I slipped and fell in love with Greece over the summer. On a 21-day archaeological expedition in a tiny archipelago of the north Aegean, I discovered more than the 8 ancient shipwrecks we located and documented… I found myself head over heels in love with a country, its people, customs, food, and even learning Greek words. Eventually I want to speak this beautiful, complex language.
So get ready for a few posts on Greece!
I’ve always loved language and believe that no packing list is complete without at least a few key words and phrases tucked into memory for use in your destination country. That being said, I had zero (Z-E-R-O) knowledge of the Greek language before arriving in Athens in June. I also managed to get a hideous whack of food poisoning on the plane and by the time I learned my first Greek word, I looked like death. Instead I will give you a photo of me not looking like death with some new Greek friends…
That word, inevitably, was “μαλάκας” or “malaka” – the essential Greek word used for “brother”, “friend”, “f*cker”, “bullsh*t”, or a host of other ideas one might want to convey. Literally it means the equivalent of the Aussie / British word “wanker” (I won’t go into details, if you don’t know what wanker means, go to a British pub and say it to a big, burly guy with tattoos…) but in Greece it’s used in all manner of ways, some good, some not so good. Regardless, you need to know it and any time you mention that you know this word to Greeks, you’ll receive a smile and a good, hearty laugh.
Now, on to some basics to pack in your brain while you plan your trip to Ελλάδα (Greece).
USEFUL GREEK WORDS & PHRASES
“Καλημέρα” (Kah-lay meh-rah) / Good morning *use this until around 2pm
“Καλησπέρα” (Kah-lay speh-rah) / Good afternoon *from 2pm until you go to bed
“Τι κάνεις” (Tee-kahn-ees) / How are you?
“Καλά” (Kah-lah) / Fine or good
“Ευχαριστώ” Eh-freh-dis-toe / Thank you
“Παρακαλώ” Parra kah-low / Please or you’re welcome
“Καληνύχτα” Kaleh-nikta / Good night *when you leave for the night, not to be used as a greeting
“Που” Poo / Where
“Γιατί” Yah-ti / Why
“Πόσο” Pos-oh / How much
“περισσότερη μπύρα παρακαλώ” Perry-soh-teh-row beer-ah parra kah-low / More beer please
I also highly recommend that you download the Google Translate app.. it struggles with slang (and a lot of Greeks speak this way) but it will help enormously when you want to communicate or even begin learning this delicious, fascinating language.