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Friday, 17 December 2010

Learning Greek «Η ζωή είναι δύσκολη»

Nearly our last Greek lesson before Christmas. Niko's the teacher we always wanted. He started us seven months ago with four books.

- Κλεάνθης Αρβανιτάκης Φρόσω Αρβανιτάκη, Επικοινωνήστε ελληνικά 1(Arvanitakis, K & F Communicate in Greek - Epikoiniste Ellinika 1, Book 1 and the exercise book that goes with it.

- Greek: An Essential Grammar of the Modern Language

- Oxford Learner's Pocket Dictionary

Niko has lesson plans, gives us homework, chats in Greek, records things on my laptop so we can practice pronunciation, helps with writing Greek and is invariably supportive and funny. But our progress seems so slow - or is it? When my mother stayed with us in Corfu in October she had the impression I was speaking quite a lot. Lin says things like :I'm never going to learn". but she was helping me with homework yesterday and translating paragraphs of Greek from a paperback novel. Our lessons are an hour and a half but Niko never finishes by the clock so we often have longer than agreed time. Yesterday as well as going through our homework, which was all about getting the right pronoun for different sentences and remembering the declension of four verbs - μένω - to live, έχω - to have, δουλεύω - to work, and είμαι - to be. Then we did some grammar and punctuation - accents, other diacritics, using capitals and lower case, and the transcription of foreign names. The Greek question mark is a semi-colon. Where English use speech marks "" , Greek uses <<>>. Greek divides large numbers with full stops, thus 1.456.777 instead of the English 1,456,777. Where English would use a semi-colon (;), Greek uses a colon or raised point (:).
A sentence to test pronunciation, punctuation and grammar: "Your donkey's milk is good." «Το γάλα της γαïδάρας σου είναι καλό.»

BBC Greek and KS Webtopos
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Our garden in Handsworth
An email from Australia: Hi Simon - from Coolangatta airport where I am delayed five hours because of storms down eastern Australia - due in @12.45am then the drive home! I will get back to you in a day or so. Cheers, john

From me: You drive carefully. Christmas storms in Oz, eh. Climate dislocation or just the normal to and fro of Australian weather? Best S

John, still in the airport: The '$64 question' as they say. The climate science predicted that the warmer oceans would lead to more intensive storms, which is what is delaying my flight! I aim to sleep on the plane and have a quiet drive up the freeway...Cheers john
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Got an email with attached photos from Mark in Ano Korakiana, just back from a few days in Zagori - about 150k from Corfu via Igoumenitsa and Ioannina:
Paul, Cinty, Sally and Nicky (I think) in a local guest house
Hi Simon and Linda....We went away for a few days over to our favourite spot on mainland last week with Paul, Cinty and another couple Tim and Nicky, which was very nice indeed - oh and Teal of course came with us and the guest house people really like Teal and would love a pup from him one day... the weather is most unpleasant again now with rain and winds whereas last week and the beginning of this week we had cold but bright clear days, my favourite. Nothing else really to report only that we are both well and keeping warm with the log burner blazing away. Looks like you had a great time down under and  got back safe and sound. Love to you both, Mark   PS. Have just put a couple of pics on from the trip...
Vikos Gorge in Zagori
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And in Ano Korakiana work that has started on the restoration and renovation of the fine old Philharmonia music school below Venetia, but Thanassis reports on the village website that snow and near zero temperatures have temporarily stopped work
And I notice a strong reply in a debate about Ano Korakiana's style of dancing and accompanying music from the village historian Kostas Apergis who responds to a certain Mr. Skolariki about the Korakiana Song - Κορακιανίτικο Χορό:
Δημοσιεύουμε στη συνέχεια την απάντηση του Κώστα Απέργη σε προηγηθείσα επιστολή του Ναπ. Σκολαρίκη με θέμα τον "Κορακιανίτικο Χορό"...
"Κύριε Σκολαρίκη,
Η Κορακιάνα τυχαίνει να είναι ένα χωριό που υπάρχει διαρκώς τα νεώτερα χρόνια, τουλάχιστον από τον 10ο μ.Χ. αιώνα, πράγμα που σημαίνει μια συνεχή κοινωνική, πολιτιστική και οικονομική παρουσία στην ιστορική ζωή της Κέρκυρας και στα καλά και στα κακά χρόνια.
Ο λαός της Κορακιάνας στο διάστημα αυτό σφυρηλάτησε μια ομοιογενή αντίληψη και συμπεριφορά, σε όλες τις εκδηλώσεις του, που έφθασε μέχρι τις μέρες μας.Όταν λοιπόν σας ανατέθηκε να γράψετε στίχους για τον «Κορακιανίτικο σκοπό», επειδή τάχα δεν υπήρχαν, έπρεπε προηγουμένως να «ψάξετε» και κατόπιν να προχωρήσετε στο εγχείρημα.
Το περιεχόμενο του τραγουδιού σας, δυστυχώς, είναι ΞΕΝΟ και ΑΣΧΕΤΟ με την Κορακιάνα και για κάποιους που το παρήγγειλαν και το επικρότησαν, επιτρέψτε μου να πω, ότι «τόσα ξέρουν, τόσα λένε».Δεν γνωρίζω ποιόν Σύλλογο της Άνω Κορακιάνας εννοείτε. Τη Φιλαρμονική; Το Σύλλογο Ανω-Κορακιανιτών Αθηνών; Κάποιον άλλον;Δυστυχώς σε τούτο το χωριό δεν ευτυχήσαμε να έχουμε πάντα επικεφαλής μας τους κατάλληλους (αλλά αυτό δεν αφορά εσάς).
Στην Κορακιάνα, ο «Κορακιανίτικος» είναι γνωστός ως «σταυρωτός» επειδή, σύμφωνα με την ταπεινή μου άποψη, «σταυρώνονται τα πόδια» όταν χορεύεται.
Κύριε Σκολαρίκη. Είμαι 62 ετών. Ασχολούμαι με την ιστορία, τη λαογραφία και τις παραδόσεις του χωριού  μου. Γνώρισα πλήθος παλαιών ανθρώπων και γιορτές, συνέλεξα δημοτικά τραγούδια του χωριού (λαογραφική εργασία ανέκδοτη) και περί των παραδόσεων και της αλλοίωσης ή μη αυτών, επιτρέψτε μας να έχουμε τη δική μας άποψη".Με τιμή. Κώστας Απέργη
If I understand this correctly the music and the dance so associated with the village are shown partly here at this year's Vasilopita at Luna D'Argento (see the clip from 0.42).
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Meanwhile - μέσα σε αυτή τη ζοφερή ατμόσφαιρα - last Wednesday: 'Protesters fought running battles with riot police in central Athens, torching cars, hurling gasoline bombs and sending Christmas shoppers fleeing as tens of thousands took to the streets during a general strike against the government's latest austerity measures....(AP ~ 18 Dec '10)


  1. The one sentence I can remember from Teach Yourself Greek (circa 1967) is

    "I zoi einai diskoli"

    'Life is difficult'.

    And so is Greek

  2. I'll steal that for my title...


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Simon Baddeley