3 easy Greek words to learn before your next holiday (or meal at Caffi Kiki!)
Holidays. I know. Who knows when they will be a thing? But one thing is certain, when things do open up, Greece will be one of the strongest contenders for a covid-safe get away (not to mention the crystal blue seas, warm sun and food of the Gods!)
I may be biased, but Greeks are incredibly welcoming to tourists and visitors.'Philoxenia' defined as 'love of strangers' and 'eagerness to show hospitality is a sacred part of Greek culture and having a few Greek words under your belt makes that welcome even warmer.
Greek can be quite a daunting language as the alphabet makes it less accessible than Latin languages, but this quick guide will equip you with the basics to put a smile on the face of your hosts, and remember you can even have a little practice next time you come to the restaurant!
Thanks. Ef-cha-ri-stO (Ευχαριστώ)
Why say something in one syllable when you could use four? Thank you often makes Anglophones fall at the frist hurdle ("Come on, there has to be a shorter version?") but I know you guys are better than that. Break it down slowly, and remember to put the stress on the last syllable (o- pronounced like the 'O' in 'orange'- keep your mouth open and don't round it off into that treacherous English 'Oh'!)
If you think Greeks are being rude and abrupt while ordering, it's worth noting that in Greek culture saying 'please' and 'thank you' doesn't have the same value as it does in Western culture, and Greeks actually find people who use them too often to be fake and over the top! Thanking someone for passing the salt seems ludicrous as it creates distance and implies that they wouldn't want to do you the favour of passing the salt!
2. Hello/ Goodbye. Ya-sou/ Ya-sas (Υεια σου /Υεια σας)
It's not that bad, you get two for the price of one with this one, as 'Yasou' is a greeting that can be used as hello or goodbye. Of course, there is a catch as there are two forms of the word, the singular/ informal 'Yasou' (you would use this to say hello to one person, if you know them or if they are younger than you- a bit like using 'ti' in Welsh or 'tu' in French) and 'Yasas' (used for a group of people, or someone you don't know or has a higher status- like 'chi' or 'vous')
If you're not sure which to use you can err on the side of caution and use 'Yasas' or even avoid the issue by shortening it to 'Ya'- like an informal 'hi'. Try not to worry about saying the wrong thing or offending someone- the fact that you're trying means so much more than what's actually coming out of your mouth!
3. Cheers. Ya-mas (Γεια μας)
Another easy one (I'll drink to that!) Shortened from 'Stin ygeia mas' (to our health)
There are lots of different things that you can drink to, and in Greece you don't often raise a glass without drinking to something (from 'to your wedding' -regardless of your relationship status, to 'keep the cops away from us'-regardless of your criminal tendencies) Just remember not to make a toast with a glass of water, and certainly not with an empty glass!
Ti lete? What do you say? Will you try these out on your next holiday? What other Greek words would you like to learn? Let me know in the comments, and please remember to like, share and subscribe!