Languages And Characters

How to make understood in Greece and on Crete

Greek is Cretan official language and it is written by alphabet, besides like in whole Greece. You can make understood by English.

Languages - Basic Greek phrases - Character


Greeks speak Greek, but every Greek, which works in tourism, can speak English. I don't know how it is with German, but in the west near Chania it is reputedly better. In Stalida I didn't heard German from waiters (I'm not German, that's fact), but evidently they know it.

Otherwise spoken, on the northern coast of Crete is English used as frequently as in England, (but more plainly, because Englishmen are speaking very quickly). Basic English is enough. With more difficult sentences we drove them to plunges.

Basic Greek phrases

If you will be trying to spek Greek, all Greeks will be glad. It's fun - so why don't try?

English Greek (phonetically)
yes ne
no ochi
thank you afchersto, eucharisto
please parakalo
where pooh
left aristaera
right daeksia

Kréta: nápis na knihkupectví
Επιλογες, read epologes, most probably stands for bookshop

Kréta: řecký nápis na lékárně
φαρμακειο or farmakeio or chemist's

This is something like base. Checking question: what will say Greek bus-driver which during the drive recieves incoming call? Answer: NO!

You can remember yes and no (ne, ochi) a little bit sexistic. In Czech, when partner doesn't like anything, says no, when he likes it, says óchi. And Greeks have it by contraries.

Thank you, thus [efcharsto], you can remember by Eucharist. Simply thanks. But I don't know, how to remember words like parakalo (please), aristera (left) and daeksia (right)..

If you imagine lost Winnie the Pooh, you have to know which way (Pooh). For example "Which way to Knossos?" is "pooh knosos". :o)


English Greek (phonetically)

hello, good day


good evening

have a nice night kalineechta
bona petit yamas, kali ohraxi

English or "European" is enough

Many European words is based on Greek language, so it makes fun. Greeks understand words like museum, tavern, restaurant, salad, vine, pepper, rise, kilo, liter, telephone, polis (a town), center (if you pronounce it khendroom), auto, taxi, motor-cycle, etc.

But sometimes they have it foggy:

if you want ... you have to say ...
soap shampoo
juice lemonade
postcard card
bill logarithm


Alphabet -- Greek character -- is small and capital. Important things are written by capital alphabet, the capital is enough to learn, it's easier for us. Me as math-guy, I 'v read also the small at ease, but sometimes it's psycho.

name of the letter capital letter small letter reading and notes
Alfa Α a as "o" in "London" or "a" in "fast"
Beta Β b B, but sometimes V
Gama Γ g G
Delta Δ d D. Small variant interferes with sigma (looks similarly)
Epsílon Ε e variant of E
Dzéta Ζ z read like Z
Éta Η h more frequent variant of E. Similarity with Latin H isn't casual (compare it with H in French). In small letters it's hardly read (I have tendency to read it like N). Or for example double reading of Herakleion (without aspiration and with initially aspiration).
Theta Θ q as English th in the
Jota Ι i as short "ee" or "i" in "film"
Kappa Κ k

K or c. Like "ck" in "back"

Lambda Λ l L, don't get it wrong with delta
Mju Μ m M
Ny Ν n N, makes problems in small letters, it's really not V
Xi Ξ x X, it's xi, rare letter, for example in word Taxi. Don't get it wrong with Dzeta.
Omikron Ο o more frequent variant of O
Pi Π p P, known from Maths
Ro Ρ r R, don't get it wrong with P
Sigma Σ s S. Sigma is very frequent Greek letter.
Tau Τ t T
Ypsilon Υ u read more like U, in small letters it's getting wrong with Ny
Φ f F
Chí Χ c as German CH or "ch" in "Loch Ness"
Psí Ψ y I didn't see it in use. Like "ps" in "psychology".
Omega Ω w rare variant of O

Menu cards, traffic schedules and everything what tourist needs to read, is written in both characters -- alphabet and Roman character -- or only in Roman. You couldn't use Roman in inland villages.

Kréta: prodejna zeleniny
Ariadne doesn't stand for vegetables but inclinates to mythical Ariadne

Kréta: preatorium v Gortisu
Πραιτωριον, PRAETORIUM

Normal shops with vegetables are only in inland. It is interesting, that on car identification mark on cars are used only those letter, which are in alphabet and in Roman, too.

Look out, something that looks like alphabet maybe isn't alphabet. Sometimes you can see Russian alphabet, for example more often than in Vary. When Russians travel to Crete, Greeks write advertisings in Russian.

Transcription of local names to Roman character

When are names transcribed into Roman, it's not single valued. Especially names of cities are distorted in handbooks.  Especially when it goes also over English. Particularly, those are names with Χ, Ψ, Η, Υ, Θ a Β. For example, Chi  is usually distorted and transcribed as X and then back as X, so it's a little mess.

On every traffic schedule (or on the most) is the notice in alphabet and also in Roman. But there could be differences in transcription (each Greek could have different comprehension of Roman character). So you all-time drive by schedules to certain place and once it points elsewhere and you pass the turning. It's usual especially on the highway around Herakleion.

Kréta: cedule latinkou a alfabetou
Classic bilingual traffic schedule

Kréta: úzká ulička
Tags are written by alphabet


Crete > Languages And Character
advices for tourists, lazy-fellows and adventurers writes Yuhu