Four English Words of Greek Origin to Sound Like an Intellectual

Greek is one of the oldest languages in the world and, as a result, it has influenced many others oven the years. It is estimated that there are over 150.000 thousand English words of Greek origin; you already know philanthropy, architecture, economy, politics, phobia, encyclopedia, idol, and many other words that have modern and ancient Greek roots. Philanthropy for example (φιλανθρωπία) derives from the verb «φιλώ» (to love, to befriend) and the noun «άνθρωπος» (human). It means to love people and show it through acts of kindness. However, these are quite well-known terms; here are some words that will broaden your vocabulary and make you sound smarter.

English Words of Greek Origin

Euphemism

Euphemism or «ευφημισμός» in Greek derives from the words «ευ» (good) and «φήμη» (reputation). It describes words of polite or vague nature that are used in the place of words that have a negative connotation. It can be used to show politeness, to avoid causing panic and fear, and, in some cases, to influence people into believing that a negative change is actually… not that bad.

For example, when reading about someone’s death in the newspapers, you might see a prevalence of the use “passed away” instead of “die”. The use of “passed away” in this case is a euphemism. Another example is when you join a meeting and your boss uses the term “downsizing” instead of “cuts”. This is a euphemism.

Sycophant/ Sycophancy

A sycophant (συκοφάντης) is a litigant who brings unjustified prosecutions. In other words, a slanderer. The term was coined in Classical Athens, one of the greatest eras of the ancient world, that was also characterized by frequent trials, often unjustified.

Today, in the English language, the term is often used to describe insincere flatterers. Sycophancy is the practice of insincere flattery to gain advantage. The meaning is far from the original one, however, it still describes immoral, passive-aggressive behavior.

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Antidote

An antidote (αντίδοτο) is a substance than counteracts a form of poisoning. It is often used instead of “remedy”. It derives from the Greek «αντί» (opposed to) and «δίνω» (to give) and such substances were used as reversal agents since ancient times.

In modern English, the term is often used metaphorically; to describe a solution to something. For example, “reading is an antidote to stupidity”, meaning that it can cure you from being “stupid”. Stupidity is not a disease, but you get the whole point.

Antipode

Many English speakers tend to mix “antidote” with “antipode”. Antipode derives again from «αντί» and «πόδι» (leg). It is used to describe as something that is the exact opposite of something else or to indicate a place’s direct opposite location.

In geography, the antipode of any spot on Earth is the point on Earth’s surface diametrically opposite to it. It is estimated that the antipodal point of Athens, Greece, is Moerai in French Polynesia. However, you can also use this word metaphorically to describe two opposites. Happiness and sadness are antipodes.

So, what is the difference between “antipode” and “antidote”?

The first means “opposite” the second means “cure/reverse agent”. For example, happiness is the antipode of sadness but not its antidote. Meaning that happiness is the direct opposite of sadness but not its cure.

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The Best Way to Learn Greek

the best way to learn greek

The full-proof strategy that will help you reach your learning goals in two to three months. Go from Beginner to Advanced fast, easy, and without spending a fortune on private tutors or group classes that last for entire semesters. So, here is the best way to learn Greek in a step-by-step guide.

What is the best way to learn Greek?

  1. Determine your goals
  2. Assess your level
  3. Set up a plan for your learning journey
  4. Find the right sources and materials
  5. Start by memorizing words and phrases in Greek
  6. Build a strong grammar and vocabulary foundation
  7. Read, listen, and converse in Greek
  8. Stay in touch with the language
the best way to learn greek

Determine your goals

What is the reason you want to start learning Greek? Are you starting a new job in Greece or Cyprus? Are you planning to study in a Greek speaking country or travelling there for a short period of time? Is it because you are interested in the Greek history or you have Greek roots and relatives who live there? These are some important questions you should answer yourself before setting up your plan for learning Greek or any foreign language.

It goes without saying that if you are going to work or study in Greece (in Greek), then you should aim to reach an advanced level of Greek. This will require a lot more time studying and even more time practicing by listening and speaking the language. On the contrary, when learning Greek is not time sensitive or an immediate requirement (e.g. for working in a Greek island for the summer season or fulfilling your dream of studying one semester in Athens), you might want to invest less time and/or money in learning Greek. However, in both cases, learning little by little every day, instead of trying to digest a lot of information all at once, is recommended.

Assess your level

The journey towards reaching your goal begins once you have determined where you stand with your Greek skills. Are you a complete beginner? Do you have any prior knowledge of Greek, are you of Greek origin or surrounded by Greek speakers? If yes, starting with the basics might not be very productive. However, it could be the wrong strategy if you lack key information, such as the Greek alphabet and the pronunciation of the different letter combinations. It will be hard to keep up with grammar and complex vocabulary if you are unable to write or read in Greek, although you can already engage in small conversations.

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Set up a plan for your learning journey

Whatever your goals might be regarding your Greek language skills, setting up a clear plan is recommended. How many times per week are you going to dedicate into your learning efforts? What time of the day are you going to study and for how long? How can you practice? How can you reach your learning goals within the right time frame? Adding the time dedicated to your studies of the Greek language into your weekly planner will decrease the chances of you skipping your learning time.

Start memorizing words and phrases in Greek

When babies learn their mother tongue, they are not taught any complicated grammar. They listen to their parents and other adults talk and repeat what they hear. As a beginner, it is recommended to memorize some Greek words and phrases that you can use to engage in small talk. This will boost your confidence and interest in learning more about the language. Starting with complex grammatical rules and vocabulary might be proven discouraging for a lot of people.

 Build a strong grammar and vocabulary foundation

Once you’ve learned some basic Greek words and phrases, it is important to start studying the grammar and vocabulary. This way you can communicate freely, start creating your sentences, and avoid depending on the limited vocabulary you have memorized in the beginning. Building a strong grammar and vocabulary foundation is crucial as you progress towards an intermediate/advanced level.

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Read, listen, and converse in Greek

Memorizing words and phrases and studying the Greek grammar and vocabulary is necessary but also limiting. In order to learn Greek and be able to use it in your day-to-day life, you need to read, listen, and converse in Greek. The first two is quite easy. You can listen and read the news (e.g. HuffPost Greece, CNN Greece, ERT, and more). When it comes to conversing, if you don’t know any native Greek speakers yourself or people who learn Greek, you can join a tandem group. Tandem language learning is a method of language learning based on mutual language exchange between tandem partners. Ideally, each tandem learner is a native speaker in the language the other person wants to learn, however, it often refers to conversations between people who are in the process of learning a new language. Helinika has recently created a tandem group that you can join and meet other Greek speakers!

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Stay in touch with the language

Sometimes, people get hooked on learning a new language, they invest a lot of time and money and then, once they feel they have achieved a certain level, they abandon their new skill. However, learning a new language is not the same as learning how to cycle. You need to stay in touch with it and, if speaking is not an option, reading books and watching movies can be an entertaining way of practicing your hard-earned skills.

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It doesn’t matter what your current level and learning goals are, Helinika can offer you a solution. We offer free materials and affordable video courses for different levels.

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What are the Greeks celebrating on March 25?

Every year, on the 25th of March, millions of Greeks around the world meet with their families and friends to dine together. In Greece, military and student parades are held and similar parades also occur in hotspots of the Greek diaspora, such as New York. You may or may not have heard that the 25th of March is the Greek Independence Day. However, who were the oppressors of Greeks at that time? Who did they revolt against?

To begin with, it is important to highlight that, if the events surrounding this day had never occurred, the Hellenic Republic of Greece might have never existed. The 25th of March signals the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire that lasted between 1821 and 1830. The events changed drastically the political, social, and cultural situation in Greece and in the Balkan peninsula. They also influenced central and western Europe in various ways, including the arts, aesthetics, and even the architecture; with examples being some of the most important European capitals, like Vienna. The term “philellin” (φιλέλληνας), meaning a lover/friend of Greece, was coined at that time. But now let’s dive into the history.

The Greek Independence Day. The Concise History of The Greek Revolution

Once upon a time, 200 hundred years ago, an idea had started to flourish. An idea of a liberated Greece which would embrace the cultural and political ideas of its ancient past.

In the 18th century, affluent and well-educated Greeks who studied and lived in western Europe came into contact with the radical ideas of the European Enlightenment. Known also as the “Age of Reason”, the movement questioned the traditional ideas of that time. The Enlightenment thinkers embraced rationality and focused on scientific discoveries that could improve humanity.

“Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!”

Immanuel Kant

These ideas had yet to reach Greece or – to be more precise- the areas that we consider Greece now and the ones were, traditionally, Greek tribes used to reside (e.g. the western coastal areas of Turkey). That was because Greeks had being living under the Ottoman rule since the fall of the Byzantine capital city of Constantinople in 1453.

Greek scholars abroad, such as Adamantions Korais, were intrigued by the ideas of Enlightenment. They despised the lack of education amongst the Greek orthodox clergy at that time and the distinct influence of the Ottomans (and sometimes of the Byzantines) on the Greek culture. Their vision was that of a democratic Greece, that would recapture the glory of the Golden Age of Pericles. They were Influenced by events such as the French Revolution and they dreamt of a Greek national revolution that would liberate the Greek state with the following establishment of a proper constitution.

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These ideas, in addition to the unfortunate fates of influencers such as Rigas Feraios, soon influenced three young merchants from the Greek diaspora in Russia to found the “Friendly Society” (Φιλική Εταιρεία) in Odessa. It is worth mentioning that, within the captured lands, klephts and armatoloi, anti-Ottoman insurgents that resided in the Ottoman Empire, were, in the meantime, undermining the dominance of the Ottomans in the area.

With the help of wealthy Greek communities in Britain and the United States and the support of Western European aristocrats, such as the poet Lord Byron, who were fascinated by classical Greece, the vision turned into a plan. And the Greek War of Independence finally started in spring 1821 with the legendary general Theodoros Kolokotronis being one of the most prominent leading figures in the battles that occurred. And the rest is history.

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The Greek Revolution in detail:

Note: History is a highly controversial subject. The influence of certain ideas, such as the Enlightenment, over the Greek Revolution are not widely accepted. The same goes for some of the narratives mentioned above. Please note that the importance of the role of certain people on the Greek Revolution is debated from time to time. For any further information regarding this topic, you can refer to the linked sources.