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Lesson Transcript

Maria: Welcome back to GreekPod101.com, the "All About Greece" series! I'm Maria!
Iro: Geia sas, eímai e i Iró.
Maria: Today we're going to tell you more about life in Greece.
Iro: Yes, and we are very qualified for that.
Maria: Yes we have our Greek expert, Iro, here, and our pseudo-Greek expert, me!
Iro: Now Greece is such a diverse country, so there are many aspects to society.
Maria: Yes, so it's difficult to know where to begin.
Iro: So why don't we start with city life, Maria.
Maria: Yes, after all, most of what you and I know is life in the big city.
Iro: Greek cities are not too different from your average European city.
Maria: Other than its own culture, food, and personality!
Iro: Well let's start with my hometown, Maria...a city I love!
Maria: Yes, Athens!
Iro: I think Athens is a city full of contrasts and very representative of the classical and new Greece.
Maria: Yes, it has kept ancient history for centuries as well as created a new contemporary feel to the city.
Iro: It is the largest city in Greece in terms of population.
Maria: In fact, there are about four million inhabitants, which is almost one third of the population of Greece!
Maria: Athens is located in southern Greece and stretches across the central plane of Attica.
Iro: Yes, and it's the dispatch town for most islands.
Maria: Yes, and there are many migrant workers from all over the world and a large expat community.
Iro: Yes, you can definitely see a lot of foreigners in Greece. There are large immigrant communities from neighboring Eastern-Europe as well as Muslim, Chinese, and Philippine communities.
Maria: Yes, a lot are expats, and a lot are tourists, too.
Iro: And it has many lovely places with ancient Greek history.
Maria: Yeah, such as the Acropolis! This one of my favorite places in Athens, especially at sunset!
Iro: You can see all of Athens from the ruins, and you get a great taste of the Greek atmosphere.
Maria: And the new museum of Acropolis opened in June, 2009!
Iro: Yeah, it's FINALY finished. It took only five years.
Maria: Hehe, the Greek way of work, ey!
Iro: Yeah, we'll talk about that phenomenon later. Let's move on to the next city!
Maria: Okay, well we can't leave out Thessaloníki!
Iro: Yes, Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece, and it's the capital of Macedonia.
Maria: And also a capital of Greek culture and history, I think.
Iro: Yes, you can see all the Byzantine history and places such as the church of Agía Sofía.
Maria: Plus, Thessaloníki has one of the most symbolic historic architectural sights in Greece!
Iro: Yes, the White Tower of Thessaloníki, or as it's known in Greek, "O Lefkós Pýrgos."
Maria: It was originally made by the Ottomans to secure the harbor, and later it became a notorious prison and scene of mass executions during the Ottoman rule. After the Greek gained back control of the city, it was remodeled and painted white and is now the symbol of the city.
Iro: Aren't you the little historian!
Maria: Hehe, I have a few aces up my sleeve you know!
Iro: Just like Athens, Thessaloníki has many archeological and art museums.
Maria: Well worth taking a visit to!
Iro: Thessaloníki also has an International Fair every September, with expos from all over the world.
Maria: Oh yes, I've never been, but everyone says it's amazing.
Iro: Yeah.
Maria: One thing I really appreciate about Greece is that it is one of the safest countries in the world!
Iro: Except for traffic!
Maria: Oh yes, that is true; the Greeks drive like there is no tomorrow!
Iro: The streets always seem to be blocked with parked cars and traffic jams.
Maria: That being said, let's talk about family life in Greek society. I find, in general, that families in Greece are generally still quite traditional, and the family is a focal point of life.
Iro: It's true. Most of our holidays center around family gatherings and meals, and filial piety is still an important and very valid part of Greek society. Most people will travel home every holiday, no matter how far it is, to spend it with their families.
Maria: Adult Greek children will usually live with their parents until they get married.
Iro: Yeah, and when they get married and have a child, the parents often help them with cooking and parenting.
Maria: Yeah, so even though Greece is a very modern society, traditional family values are still very strong.
Iro: Greek families used to be bigger, but today, generally consist of one to two children and the parents.
Maria: Yes, and single parents are also increasing.
Iro: Yeah, no matter what your family looks like though, it is required by Greek law to be registered in a family directory.
Maria: Yes, and that's why it's rare for unmarried couples to have children.
Iro: Values are changing in Greece; people didn't used to get divorced, but nowadays it's getting more common.
Maria: People are also getting busier with work these days.
Iro: Yes, Greece is ranked in the top thirty economies of the world today.
Maria: Yes, thanks to tourism and olives!
Iro: Yeah, not necessarily due to hard work…
Maria: Haha, yeah, the Greeks aren't exactly known to rush to finish a job.
Iro: Yeah, the general idea is that Greece has a very relaxed and laid-back work culture.
Maria: Yeah, it's kind of like, I'll get to it after I finish my game of backgammon!
Iro: Indeed. But it is said that workers get less stressed and are happier.
Maria: But production levels are low.
Iro: Yes. I think that's also one reason why Greece has so many family businesses.
Maria: Well, other than the parental pressure!
Iro: Yeah, Greeks are still very traditional.
Maria: Hmm. Okay, another very influential part of Greek society is politics.
Iro: Yes, Greek politics have been the foreground to modern democracy!
Maria: Now it is a presidential republic system where the people vote for the ruling party and government. The Parliament elects the President of the Republic.
Maria: But the actual administration of the state belongs to the Prime Minister.
Maria: I think we should move on to the next topic.
Iro: Good idea.
Iro: A clash between tradition and modern influences is noticeable in purchasing habits, career pursuits, and daily interaction between children and elders.
Maria: Yes, I noticed that young people prefer to spend their money on name brand clothing and accessories, travel, and entertainment.
Iro: Yes, whereas the older generation still believes in hard work and filial piety.
Maria: The younger generation tends to put more emphasis on money and social status.
Iro: Generally, the older generation grew up under difficult times.
Maria: Very different from today. Despite this, I have noticed that young people are still very family oriented.
Iro: Yes, many children will live with their parents till they get married, and after getting married, the parents spend a lot of time helping when the grandchildren come along.
Maria: So today, we've really just touched on a few aspects of Greek society. Just to leave you with a few interesting facts about Greek society today...
Iro: The average life expectancy in Greece is among the highest in the world with an average of 77.11 years for men and 82.37 years for women. The older generation is thus outnumbering the younger.
Maria: Although Greek food is one of the healthiest in the world, being third in vegetable consumption, obesity rates around twenty-two percent. What happened to Greece, birthplace of the healthy Mediterranean diet? The traditional ways of eating have been replaced by fast and highly processed foods and junk foods.
Iro: Greeks are known to be the heaviest smokers in Europe. On July 1, 2009, a strict smoking ban came into force. After many years of trying and being ignored, the smoking ban was finally legislated after the third try. Third time is a charm.
Maria: That was our glimpse into the Greece of today.
Iro: We hope you know us a little better now!
Maria: Yes, and get to know more on the next "All About Greece" series at GreekPod101.com.
Iro: See you next time.
Maria: Bye!
Iro: Geia sas!


Please to leave a comment.
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GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Don't you feel a bit Greek after this?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Friday at 04:50 PM
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Hello Brian,

Thank you for contacting us regarding your question and thank you for your positive comment.

Γιάννης (Yannes) is usually a first name, not a family name in Greece it comes from Ιωάννης. Γιάννης would be a more abbreviated and casual version, whereas Ιωάννης is the official name, the one used in birth certificates, passports and other official documents. That would translate normally to "John" in English, but if it was a family name in the case of your grandfather, then Jonson makes sense.

Now the story behind the name: I myself am not a historian, but I've heard that the origin of the word Ιωάννης (which is considered a Christian name in Greece, not an ancient Greek name) is Hebrew. I look it up on Wikipedia and it confirmed what I've heard:

See this Wikipedia Link

So according to the article the name comes from the Hebrew name יוחנן (Γιοάναν), which is an abbreviated form of יהוחנן (Γιεχόαναν). Traditionally it is translated as "Gift of God" (Δώρο Θεού), that's why sometimes it is considered relative to the name "Theodor" ( Θεόδωρος) and "Θεοδώρητος" (God Given). However a more phrasal and precise translation is "Yahve ("Γιαχβέ", meaning God) was generous" or "Jehovah is generous". Eventually with the spread of Christianity the name spread into many languages and took various forms.

Specifically in Greek, though, Ιωάννης or Γιάννης does not have a particular meaning (like "Gift of God"). I think that meaning gets lost when the name gets adapted to other languages.

I hope that was helpful!

Kind regards,


Team GreekPod101.com

Brian Jonson
Thursday at 08:08 PM
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I am really enjoying this basic series. Thank you for these lessons.

I have a very simple question and am not sure where to ask it. My grandfather was from Geraki, a small village near Sparta. When he came to Ellis Island, he changed the family surname from "Yannes" to "Jonson".

My question: What does "Yannes" mean, if anything?

Thank you

GreekPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 01:49 PM
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Hello again Cortland!

In that case you can say:

λίγο... ίσως... λιγάκι

>>λιγάκι = diminutive of "λίγο", so quantity-wise, it is considered as "less than a little", "just a bit", "just a little"

You are doing a good job with Greek! Keep it up and let me know if you have any questions!



Wednesday at 07:35 AM
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λίγο . . . ίσως . . . μόνο μια μικρή :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Translation (Correct I hope) : A little . . . maybe . . . just a little