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Monday, 3 November 2014

Writing in Greek

When I first moved to Greece, my Greek language skills were 'good', probably better than most diaspora Greeks' skills, perhaps because I had studied linguistics, which meant that I could detect language patterns that would ultimately help me to use Greek more effectively. To improve your foreign language skills, it helps to live in a country where it is used as the main language medium, it also helps to speak the language frequently and converse with native speakers - but that will not necessarily help you to improve your written skills in that language.

My Greek reading skills were good to start with, but my writing skills were completely lacking. This is because I did not need to write in Greek. In fact, most people's writing skills in those days (over 2 decades ago) were lacking - apart from the occasional letter to a friend, Christmas cards, and shopping lists, we did not write much. These days, we write much more given our use of the internet; therefore, we read much more too, because we have access to more reading material than we ever did before.

This is in fact what helped me to improve my writing skills - thanks to the internet, I had access to as much reading material in the Greek language as I wanted. Reading allows you to 'see' the language, which then helps you to remember spelling and standardized word endings. I have now got to the stage where I write the Greek press releases for my son's local fencing club. Normally, I am simply informing local newspapers and web sites about the competitions that the young athletes take part in, the results, and messages of thanks to sponsors. The press releases are often used just as they have been written, but I notice that the print version in the local paper rewrites them to suit their newspaper's style.

My latest write-up is more descriptive: it discusses a visit by German students during an exchange trip. I've just sent it off to the papers and news sites. You get a sneak preview of it here - in translation!

"The Hania fencing club received a surprise visit last Wednesday from a group of high school students who came to Chania via an exchange programme from Straubing, a German town about 100 kilometers away from Munich. The exchange was organised through the 5th High School in Nea Hora, Chania, through e-Twinning. The visit to the fencing club was organized by the fencing coach, Mr. Michael Konstantinopoulos, who is a physical education teacher at the 5th High School. The German students stayed in Chania for a week. They also visited Knossos, and watched the football match between Platanias and PAS Ioannina, among other events planned for them. 

The fencing club in Hania, in the area known as Palea Ilektriki.
Η αίθουσα της Α.Λ.Ξ. Χανίων, στην Παλαιά Ηλεκτρική.

"In the frame of exchanging ideas and experiences, Mr. Konstantinopoulos organized the visit to the fencing club, so that our guests will have the opportunity to learn about the sport of fencing and to see Greek students participating in this sport which is particularly widespread in their country in contrast to Greece. This is the second time that the same German high school has visited the club, at their request, to get an experience of the fencing sport. After a short demonstration by the young athletes from the Hania club, our German guests also had the opportunity to test their skills with the swords under the supervision of Mr. Konstantinopoulos. 
The athletes of the fencing club show the German students how it's done.
Οι αθλητές της Α.Λ.Ξ. Χανίων κάνουν επίδειξη στους Γερμανούς επισκέπτες.
The German visitors get a chance to try out the swords for themselves.
Οι Γερμανοί επισκέπτες δοκιμάζουν το άθλημα.

"Overall, our German guests were quite enthusiastic about their fencing experience and left with the best impressions of the progressive nature of their Greek peers. They ask that such exchanges continue to occur in the future."

And here is the Greek version, which will appear sometime tomorrow in the following websites: www.kydon.gr, www.neatv.gr, www.haniotika-nea.gr, www.flashnews.grwww.zarpa.gr .

"Η Α.Λ.Χ. Χανίων έλαβε μια ευχάριστη  έκπληξη την περασμένη Τετάρτη από μια ομάδα μαθητών γυμνασίου που ήρθαν στα Χανιά μέσω μιας μαθητικής ανταλλαγής, από το Straubing, μια γερμανική πόλη περίπου 100 χιλιόμετρα από το Μόναχο. Η ανταλλαγή έγινε με το 5ο Γυμνάσιο στη Νέα Χώρα, Χανιά, μέσω του προγράμματος e-Twinning (http://www.etwinning.net). Η επίσκεψη στην Α.Λ.Χ. Χανίων διοργανώθηκε από τον προπονητή ξιφασκίας, τον κ. Μιχάλη Κωνσταντινόπουλος, ο οποίος είναι καθηγητής φυσικής αγωγής στο 5ο Γυμνάσιο. Οι Γερμανοί μαθητές έμειναν στα Χανιά για μια εβδομάδα. Επισκεφθήκαν επίσης και την Κνωσό, και παρακολούθησαν τον ποδοσφαιρικό αγώνα μεταξύ Πλατανιά και ΠΑΣ Γιάννενα, μεταξύ άλλων εκδηλώσεων που είχαν προγραμματιστεί για αυτούς. 

"Στο πλαίσιο ανταλλαγής ιδεών και εμπειριών, ο κ.  Κωνσταντινόπουλος οργάνωσε την επίσκεψη στην Α.Λ.Ξ. Χανίων, έτσι ώστε οι επισκέπτες μας να έχουν την ευκαιρία να γνωρίσουν το άθλημα της ξιφασκίας και να δουν Έλληνες μαθητές να συμμετέχουν σε αυτό το άθλημα ιδιαίτερα διαδεδομένο στη χωρά τους σε αντίθεση με την Ελλάδα. Αυτή είναι η δεύτερη φορά που το ίδιο γερμανικό γυμνάσιο έχει επισκεφτεί την λέσχη, μετά από αίτησή τους, για να πάρουν μια εμπειρία για την ξιφασκία. Μετά από μια μικρή επίδειξη του αθλήματος από τους Χανιώτες αθλητές της λέσχης μας, οι γερμανοί επισκέπτες είχαν επίσης την ευκαιρία να δοκιμάσουν τις δικές τους δεξιότητες με τα σπαθιά. υπό την επιτήρηση του κ. Κωνσταντινόπουλο. 

Συνολικά, οι γερμανοί επισκέπτες μας έμειναν ενθουσιασμένοι και έφυγαν με τις καλύτερες εντυπώσεις από την προοδευτική φύση των Ελλήνων ομολόγων τους. Έχουν ζητήσει τέτοιες ανταλλαγές να συνεχίσουν να λαμβάνουν χώρα στο μέλλον."

It's not a case of the internet degrading our reading and writing skills, if you know how to use this tool which has changed the world completely in just over a decade.

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