When I first started speaking Greek I was proud of my ability to order coffee or a beer. Presumably used to the bad accent and mangled language uttered by millions of foreign tourists – and more than likely able to anticipate what I wanted – the waiter never failed to bring what I ordered.
It is only after years of strugling with the language, as I finally become more used to listening to what people say rather than concentrating on what I have to say, do I appreciate how much effort and oxygen I waste when I speak Greek. Each time I open my mouth I give myself away as a Brit. Even if I were perfectly fluent and my accent was faultless , my excessive verbalising would instantly give me away.
When ordering I will ask for mia biera parakalo. In contrast C will simply ask for Mythos. No please or thank you or pleasantries. At first I berated him for being rude, but after hours spent in the village kafenion earwigging I have realised it’s me that is wrong. It’s one thing knowing what you are doing wrong and it’s quite another trying to change . . . and I am struggling. My sentence doesn’t feel complete without the please or thank you at the end.