Part of my dream of living in Greece was to master (or somewhat master) the language. I have been exposed to Greek all of my life, but I have never spoken it. I didn’t go to Greek school as a child, but as an adult I took lessons multiple times. I was sure that if I lived in Greece for a year I would finally be able to understand and speak the language with confidence.
The road to learning to master the language has been a rocky one. I have to admit that although I understand much more than I did when I arrived, I am not still where I want to be. I very rarely say an entire sentence correctly, and when I first started talking my kids asked me not to speak in front of their friends. Yes, funny, I know. It was at that moment that I realized I had finally become a true mother–you know, someone who embarrasses their children. (Do note that a few months ago Rea did come to me, unprovoked, and apologized for having made that comment, AND Elias and Rea have been my biggest cheerleaders along the way.)
I have many issues with the language. I do know the grammar rules after going to lessons two times a week for the past 10 months. I have been exposed to a huge vocabulary and have sheets upon sheets of papers to prove it–first category verbs, second category verbs, third category verbs, adjectives, synonyms and antonyms, “small words,” and masculine and feminine, singular and plural, objective and subjective, and possessive cases, just to name a few. However, the words don’t make it from my brain to my mouth. It’s as though my tongue is wrapped with cotton, and I cannot form the sounds. I also can tell you the beginning part of most words–the first syllable or two, but struggle with the endings because they change with the gender and case of the noun or verb. Sometimes I know what I want to say but I begin to speak too quickly and make silly errors. Thankfully, most people are able to get the gist of what I am trying to say. But sometimes my errors are too funny for them to resist laughing.
A while back I went to my Thea Avgetta’s house, and there were a number of people gathered around the table eating their midday meal. She invited me to join them but I had just eaten. I said, “Έφαγα το σπίτι μου.” I meant to say, “Έφαγα στο σπίτι μου.” Can you see that there is just one letter difference? The difference is “I just ATE my house,” versus “I just ate AT my house.”
Then last night I was at my cousin Petros bakery, and he asked when I was leaving. I told him Thursday, and then I had to turn around and walk out because I was getting teary-eyed. When I came home I was speaking to my cousin Marina on the phone, and I was telling her the story. I said, “Peter asked me when I was leaving and I said Thursday. Then I left because I wanted to fart.” Apparently cry and fart are also only one letter/sound different! That one letter is very important!
Needless to say if I’ve done nothing else, I’ve provided a few laughs for the people around me. I guess I can’t check “mastering the Greek language” off of my bucket list just yet. But then that’s no reason for me to be upset. It just means that I’ll have to return every summer to keep working on it.