The Greek Language
With the fox, be a fox.
Νομω πειθου Obey the law.
Γνωθι μαθων Know what you have learned. These short maxims are Delphic truths, somewhat similar to the Ten Commandments, but without the I Am The Lord Thy God And I Will Spank You quality of the Decalogue.
τί κοινότατον; Ἐλπίς. Καὶ γὰρ οἷς ἄλλο μηδέν, αὔτη παρέστη. What is common? Hope. When all is gone, there is still Hope.
Ακουσας νοει Perceive what you have heard.
Have you ever noticed how small Europe is when you’re looking at a globe? Greenland is almost as large as Europe. By the way, note that Greenland is ice, and Iceland is green.
For all the impact that it has made on human history, Europe is small compared to… well, compared to almost any other land, really.
And then look how small Greece is compared to Europe. Can you even see it?
And yet for us Greece is where it all began.
Καιρον γνωθι Know your opportunity.
All license plate photographs courtesy of Max Clarke.
Σεαυτον αιδου Respect yourself.
I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last.
Ατυχουντι συναχθου Share the load of the unfortunate.
Φιλοφρονει πασιν Deal kindly with everyone.
Ψεγε μηδενα Find fault with no one.
Some Greek words: Water (hydro, hydor), philosopher, Christ (the annointed one), psyche, ocean, eucharist (thanks, gratitude).
Άνθρωπος αγράμματος, ξύλο απελέκητο. An uneducated person is like wood uncarved.
City of children
And we write those words with an alphabet that we received from the Greeks.
Φιλιαν αγαπα Love friendship.
Periander (son) of Kypselos Korinthios (Corinthian)
Before the alphabet was Greek, it was a series of images for the Phoenicians.
Σοφιαν ζηλου Long for wisdom.
Later these images came to designate syllables instead of a picture of one thing. This was a major advance in human thought.
Μανθανων μη καμνε Do not tire of learning.
Aleph was originally a picture of an ox and it meant ox. It was only later that aleph came to stand for the sound of A.
Beth or bet, originally a picture of a house, came to represent the sound of B. B for bathing.
Υφορω μηδενα Don’t look down on anyone.
Gimel, the third image in the Phoenician syllabary, was originally a drawing of a camel. We are reading right to left here, because, after all, this is an eastern script, but actually the people at that time wrote right to left, left to right, or they wrote each line as an ox would plow a field, right to left in one line and left to right in the next.
This way of writing is called boustrophedon, which literally means ox turning, as she would do at the end of a furrow.
Τεχνη χρω Use your skill.
door It could be a door in a tent. D The Greeks called it delta.
Απ’ έξω κούκλα κι από μέσα πανούκλα. Outside doll, inside plague. See the word for doll, κούκλα? There was once a television program called Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Kukla came from the Greek word for doll κούκλα.
Γαμειν μελλε Intend to get married.
Know yourself. GNOTHI SAUTON. In Latin, Gnosce te ipsum. Notice that the S in SAUTON looks like a C.
When the Russian language adopted the Greek alphabet, this C was used for S. My name in Russian looks like C3M. Sem. Studio 54.
The Greeks decided to visit the côte d’azur quite early in their history.
The azure coast.
Antibes was founded in the 4th century BCE by a colony of Phoenicians established in Marseilles.
The name Antibes was originally Antipolis, which meant opposite the city, facing the city, in Greek. Anti opposite and Polis city.
Naples was originally nea polis, new city. Every language has a phrase for new town. Newton. In Russian it’s Novgorod. In Spain, Cartagena was a corruption of the Roman Carthago Nova, new Carthage, and Carthage itself meant ‘new town’ in Phoenician.
Αγαθους τιμα Honor good men.
Grenoble was once called Gratianopolis, the city of Gratian, a Roman emperor from the fourth century of our era.
Επαινει αρετην Praise virtue.
Saint-Tropez was originally known as Athenopolis, city of Athena.
Ευλογει παντας Speak well of everyone.
Palermo was once Panormos, derived from Greek pan all, everything, and ormos, meaning a port.
See that town at the top of the map above, Lamezia Terme? Big Brother and the Holding Company flew into that town recently (September 2014) to do a gig in Catanzaro, which is on the Ionian Sea, a beautiful hilltop city only about twenty-five kilometers away from Lamezia Terme. The city between two seas (Mediterranean and Ionian). This entire region was Magna Graecia, great Greece. There are still towns here in Catania where people speak Greek.
The Greeks called her principality Héraklês monoikos, Hercules, the Solitary, because the strongman had a temple in Monaco (monoikos).
Nice is Nike. The entire settlement was dedicated to Thêa Nikaia, goddess of victory.
This film is called Anthony and Cleopatra in English. In Greek it is something like Under the Shadow of the Pyramids. Do you see who’s starring in it? Tsarlton Eston (Charlton Heston). You can pry my spear from my cold, dead hands.
Καλον ευ λεγε Praise the good
Tripoli, a town on the Peloponnesian peninsula, where Big Brother and the Holding Company played in 2009, was once called treis polis, three cities.
Ευπροσηγορος γινου Be courteous. Photo: Max Clarke
Από την πόλη έρχομαι, και στην κορφή κανέλα. From the city I come and cinnamon on the mountain. This is a nonsensical, surreal phrase, but the word κανέλα (cinnamon) is interesting because it came down into Spanish.
Ομιλει πραως Live together meekly.
There is a restaurant in Tucson called El Güero Canelo which means the paleface cinnamon, or, as we would say, the strawberry blonde. Let’s face it, it basically means ‘honky.’ Anyway that canelo, canela in the Greek saying above is a direct descendent of κανέλα, cinnamon.
All About My Mother
Φιλοις βοηθει Help your friends.
Beautiful women. Do you recognize them?
Αρχε σεαυτου Control yourself.
Elizabeth filled with the holy spirit. See the word pneúmatos? That means spirit, which is close to respiration, breath, pneuma. Our tires are pneumatic because they are filled with air.
Photo: Polly Belinda Rendall
Roughly four thousand years ago, the first Indo Europeans settled in the Peloponnesian peninsula.
These were Myceneans, Ionians, Dorians, Achaeans and other Greek tribes.
They brought their language with them, although early on they wrote in a script called Linear B.
Linear B was descended from a script called Linear A that has still not been deciphered.
Here are some Greek words you use every day, although they are often embedded in other words and phrases: Ana- from low to high (anabolic steroids), cognate with English on. Cata- down, from high to low (catastrophe, cataclysm). Palino- backwards (palindrome). Callo- beautiful (callopygian, calligraphy).
Talk about calligraphy. Here is an introduction to the band that I wrote out and spoke from the stage when we were in Greece. This has to be the worst Greek handwriting that I have ever seen. I wrote this quickly in a dark green room shortly before we went on. First I introduce Peter, then Dave, then Ben Nieves and then Mary Bridget Davies (MBD).
They seemed to understand what I was saying. At least they clapped in all the right places.
Αυτά που θες ξενέρωτος, τα κάνεις μεθυσμένος. In vino veritas. What you wish sober, you act out drunk.
Μηδεν αγαν Nothing to excess.
We used to do a song called Cuckoo. I loved that tune. Peter Albin played guitar on it, and I played bass.
Cuckoo might be the oldest song in the English language.
Ένας κούκος δε φέρνει την Άνοιξη. One cuckoo doesn’t bring the spring.
Φιλοσοφος γινου Be a seeker of wisdom.
Elise and I took the bus from Athens to Tripoli on the Peloponesian peninsula.
Η βιβλιοθήκη είναι το φαρμακείο του μυαλού. The library is a pharmacy for the mind.
Αλυπως βιου Live without sorrow.
Θυμου κρατει Control anger. Max Clarke photograph
Suffixes and prefixes: -trope turn towards (heliotrope, turn towards the sun, Zoetrope turn towards life). -phile lover (She is a homophile). -lâtre who venerates (idolater). Théo god (theocracy).
ηβων εγκρατης As a youth self disciplined.
Ti kaneis anastash? kala? pos perases ta xristougena? sou eyxomai kalh xronia na xeis k oti epithimeis na xeis k oti den sou efere to 2010 na sto ferei to 2011.
This is the way Greeks write to each other on the internet when they don’t have the keyboard for the Greek alphabet.
This is called Greeklish. Lots of English words and the use, for example, of ‘anastash’ for the name Anastásios.
Τα Greeklish (Γκρίκλις), από τις λέξεις greek (ελληνικά) και english (αγγλικά), γνωστά και ως Grenglish, Λατινοελληνικά ή Φραγκολεβαντίνικα, είναι η ελληνική γλώσσα γραμμένη με το λατινικό αλφάβητο.
This is English: I think of Greeklish as the writing of Greek with the Roman alphabet, but here is an example of the writing of English with the Greek alphabet (Grenglish). It’s your language. Can you decipher it using the alphabet below? It says: If you are Greek, please write in Greek and be proud of your language. When you write in Greeklish, it looks that stupid. Thank you.
I understand, of course, the purist point of view that Greek should always be written with the Greek alphabet.
Sometimes, though, you have to write an e mail to someone and you don’t have a Greek keyboard. What are you going to do? I must admit that I have written Greeklish many times.
More Grenglish (English written with the Greek alphabet). Can you read it? Fuck lifestyle.
I’m sure it meant something at the time.
People, mostly young people the world over, use the keyboard Roman letters to write their own language. Chinese do it. Japanese do it. Russians do it. Greeks do it. Anyone whose language uses another alphabet besides Roman has probably, at one time or another, used the alphabet we use on the computer keyboard to write their language. It’s a matter of expediency.
μεσος δικαιος As of middle age, just. Photo: Max Clarke
Η περιέργεια είναι η αρχή της σοφίας.
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
It’s all English to me.
Can you read this? It’s in English. Well, sort of, anyway.
πρεσβυτης ευλογος As an old man, sensible.
Greek pride: Our language, the mother of languages.
I speak and write Greek and not greeklish.
Set list Athens 8 November 2009
Παις ων κοσμιος ισθι As a child be well behaved.
Πλουτει δικιως Acquire wealth justly.
Οταν λείπει ο γάτος, τα ποντίκια χορεύουν. Quando la gatta non è in paese, i topi ballano.
When the cat isn’t in the country, the mice dance, or, as we would say, When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
Τυχη μη πιστευε Do not trust fortune.
Xρόνια Πολλά κοριτσάκι. Όλα τα καλά Happy birthday, Constantína, all the best to you. Πολύχρονη κι αγαπημένη, Κωνσταντίνα!
xronia polla theie na ta ekatotiseis…! kai oti epithimeis..!
Φθιμενους μη αδικει Do not wrong the dead.
Yes, the word automobile is Greek. So is car, for that matter.
The word for this in Greek was karo, cart.
kalh xronia na exoyme k na ta poume apo konta sto neo etos sthn australia k panta me ygeia
The Greek soul’s urge for independence is always strong.
Επαγγελου μηδενι Make promises to no one.
kalimera 3adelfe.. na loipon pou gnwristikame estw kai mesa apo to facebook! w = omega 3 = e epsilon
Τω βιω μη αχθου. Do not be discontented with life.
Μπράβο στην Χριστίνα Hooray for Christina Some strange ones MP = B NT = D
My friend Milena: tha ton poioume ton kafe alla egw ton poino me poli zaxarh. egw = ego = I
Απολαυστικός Γεωργακοπουλος, αν και δεν συμφωνώ για το deal breaker του Ποταμιου. I wrote a whole web log about the word ‘apolaustic.’ I had no idea that it was also a name in Greek.
Απολαυστικός Apolaustic in English means seeking a life of pleasure or enjoyment, but it is different from ‘hedonistic’ in that the pleasure may be mental, spiritual, physical.
On the other hand… ΓΝΩΡΙΜΙΕΣ ΓΙΑ ΑΠΟΛΑΥΣΤΙΚΟ ΣΕΞ
Επι νεκρω μη γελα Do not make fun of the dead.
Η Σελήνη σου δείχνει με ποια άτομα μπορείς να έχεις ερωτική ταύτιση!
Προγονους στεφανου Crown your ancestors.
Κυριε ελεησον! Kyrie eleison We said this phrase when we were altar boys. Lord have mercy!
This license plate photographed by Max Clarke has the word fool on it. A sopho moros (sophomore) is a wise fool.
Νεωτερον διδασ Teach a youngster.
If you were going to write the English word love with Greek letters, it might look like the last word above. LOB. The Greek word for love might look more like the first word PHIL. Philos. Feel the love.
Sir Nicholas Winton with some of the people, then children, whom he saved from the Nazis in 1939. Ήρωας Hero
Αποντι μη μαχου Do not oppose someone who is absent.
Συν Αθηνά και χείρα κίνει. Literally, With Athena and moving the hands. Heaven helps those who help themselves. Elise on the Acropolis.
γλαῦκ’ Ἀθήναζε / εἰς Ἀθήνας Owls to Athens. Owls can also mean drachmas. Owls to Athens is like coals to Newcastle. They have a lot of owls in Athens, because the owl is the sacred bird of Athena.
Φειδομενος μη λειπε Do not stop to be thrifty.
pou eisai? athina
We change some money.
Κινδυνευε φρονιμως Venutre into danger prudently.
Κακιαν μισει Despise evil.
Απεχθειαν φευγε Flee enmity.
ἀεὶ ὁ θεὸς ὁ μέγας γεωμετρεῖ τὸ σύμπαν Always the great god geometrizes everything. This is a saying of Plato (Πλάτων) and it has been turned into a mnemonic for memorizing π (pi). π = 3.1415926… Look at the number of letters in Plato’s saying. ἀεὶ = 3. ὁ = 1 θεὸς = 4 ὁ = 1 μέγας = 5 γεωμετρεῖ = 9 τὸ = 2 σύμπαν = 6
Σαν την αγκαλιά της μητέρας καμία.
The nine Muses
Χρόνια πολλά στις μανούλες όλου του κόσμου!
Επι ρωμη μη καυχω Do not boast in might.
γλυκουλααα μμμ ♥ φωναραα μμ σε αγαπαω πολυυυ αδερφουλα μμ ♥ και παντα θα μαι διπλα σου να το ξερεισ ♥
Pathos can be feeling (pathos, pathetic, sympathy) and it can be disease (pathology, sociopath). Max Clarke
Δοξαν μη λειπε Do not abandon honor.
Mens’ names: Johnny, Michael, Constantine, Nicholas, Panayiotes, Evangelos (which means good messenger in Greek).
χαχαχαχα χ = the ch in Scottish loch = a heavy, breathed H sound The pig says ‘Happy Easter.’ Do you think the lamb is going for it?
So, χαχαχαχα is how Greek people write the sound of laughing.
Ομονοιαν διωκε Pursue harmony.
η καλή μουσική και το καλό το σεξ ακούγονται δυνατα
Beautiful music. Give him a hand.
εὕρηκα! Californians know this verb well. While Archimedes was taking a bath, he noticed that the level of the water rose as he got in, and he realized that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. This meant that the volume of irregular objects could be calculated with precision, a previously intractable problem. He was so excited that he ran through the streets naked and still wet from his bath, crying “I have found it!”
For Californians, though, Eureka! means the finding of the golden state and the finding of the gold. Archimedes’ word is on the state seal.
Καιρον προσδεχου Accept due measure.
Δεῖμος καὶ Φόβος Horror and Fear Deimos and Phobos, the moons of Mars, are named after the sons of the Greek god of war Ares (Roman Mars).
Το κρατουν φοβου Fear ruling.
Thank you ευχαριστουμε Do you see the word ‘eucharist’ in there?
A big thank you.
The noun εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning “thanksgiving,” signifies to Roman Catholics that Jesus is present body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist.
Αρρητον κρυπτε Keep deeply the top secret.
Gynaika = Woman (gynecology, gynephilia)
ἦλθον, εἶδον, ἐνίκησα. Veni, vidi, vici. As we shall see below, Julius Caesar often spoke Greek, which would be a little like a British general speaking French today. Caesar said these Greek words, instead of ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’
καὶ σὺ τέκνον; You too, child? On the Ides of March 44 BC, Julius Caesar was murdered by a group of senators, including Marcus Junius Brutus, a senator and Caesar’s adopted son. We are more familiar with the Latin words Et tu, Brute? (And you, Brutus?), which Shakespeare gave to Caesar in Julius Caesar (act 3, scene 1,85). Notice that the Greek is much more personal.
Aphrodite in Patras
Πραττε συντομως Act quickly.
Οφθαλμου κρατει Control the eye.
Αμαρτανων μετανοει Repent of wrongdoing.
Σεαυτον ευ ποιει Treat yourself well. Photo: Max Clarke
Περας επιτελει μη αποδειλιων Finish the race without shrinking back.
Βιας μη εχου Do not depend on strength.
Γλωτταν ισχε Restrain the tongue.
Ευγνωμων γινου Be grateful.
Elise and I walked around Athens at night. It was so calm and evocative. Beautiful.
καλλίστῃ To the most beautiful one.
Κρινε δικαια Make just judgments.
Notice where he put the accent on his name. Pythagóras. I’ve often wondered why we don’t retain the same stress as in the original. Why do we say Pythágoras?
Maybe it plays Lady of Spain when it goes around corners?
Ακουων ορα Observe what you have heard.
Our neighborhood in Athens
We lived a couple of blocks from this metro station, but we walked everywhere and never took the train.
τὰ πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει. Everything flows and nothing remains. Heraclitus
Sam Andrew The Archer Orpheus (I drew this in Athens.)
τελευτων αλυπος Reaching the end without sorrow.