A Few Words in Greek
Jan 25, 2020
The Greek language is believed to be one of the oldest European languages, which has an oral tradition of 4000 years and a written tradition of approximately 3000 years.
Works that will never become outdated have been expressed through this language. All Arts and Sciences were born and developed using it. Written texts in Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Law, Medicine, History, Politics, Ethics, Gastronomy, etc were written in this language thousands of years ago.
All ancient literature, tragedies and comedies, Homer's epic works, the New Testament, the Byzantine, and modern Greek literature. The first encyclopedia was written in Greek.
Nothing makes your travels easier than knowing a few words in the local language. In Greece, even a few words will warm your welcome and may even inspire a lasting friendship.
Some words you will see repeated in many places in Crete:
"odos" means "street" and where you find (not often) a street name sign you'll know what it means. Villages rarely have signs displaying street names.
"Anikto" means - Open. "Kleisto" meaning - Closed.
"Eisodos" means - Entrance. "Exodos" is - Exit
Now a short vocabulary:
English / Greek
Excuse me : Signomi
Thank you: Efharisto
(if you are several people - being served in a restaurant or cafe:
We thank you (is better) Efharistoomay
Good morning / good day (until about 1300 or so!) : Kalimera
Good Afternoon or Good evening: Kalispera
Good night Kalinihxta
See you / Hello / Hi: Yassas (if to one person or a stranger or older person. "Yassoo" is usually used for those you know or people much younger than you - but you will also find both used freely - don't worry, either will be appreciated!)
How much is this? : Posso Kanay Afto?
How far is it? : Posso makria eenay?
Excuse me, where is....... : Signomi, poo eenay.......?
Do you have a toilet? : Eheeyete Too-aletta?
One room for (five) nights. : Enna domatio ya (penday) vradia
Can we see a menu: Boroomay na doomay enna menoo
Can we pay the bill? : Boroomay na plirosoomay?
Is there a cardphone? : Iparhee kartotelefono?
Do you speak..... : Milatay......?
English: Ag-glika ?
German : Yermanika ?
French : Gallika ?
Spanish : Hispanika ?
Japanese : Yaponayzika ?
Sorry, I don't speak Greek. : Signomi, then milow ellenica
This one : Afto
That one : Ekino
That's enough [polite] : Arketa
Yes : Ne (as in Next)
No : Ohxi/Ohee
Most interim numbers follow this pattern:
To say 850 just use the word(s) for 800 followed by 50:
Bigger : Mega-littero
Smaller : Mikro-tero
Too expensive : Polee akrivo
...for me : Ya menna
That's fine : Andaxi
OK : Andaxi
How are you: Ti-kanis
Well / good : Kala
It's good (food, anything) : Oraya
No.....thank you : Ohxi.......efharisto
Yes : Nay
Please (not used a lot!) : Parakalo
Taverna : Taverna!
Cafe : Cafe
Traditional cafe : Kafenee-oh (Kafeneio)
With milk : May-galla
Water : Nerroh
Fish : Psari
Chicken : Kotopooloh
Lamb : Arr-nee
Salad : Salata
Potatoes : Patates
Wine : Kras-si
Beer : Birra
Greek coffee : Elliniko
No sugar : Sketo
A little sugar : Metrio
Sweet : Gleeko
Juice : Xhimo
Orange : Portokali
Fruit : Froota
Cheese : Tiree
Bread : Pso-mee
Hotel : Ksenodohxio
Rooms for rent : Dohmatia
Airport : Airodromio
Port : Limani
Car : Afto-kinito
Mobile (phone) : kinito
Don't confuse 'yes' and 'no'. Yes is né - which sounds like 'no' or 'nah' to English speakers. No is ókhi - which sounds like 'okay' to English speakers.
Think you're really mangling your Greek pronunciation? Smile wider - this will completely compensate for any mistakes you may make.
Avoid relying on your understanding of spoken directions. Get a good map to use as a visual aid when you ask - but make sure your informant knows where you are to start.
Greek is an inflected language - which means that the tone and accent of the words change their meanings. If you mispronounce something, even words that look or sound alike to you, many Greeks truly will not understand what you meant. They are not being difficult; they really don't mentally classify their words that way. Getting nowhere? Try emphasizing a different syllable and have directions and names written down whenever possible.
Print this short guide and bring it with you to Crete - don't worry how you sound, what your accent is like, any attempt by a visitor to speak but one word in Greek is always appreciated.