One thing I really admire the Greeks for is being able to speak Greek. It really must take some doing. Friends of mine who live over here are taking lessons and tell me it’s a really hard language to learn, yet the locals speak it with ease. How clever are they?
I’m afraid I have spoken less Greek than ever during this latest break. I have not really tried, beyond the occasional “Yammas” (cheers), “Efharisto” (thank you) and “a large beer please”. English is plainly a far easier language to grasp, even for the Greeks.
I am unable to distinguish between a friendly conversation in Greek and a blazing row. A jolly story telling episode between the locals sounds much the same as a volley of abuse, except when the word “Malaka” is employed, in which case it is the latter. My urban dictionary defines the word as meaning that the person is, and I quote, “someone who has jerked off so many times that his brain has become soft, and he is now an idiot.” Just remember that when you enter a bar and the jolly landlord describes you as such!
We Brits are notorious in not bothering to learn the lingo, but I believe we are not alone. I have been in the near vicinity of our German friends in this last week (I cannot resist whispering to friends how we should not mention the war – thanks Basil) and they are no different. In fact, our natural antipathy comes from the fact that actually we and the Germans are very alike. They rabbit away in German in the same way we rabbit in English. And we always demand the sunbeds by employing the same towel placement activity, but we always say it’s just the Germans. Oh no it’s not!
I do think Brits – and Germans – get a bum rap abroad. My experience, with the exception of the hell hole that is Kavos, is that Brits in Corfu are unfailingly polite and friendly. They don’t patronise the locals (you could argue that the term “the locals” is patronising in itself, I know) and they rather like the customs, even if they don’t really follow them. The language is another debate altogether.
Personally, I have a fear with the Greek language, as I have with most languages when I go abroad. The more I speak the lingo, the more likely the people are to reply in that language and what happens then? I then stutter into full English panic, knowing that my vocabulary does not extend beyond a few basic words. And before long, I am speaking English, abroad. And the best thing for me is that usually, they understand me better if I speak with my home tongue.