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.


Nothing ever happens in Cyprus until it does

We are happy to say that the hijacker at Larnaca Airport in Cyprus has been arrested and all of the hostages have been released.  On Tuesday morning, we were surprised to wake up on our little island and find out that an Egyptian plane had landed and had a hijacker on board.  We thought the worst.  But to our relief, it seems that the hijacker only wanted to reach his ex-wife.  In relief, some are making jokes.  But to the passengers who were held hostage, it was no joke.  By the grace of God they were eventually all let go and are on their way to their destinations.

But what good has come out of this incident?  In a way, it was like a practice run of which even the top officials were not aware; and really this is the best way to have a drill.  Airline and security personnel had to communicate with their counterparts in other countries.  Perhaps a Cypriot official had to confer with a Egyptian, Israeli, or Turkish liaison.  Perhaps they had never communicated before.  Now they have.  Now they know who to contact and how to contact them in case a similar situation comes up again. Why? Because everyone had to practice the high-level security procedures together, synchronizing with people from other countries and other language backgrounds.

In situations like this, it is beneficial to know the language of those with whom you might be working.  Although the common language is English internationally, in an emergency situation, a few words in the right language can give a calming influence.  Bravo to all those who contributed to the success of this outcome–especially the Cypriots!


Good Morning from Cyprus!

Hope you’re awake today because the sun is finally shining in Cyprus–well at least where we are in Paphos. Enjoy!

Καλημέρα από την Κύπρο.

Kali means good.  Greeks use this word in a lot of their greetings.

Καλημέρα από την Κύπρο.

Mera means “day”–so Kalimera literally means “good day” but the Greeks use it for “Good Morning.”

Καλημέρα από την Κύπρο.

You want to give emphasis on the syllable ME–almost like the month of May but quick.  As Americans, we tend to draw out the vowels-especially if you are from the South.  Sometimes we draw the vowels out so much that they change into another vowel.  We call that a diphthong.  Well let me tell you, there are NO diphthongs in Greek. Greeks say their vowels quickly but sharply.  So you say the letter A but not Ayeeeeee.  A! It’s almost an “e” sound.  Look guys, it’s not use writing about it.  You have to hear it from a native over and over again.  So go and have fun.   Remember, pronunciation is not taught, it’s caught.  What does that mean?  It means that most people don’t really “learn” pronunciation–they eventually “get it” subconsciously by being exposed to the language.  That’s why listening even when you can’t understand is a good idea.  You are developing your Greek ear.

Καλημέρα από την Κύπρο.

From is a-PO.  Put the emphasis on the PO and Greek speakers will understand you more easily.

Καλημέρα από την Κύπρο.

The literally translation is Good-morning or Good-day from the Cyprus.

For Cyprus, you translate “the” as “tin” (teen for the Americans).

Greeks love to use the definite articles in places that we aren’t use to; so get used to it and it will help you in your progress in learning Greek.



Καλημέρα από την Κύπρο.

Also notice Cyprus loses the S because it’s not the subject of the sentence.

So it’s just Cypro.

You might notice signs around town with κυπρο … that’s Cypro  Κύπρο

So now you know. Say Kali-mera to any Cypriot passing by. You’re talking!


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

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