Thursday, November 27, 2008

Languages

At the moment I am making a concerted effort to learn a bit more Greek.
What Greek I have is what I've picked up during my times in Cyprus. This is mainly the "gettting by" stuff. I can order a meal, book a taxi, get a bus, shop and ask for directions. Oh and the polite conversation stuff as well.

But I can't really string a sentence together, - yet.

So, I spend a half-hour driving my long-suffering wife crazy by reciting things in Greek. Usually I write them down in Greek then read them out loud. This could be interesting as I have been told by the Cypriots I have managed to master the Cyprus inflection of the language and many of the words I've learnt are Cypriot dialect and not pure Athenian Greek. A bit like a Greek learning Glaswegian for English if you see what I mean. But hopefully, by the time I go to Cyprus again next spring I might be able to converse a little better. Ελά! Καλω!

After today's little session I set off into the grey rain under a leaden sky. I stopped to talk to a builder waiting across the road for the rain to stop. We spoke in the Lancastro-Cumbrian dialect we use up here. I was more acutely aware of this as I had already been using three languages this morning. English, then on the phone to a friend in Stuttgart and speaking German, then as I said earlier, practising my Greek. The conversation with the builder went something like this:

ME: S' thy fault's raiannnen. Thou's tekken 't' slates of't' reeaf.
HIM: Aye. Oppen invitation. Sodz laar.
ME: S'way it gars ah reckon. Waet till s' sunny an' s'ower caad te dee owt and when its warmer s' ower wet.
HIM: Thou's reet thur a'll tell tha!

After that we went our separate ways. Looking at that lot written down it looks like anything but English. But English it is, albeit a dialect whose origins probably date back to Saxon times.
Read it out loud and it might make more sense.
Now I'm just waiting for someone to ask for a translation.

1 comment:

Mickle in NZ said...

Dialects and accents.

I've only just noticed that here the "str" sound has become not so much "strong" as "Schtrong". Gentle yet very obvious amongst the local news and weather broadcasters.