It’s all Greek to me!

How did Greek get to be the symbol of anything somebody can’t understand? That’s not fair.

After all, there are more than 6,900 languages in the world today… and I can’t understand any of them, with the possible exception of English. And sometimes I wonder about that.

Consider these:

In the Silbo language, for example, in La Gomera, Spain – and at least 20 other places around the world – people converse in full sentences by whistling. They can hear each other as far away as a mile, so it must not be a bad idea.

Nearly 8 million South Africans speak Xhosa, a language that includes at least 18 kinds of clicks that would be hard to fit into our ABCs.

Or the Piraha language of Brazil which has no words for numbers or colors, no past or future tenses, and men have one more sound in their alphabet than women have.

And we think Greek is strange!

But different languages have created a bigger problem over the years than simply how to count somebody’s goats, how to ask for directions, or the proper way to order filet mignon at Pierre Gagnaire Restaurant, 6 Rue Balzac, Paris, France.

History has shown that sometimes we actually think that if a person’s language is different, the person is different…and probably, somehow, a little less worthy.

“[But] is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences,” said Audre Lorde, American poet and civil rights activist of the 20th century.

So join us – it’s an invitation from your Jamestown Gazette – to celebrate a wonderful difference that will remind us once again that we are really all the same. We laugh, we sing, we dance and… if you’re like me… we all especially love great food.

And it’s all Greek to us this week at Jamestown’s annual Yassou! Greek Festival. Cortney tells us all about it here.

There’s one more connection between language and food that I learned at last year’s Yassou Festival. I asked one of the cooks if she was Greek. She smiled and said, “You know you’re Greek when your friends can’t pronounce what you’re eating, but they love it anyway.”

Enjoy yourself. “Yassou!” means, “Hello, people,” and when you hear it at the festival it definitely means “Welcome!” too.

And, of course, “Απολαύστε την ανάγνωση!” If that’s Greek to you, it still means “Enjoy the read!”

Walt Pickut