Greek audio

3 Strategies To Learn A Different Script [Guest Post]

Whether you come from a Latin based script or from a completely different to Greek script such as Arabic or Chinese, this post is for you!

I've asked Elena Gabrielli, who is an Italian teacher & an avid learner of languages, to share her tips about learning a different script. Having studied an entirely different script, she knows what she's talking about.

Show Your Surprise In Greek With These 5 Expressions

Greeks are known for being generally warm, loud and expressive people.

I can’t tell how much any of this is true or not (up to you to say).

But if you want to know what to say when for example your Greek friend announces:

  • they are off to an expedition on Everest or

  • they won the lottery or even

  • they will never eat spanakopita again (never, ever again!)

then you absolutely need to know these 5 Greek expressions:

#1 Τι είπες τώρα! (Ti ípes tóra!) [What did you just say!]

How to say it:

Stress the first word τι more than the other two. Eyes wide open, a smile on your face (or not, as in the case of the spanakopita example - don't smile to that).

# 2 Τι λε(ς) ρε φίλε! (Ti lé(s) ré fíle! [What are you saying, friend!]

How to say it:

I know, I know this one looks more like a question. I promise you, it’s not. Let’s break it down for those who are very curious about all these tiny, one syllable words here.

First, here’s again the τι , which means “what”. It’s indicative of surprise and of wanting to know more anyway.

Then there’s λες. This one means "you’re saying" (present tense).

Do you notice how we drop the ς here? This is informal, casual context and we want to speak quickly plus add some more emphasis on the verb.

Stress the word λε more than the others and drag the vowel ε a bit for extra fun.

Ρε is an interesting word. (More information about it here).

In short, it comes from the word μωρός (vocative: μωρέ → ωρέ → ρε) (moré) [silly]. In Greek you want to use it to call someone angrily or a friend informally or even begin a sentence - again, casually.

# 3 Δεν το πιστεύω! (I don’t believe this!) [Dén tó pistévo]

How to say it:

Stress the first word Δεν and sound like you actually mean it.

(Phew, that was easy!)

# 4 Θα με τρελάνεις! (You’re going to drive me crazy!) [Thá mé trelánis]

How to say it:

After your friend has blurted everything out, you only feel compelled to let them know how crazy their plan is.

So, to be a good and honest friend, warn them: "Keep saying what you’re saying and you’re gonna drive me crazy!"

With some emphasis on τρελάνεις, you’re good to go.

# 5 ‘Ελα, ρε! (Come on!) ['Ela ré]

How to say it:

Again the word "ρε" here!

And if you simply love these open Greek vowel sounds, you’re going to love this.

Stress Ε on έλα and sound like you’re using both a question and a surprised tone.

- there will be no snow in toronto this year! - ela re!

- there will be no snow in toronto this year! - ela re!

Now, I need to tell you something.

Next month I’m leaving Toronto to move to the tiny island of Gavdos south of Crete (less than 150 inhabitants!).

How are you going to reply?

*

*

*

(Just kidding, just kidding!)

Listen to these 5 expressions here:


Ready to Express your Greek?

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Learning Greek One Step At A Time: #3 Pronunciation

This week’s part 3 of the series is, I feel, the least explored of all. You’ll see articles and articles being written about how to learn Vocabulary and Grammar, but how about Pronunciation?

Learning Greek One Step At A Time Pronunciation | Danae Florou Alpha Beta Greek

Sure, pronunciation is not something you can easily explain in writing, but it’s useful to know what to expect and how to improve it when you learn a language.

This is why in today’s post I give you a few ideas and tips about the Greek pronunciation, which I hope will make your language learning a bit easier and more interesting.

I even include a bonus recording at the end of the article!

Greek Alphabet sounds

First of all, how do we pronounce the Greek vowels and consonants of the Greek alphabet?

To reply to this, we need a tool such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), to help us read the sounds. We also need examples of how each letter is being used; also the different sound or sounds each letter produces e.g. when there’s a specific letter/sound next to it.

The following list of such examples is by no means extensive. To explore all the sounds of the Greek language in detail, we would need much more than a blog post.

Therefore, we focus on the foundation - the Α to Ω ; the Alphabet.

Let’s take a closer look:

Greek Alphabet Vowels

α [a] as in ακόμα

ε [e] as in έλα

η, ι, υ [i] as in μήλο, σπίτι, ύφεση

ο, ω [o] as in όταν, ώρα

 

Greek Alphabet Consonants

β [v] as in βήμα      

γ [γ] as in γάτα, [j] as in γη, γένος

δ [δ] as in δέμα

ζ [z] as in ζωή

θ [θ] as in θέλω

κ [k] as in κάνω, [c] as in κιλό, κενό

λ [l] as in λάθος, [ʎ] as in λιώνω

μ [m] as in μήλο

ν [n] as in να, [ɲ] as in νιώθω

ξ [ks] as in ξανά

π [p] as in ποτέ

ρ [r] as in ροή  

σ [s] as in εσένα (but written as ς at the end of a word e.g. άλλος)

τ [t] as in τότε

φ [f] as in φέρνω         

χ [χ] as in χάνω, [ç] as in αρχή, χελώνα

ψ [ps] as in ψήνω

Learning how to pronounce

As you can see above, in most of the cases there are hardly any surprises; 

There are only a few sounds which, when combined with some vowels, they produce a slightly different variation; for example κ /k/ when combined with the sounds [i] and [e] gives [c] as in κιλό, κενό.

Practice

1. Obviously, listening to the sounds and then repeating them is the usual exercise for pronunciation learning (and you can do this with the recording at the end of the post!).

2. A nice activity found in most course books and Beginners lessons is to hear or read and then say aloud each consonant sound in a syllable, e.g. βα, βε, βι, βη, βο and so on.

This way, learners start learning actual parts (syllables) of words; when for example you see the word βάση, the syllable βα will pop into your mind. Another benefit is that by practicing the different combinations, you get to practice again and again the sound you’re focusing on each time.

You'll then realize that Greek is based on a vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant kind of repetition.

3. Beyond the beginners level and as you continue learning Greek - therefore, being exposed to more words - an activity you can try on your own is shadow reading. I learned this exercise from Cara Leopold at Leo Listening.

You can do this by:

- listening to a short dialogue or part of a speech or anything else you find suitable and at your level,

- having a transcript,

- reading the transcript while listening to the person speaking - so you basically try to read simultaneously.

Cara admits it’s hard (there's a video to understand how to do this here) and I definitely believe her since I’ve tried this with French.

It’s a fantastic exercise where you can practice your pronunciation in a fun and fast-pace way. Of course, fast-pace may not suit you and that’s perfectly fine! Slow the recording down if you prefer and gradually speed it up.

4. A fourth exercise is the classic one “repeat what the teacher (or whoever you’ve been listening to) says”. To do this successfully, pay attention to the speed. This is like “acting” because you’re mimicking what you hear.

Try your best to follow the speed and rhythm. It’s hard, no doubt. But I know you can do this!

5. Lastly, don’t be afraid to use your imagination! When I was learning French, I found out I could only say a particular sound while ...smiling. So smiling I did. (Yes, I was funny, but I did it! If you know French, it was the -in- syllable).

With time, I got used to it and I was able to say it right. Smiling also helped me to connect the tricky sound with an action and this created a brain connection which made remembering easier.

A very important note for all the exercises above is to get a good feedback.

Of course, if you’re working with a tutor or in a class, you’ll have many opportunities to get a great feedback from them.

When receiving feedback, write it down or even better, record yourself repeating the sound. Track your progress.

And here’s me reading the Greek alphabet with the pronunciation examples from above.

What's your favourite Greek word to pronounce? What's the hardest? Share in the comments.


Ready to Express your Greek?

 

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