July 21, 2010 | Greek

My Reading Skills Advance

I enjoy reading what on June 1 was all Greek to me.

Today I finished lesson 24 of Pimsleur. I also did some reading in the book Essential Modern Greek Grammar by Douglas Adams, and was pleased to discover I could read and understand Greek phrases such as the following without difficulty:

  • το ωραίο κορίτσι = the pretty girl
  • το κρύο νερό = the cold water
  • ένας σοφός άνδρας = a wise man
  • ένα δωμάτιο σε ένα ακριβό ξενοδοχείο = a room in an expensive hotel

It is exciting to look at what would have been utter nonsense at the beginning of June and make real sense of it. This is rewarding in a way that goes well beyond what you experience—or what I experience, in any case—when learning to read languages with a familiar alphabet.

After all, even if you don’t know Italian, you can recognize the word ristorante when you see it and make a reasonable guess at pronunciation. But there is no hope for you to get anywhere with εστιατόριο (Greek for “restaurant”) until you master the Greek alphabet.

When you do master it, it is good stuff.

I went back to the East River tonight, for a running team workout that I helped time since I couldn’t participate in it. Walking through the East Village on the way there, I took pictures of some of the kinds of things you tend not to see much of on the Upper West Side.

An East Village Mural

An East Village Mural

Another Mural, With Aliens?

Another Mural, With Aliens?

A Community Garden

A Community Garden

Another Garden, With Graffiti

Another Garden, With Graffiti

I find these places rather beautiful.

Comments (4)

Ken • Posted on Fri, July 23, 2010 - 3:23 pm EST

I wonder why the book isn’t called the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Modern Greek Grammar.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Fri, July 23, 2010 - 4:24 pm EST

Hmm, maybe that’s one reason the author includes his middle initial (Q.) on the grammar book.

Rick • Posted on Mon, July 26, 2010 - 12:48 am EST

Guten tag Ellen/ just a quick note of how inspirational and motivating you are to me in learning languages too. I need your focus… Enjoy your blog and humor alot/ hope you are running soon/ I think I’ll stick to racquetball/ basketball for that cardio workout/ bueno suerte/ Rick.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Wed, July 28, 2010 - 8:46 am EST

Danke, Rick. Gracias. Merci beaucoup. I’m off to study Rosetta Stone right this second. Thanks for the encouragement. And there’s nothing wrong with a good game of racquetball!

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