If you are visiting a Greek island that has even the most basic of tourist facilities, you can, quite happily enjoy your stay with absolutely no knowledge of the Greek language, as many of the Greeks you meet, such as waiters or bar staff, are usually able to speak some English. As these people have made such an effort to learn your language, it only seems polite to at least make a small effort to be able to speak a little Greek back, and who knows, you may even start to enjoy it.
When starting out, the first thing to remember is keep it simple it is amazing how you can soon learn to communicate with just a few words, some hand gestures and a bit of miming. If you try learning long, grammatically perfect sentences, you will probably get a long sentence back that you will simply not understand.
Most Greeks you meet will appreciate that you have at least made an effort, and will be happy to help you out with the pronunciation of any words you may be having difficulty with, so don’t be shy, and have a go.
As the Greek alphabet is different from our own, it is best at this stage to ignore the written word and concentrate on the pronunciation of a few useful words. You will be given the word, followed by a pronunciation guide based on English sounds. It is also important to stress words in the correct place, so to indicate which part of the word needs to be stressed, that part will be written using bold type.
In Greece, as in England, when you first meet someone it is polite to give then a greeting such as hello or good morning, so this seems to be a good place to start.
- Hello – yasas (This can be used as a greeting at any time of the day)
- Good morning – kaleemera
- Good evening kaleespera
- Goodbye – adeeo (On leaving you may wish to say goodbye)
- Goodnight – kaleeneekhta
While out shopping you may wish to check the price of something, you can always point to the item you are thinking of buying and ask:
- How much is it – poso kanee
- Thank you – efkhareesto
- Yes – ne
- No – okhee
- Please/Don’t mention it – parakalo
- Excuse me/Sorry – seegnomee
This is just to get you going, so don’t get embarrassed, and give it a try.