“Posh” Greek

Have you ever wondered why Greeks sometimes say lefkό krasί and sometimes άspro krasi when ordering white wine? If yes, you are entering the world of ‘posh’ Greek …

Modern Greek is a natural development of ancient Greek that was spoken by the predecessors that lived here 2000 and more years ago. Although there are many similarities, there are also enough differences to make it extremely hard for a Greek anno 2010 to get by if he had a time machine to travel back to his great, great, great, great, great grandfathers.

Some ancient words have survived in everyday Modern Greek and we tend to use them when we are talking about certain special things, like wine, for example.

The Modern Greek word for white is άspro but the ancient one is lefkό and so, when ordering that liquid sent from the gods, we ask for lefko krasi… If we want red wine, we use the modern word kόkkino (red) but if you look at most Greek wine bottles, it says erythrόs oinos, erythros being ancient Greek for red and oinos (pronounced eeenos) ancient for wine.

The ancient word for blue is galάzios or galanόs, which is why the Greeks call their flag Galanόlefki….sounds nicer that bleaspri, doesn’t it?!? The White House is Washington could be called άspro spiti in Modern Greek but because it is a unique, official building, it is called Lefkόs Oikos (ancient for house).

There are tons of examples: the island Lefkada, Lefcas, is named after its white rocks and the Red Sea is called Erythrά Thάlassa.  A blue blooded person is called Galazoaimatos (aima is blood) and if you want to compliment someone on their blue eyes, say they are galάzia or galanά…it will be appreciated.

If you have questions about Greek or are interested in books about Skiathos and Greece, please visit: http://www.skiathosbooks.com

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4 Responses to ““Posh” Greek”

  1. marios Says:

    The ancient word for blue is mainly κυανο (kiano) not γαλανος-galanos.
    There for Cyanosis is a bluish or purplish tinge to the skin and mucous membranes.

    • skiathosbooks Says:

      Thank you for your reply, always appreciated! As far as I know, κυανός refers to deep blue colour and γαλανός stems from the gem with a colour of the sky or the sea. Hence, we can say someone has γαλανά μάτια (eyes blue like heaven) when we are in a more romantic mood, rather than just μπλε. I have never hear someone say “you have κυανά μάτια” but perhaps that is just something I have missed….
      XXX Victoria

  2. marios Says:

    Thank for your irony as I was reffering to the ANCIENT word for blue color and ofcourse you have never hear “you have κυανά μάτια”.
    Additionally, it is the oposite and μπλε-blue refers to deep blue colour and κυανος stems from the gem with a colour of the sky as you can see to this list of colors at blue and cyan color : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colors

    • skiathosbooks Says:

      Dear Mario,

      I am sorry if you thought I was being ironic…absolutely not! I always appreciate feedback so apologies if my reply came across as such. When I want to look up Greek words I usually go to Mr. Babiniotis thesaurus and his explanation was the one I referred to. Perhaps we can set up a boxing match between him and Wikipedia! 😉

      Kind regards,
      Victoria

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