design,  from my desktop,  pattern design

My love of the Greek language

As a child I loved learning other languages. But whilst I was brought up bilingual I never actually had a single proper lesson or any kind of instruction in Greek whatsoever.

Whatever I learned in my early childhood years was from my mum, my grandparents, my Greek cousins and neighborhood friends, hearing my parents speak with their Greek friends and from my extracurricular activities out of school. Much to my disappointment, I never attended Greek school. I went to St. Catherine’s British Embassy School in Athens, which I must add, I totally loved and now look back on as the happiest years of my childhood.

In this way I gradually learnt all the capital letters, since shop signs were mostly written with caps, and then I started buying two of the weekly comic books for girls called ‘Manina’ and ‘Katerina’. These were full of illustrated stories where all was written with capital letters and in this way I learnt to read Greek with the capital letters.

In between the comic stories were articles written in small letters, which still eluded me. Then when I went to boarding school in the UK my dad continued to send me both comic books every week. It was the highlight of my week! Both because of the connection to home for which I was so homesick for, and also for the fun of reading and learning Greek.

Slowly, on my own, I began to work out the small letters in the articles, matching the caps with the small letters and writing them out in practice. And so gradually I began to both read and write the small letters in Greek.

However, my brief summer visits to Greece were not enough to maintain my level of spoken Greek and by the time I finished school it was pretty broken, understanding more than I spoke. School studies and French and German that I was studying to A’ level had taken priority, taking up most of my time and effort.

My dream, though, was to someday return to Greece to live. Then when I was 20 I met my future husband on a working holiday in Greece and thus had an even greater incentive to improve my Greek!

When apart (he was a seaman) we wrote tons of letters in Greek, and when I eventually returned to Greece to be with him I would listen to the news on Greek tv, read newspapers and classical literature with a dictionary as a permanent fixture in my other hand!

I devoured everything I could read. As a result, I’m proud to say I have been able to execute official translations of publications from Greek to English, such as ‘Portolanos Hellenic Yachting Pilot’ by Anastasios Dimarakis, a 4-volume guide for yachts sailing in Greek waters…..

….. and the mystery novel ‘Bloodstained Triangles’ by Athanassios Kosmopoulos! An exciting murder and conspiracy mystery that takes place in Athens.

I love how the Greek language works, how words come about, learning their origins and why they mean what they mean. Greek is such a complex and ancient language! I live the shapes of the letters and how they flow beautifully. I love listening to people who speak the language eloquently.

Of course there is still so much I don’t know having never had any formal lessons or learned the grammar. But this only intrigues me more and maybe the time has come for me to explore this area of interest more as I incorporate it into my work.

Thanks for reading!

Lena xx

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