Many American Universities include social organizations such as fraternities and sororities. These groups are named after Greek letters, a tradition that reportedly started with the Phi Beta Kappa Society at the College of William and Mary. That is because in the 18th and 19th Centuries, higher education in the United States focused on the study of Latin and Ancient Greek. Knowing Latin was a requirement to study in a University, whereas knowing Greek meant that you were very cultured and significantly increased someone’s chances of getting accepted.
The only difference is that ancient and biblical Greek -sometimes modern Greek as well- were taught with the Erasmian pronunciation, which is different than the native speakers’ pronunciation.
Here is how some sororities would sound like in Greek:
Many people choose to live in Greece for work, studies, and love or because they want to experience the southern European lifestyle. There is a big expat community in Greece that consists of people from all around the world. Students, scholars, au pairs, entrepreneurs, farmers, artists, history lovers, and tourism workers move to Greece every year. Although speaking the language is not always required, it is recommended that you learn at least the basics of the Greek language. I can assure you that Greek is not as difficult as it seems.
Learning a new language requires building a strong grammatical foundation and enriching your vocabulary. Following your language instructor’s tips is crucial. The same goes with doing your homework and spending time studying. But if you want to become fluent in a language, you have to step up your game and immerse yourself in the language; learn in an indirect way, without studying “the traditional way”. Here are nine ways that can help you immerse yourself in Greek or any other language you want to learn!
Many young women and men choose to travel the world by becoming au pairs (seen also as “aupairs” or “au-pairs”). An au pair is a nanny/babysitter or household helper from a different country, who helps the host family learn his/her native language, while practicing the language of the hosts himself/herself. This is a great way to travel the world, while saving money, learning new languages, and developing important life skills and relationships.
Note: There are many agencies and applications that match au pairs with families. I can’t stretch enough how important it is to do a thorough research before travelling alone to live with a family you’ve never met in person or before hiring someone to take care of your children and live in your house. At the same time, you should be aware of your rights as an au pair and discuss your responsibilities with your host family in advance. Having experience as a babysitter, camp counselor etc. is a great advantage but not always required.
Benefits of Being an Au Pair | Becoming an Au Pair
As an au pair you will:
Become more responsible. Being responsible is a prerequisite when it comes to taking care of children. However, you will soon realize how much more responsible you will become in the process of taking care of someone else’s children and household.
Make friendships that last. Most au pairs create life-long bonds with their host family. In many cases, they become part of the family and visit them again in the future. Not only that, but there are tight knit au pair communities in every part of the world. Many au pairs spend valuable time with other au pairs in their days off and build friendships that easy.
Greek Lessons for Au Pairs | Learn Greek Online with Helinika
When a Greek family looks for a foreign au pair, they probably want you to speak your local language with their children. In this way, they can learn your language in a natural, immersive way. At the same time, it is important that you know at least the basics of the Greek language. The hosts will probably choose an au pair that speaks Greek over someone who doesn’t, even if the goal of having an au pair is to help the children learn your native language. If you daydream about becoming an au pair in Greece but Greek “is all Greek to you”, don’t be discouraged. Learning the basics of a language doesn’t always require spending a lot of hours/money in private language schools or tutors. You can teach yourself Greek at home with easy-to-follow video tutorials! Helinika has a complete video course series for learning Greek that can help you learn Greek in two months (on average). By registering through the following button, you will be able to receive a significantly lower price (special for au pairs). The course includes:
Learning a new language might be challenging at first, especially when you are unfamiliar with the alphabet and the phonetics. A lot of English speakers or speakers of any of the Romance languages feel this way when contemplating whether they should learn modern Greek. It might seem intimidating but the truth is that you are already speaking Greek and you don’t even know it. If you follow these tips, learning Greek will turn into an easy and enjoyable process. No need to spend hours studying grammatical rules; learning Greek can turn into a fun hobby of yours.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
The first step in your learning journey is the alphabet. Once you’ve become familiar with the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet and their individual pronunciation, it is important to learn the various letter combinations. To begin with, let’s start with the seven vowels and 17 consonants.
The Greek Vowels
There are seven vowels in the Greek language and their sounds are distinct. These are:
Αα – Άλφα
Εε – Έψιλον
Ηη – Ήτα
Ιι – Ιώτα
Οο – Όμικρον
Υυ – Ύψιλον
Ωω – Ωμέγα
There are three different letters for the “e” sound (“e” as in “hero” or “zero“): Ηη, Ιι, and Υυ.
There are two different letters for the “o” sound (“o” as in “oven” and “open”): Οο and Ωω.
Εε is pronounced similar to the “e” in “hen” or “pen”.
Αα is pronounced similar to the “a” in “parrot” and “carrot”.
Listen the entire Greek alphabet pronunciation here.
There are no separate vowels for the sounds of “i” (as in “island” or “highland”) or “u” (as in “ultra” and “utility” ). Therefore, some letter combinations are deemed necessary to pronounce words borrowed from foreign languages.
The Greek Digraphs
A digraph is a pair of characters used in the orthography of a language to write a distinct sound. The term itself derives from Greek (di= double/twice, grapho= to write).
The modern Greek digraphs are the following: αί, εί, οί, υί, αύ, εύ, (ηύ – rare)
A diphthong is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds withing a single syllable. The term itself derives from the Greek word “δίφθογγος” (di= double/twice, phthongos= sound), however, it applies in any language that uses combinations of vowels.
The modern Greek diphthongs are: αη, οη, αϊ/άι, οϊ/οι
The Greek Consonants
The Greek language has 17 consonants that are often mispronounced by non-native speakers. Here are the consonants of the Greek language:
• Labials, which are formed with the lips (e.g. “Ππ”). • Dentals, which are formed with the tongue and teeth (e.g. “Ττ”). • Palatals, which are formed with the tongue and palate (e.g. “Κκ”).
Double Consonants in Greek
There are certain consonant sounds that are not represented by a single letter in th Greek alphabet, such as “Bb” or “Dd”. As a general rule of thumb, the words that require these phonetic sounds derive from other languages, usually Turkish, English, and French (e.g. “μπαχτσές”).
These are: μπ, ντ, γκ/γγ, τζ, τσ.
Μπ is pronounced similar to Bb (as in “Black”, “Back”, and “Band”).
Ντ is pronounced similar to Dd (as in “Disc”, “Dusk”, and “Duck”).
Γκ or Γγ is pronounced similar to Gg (as in “Gallon” and “Gulf”).
Τζ is pronounced similar to Jj (as in “James” and “Joy”).
Τσ is pronounced similar to Ch (as in “Choice” and “Challenge”).
It is important to highlight that all Greek vowels and consonants have a distinct and clear sound, similar to Spanish and Portuguese. There are no “hidden” sounds when reading a word aloud. This is why, contrary to popular belief, Greek can be one of the easiest languages to pronounce!
Would you like to challenge yourself and become an avid speaker of the Greek language? We know you can – join our video courses, where we delve into details, and learn Greek like a native!
Why should you spend your precious time learning a new language spoken by over 13 million people around the world?
Learn Greek and understand the origins of your own language
If you are an English speaker, then you regularly speak Greek without knowing it. It is estimated that over 150.000 English words derive directly and indirectly from the Greek language.
“Dinosaurs”, for example, are the mighty lizards – the term derives from the Greek words “δεινός” (dinos) and “σαύρα” (saura), meaning mighty/strong and lizard respectively. Another example is the word “telephone”. This commonly used word derives from “τηλε-” (tele) and “φωνή” (phoni); the first stands for “distant” and the second for “voice”.
The same goes for most of the languages that are widely spoken in Europe. It is worth mentioning that some of the words were borrowed into Latin and then acquired from its descendants, the Romance languages, such as Italian and Spanish. Moreover, countless scientific and medical terms have Greek roots and, by understanding the language they derive from, you can understand more about this specific subject.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the modern Greek language is much closer to ancient Greek than most people think. In fact, it is closer to ancient Greek than Italian and Spanish are to latin. If you learned ancient Greek in school or if you are interested in ancient Greek history, speaking modern Greek will help you connect with the ancient civilization that influenced the modern western culture, ideas, and politics.
Learn Greek and expand your opportunities
Over 13 million people around the world are able to speak Greek. The language is spoken in Greece, in Cyprus, and among members of the Greek diaspora, a term that refers to the people who originate from Greece but live abroad. That gives you countless possibilities for meeting people, making friends, negoatiating business partnerships, and even finding a job.
Now, you may wonder what type of job opportunities might be available for foreigners in Greece. The country has indeed quite high unemployement rates, however, during the summer season, job openings multiply. Islands such as Mykonos and Santorini and other touristic locations need to employ a big number of people who specialize in various hospitality positions.
Chefs, bartenders, and baristas from all over Greece and around the world are employed every summer season in some of the most reputable hotels and restaurants in Greece. In most cases, the employers provide free accommodation and there are countless opportunities to enjoy the beauty of Greece. Speaking Greek (at least) on a basic level is often a requirement.
Moreover, Greece is a popular destination for travellers, digital nomads, and Erasmus students. Although speaking Greek fluently is not necessary when travelling to Greece or moving for a couple of months, doing so will make your life much easier and will help you make good impressions to locals, meet people, and make friends.
Learn Greek and train your brain
Learning a new language not only expands your job prospects, but, according to a recent study, it also makes you smarter. Bilinguals embrace new concepts that are often not represented in their own monther tongues, which has positive effects on the brain.
Now, add a different alphabet to the mix and the unique complexities of the Greek grammar and syntax, and the Greek language becomes a good choice for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge and learn new things.
We answered the question why should everyone learn Greek. Are you ready to start? Helinika offers free study materials for everyone and, in addition to that, a series of affordableon-demand online courses for all levels. The best way to learn Greek is here. Start your e-learning journey now!