This is a museum about the visual word. It demonstrates that the Mayan way of communication is completely different to anything else in the world. There are 31 different dialects and it shows in chart form how and where they evolved. It also demonstrates how the sound has changed over time.
The Mayan language started off being written in hieroglyphic form but with a completely different set of symbols to Egyptian. However when the Spanish invaded this was banned. So all Mayan practices had to conducted in secret or with the Latin language. As a result of this it meant that the ability to read and write was mostly lost until recently. The museum charts the work of anthropologists, enthographers and linguists from around the world but particularly Dresden, Madrid, and St Petersburg in there battle to understand this mysterious code. It was cracked but it took until the 1950s for this to happen. The Mayan language is now written universally in Latin and the hieroglyphs are left as part of there cultural heritage.
The reasoning for this is that the mayans used a vigesimal system which meant that they counted in 20s. This is quite a feat but remember there was no electricity in those days so no internet, television, radio, phones, computers to distract them.
The Mayan mathematical system was unique using dots and dashes to add all numbers together. They invented zero long before the Arabic zero. The Romans with their numerals never had the concept of zero. The Mayan knowledge of mathematics, physics and astronomy was comparable to the Ancient Greeks.
The Mayan calendar system was also unique in that it had 18 months of 20 days and 1 month of 5 days to create 365 days. The extra days were celebratory. They each had there own name and these were only repeated every 52 years. The date is written in 5 parts. The first 3 in numerals then you get words to represent where you are in that particular cycle.
The Mayan calendar system is similar to the Aztec calendar system so you can get easily confused as they are equally big numbers that seems rather abstract at once glance. You have to have a systematic and mathematical mind to grasp it. A bit like the old system of pounds, shillings and pence was once commonplace but now seems so awkward and obsolete.
There isn’t much in the museum itself anymore as it’s been open for 60 years now. It’s been moved to a new location further north but what is left is still intriguing. The artefacts themselves, the stories and the knowledge contained within. By the way this is in Spanish but you can get an English book if you left them hold your ID for the duration of your stay. It takes about a hour to look at it all.
I have been enjoying a holiday in Mexico to practice my Spanish but I’m also getting a sampler of German and a sprinkling of Russian in addition to the Mayan language.
When you are relaxed it is much easier to retain information and when you speak the language the locals are much more likely to recommend their favourite places and dishes to you. Local knowledge is key as always. Travel agents are good but they can’t possibly have been everywhere or know everything. The internet is no substitute for experience here.
This is Eduardo who I had a chat with as he has previously learnt some Russian and was currently learning German. He had progressed quite well for only having spent 6 months on the language so far. Being from this area he had already mastered Spanish, Mayan and English. He liked to travel a lot to the point each year he would spend 3 months working away but regretted the fact that he always had to do it solo. He admired the fact that me and my husband Sam could share our adventures together.
This is a new technique that I have learnt that helps to address what is usually lacking in your language studies if your an introvert like me and really dislike talking to people.
You need to get hold of some clear audio (an audiobook) that is at your current level.You also next to get hold of the corresponding text (e and physical is the most beneficial but you choose which is the best for you).Next you need a recording device, there is one on your phone.
When choosing your text make sure that the subject matter is interesting to you otherwise it will not be as useful to you and you will be wasting your time.
Have the text in front of you and listen to the audio at the same time.
If you are someone like me this is quite difficult because I absorb information at light speed. I’m not really reading but seem to pick up the gist as quickly as a sponge sucks up water. (Most of the time)
In this example though we are going for pronunciation practice here. So we’re trying to assimilate as much of the sound in terms of its physical qualities. By that I mean it’s intonation, spacing, pitch, rhythm, accent, emotion etc as possible. All of the different components are important here to get an authentic sound which is what we are aiming for.This is so that we can repeat it into the recorder as accurately as possible. This round is on a phrase by phrase basis.Then we try to repeat as much of it as possible listening to the audio recording from the beginning again. This is so that we can get a flow to the whole piece rather than isolating each sentence.Next we are going to compare our recorded speech with that of the prerecorded speech to check for differences.Finally we repeat the process until we cannot distinguish our own speech from that of the recording. (This maybe optimism as you may get bored if this doesn’t happen quickly).
Again if you are like me, your reluctant to listen to your own voice recordings because what you hear doesn’t sound anything like you think you sound. It’s sounds pretty awful as it’s weak, pathetic and indistinct a bit like a newborn mewling kitten.
This is the link if you wish to learn Russian from Max its creator Shadowing.
If you have been following my blog you will know that this approach is next to impossible to apply in Greek. I have recently found audio books on YouTube but I have had to separately purchase the e and physical books from Amazon. It took quite some time to arrive as even though they were on Amazon UK, it had to be shipped from Germany.
I have started to follow a lady on WordPress un petite bibliophile (this platform unless your reading this on my fb page) who reviews Greek children’s books in Greek. However, without access to the texts themselves; they are of limited use to me for this particular technique. They are simple children’s books but they can still teach valuable concepts. I like to use them for grammar and reading practice. It helps my comprehension and understanding having her texts there to consult.
If you wish to watch and listen to the worlds most expressive Russian check out the above video. It’s a simple story with questions afterwards. There are subtitles to help you out as well as pictures and his actions.
This is a very informative video that I came across on YouTube about how to progress through the different learning levels. Turn the subtitles on because he is Russian but he speaks using the words that are closest to English. He makes more sense than most Russians but that might also be because he is talking about something I’m very interested in.
The best way to learn a language in my opinion is with the ease of a child. By that I mean don’t approach it head on. Don’t get bogged down with grammar, declension tables or memorising lists of vocabulary.
To effectively learn a language you need to engage your unconscious and sub conscious minds. This is where our creative powers reside and the majority of our brain power.
Communication is mostly done unconsciously. This is where body language comes in and Freudian slips of the tongue. This is challenging behaviour for a child to control but relatively simple for us unless we are under duress, in a new scenario.
A child will interact with his environment absorbing everything and gradually processing it into a shape that takes the form of words. However, before this children will express themselves in art. Even Picasso knew that the still resides an artist within every adult yet it has been obscured by becoming an adult.
Children have no innate sense of fear so this allows them to explore and practice language without worrying about the implications of what they are saying. This is how we get such phrases as “out of the moths of babes”. The honesty of children gets lost as we learn to say white lies, to sugar coat our words or simply to say the opposite of what we mean entirely out of politeness. This all builds up to prevent us from being able to communicate in a foreign language.
We are often reduced to the linguistic level of a child when it comes to second language acquisition and this frightens us. We are scared of the unpeeling of ourselves and the vulnerability that we now exhibit since we are no longer able to mask our true feelings.
In order to master our linguistic abilities we need to learn to appreciate ourselves for who we were, who we are now but also who we wish to become in the future. We can’t change if we don’t know that we need to in the first place.
Have you had to do any “unprogramming” of yourself to learn how to live a better, more authentic life for yourself?
This is a common phenomenon that we all face if we like to read. We also like to collect books as there is nothing quite like settling down to read our latest find. However life frequently gets in the way of this so we forget where we are. This may cause us to neglect the half finished book in favour of something shorter or easier to read. This does not help when we are forever acquiring more books as they all seem so interesting!
I am a terrible hoarder when it comes to books as I just have so many. They cover a variety of subjects as you never know what mood your going to be in when the reading bug strikes. This is why challenges like the GoodReads reading challenge is useful. You can decide how many you are going to read in the year and then next year your goal is to beat it. It’s gamification to try to incite you to read more and to do it quicker as it’s now a competition. Although this is one you will never win since there is an infinite amount of books out there and your time is rather more finite.
In order to make this more achievable I suggest you utilise the Ultra Learning technique as proposed by Scott H Young. This was today’s free book on a Blinkist but I have been a fan of his for many years. This lists the steps that you need to follow in order to be able to do all that you want to in a day. If you are follower like myself on his email list; you will get access to the first chapter for free. There are other benefits like early access to courses too.
Are there any common problems that you have faced and found a solution to?
This word is gaining in popularity at the moment as an antidote to the perfection that is put forward by over manipulated images. Instagram is responsible for a certain manufactured look that teens feel they need to conform too. Authenticity is lacking in our media at the moment. Social media is dictating too much of our lives so we need to step back and look at what is really important to us. Self awareness and meditation are other buzz words of the moment. They tie in with the previous craze for Pilates and more recently yoga. Wellness retreats are another idea that has sprung up to take advantage of our interest in self care.
Vulnerability is about openness and showing the world who we really are when we are not in the limelight. So many of us “put on a face” to show the world akin to a women’s makeup routine. This takes effort to do and shouldn’t be an absolute certainty before we can show ourselves in public. The neuro diversity movement that is currently gaining strength is all about being who you really are on the inside. Not hiding your genuine self because you have been taught that this side to yourself is unacceptable to society at large. This also encompasses the trans gender movement as well as gay rights. A person should be free to dress how they like, love who they want to, have a relationship with them and also to have a family. At the end of the day this is what everyone wants and they are all entitled to it as we are all human.
One of the major mistakes you can do when starting to learn a foreign language is to translate everything back into your native language. This means there will always be a delay in your speech. It could also mean lots of errors are introduced due to different grammar, possession, word order etc.
If you learn pronunciation first before meaning then you will learn what you are reading in your target language rather than your native language. This will help enormously with your comprehension and communication.
However when learning a language like Greek, finding something with subtitles to go along with your audiobook is like finding a needle in a haystack. YouTube has plenty of music videos, audiobooks, news reports, chat shows etc but very rarely do they come with closed captioning. Overdrive is an app that you can use to get access to digital resources from your local library but they don’t tend to have foreign books. They have umpteen language courses but if you want something relaxing you are again stuck. Overdrive allows you to have multiple libraries stored in your app so you have access to a wide variety of resources and they have a new app called Libby too. This however does not fix your problem. So I suggest going onto EBay to buy a Greek version of Harry Potter to go along with the audio book that is on YouTube. Victoria Hislop is another idea along with Nikos Kazantzakis and The Little Prince.
A British author who went to school at the Kings School Canterbury, was a scholar, polyglot and a soldier. He traveled extensively in Greece and Europe becoming friends with Lawrence Durrell. He is referenced by Lawrence in Bitter Lemons which is Lawrence’s book on Cyprus.
He also had quite an effect on Ian Fleming and is extensively quoted in his book Live and Let Die due to his experience of the Caribbean and the fact he liked to live in monasteries.
He has quite the back catalogue of books to get through as he had the crazy idea to walk all the way from England to Greece. It’s serialised in his books since there is such a lot of material. I have one Roumeli- Travels in Northern Greece. Roumeli is an old name for northern Greece that is seldom used these days. He is perhaps the only man that I know of that has referred to the area by such a term.
I’m currently reading the above book and it’s a good read. It has lots of snippets of the Greek language and it shows Greece just as it was being discovered by the rest of Western Europe in the 1960’s. It was a time of great change and modernisation. It was also a time of revolution. He mentions the customs and traditions that may not be still present. I find it very informative and it’s a historical document. He does however reference his previous book Mani a lot which I haven’t got yet and you can tell he was a journalist as it’s written as a travelogue with pieces of real life interaction along with book recommendations and information about the people or history of a place.
On his gravestone is a quote from C F Cavafy and it says “In addition, he was the best of all things, Hellenic.”
His family come from Lefkás while he was born in Patras. They put this gravestone up in front of a children’s playground which carries his name. The area is known as Apostolos Santas square. They also have a big sewing shop in town if I’m correct here since it’s an unusual surname.
He took down the German flag from the Acropolis on 30th May 1941 which is what it says on the gravestone.
She was a very famous Greek from America who fell in love with a fellow Greek who was charming, charismatic, ambitious and basically your stereotypical self made man. He got what he wanted and dictated the terms of the relationship as you would expect for a man in his position and of the time and culture he came from. She was a delicate flower who just wanted to sing but she didn’t have the means by herself so she needed a patron. Step forward Aristotle Onassis who provided the means for her to do so. They also had a very famous relationship while she was married to her husband Giovanni Batista, Onassis being married to his first Tina, together Maria and Onassis had a child Homer who subsequently died and the pairing continued until he got married to Jackie Kennedy.
Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Authors, Musicians, Museums, Famous Greeks, Greek islands, Rural Villages in Lefkás, specific Greek fields of interest and foreigners with an interest in Greece. All the links can be found here Series links.
We then got the Speech and Art festival in 1955. After this the organiser Antonis Tzevelekis came up with the International Folklore Festival. This started in 1962 and is now held every August. Initially it had only 3 countries but has now blossomed to hundreds of thousands of participants each and every year.
In the above picture it notes that Maria Callas turned up in 1964 to help kick the celebrations off.
It also mentions that in 1995 the then president of the Greek parliament Apostolis Kaklamanis who was himself a Lefkádian was attending.
The organiser Antonis Tzevelekis was himself commemorated when he died in 1989 after 30 years of dedicated to the cause. He also has a street and a square dedicated to himself in Lefkás town but I’m yet to come across a statue of his.
In the Cultural centre in Lefkás town there is a floor that contains all sorts of information about the yearly folklore festival. It costs a € to enter but you won’t know this until you open the door and someone comes rushing forward to tell you.
It’s worth it though as you get to see musical instruments from past participating countries as well as national costumes and dolls.
You can even try them on (not the above ones but a special selection provided for you.) But I didn’t get the feeling that was a good idea despite the empty changing room and available full length mirror. You get the idea your trespassing during the whole cultural centre not just the upper floor as it’s so empty. It feels abandoned despite it being open, staffed and well maintained.
There is also a room full of objects belonging to Antonis Tzevelekis and these phrases which are not translated but tell you about his life.
There is of course the Mardi Gras festival they have every year to celebrate the beginning of Lent. The costumes always look fantastic from the pictures friends put online and compare to festivals I have been to like Pirates Week and Batabano in the Cayman Islands as well as Notting Hill carnival in London.
The celebrations in New Orleans, the Canary Islands and Rio de Janeiro are similar I believe as there all for the same reason.
Since I’m never here that early in the season (February) I can’t tell you or show what it’s really like. If you like Museums though check out these articles
I’m not quite sure why these people made the list and not others. It’s mainly a list of government officials which I haven’t seen any evidence of elsewhere. If you want to know how I’m able to say all these people have streets name after them, I’m looking at a street map of Lefkás town of course. (Yes I am sad enough to walk the entire town taking pictures of street signs in 30c heat).
5. Petros Filipas Panagos 1860-1935 He was a doctor and a politician, with the below statue and a street named after him but I haven’t been able to find out anything more about him.
6. Konstantinos Macheras1888-1967 was a historian with a street named after him.
7. Konstantinos Grapsas 1880-1948 was lawyer, writer and a translator with you guessed it a street named after him.
9. Anastasios Skidaresis 1877-1941 MP, poet, translator of Ancient Greek and Italian Poets and another street name.
11.Angelos Sikelianos is the most famous Lefkádian who turns up in quite a few places and I have written about him, his wife Eva Palmer-Sikelianos and his poet /author friends George Seferis, etc at length already.
12.Efstathios Zakkas 1835-1888 is a benefactor according to the list and has a street named after him but that it’s as far as I know.
13. Nikos Katiforishas slightly more information around about himself being that he lived closer to the present day and I wrote about him in a separate post but not a lot due to my inability to find the Lefkádian archives.
14. Dimitrios Golemis
has his own statue in Lefkás town because he came third in the Olympic 800m in 1896. He had many other positions to occupy himself but information about him is thin on the ground.He does have a street named after him though.
The others I’m scratching at straws as we say in English ie Apart from basic biographical data I haven’t a clue who they were. Sometimes only the name exists.
There are 2 more libraries which I’m yet to locate here in Lefkás town- The Nikos Svoronos Library and the Haralambos Library. They should be able to help me fill in the gaps.
Honourable mentions go to Nikolaos Flogaitis 1799-1867 Freedom fighter because he too has a street named after him,
Frederick Temple 1821-1902 who after being born in Santa Maura fort became Archbishop of Canterbury,
Petros Soumilas 1861-19? A soldier who was born on Lefkás and finally
Marcos Christino Fioravanti 1775-1862 who was also born in Santa Maura but became a legendary teacher and translator in Brazil.
Thankyou tourism websites and Wikipedia. If however I have piqued your interest and you would like to learn more about Lefkás and it’s people click over here Series links.