I have officially started learning Greek since March (to make it a nice six month mission). Technically speaking, this is not exactly true because I have used a couple of days in February to begin learning some but I deliberately missed my first days in March so that evens it out. Anyway, I have now started learning it and I’ll tell you about the progress I have made and my general impressions on the Greek language in this post.
First of all, I have been lucky enough to get my hands on the Pimsleur Greek course. Pimsleur is an absolute beginner course of Greek consisting of 30 audio lessons of 30 minutes each. I will be doing it since I have the course already (generally, Pimsleur costs a lot of money if you buy it new so that is probably not the best idea) and since there is a clear lack of resources for starters (that’s a thing that this website has an ultimate goal of fixing). Disregarding the costs, I have mixed opinions about Pimsleur. On the negative side:
- Some lessons are lacking in the amount of phrases because one focuses on learning a small amount of words or expressions (say 10 or less) per lesson and repeating them over and over. It doesn’t seem like it has a very efficient use of time and personally the repetition can bore the hell out of me at times.
- It doesn’t go deep into the structure of the language and gives few grammatical explanations except those on the surface level.
- I am also a bit worried about the content of the phrases themselves since they look a bit touristy to me instead of being more of the universal type of phrases.
I believe it could really do a better job in all of these areas. To look at the positives, there are at least two ways in which the Pimsleur courses seem to be working pretty well:
- First, drilled or not, I tend to remember the phrases taught in the lessons very well. The words do indeed sink into the memory.
- Second, it is extremely good in pronunciation. They have native pronunciation and break up words into parts so that you can see exactly how they are pronounced. It takes a lot of repetition, true, but the pronunciation part is pretty good.
As of today, I have done the first 10 of the 30 lessons which amounts to about 5 hours of listening. It doesn’t feel like I have learned very much yet but at least I have some idea of what the Greek words sound like. I still only hear them and haven’t seen them spelled so I will refrain from writing the Greek words at this time. However, I have been learning to say things such as: “mister”, “miss”, “missis”, “I would like”, “I want”, “to eat”, “to drink”, “wine”, “bear”, “hotel”, “not”, “know”, “street”, “boulevard”, “where is”, “here”, “there”, “what time is it”, “one”, “four”, “eight”, “nine”, “sorry”, “hello”, “how are you”, “at my place”, “at your place”, “at the restaurant”, “speak English”, “speak Greek” and the likes. It does not teach very much grammar except it has introduced that there are genders in Greek (apparently there is masculine, neuter with the article το (to) and feminine with the article ι (i)), some usage of words like “in”, present tense endings for “I” and “you” and perhaps also the words for “am”, “is”, “are”. I will carry on with the course and I will be able to tell you more soon. Since I have the opportunity, I can do it for the pronunciation alone.
Then the second thing is the Greek alphabet. I figured that since most resources of learning Greek are written in Greek (even this three lesson course on the labs), I would have to learn to read the alphabet fast. It turned out that learning the letters is easy but not enough. I have gathered some information over the alphabet and how to read Greek and I am learning this simultaneously. I will not speak much now because I will soon make another post about the Greek alphabet and explain you what’s the deal with it.
What about my first impressions of Greek? Well, no surprise, I really like it! There are three main reasons why I like Greek so far (transliteration might not be completely accurate… I’m writing from ear):
- Cool sounding words. I know is ksero. Then you understand is katalavenete, mono is only I is ego, water is nero and so on. It has a lot of words that I found really cool and I guess the Greeks have an easy time picking themselves a nickname by just using some word of their language.
- International Greek words. For example, a few that I have learned are that I buy is agorazo (in agoraphobia – fear of crowded spaces, agora – marketplace) or thing is pragma (think pragmatic), then word is lexi (as in lexicon) There are a lot lot more and I find that fascinating. I will probably eventually write a lot more about this as I come to learn them.
- The alphabet. Seriously, characters like π (pi), δ (delta),ψ (psi) are awesome.
I am not sure if I like the sound of the language, though. It is really hard to describe my feelings about it. I often like the individual worlds but the language itself sometimes sounds a little bit messy to me. I don’t know why but it sometimes reminds me of Spanish (maybe because of the intonation) spoken in a strange way. I remember having similar feelings about Portuguese (it reminded me of Arabic and I almost got scared that it would be as foreign) until I started learning it and grew to love the sound of the language.
Finally, this is just me getting started with learning Greek. It’s still all Greek to me and that’s why I am not giving you too many details. It’s only my first week and I’m not rushing the gun too much yet. Wait for more details in my future posts. I will also tell you my plans for the second week in the next post.
- Week Two of My Greek Learning and Goals
- Greek Challenge: 45 Days Report
- How To Learn The Greek Alphabet
- Two things in language learning I used to take for granted I am now unsure about
- Evolution of The Alphabet