Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Greek Parent's code

Greek Lighthouse Pastel

The Greek parent’s code

I was born in the United States. My parents were born in the United States. Their parents were born in Greece.  I’m not crazy about apple pie so I guess I am as American as Baklava.

Since my parents were both born in America they spoke English but being the children of immigrants, they also spoke Greek.  My mother attended Greek School and could also read and write in Greek.  My father spoke “Greekish” a combination of Greek and English. 

You would think that they would teach their children to speak Greek since it is always a boon to be bi-lingual.  In their defense, I do understand that having four children who are always listening in to conversations can be a bit daunting.  So they shrewdly came upon the solution.  Use the Greek language as a code.  Teaching their children to speak Greek would be counter-productive.

Whenever they wanted to discuss something and not include us, they spoke Greek. My brother and I being the two oldest and the most curious, broke the code.  Dad’s “Greekish” turned out to be our Rosetta stone.

Voila!  We could understand Greek and Mom and Dad would just have to devise another plan, American Sign Language perhaps?

The downside to learning a language in self-defense is that we can understand but to form actual sentences takes a little more time.  And most Greeks speak a blue streak. As a result, when I am in the company of fellow Greeks, I cannot answer a question I totally understand.

Practice they say makes perfect so I will go back to the basics and work on my language skills…so when I visit the land of my ancestors I will answer…efcharisto very much.

Please note:  The pastel painting above was photographed under glass and there is some distortion to the color when posted online.


Marlene said...

Love the picture, have fun learning your native language. I came here earlier but had trouble loading your page and my computer still is having trouble. I hope it isn't going to crash.

Lee said...

Love your pastel lighthouse, truly a beauty! Alas, I am familiar with your language experience. Mom and Dad felt the need to speak discretely in a second language. Eventually I could understand them but chose to rebel and took French in HS and college. When I go to Montreal, I can read and understand the menu. :D
Enjoy your trip!

art2cee2 said...

Lee, Glad to hear there are others with the same experience. Alas, there won't be a trip for a few years, got to save up for that one! :-)

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