April 1 is July 4 in Cyprus

In Cyprus, April 1 is no joke.  In fact, to Cypriots, this is their 4th of July–their day of independence from England.  On April 1, 1955, the military campaign of the Cypriots officially began. The group EOKA Εθνική Οργάνωσις Κυπρίων Αγωνιστών, Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (“National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters”) launched attacks on the British controlled Cyprus Broadcasting Station in the capital of Nicosia.

At the peak of the conflict, EOKA had 1,250 members. This little group fought the British security forces of 40,000 troops.  It was a modern-day David and Goliath battle. A lot happened in the next five years that would challenge any historian to document it. But finally on 16 August, 1960 Cyprus finally gained independence from the United Kingdom.

So the next time you visit the sunny shores of Cyprus and enjoy the peaceful mountain scenes, meet the hospitable Cypriots, remember that their fathers fought on this land in order to have a free Cyprus.


Woody Allen begins with a Gamma

Γ γ Gamma



You think you are doing okay learning the Greek alphabet, and then you get into this semi-sleep world between knowing the alphabet and knowing how to read.  In your dreams comes the Gamma nightmare.  If you studied Ancient Greek or Koine Greek, you are more confused.  “Isn’t it like the G in English?” you cry out.  No, it’s like a Y, or a W or an R, depending what course you are taking.  The Gamma slips in and out of your grasp.  Well let Woody Allen help you in the meantime.  We have these Greek Morphs that work as training wheels.  See how the Greeks use the Gamma to spell Woody’s name.  It gives you some idea.  But remember: pronunciation is not taught; it’s caught.  You get it by listening and listening and talking and talking.  In the meantime, even if you can’t pronounce the Gamma correctly, most of the time, Greeks will be able to understand you.  There’s more to say about the Gamma, but not right now.   Just keep on talking..in Greek.  You can talk to Woody.



To be or not to be: How are you?

We’re here to help you get on board and take you to the land of Greek.  From there, you can get the traditional courses in Greek.  We get your brain going to dig an new channel for Greek by using the language you already know: English.  We use English words that are close enough to the Greek to get you to the other side.  Once you are on the other side, you can polish up the pronunciation as you talk with Greek Cypriots.  Cypriots are very friendly and forgiving about mistake.  (This is not France.) So talk.  Speak Greek.  Just get out there and do it when you go to a restaurant or the shops.  You can even ask the Cypriots if you can record what they say in order that you can hear it over and over again.

When you use full sentences in learning Greek, it helps you remember because you are learning a full thought and not just fragments of language that you don’t know how to use in communication.   When language has meaning for us, we tend to remember it more easily.

So here’s a little grammar.  Please don’t go into shock, fear, and run away screaming.  Because you are using the verb in a full sentence, you are not learning a “verb.” You are learning how to answer a Cypriot friend in Paphos if they say, “Pos E-stay?”  (How are you?) TIP: When Greek has an “s” at the end like in Pos, it doesn’t sound like a “z” as in English.  It has a nice “ssss” sound.  So it’s not pose (poze) but pos with a long o.  Also Greeks like to run the words together, so it might sound like pos-E-stay. Notice that Greeks use a ; instead of a ? for a question. Πώς είστε;

E-mail will help you with the “to be” verbs in Greek.  Pronounce each verb with the same E you use for E-mail.  In E-mail, we put the stress on the E.  So you can do the same with the word E-may, E-say, E-nay, and E-stay.

For “We are fine” Greeks say “E-mastay.”  Think “E-must stay” or “he must stay” to help you remember.

Notice that the word for “fine” or “good” has an accent on the last α.  καλἀ.  That means you put the stress on the last syllable: ka-LAH.  If you can give the emphasis to the right syllable, Greeks will have a better chance of understanding you.

You’ll see have we have E-nay kalah for he, she, it, and even they are fine.  Greeks only use the pronouns if they need to clarify or emphasis.  So if someone asked you about your sister, you could say E-nay kalah because it is clear to both of your that you are talking about your sister and not your brother.

So you if you have any questions, visit us at our Facebook page.  Just search for Cyprus Greek.  If you are a Greek speaker and can enlighten us on any aspect here, we welcome your participation with open arms!

to be greek

When God sighs, it’s windy for us.

When God sighs in Paphos, Cyprus, it’s windy for us!  Well, that’s one way to help you to remember the Greek word for windy.  Now to help you learn some Greek that will be useful to you.  This blog gives you enough ammunition to try it out on some Cypriots.  They will be happy to refine your pronunciation.  But remember, the most important thing in learning a new language is to communicate.  Don’t worry if you can’t get the elocution perfect–that comes with time and practice.  Just keep talking.  Don’t get self-conscious.  You have to be like a little kid.  I know; it’s a bit humbling.  But those are the kind of people that end up being able to speak–the kind that don’t care if they make fools of themselves.  It’s all in the attitude.  Have fun with it.  Some Cypriots will really try to help while others are busy, tired, etc.  Just keep talking.  You are bound to find a helpful waitress, a shopkeeper, or a neighbor who will be patient with you.

Φυσάει  Φυ-σάει  fee-SIGH  —- windy

Notice that you don’t need the “It is.”  You can just say fee-SIGH!

When we make a sentence, we don’t need the “It” at the beginning of the sentence.  It’s implied in the verb E-nay  or “is.”  Remember to say E-nay like E-mail.

You say “steen” for in.

And because Paphos is not the subject of the sentence, it loses its σ or “s.”

windy fee sigh

Crying about the Rain


Hope you had the chance to fly your kite on Clean Monday yesterday, because with the rain today in Paphos, you might not be able

to. But hey, the farmers really need the rain this year; so it’s all good.

To say it’s raining in Greek, you only need one word. VRE-hee.




You would think you say Bre-hee,

but that letter that looks like a B has a V sound: VRE-hee.


And the letter that looks like a P has the R sound.


And the letter that looks like an X has a hard H sound.


And don’t forget that the first syllable is accented.


I know–it’s just one of those vre-hee days.


And these two letters make the “ee” sound, so smile.

I know–it’s just one of those VRE-hee days.


Where is Winnie the Pooh? In Keep-rose

Let Winnie the Pooh help you to remember the word “where”. So now you can say “Where is…” Pooh E-nay… Notice that Cyprus is Keep-rose. Say it with a Greek accent–the vowels pure and short. Rose is with an “s” sound. Try it out with a Cypriot and let them help you.  That’s the best way to learn Greek.pooh

Let’s have a Treaty Today

One thing that you need to learn if you are English is that Mediterranean people like to argue and debate. I should know, being from an Italian family. Arguing keeps their minds sharp, their blood circulating; it makes them feel alive–so don’t get upset if you see animated discussions around you in Cyprus. But on Tuesday, let’s have a Treaty between friends and have a bit of peace, for that is the Greek word for Tuesday: TREA-ty. It comes from the Greek word for “third” for the third day of the week. Get a Cypriot to teach you how to say SEA-merah E-nay TREA-ty. Don’t worry if a few get together and argue about the best way to pronounce it. It’s all in friendship and conversation to keep the energy going.tuesday

Theft-terah. The day we come back to earth

mondayHope you all have a great weekend. Here in Cyprus, we experienced lovely weather. Remember how I said that in Cyprus, the first day of the week is Sunday, Kyria-Key, the Lord’s day. Well, then Monday is the second day of the week. You might be able to make out in Greek that the word looks like duet. I remember the Greek word for Monday with a little memory word–theft. Monday steals the weekend and brings us back to terra firma or back to earth. THEF-tera. And Vasili here will go back fishing today. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much fishing as there once was in Cyprus as there just are not that many fish anymore. But Vasili does the best he can. In English, his name would be Basil. Remember the B is changed to a V in Modern Greek.

β and why there is no Barnabas in Cyprus

Soon after moving to Cyprus, one thing you learn quickly is that Saint Barnabas is one of Cyprus’ most popular historical figures.  Just so you can sound clever when his name comes up, barnabushere are some little-known historical facts: Barnabas was not his real name.  His real name was Yosef or Joseph. Bar-Nabas was a nick-name given to him by his friends aka the disciples or apostles of Christ.  He was a native of Cyprus.  It is thought that he went to Jerusalem to study under Gamaliel, the great Jewish rabbi with his classmate, Saul of Tarsus.  After the crucifixion, Barnabas returned to Cyprus to preach the gospel.  The response was so great that he had to get reinforcements and got his old classmate from Tarsus, but that’s another blog.  Now you can see why the Cypriots of the Greek Orthodox church so revere Barnabas.  His name appears everywhere.

Bar-Nabas is Aramaic for “son (of a) prophet.” It’s like Bar-Mitzva which means “son of the commandment.” A prophet can also mean someone who has encouraging things to say, so he is known as the “son of encouragement.”  Apparently,  Joe was so much fun to have around, such a positive influence on his friends, that they started to call him, “Hey Bar-Nabas! Always has something nice to say!”

Now that you want to learn some Greek, it would be fun to see how his name works in Greek.  Barnabas looks like this in Greek: Βαρνάβας.  So you’d think that the Greek version is pretty much like our English version. Well, get ready for a big surprise.

barnabas greek



It doesn’t sound like Barnabas in Modern Greek, because there isn’t a single letter that makes the B sound.  Yes, I know, there’s the Alpha-bet, and the “bet” stands for beta, the second letter of the Greek alphabet.  There’s even beta testing and beta-blockers if you have a heart condition.  But there still isn’t a Barnabas in Greek.

The B in Modern Greek is called a Vita (veatah).

So in Modern Greek, Barnabas’s name is Varnavas.  See that second “b” in Barnabas’ name in Greek?  It looks like this  β .  That’s the small case Vita.

So remember, when you are in Greek mode, the B is a V.  If you forget, let Varnavus encourage you to remember.  VITA