Monday, September 13, 2010

Greek Speak

Have you ever wanted to impress your friends by speaking Greek? Imagine greeting your friends with “yia'sou” (hello) as they walk in to meet you at a Greek restaurant or a hip Greek bar and grill. At this point they may be somewhat amused but then you proceed to ask the waiter to “parakalo' (please) bring plates of ze'sti (hot) and cri'o (cold) mezzes”. Wow! All the sudden, you’re the life of the party!

The Greek language is fascinating as it has evolved over thirty-four centuries beginning with Proto-Greek (early second millennium BC), then evolving into Mycenaean (c 1600-1100 BC), Ancient Greek (c. 800-330 BC), Koine Greek (c. 330 BC), Medieval Greek (c330-1453) and culminating with today’s Modern Greek (from 1453), which is spoken by 13 million people. Modern Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus and one of the 23 official languages of the European Union.

For simplicity’s sake, we used Greek words here written with the Latin alphabet rather than the Greek alphabet (as we’re assuming you haven’t had a chance to learn that yet). Using the Latin alphabet is referred to as Greeklish (Greek and English) and was developed for online communication back in the day before operating systems could handle the Greek alphabet.

If learning Greek seems, well, a little “greek” to you, parakalo' (please) don’t despair. There are many great resources on the web – some of which are even free! So start practicing your conversational Greek and bring all your friends to Ziziki’s for a fantastiko' time.

**Note: the ' indicates the accent**

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