YOUR SPECS HAVE A FUNNY SMELL
Here are some more Greek words that are easily confused, and can even cause a little swingeing embarrassment…
‘Embarrassment’ by the way is a very potent fictional motif, that most UK writers simply do not make enough of. For the real thing as evoked to the nth, take a look at A Nasty Story by Fyodor Dostoievsky).
1.‘Giagia’ and ‘gialgia’ = ‘grandmother’ and ‘glasses/spectacles’
a) Let’s have a look at her. Yes, sure enough your grandmother is filthy and an absolute disgrace. Spit all over her and rub her as hard as you can, and you might make some impression, but you’ll have to put your back into it. Otherwise you will never see further than the end of your nose. Also if I’m being totally candid, she’s altered your appearance, she makes you look all nose, and her arms are pulling way too tight around your head and your ears. You’re always losing her too, aren’t you. Never thought of attaching her to one of those unbreakable string things, so you never mislay her. Save you money in useless grandmas wouldn’t it, assuming you ever dropped her from a height and smashed her to smithereens. Once they’re in pieces and knackered, there’s nothing for it but to get yourself a new grandma, no choice there. Of course some places nowadays, you can get a new one while you wait…
b) Your specs have a funny smell about them…I wonder do you maybe need to get some help in to look after them when, you know…they are getting on, your specs, 95 years old, aren’t they? But hell they’ve lasted well, and seen some dramatic sights eh? They were only 25 years old when the War finished, and they’d seen a bit of German shrapnel embed itself in the vicar’s prize marrows and all his asparagus more or less incinerated. Still, your specs were always cheerful in any adversity, and often helped other specs to see the brighter side of life. Of course, life was hard in those days before the War, and likewise your specs heard from her own specs that back in mid-Victorian times a pair of specs would often end up in the Workhouse, a terrible fate if your glasses were separated from her husband, because they didn’t believe in putting the two sexes together.
2.‘manteka’ and ‘mantalaki’ = ‘wax for a moustache’ and ‘clothes peg’
a)I took the clothes peg and touched the edges of my moustache with it and you never knew such a delicious sensation! Once I had finished rubbing my tash with the peg, I’m telling you Manolis, it stood as stiff as a you know what…am I talking about cucumbers or the old fishing tackle when its spots a juicy female minus the old underwear eh? Phaw! Paw! Anyway I took a look in the mirror and there was the old handlebar as curved yet rock hard, as a man who is thinking of the Friday night leg over with the old wife. And it’s the bloody old peg I have to thank for it…let no one think of it as old fashioned or whimsical, pegs are what make a man a real man assuming, he is man enough to have a moustache in the first place. In the old days of course a man without moustache was regarded as an offence to both manhood and womanhood. Here, do you want to try this peg on your own pallikari handlebar, and see if it stops it drooping, Manolis, hah!
b) The wife had done a ton of laundry in the washing machine, but then she got a phone call and had to rush out to her mother’s. So, Kostas, I was ordered to hang the washing on the line while she was out, or else I’d face the marital music. My wife as you know is on the big, by which I mean massive side, and I wouldn’t have minded so much, but most of it was her damn XXL frillies and undies. All it needed was for the young slob of a neighbour to see me handling her cow-size panties and bras, and the grinning and gossip would have killed me. Anyway I picked up a bright crimson bra that would have wrapped round your own skinny wife twice, and pinned it tight with my moustache wax as far away from the bloody neighbour as I could. Then her snake patterned gold and silver panties as big as the sails of an old felouka , I wedged the thing just where the old gal’s backside splits, with the first tash wax I picked up and then thought no, safety first, and clipped it with four of my moustache waxes. The moustache wax, mind you, wasn’t the old design we knew as boys, divided down the middle and all durable wood. No it was sold pink plastic and with a metal spring supposedly to help it do the job, but in fact these tash waxes are always shattering and flying half the way to bloody Thessalonika. I ask you…
On a banal note and thinking of the other way round, Kythniot Greeks who speak English, even ones who are very bright and fluent, will confuse the pronouns and say ‘he’ when they mean ‘she’ and vice versa. I’m not talking about inanimate objects with either male or female gender, but of their referring to a ‘daughter’ as ‘he’ or a ‘husband’ as ‘she’. I wonder what this signifies. To be honest I have no idea?
Anyway, any of you who did O level German at school, will know that the world for ‘girl’ is ‘das Madchen’ which is neuter, and therefore the proper pronoun when referring to a girl is ‘es’, meaning ‘it’.
At least the Greeks never stooped so low…