Saturday, 16 June 2007

"It's all Greek to me"!

What a weird expression! Willing to stand corrected, I believe it is an expression used when something is not understood. That is what I can not comprehend about it!

What is there not to understand about the things the Greek civilisation offered to mankind?

Is it the art? Is it Democracy? Is it philosophy? Is it science? It can not be, since we based all of our advances in these fields on the legacy that great civilisation left behind.

"It is the language!" I hear you say. It is a strange language, so different to English that we all know.

Hmm? Let's see.

I'm sure the word "philosophy" is widely understood. What about "tragedy"? What about "poetry"? And then, of course there is "geography", "alphabet", "gynaecology", "phenomenon", "hegemon" to name a few. Even the word "salary", peoples' daily quest, has its roots in the Greek language.

In actual fact, there are millions of words in "western" languages that originate from Greek.
I am not being a snobbish Greek by any means! In fact there isn't enough room in the whole of the net for me to outline the disadvantages of the Greek people. Come one guys! I'm just helping you win at Scrabble!

It is just that this expression does not sound right to me.

It is an "oxymoron"!


David said...

English is full of weird expressions that somehow became popular over the years. According to Michael Quinion over at the phrase comes from a Latin proverb: Graecum est; non potest legi" (It is Greek; it cannot be read). Shakespeare used a similar phrase in Julius Caesar that added to the common usage.

I'm glad this is all cleared up because until today I thought it meant something entirely different; but I tend to have a filthy mind. :)

On the contrary my friend, far from being snobbish, I'm glad to hear you pointing out the good points about Greece. Other than that if you put your hat on one end of the Parthanon steps you can't see it from the other side, I know way too little about the country. Though I am begining to suspect that if you did that experiment a cab driver would come along and steal your hat before you got back from the other end of the steps.

Epimenides said...

David you are a dirty do and so!! It's good to know I'm not alone in the world. :)
A couple of interesting facts about the Parthenon:
1. There arent any straight lines!
2. No birds ever fly over the Acropolis

David said...

I can't believe I spelled Parthenon wrong. Why don't birds fly over the Acropolis? Is it due to a city ordnance? Do the cops hang out around the place waiting to ticket birds if they pass into the no fly zone?

The Real Mother Hen said...

Wow! Guess what, all along I think it is actually a compliment - like if I were to say "it's all Greek to me" - I mean things are too profound for me and BEYOND my capability to understand. You know, it's like I'm humbled by the fact that my intelligence isn't as good as the Greek! So it's a compliment to Greek, and a way to say "I'm stupid"...
Not true?

rp said...

Greek is a beautiful language. I hear it quite often, living in a predominantly Greek neighborhood in Queens. It is also a very pretty written language. Though a mostly Germanic language, English would be much the poorer without its Latin and Greek contributions, especially the scientific community. I think that may be what is meant by "it's all Greek to me." Though it might sound dismissive, it is not intended as a disparagement of Greek, but an acknowledgment that whatever is being discussed is outside of a person's body of knowledge. Kalimera.

Epimenides said...

And a very kalimera to you to rp!!!Thanks for your comments, though it does not look very pretty when I write it! Then again no language I write in looks pretty! :)