Tara is unofficially our designated communicator when it comes to foreign languages. That isn't to say that I don't speak; in fact, I try really hard! I'm not shy about using the phrases I know, but sadly, my brain doesn't seem to be wired for learning spoken languages. Computer programming languages on the other hand, those are a breeze!
For example, instead of accepting that "Bonne chance!" simply means "Bonne chance!", my brain dumbly translates to its English counterpart, "good luck" before it registers. It takes a lot of memorization and repetition before I can break this cycle for even the most basic phrases.
Contrast this with Tara, who speaks perfect French (so perfectly, in fact, that I've now heard "Mais, vous n'êtes pas Francaise!?" enough times to stop translating it into "But, you're not French!?") and somehow picked up Italian by osmosis in a matter of days. While I was still wrestling with re-wiring my brain to say "si" instead of "oui", she was happily buying our food, making small talk with shop owners and explaining our trip in great detail to any passerby who happened to inquire.
I'm not complaining, I deeply value Tara's language skills. Her knack with them has greased the wheels of our trip on more occasions than can be counted. At the moment though, Greek is proving to be a little more confusing for her than she thought it would be. Until it all just magically falls into place for her, I must confess that I am enjoying her bumbling along with me! Now I can tease her for pronouncing things wrong (something I do constantly out here).
We've spent a lot of time the last day or two drilling one another with important Greek words like "Hello/Goodbye/Please/Thank You/Yes/No" etc. More complicated phrases like "How much is this?", "Where is the bathroom?" and "I don't speak Greek, do you speak English?" are slowly coming together as well.
While our spoken language skills are improving, our reading skills are currently at a standstill. Greek is tricky in its quasi familiarity. Some letters are the same as English… or are they? What looks like an H "transliterates" into an I (as in ski, which, if you ask me, should be an E), P sounds like an R and god only knows how I am going to stop thinking 3.141592… every time I see π (mercifully, it makes a P sound). We'll have a passable vocabulary by the time we leave but I doubt if we'll be able to read any of the words we know how to say!
Thankfully everyone so far has been friendly and patient with our maladroit attempts at speaking Greek. In fact, they usually start speaking English with a smile after we mangle a sentence or two.
In a little over a month we'll start all over in Serbia, followed by Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. After that comes Russia and its bizarre Cyrillic. My brain is going to be mush by the time we get home. Thankfully, being able to easily communicate with anyone again will probably feel like a superpower!