Greek to Me

Long Beach, CA

More gloomy skies–a dense marine layer has settled over the coast and shows no signs of going anywhere. More days also of me hiding myself indoors and burrowing deep into the many projects I always seem to have going. Chief among these is my study of Greek, in which I appear to be making a breakthrough: the language’s grammar is finally beginning to stick in my head and I’m consistently being able to distinguish its phonemes when I hear it spoken. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m hitting a place where I’m beginning to believe that I can someday become fluent in this tongue …

As I bit by bit acquire Greek I’m realizing how much I love the language–it has a richness to it, a weight that at times seems quite profound. It’s also fun! It features all sorts of twists and turns and rhythms that challenge me in all the right ways. I’m also fascinated by how it manages to be at once singular and familiar.

Modern Greek is the only living language on its branch of the Indo-European tree and it sounds and feels unlike any other language I’ve ever run into. But it also has a lot of structural similarities to English (in this respect, I’m finding it much easily to learn than I did French or Spanish, both of which I abandoned before attaining much proficiency). Plus of course, there are so many Greek-derived words that have made it into English and I’m continually finding little vocabulary touchstones, which definitely help me to linguistically center myself. I just wish I would have discovered the language when I was a bit younger: the grooves English has worn into my brain are deep and profound …