5 Greek Conversation Starters
Should you find yourself in Greece and eager to rub shoulders with the locals, you will most likely find yourself bombarded by loud, ebullient conversationalists eager for a chat. Greeks are famously generous and hospitable (it paid to be in ancient times, when wandering strangers were often gods in disguise), and they always have plenty of fascinating opinions that they’re willing share with you. But how do you break the ice? Here are a few topics of conversation that are bound to catalyze an interesting and meaningful talk with any Greek acquaintance.
1. World Events. Greeks are generally very knowledgeable about the news, both domestic and international, so if you have anything to say at all about the situation in the Crimea or protests in Caracas, it’s sure to spark an intense dialogue. Especially volatile topics are the crisis in the Eurozone and austerity measures by the Greek government—be prepared for things to get emotional if you talk about any of these things. Also, stay away from anything regarding Cyprus or Turkey.
2. Philosophy. As the Greeks will tell you, they invented it, and most educated people have a much firmer grasp on the classic Hellenic philosophers than the rest of us. Start a conversation about how the teachings of Plato or Aristotle are still relevant to modern life, or how interest in the lesser known schools, such as the Cynics or the Stoics, needs to be revitalized.
3. Food and Drink. Greeks are incredibly proud of their cuisine, which is famous worldwide, so any compliments towards a meal or praise of a certain type of drink will be much appreciated. If dining with friends or a host family, be sure to loudly and emphatically praise the mother’s cooking. Ask her for her recipe, but don’t be surprised if she replies that it’s an old family secret.
4. History and Literature. Similarly, the Greeks consider their nation the crucible of western civilization as we know it, so any citizen will provide you with a profound insight on how strong a hold the past still has on the present. Any questions on great ancient literary works by men such as Homer, Sophocles, Seneca, and so on will not only spark a great conversation but make you look like a highly cultured and sensitive person.
5. How Wonderful Greece Is. Greece is a nation with many problems in every wake of life. Greek people recognize this, and they will often complain about the many hardships they have to deal with: taxes, traffic, unemployment, and so on. But that doesn’t mean you have the go-ahead to criticize as well. As a foreigner, you are only allowed to say nice things about their home country.
In general, any conversation you can see having with a close friend of yours will go over well with anyone you meet in Greece. But to truly come off as someone with a genuine interest in Greek people in their culture, you should learn some Greek words—after all, the Greeks invented most western languages (as they will surely tell you). Get started by taking our free online Greek language level test, or send us an inquiry for more information.