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.

When you suddenly realise you know more than you think

It’s interesting that at some point in your language learning journey it will occur to you how much you have learnt. You may not realise this for quite some time but when you do, it hits you like a bullet.

To explain a bit about my personal story, I love the Greek language and I started from scratch. Although being an English speaker you could debate that given the amount of words that have their origins there. I used to spend many hours listening to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=RDEMh-SVbgWi4o0giQEIFYvZUg Kostas Martakis songs because they were simple bubblegum pop and he is certainly easy on the eyes being a former model.

I followed this by watching Nikos Vertis – Eisai einai asteri https://youtu.be/6Ye0NOn7nrI
or You are a star. It is a beautiful love song that you can easily find with English lyrics. For those that are not quite so sappy try To Kyma (wave) by Melisses (honeybees). https://youtu.be/GBSqFT1yqqU

For more song practice I tunes is good as it’s one of the few places you can get hold of Greek songs and there English versions too. Beware because of the grammatical differences between the languages you might end up with some funny phrases. Helena Paraparizou sings about the love police in Fiesta https://youtu.be/TTEMu1t4BxM
but it’s also present to some extent in the Greek version but it’s agape poli or much love here. https://youtu.be/JG-TPHlqerg

If soaps is your thing, there are subtitled Greek soaps made occasionally by the Lacta company which makes Greek chocolate bars. These shows https://youtu.be/k4L0he1WC0I
are really funny and the acting while completely over the top is so very Greek. You don’t really need the subtitles unless you want to know every little thing. These are an amusing diversion from studying but your still learning.

I also have a Greek version of the BFG to progress with as it was above my level last time I tried reading out loud. This is a lot more difficult than just reading.

Now I have progressed to the point that I’m watching Ted x talks but in Greek. https://youtu.be/fZi1f2OS7nU
There fascinating for the cultural insight that they give you and the fact I just love the sound of the Greek language. There is of course huge variance just like with all languages and people. I haven’t got to the point yet where I’m understanding why he suddenly laughs but I will get that eventually.

As well as reading a Greek newspaper (see recent posts) with Google Translate and a Greek language learning FB group as backup; I can write to one of my Greek friends and she can understand. She has for instance asked me where am I on meeting my brother in law and asked when am I visiting as she misses me. I do still need help with spelling so the internet and autocorrect are helpful here. I don’t think I will ever have a native level but I’m not aiming for that. The ability to communicate effectively is sufficient. This has must certainly been quite an undertaking though. Learning a foreign language when you have dyslexia is not for the faint hearted.

What challenge have you undertaken that is now starting to yield results?

Best wishes

Angela

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.)

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).

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