Jun 2, 2006

It's all Greek to me

When I was in school, teachers would always pick me to give the definition of an English word derived from Greek. This is one of the disadvantages of being a Greek kid in a US public school; teachers think you're Aristotle's midget reincarnation. The first time this happened (4th grade), Ms.Venckus turned directly at me and asked if I knew where 'psychology' came from. That should have clued me off immediately that the word was Greek because I hadn't even raised my hand; whereas our class geeks, Ortwin and Vicky, were already waving theirs impatiently in the air. Caught off guard, I squeezed my eyes shut to make the answer pop out. But no.
"Sorry, ma'am. I don't know it".
"Yes, you do".
"No, I don't".
By now, Ortwin and Vicky were using their other hands to hold up their tired raised ones.
Teacher gave up and turned to the blackboard to write out the the word and its definition. Then suddenly as if a light bulb had just lit up I blurted out: "OH! You mean ψυχολογία (psi-ho-lo-gi-a)!" I emphasized the Greek pronunciation in order to justify my former lack of noesis. And then with the know-it-all attitude of a ten year old, "You pronounced it in English, THAT'S why I got confused". Teacher nodded her head amusingly at my bilingual show and tell. Ortwin and Vicky bit my dust that day.