One of the most difficult tasks facing Greek-American society today is how to teach its native tongue to the newer generations. In most major metropolises, strong Greek communities have numerous Greek schools that are fully capable of handling this endeavor. In the more remote areas, however, the problem becomes much more complex as the only Greek encountered is that spoken by first-generation Greek immigrants with basic education. As such, given this penury of formal training in their early years, the learning of the language for today's young Greek-Americans becomes very difficult with the passing of time.
A new, Greek-English dictionary that is easy to use, while also being handy and quirky, has been created by Dody Tsiantar and Niki Georgatou just in time to fill this need. Its title is "Say It In Greek" and it translates basic everyday words from English into Greek while also providing the reader with a pronunciation guide.
The practicality of the book lies in the fact that the words are grouped into sections. For example, under the "home" section, we find translations for bedroom, living room, garden, kitchen, toilet, bathroom, ceiling, floor and staircase. The text is accompanied by brightly colored sketches that provide the child with a visual relationship of the word to go along with the acoustic translation.
The dictionary is very simple to use and is aimed at first-time Greek language students, whether they be young or not. English speaking adults will find that they are easily initiated to the language through the instruction of common, everyday words. And they will see that this approach quickly eliminates any fears they may have concerning their learning of Greek.
The work covers 350 words and expressions, all accompanied by rich illustrations. Its two creators are women who deal with the promotion of Greek books in North America as they are the co-founders of The Hellenic Book Club. Dody Tsiantar is a journalist and adjunct professor of journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and at Columbia's Journalism School while Niki Georgatos' expertise lies in the field of public relations.
When asked how they derived the concept, the co-authors reply:
"We came up with the idea in the spring of 2012 as we unearthed an underlying demand when we started selling books directly to schools. We had initiated a pilot program with some of the schools entitled "The Hellenic Book Club" that offered Greek language books to students. Eventually, the venture grew to the point where we now sell to schools all over the United States and Canada. As we progressed, we kept receiving requests for a Greek-English dictionary which, unfortunately, we didn't have. We looked around but could not find anything on the market that was simple for children to use and was illustrated. So we did it ourselves!"
What makes this dictionary special?
"It's easy to use, colorful and engaging to small children and adults alike. The key to its success is its pronunciation guide so that even a non-Greek speaker can learn to pronounce the words correctly as we offer English phonetics for each word. And it works! Anyone can learn to speak Greek."
Are you planning to take this further?
"You bet. A Say it in Greek 2 is coming. It will be a phrase book using the same concept, with the Greek phrases accompanied by their English translations and instructions on how to correctly pronounce them using English phonetics. It should be available this spring. Further on, we are planning to introduce a bi-lingual dictionary aimed solely at older students and adults and a series of flash cards, to name but a few."
The book is available on Amazon and the Hellenic Book Club.