June 5, 2010 | Greek

On Greek Punctuation and Other Stuff

Musings on Greek semicolons, numbers, colors, and more.

I did a 5K race this morning in Central Park, organized by YAI Network, which works with people with developmental and learning disabilities. It seems like a great organization. Tina Fey was at the start, which made me happy, because I love her writing and acting. 

YAI Event, Central Park Bandshell

YAI Event, Central Park Bandshell

After the Run: Trophies and Tattoos

After the Run: Trophies and Tattoos

I was thinking that YAI must have quite a few clients who speak other languages, so I looked on their website and found that they have a healthcare conference, held entirely in Spanish, for people who have family members with developmental disabilities.

As for the race, I stupidly ran all five kilometers even though my right foot, which has been plaguing me for a month, started hurting as soon as the race began. Now I can hardly walk. I am afraid I am going to have to take a break from running. That will harm my multitasking plans, because you can’t do Pimsleur lessons in the middle of a yoga class.

Returning to Greek: one thing I find amazing about it is that semicolons are used in lieu of question marks. For example, the following is actually a question:

Από πού είσαι;

It means, “Where are you from?” But to my eye it does not look at all like a question; this semicolon thing is taking some getting used to. Punctuation, of course, is just a set of conventions; it’s not as though there is anything inherently, magically questionish about a question mark. But when you have for your entire life seen semicolons in the middle of sentences, encountering one at the end of a question makes it seem as though the question is just going to keep going, and going, and going.

And also, since it looks like a statement, as though the questioner is actually telling you your own answer.

I was disappointed to learn today that Greek numbers get declined. Rats. Shades of my Russian experience.

I feel as though I am cheating on Pimsleur because I am enjoying Rosetta Stone. I must admit, one thing I like about Rosetta Stone is that it gives you a lot of basic vocabulary right from the start. There are some quite basic things that, even in 90 Pimsleur lessons, I simply don’t learn.

With Arabic, for example, I recall being taught only two colors through Pimsleur: red and green. Rosetta Stone, however, began taking me through the basic colors early on. It’s nice to be able to look around a room and say what color something is. Not that I would actually do that as an adult, but I just happen to like knowing that I can.

Some people interested in languages and/or this blog have been friending me on Facebook. As a result, I have begun getting invitations for language-related events from around the world. I was invited to something in Tunisia recently, and today I received an invitation to a party in Marseille for deaf people (related to my possible interest, for this blog, in sign language). I can’t go, but it was kind of fun, and funny, to be invited.

I feel so global sitting here on my sofa in New York.

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