I am reading everything I can in a desperate attempt to learn as much Greek as possible during our month here.
Yesterday, my wife and I shopped for groceries. The grocery store is a good place to learn vocabulary, as it turns out.
Since English is such a common language, products often have their English names right under their Greek names. Reading the labels is a great way to learn new vocabulary. Often, you learn vocabulary that does not show up in the typical language courses. Of course, sometimes this trick does not work. I will show you what I mean by that in some of the pictures at the end of this post, but, first, let’s start with the successes.
I would have never learned the word for Celery from a book. But, thanks to the grocery store, I now know that Σέλινο means celery, Θυμάρι means thyme, and Δαφνóφυλλο means laurel leaves (which my wife tells me… we call bay leaves).
By the way, the word Δαφνóφυλλο tells it’s own story. The god Apollo was chasing the nymph Daphne one day. She wanted none of it. She cried out to her father, a river god, for some help. To get Apollo off her case, he changed his daughter into a laurel tree. Apollo gave up, but, still smitten with Daphne, he broke a laurel branch, formed it into a wreath and wore it as a memento. Moral of the story? If you can’t love the one you want… put some leaves in your hair.
So, what does this all have to do with Δαφνóφυλλο? Δαφνή means Daphne and φύλλο means leaf.
Here is another time the grocery store was being helpful. White Crystal Sugar shows up right below the Greek equivalent. Now, you know that Λευκη means white, Κρυσταλλικη means crystal, and Σαχαρη means sugar.
And, then… sometimes the grocery store doesn’t help at all. My wife and I were looking for laundry detergent. We never found any. But, while on the detergent aisle (I think), we did find some sort of liquid that made the woman on the label very happy.
The Greek didn’t help at all. Ελληνικα νησια means Greek Islands. Κυκλαδίτικο Φος means Cycladic light. Quanto tells me nothing.
A few bottles over, it only became worse.
The pink bottle says, “Patmos – Calm down” while the black bottle says, “Mykonos – Night passion”. Judging by the pictures, I don’t think I located laundry detergent, but I am pretty sure I have located the love potion aisle.
So, this February, you know what to do. Come to what seems to be the detergent aisle in a Greek grocery store. You can practice Greek and perhaps even get a little help in your love life from Aphrodite. Evidentally, love comes in a bottle on the laundry aisle.