Tuesday 6/5/14

I am now aiming to post here more frequently because I shouldn’t neglect those who read my blog and because it is useful for me in many ways. I get a walk down then back up the hill in Papagianades, which adds paces to my pedometer and assists towards my weight loss program. The discipline keeps me returning to my laptop and writing, which is what I am supposed to do. Also, while they seem inclined to chat, neither of the genial hosts at ‘The Avli’ (The Yard) speaks much English, so this is a good place for me to practise my steadily growing Greek vocabulary.

Now, on that last subject, I’m now using mnemonic clues and other techniques to stick stuff firmly in my mind. I reminded in this of my father’s ‘joke’ that enables one to remember the first 5 numbers in French. If you know them then, ‘Three cats went out in a leaky boat…’ Anyway, I’m making up my own clues for this language because sometimes you can make so few connections to English. Othigo, for example, means I drive, though it’s not pronounced precisely as you see it here.

One word that evaded me yesterday was the future tense of ‘I sit’. The present and past are, respectively, kathomay and kathisa, while the future tense always starts with a tha, which is the Greek version of ‘will’ or ‘shall’. When I was groping in my memory for this future tense verb and not finding it I made the assumption, based on other words I’d learned, that the future was tha kathiso. Wrong! It’s tha katso. Annoyed that I’d managed to forget this (if briefly) I made up something to imbed it in my mind. We once had a cat we named Fatso, so I now have in my mind ‘Fatso the cat will sit – tha katso’. Sounds daft I know, but it works.

Another I’m trying to memorise is paratiro which means ‘I observe’. Since I know the Greek word for window and it’s similar – parathiro – I now have ‘I observe the window’ paratiro to parathiro. But of course you’re getting no real sense of the emphasis on certain letters here, or of the confusion concerning those letters. Greek, for example, has far too many versions of ‘i’. It has yota, ita and ipsilon, plus epsilon-yota and omicron-yota. It also has two versions of o, some strange dipthongs and other combinations of letters, along with letters that don’t exist in English at all like psi, ksi and khi. Here’s one for you to be going along with next time you take a trip to Greece: mi, pi, alpha & rho in sequence µπap (MPAR) is ‘Bar’ because M&P at the start of a word make B, and the way to remember this is ‘MPs make busy bees’.

Still, this is all good fun and, apparently, learning a new language is one of the best mental exercises going. So, all those reading this and thinking, ‘When the hell is he going to get back to writing and talking about science fiction?’ can rest assured that I’m giving my mind a good workout and I’ll hopefully be approaching my work with some new muscles.    

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