Autism is another word originating from the Greek language meaning self. As it’s a gendered language you have he, she it being auto, aute and autos. The strange thing here is with it being said afto, afte and Aftos. Then of course you have to factor in that it is a different alphabet with only 24 letters so not everything maps directly. This causes lots of issues with spelling etc as the above words are represented as αυτό, αυτή και αυτός. This is quite bewildering at first and will still get me on quite a frequent basis. It probably always will which is a pain but that’s life.

    This is another article I did on the challenges of learning to read in another language The positive side.

    Αντζελα (yet another way of writing my name in Greek that’s closest to the English pronunciation.)

    Literature

    I am a keen reader of books of all kinds as I love words. This makes it fitting that I also have a love of the Greek language as so many words in the English language originate from there. In a bid to help me learn all about the Greek culture I read every book and watch every movie that I can get my hands on to further my knowledge of this fascinating culture.

    To acquire this bounty it includes such classics as Zorba the Greek (book and movie), as well as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres (so far only the movie); and some of the vast media catalogue on the Durell’s for instance, the TV show about their lives as a family on Corfu and books like The Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence or the well known My Family and Animals by Gerald. However, no list could be complete without also adding in more recent books like all of Victoria Hislop‘s books and to have another Greek point of view, I’m going to start on Panos Kanezis books, The Maze etc shortly.

    I can usually be found with my head stuck in a book and since I read at an astonishingly quick pace if the book is well written, I’m soon to be found in want of a person to tell them all about the book I just devoured with great relish. These are my latest interests but I do have a book on how Virginia Woolf et al fought to learn the Greek language as it was the language of the learned people and an anthology of Greek poetry from the last 2000 years as Lefkás has Sappho and the poet Aristotle Valaoritis island nearby and his shrine.

    I wish to have a balanced viewpoint of people and their cultures through time hence there are books by the English living in Corfu and various other Greek Islands from the 30’s-50s (Durell’s), some of whom could speak Greek (Lawrence in particular) but there is also Victoria Hislop who has written on many aspects of Greek life as she can also speak Greek. It helps to lend an authentic air to her stories when you know she has mixed with the locals to gain inspiration for her stories. There is nothing quite like reading a Nikos Kazantzakis novel though with the gravitas that he lends to his writing. It is truly a spectacular talent that he had as he lifted all that read his masterpieces to a higher plane of thought. There should be greater appreciation of his work outside of his native lands but if I praise him too much that means the books will go up in price and I will not be able to buy them so cheaply anymore 😉

    Best wishes

    Angela