Monday, 29 June 2009

Watch my lips

Some words just feel darned good to say. Regardless of what they mean, saying them feels good. They fill your mouth with meaty consonants and force your tongue to wrap its way around their vowels in a most satisfactory way.

Place names are a good example, with Azerbaijan and Bujumbura (capital of Burundi ) being particular favourites of mine. But there’s also Kolopetinitsa, Sourmena, Magoufana and a host of other Greek places. Trouble is, unless you’re giving detailed instructions for an extremely long and winding road trip, they’re not that easy to drop into your everyday conversation.

I have better luck, however, with some other Greek favourites. Take ‘bichlibidia’ for instance (a wonderful word describing ‘bits and pieces’). I love the way it dances its way around your mouth on its way to be heard. And, of course, I casually drop it into as many sentences as I possibly can.

When you ask for an ‘angalitsa’, it really does sound like you’re after a little cuddle (which you are). And, among other things, a ‘markoutsi’ is a garden hose but it is so much more fun to say than the rather pedestrian ‘lastiko’.

If you say that someone is talking ‘barboutsala’ it’s the Greek way of describing whatever they say as poppycock (in itself a terrific example from my native language).

Calling your neighbourhood skirt-chaser a ‘berbandis’ feels so much better than characterising him a ‘gynaikas’ (especially as there’s a chance that he may have to check it in his dictionary before he knows whether he should be offended or not).

And swearing in Greek feels SO much more fulfilling than it does in English. Aside from the fact that it feels less ‘naughty’, the meaty sounds of Greek ‘vrisidia’ or even ‘gamostavridia’ really make you feel like you mean it!

(Just don’t tell my son I said so....)

1 comment:

  1. Swearing in a foreign language makes you feel really accomplished as well - like you've cracked a secret code known only to the natives. The first time I ever yelled "You f***ing piece of cr*p!!" at a coke machine in France, I knew I was in with the locals. ;)