Pearls (margaritaria) from the English

Friday, June 2, 2017

Here is a short story in which I demonstrate how easy it is for an Englishman, with limited Greek, to make stupid mistakes when trying to communicate.  I have tried to show how I often manage to pick words of similar sound and structure – but with completely the wrong meaning!

Most of these errors are genuine faux pas, which I have actually made – with one or two additional possibilities thrown in.

So, the bold text is what I really said, with a phonetic version of the Greek word in brackets.

The italicised text is what I meant to say, again the Greek word is in brackets.


A busy day in Petalidi

It was going to be a busy day.  There was much to do. A meeting with my architect, and shopping in town, before visiting a friend.  Then, in the evening, a wedding.


So I arose early for the arrival of architect Alex.  I greeted him from the balcony, shouting: “Squid (Kalamari) / Good morning” (Kali mera).  “Coffee?” I asked.  “Yes.” He replied.  “S**t? (Skata?) / plain or black” (Sketo) I enquired.  He laughed.  I don’t know why.


It was quite a short meeting.  Everything was going well with the construction of the house.  But I did want to let him know that I wanted onions (kremithia) / tiles (keramithia), the colour of honey on my roof and aluminium beetroots (panzaria) / shutters (panzuoria), rather than wood, which requires constant maintenance.


I then drove into town to get some shopping with the first stop being the table (trapeizi) / bank (trapeza) on the corner to withdraw some money.


At the butcher’s I bought a steak, after asking the assistant if it was w*nk*r (malaka) / tender (malakos) and also a kilo of small children (pethakia) / lamb chops (paithakia).  On my way to the chemist to get some cream for all my cauliflower (kounoupithi) / mosquito (kounoupi), bites, I saw that the green grocer was selling boys (agoria) / cucumbers (angouria), three for a Euro, so I bought six.


I walked down the lemon (limoni) / port (limani) to look for the idiot (vlaka) / man from the village (vlaxos) who keeps his old long john’s (vraka) / boat (varka) there.  I asked him if he could take me for a trip next week.  “Of course,” he replied:  “Where would you like to go?”


“Sunday (Kyriaki) / Corfu (Kerkyra.”)  I replied.  He looked confused.


I said maybe we could check the pots he puts out to catch policemen (astanomia) / lobsters (astakos) and perhaps we could find some of those kiwi fruit(aktinithi) / sea urchins (akinia) which I have seen clinging to the rocks.  “Do you know you can eat them,” he asked.  “B*****s (Orxis) / No (Oxi)”, I replied.


I said goodbye and headed off to see my friend, Frank, to return his grandmother (yaya) / spectacles (yialya) which he had left on my balcony wall.  On the way, I saw something which made me smile.  A tzatziki (tzatziki) / a goat (katziki) sitting on a high stone wall.


Noticing the car was low on fuel, I called in at the garage.  “How much do you want?” asked Ianni.  Deciding to fill it up I replied:  “F**k it! (yamato) / Fill it up (yemiste to).”


When I arrived at Frank’s he was gardening – planting sausages (loukaniko) / cabages (laxanika), which was interesting.  But what I really wanted to see was his beautiful ar*e (pisinos) / swimming pool (pisina) and hopefully, dive into it.  He showed me his bum (pisinos) / pool (pisina) but unfortunately it was empty, so all I could do was stand and stare at it.


So we had a sh*t (skata) / plain (sketo) coffee and I went home to prepare for the wedding.


I was looking forward to the occasion very much.  We went first to the house of the bride.  When I saw her, I could not believe how shapeless (amorfi) / beautiful (omorfi) she looked.  Because her father had sadly died, she was walked to church by God (Theos) / her uncle (thios).


The ceremony was wonderful and the feast which followed, even better.  We had the finest cicadas (tsitsikas) / goat (katsiki), cooked in the oven and drank many sea bream (tsipoura) / tsipouro (tsipouro.)


Afterwards, I was honoured to be asked to address the wedding guests.  I rose to my feet, took a deep breath and in my very best Greek, announced:  “From the Englishman and the cow (angelatha) / Englishwoman (Anglitha), snails (salingaria) / congratulations (sigalitiria) and prison (filaki) / kisses (filakia) to you all.


It went down very well.  Everyone laughed and applauded!


Paul Dobbie