It’s all Greek to me…

This is a phrase that I have heard a lot in recent weeks.

I have a Greek friend and while her English is impeccable, she does struggle with a couple of bits. One day she received quite a complicated legal letter and she said, in Greek, “I don’t understand this.” She then followed it up with the phrase “Είναι όλα τα κινέζικα για μένα.”

The one word I could pick out of that was “κινέζικα” which in Roman characters would be written Kinezika. Kinezika is the Greek word for “Chinese”. Given that China or the Chinese had nothing to do with the letter she received I asked her. I said “Chinese, what has that got to do with anything?”. She replied “It is a phrase we have in Greece. We say “It’s all Chinese to me.” It means that it might as well be written in Chinese because I can’t understand it.”

Of course at this point I burst out laughing and she had no idea why. I of course explained it to her. It turns out that the phrase “It’s all Greek to me” is, ironically, of Greek origin, except there they say “It’s all Chinese to me”. So there you have it. The next time someone tells you that it’s all Greek to them, you can then say that the Greeks say the same of the Chinese.

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