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How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

Connecticut
Level Contributor
2 posts
10 reviews
8 helpful votes
How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

I've never been to Greece before and I am concerned about communication problems because I'm not very good at picking up languages. I plan to visit Athens, Crete, Santorini, and Rhodes. Do most people speak English? Should I always carry an English/Greek dictionary? I want to be respectful while I am there, is it ok to ask people in English if they speak English?

Bolton, United...
Level Contributor
2,392 posts
22 reviews
15 helpful votes
1. Re: How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

You have no problem as most people speak some English in the tourist resorts. It is polite to learn a few words so have a crack at this site, have fun!!

agni.gr/learn_greek/learn_greek_online.asp

Athens, Greece
Level Contributor
13,950 posts
10 reviews
34 helpful votes
2. Re: How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

You don't really need to speak any Greek, except perhaps for your own joy.

Your trip route is in really tourism oriented places, so most people will be speaking at least good enough English to communicate, while many will be speaking good.

English ( and French ) are taught in elementary schools, so nowadays enough new people have really good language communication skills.

Only reason to learn some Greek is for some road-sign-reading or for some simple communication. Learning a bit of the ( uhm, yes a little difficult ) alphabet will be a great help if planning to drive in rural areas, although the big majority of road signs are anyway written in both languages ( Greek and then transliterated English ). Regarding communication , knowing some simple words or phrases like good morning ( kalimera ) will add to the joy of the trip :) Everybody though understands what Good morning means anyway :)

All menus are available in most major places in English too. If you visit the odd place where no English menu is available ( let's say a traditional taverna ) and a food-counter is available, just go there and ask what the food is :)

All Athens metro stop signs and visual / phonetic announcements are written or made in both Greek and English. Museums signs too are usually written in both languages.

Athens
Level Contributor
18,811 posts
116 reviews
212 helpful votes
3. Re: How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

Hello and welcome to the forums!

English is taught in Greek schools since my grandmother's times, so you'll probably have no problem at all.

Athens, Greece
Level Contributor
13,950 posts
10 reviews
34 helpful votes
4. Re: How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

oops :) ziggysboy got it first :)

Somerset, United...
Level Contributor
800 posts
5. Re: How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

Hi Laura

Don't worry - I go to Crete each year and have only picked up the odd greek word. it is a difficult language to learn to speak and read, made more difficult by the fact that the greek alphabet has its own unique letters, ie Alpha, Beta, Gamma etc

Most greek people who work in the tourist industry (bars, restaurants, taxi, bus, car hire, hotels etc) can speak good english and won't feel offended if you are not able to speak greek. Though it would be nice to learn and say the odd word in greek, which I endeavor (and mainly fail!) to achieve, you are unlikely to encounter any communication problems if you can't. .

stockton on tees
Level Contributor
1,323 posts
41 reviews
40 helpful votes
6. Re: How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

all the advice is excellent,i have travelled all around greece on my own and never had any problems only speaking a very little greek (ke liga !).as nick says,a few words of politeness and gratitude are good to know as is perhaps "milate anglika parakalo" which roughly means do you speak english please.you will find a reasonable number of words and phrases in guide books such as lonely planet or the rough guide,certainly no need to take a dictionary

Devizes, United...
Level Contributor
40,216 posts
338 reviews
816 helpful votes
7. Re: How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

Hi there

Do learn the Greek alphabet as at least then you can read signs and names even if they mean nothing to you. Letters in Greek that look the same as our alphabet have totally different sounds, e.g. an "H" makes an "I" sound, a "P" makes an "R" sound and so on. Do also learn a few basic phrases as this will endear you to the locals who appreciate what a difficult language Greek is for English speakers. But usually, unless you are in remote or rural areas, there will always be someone who speaks and understands English.

8. Re: How much Greek do I need to speak? 1st visit.

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