Nederlands – Nieuwgrieks en Nieuwgrieks – Nederlands

By K. Imbrechts, c.p.

In January this year we accidentally stumbled upon a chest filled with forgotten dubloons. (Virtually, that is — a savings account we both had forgotten, even through some quite hard times. We tend to be organizationally challenged. Differently organized, that’s the phrase). This windfall enabled is to go on holiday; a real, long holiday, really far away. After consultation with the children we decided to go to Kea, Greece. This resolution was taken in February or March, leaving me with a month or three to learn Greek in.

  • Author: K. Imbrechts, c.p.
  • Title: Nederlands – Nieuwgrieks and Nieuwgrieks – Nederlands
  • Pages: 467/512
  • Published: 2002
  • Publisher: Standaard Uitgeverij, Antwerpen/Het Spectrum, Utrecht
  • ISBN: 90-712-0751-3/90-712-0661-0

In three months one cannot learn enough Greek to keep up your end in an interesting conversation, not if you try to teach yourself using an old course and a tape recorder. It helped that Naomi wanted to learn Greek, too, and joined me. We worked real hard, and one week before we departed for Kea, we had finished all twelve chapters of the Teleac course. A very good course, much better than the more recent six-chapter Oriste. Naomi now knows more Greek than English.

And then all that was left to do was to buy a dictionary and pack our bags. It seems that there is only one Dutch-Greek, Greek-Dutch dictionary, and Naomi’s English (she’s nine years old now), isn’t up to handling the famous Oxford dictionary. So I settled for the Prisma, glad that there was a dictionary in Dutch at least.

In some respects, it’s a pretty decent dictionary. It’s quite portable, good typography, useful grammatical summary, and quite extensive.

It falls down in a few specific points, though, points that were quite important for us. First of all, there is a dearth of ecclesiastical terms. And, being Orthodox, and having selected Greece because we wanted to be in an all-Orthodox country for once, we rather needed things like the correct Greek for ‘acolyte’ and ‘church-choir’. A hint: even though it’s Orthodox Greece, you need to have a working knowledge of Roman Catholic terminology to find most things.

The second problem, but that’s a perennial problem, were the names of food and drink. We still don’t know what gavros are, but we guess it’s sprat.

For the rest, we wouldn’t have enjoyed our holidays so much without these volumes. And yes, even though some Greeks thought I was mentally retarded because of my meager vocabulary and atrocious grammar, others were quite impressed with what could be done in a few months. It’s a beautiful language, Greek, and I look forward to returning there. But not in 2004.