Have you ever overheard someone talking about you in another language?

By: | Post date: September 1, 2016 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Personal

Originally Answered:

Have you ever caught someone talking about you in another language?

A2A. How many gajillion squintillion answers are there here already? No, not reading the thread.

OK, answering to be neighbourly, Sofia Mouratidis.

I was in Crete. I was not on my nice, cosy familiar native easternmost neck of the island, where the people are gentle and placid, and the native instrument is the violin and not the Cretan lyra, and the villagers are so laid back, they got Italians to occupy them during WWII instead of Germans.

No. I was 14 km south of Iraklio, visiting the birthplace of Nikos Kazantzakis. The birthplace of Kazantzakis is now called Myrtia: myrtle-tree.

It wasn’t called Myrtia when Kazantzakis was born. It was called Varvari: Barbarians. (Or Berbers, if you prefer.)

And as far as I’m concerned, it still is. I was waiting in the village cafe for transport back out to Iraklio. There was a sign in the cafe.

The sign said:

GUNFIRE STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.

There’s two more things we don’t do around Sitia. One is change the pronunciation of original [tj] to [θj]. So the Venetian balota “bullet” (cf. Italian pallottola) + the suffix –ja, meaning a blow or shot of something, would be pronounced balotja in Sitia. In the rest of the island, it is pronounced baloθja.

The second thing we don’t do around Sitia is use the word balotja. Because we in Sitia do not think that SHOOTING GUNS IN THE AIR IN A CONFINED SPACE, to let people know you’re having a good time, IS A PARTICULARLY SMART THING TO DO.

Like I said. Barbarians.

Oh, where was I? I had to wait a couple of hours in the cafe over at Varvari, underneath the GUNFIRE STRICTLY FORBIDDEN sign, because the local cab driver had gone over to the next village, to repair his mother-in-law’s chicken coop.

I had some rather nice chops while waiting. And I wrote a Klingon sonnet.

Eventually the staff shift changed, and I heard some say on the handover, “the foreigner over there is waiting for a cab to take him back to Iraklio.”

(Actually, given where I was, I wouldn’t be surprised if he used one of the older names of Iraklio. Like Kastro. Or Candia. Or Chandax. Or Knossos.)

*Sheepishly and very Australianly puts his hand up*

“Not… a foreigner, actually.”

… In retrospect, as a Sitiakos in Varvari: yes. Yes I was.

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