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Culture

Our Everyday Greek: The Greek Word for the Summer is Already Familiar to You from English

May 6, 2019
Dimitra Pontoporou

This month’s unit is about the summertime Greek Vocabulary you already know from English.

Καλοκαίρι is the Greek word for the summer. You probably don’t realize it but you already know the Greek compounds of this word from English nouns.

ΚΑΛΟΚΑΙΡΙ IS SUMMER

Το καλοκαίρι (TO kaloKEri) is a compound word from the adjective καλός (kaLOS) and the noun ο καιρός (O keROS).

ΚΑΛΟΣ MEANS BEAUTIFUL

The adjective καλός occurs in English words like calligraphy. Calligraphy was a common word during our grandparents’ time, when beautiful and clear handwriting was important. In our time – because we mostly write on our computer – calligraphy has lost its importance. Calli- comes from the Greek word το κάλλος, which is related to the adjective καλός, -ή, -ό, which means good in the soul, kind, and beautiful in body as well. Therefore, both the noun το κάλλος and the adjective καλός refer to internal and the external beauty as well. Το κάλλος is visually represented in the sculptures of the classical era. Classical sculptors’ main concern and objective was how to embody the beauty of one’s soul –mainly the gods’ divine spirit – in a harmoniously in a marble body.  You may wonder why καλός is written with one Λ, λ and το κάλλος with two. Το κάλλος derives from the superlative degree of the adjective καλός, the best, which in ancient Greek was κάλλιστος, -η, -ον, and was written with double Λ,λ.

-GRAPHY MEANS WRITING

-Graphy comes from the Greek noun η γραφή (EE yraFEE), which means the writing and the Greek verb εγώ γράφω (eYO YRAfo), which means I write. Calligraphy means “very beautiful handwriting.”

ΚΑΙΡΟΣ MEANS WEATHER

The second compound of the word το καλοκαίρι is the noun ο καιρός (O keROS). Many languages have adopted this Greek word to indicate the right time to do something. In ancient Greek it had both meanings. The right time and the weather as well – probably because “the right time” was then closely connected to good weather. During the winter, the ships didn’t sail and wars were avoided.

Καλοκαίρι (καλός + καιρός) is the season, when the weather is good. All seasons are of neuter grammatical gender in Greek, therefore το καλοκαίρι takes the article το. The plural is τα καλοκαίρια.

Ο καλός καιρός. O kaLOS keROS. The good weather.

Ο καιρός είναι καλός. O KeROS EEne kaLOS. The weather is good.

Το καλοκαίρι ο καιρός είναι καλός. TO kaloKEri o keROS EEne kaLOS. In the summer the weather is good.

Το καλοκαίρι κάνει καλό καιρό. TO kaloKEri KAni kaLO keRO. In the summer the weather is good.

Note that unlike English, in Greek we don’t use a preposition before a season’s name – as “in the summer”. We just say το καλοκαίρι and we mean in the summer.

 

BASIC VOCABULARY

Greek word Pronunciation    Meaning

Το καλοκαίρι     TO kaloKEri       the summer

Ο καλός, -ή, -ό  O kaLOS    the good

Ο κάλλιστος, -η, -ον O KAlistos   the best

Το κάλλος   TO KAlos    the beauty

Η καλλιγραφία   EE kaliyraFEEa the calligraphy

Καλλιγραφικά    kaliyrafiKA   calligraphically

Η γραφή     EE yraFEE  the writing

Εγώ γράφω       eYO YRAfo I write

Ο καιρός     O keROS    the weather, time

Κάνει    KAni     is (for the weather, does)

Είναι     EEne    is

 

EXERCISE

Can you say in Greek?

  1. In the summer the weather is good.
  2. I write calligraphically.

 

PRONUNCIATION KEY

i (idiom), ee (bee), e (energy), o (organism), oo (boot), y (yes), h (helium), th (theory), d (the). The capitalized syllables are accented.

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