Those Greeks “have a different word for everything!”

by Sava

OK! I’m borrowing from Steve Martin’s quote about the French, but I’ll explain. Sometimes there  is a word in Greek (or any other language) that just won’t translate into English. You can get close but never quite hit it. The word we have the most trouble with is “kefi”. In my Greek-American dictionary, it translates as “humor, disposition”, but that doesn’t say it for me. Recently I read a short interview with Nia Vardalos. She said after the success of her fabulous movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, she felt as though she had lost her “kefi”. When asked what “kefi” meant, she answered, “It’s your mojo”.

Well, that’s close and I guess you can use it in different ways, but what I think of as “kefi” I can only describe  as that “something” that a person either has or doesn’t. It’s not something a person can learn…it’s really innate. For example, Georgia & I went to a dance seminar in the village of Roustika on the island of Crete for 10 days. The participants were from all over the world, here to  learn the regional dances, as we were. At the end of each day, we gathered for wonderful dinners and then were invited to the dance floor by the musicians to practice our steps. One of the women in our group was accompanied by her husband who spent each day video-taping our lessons. This night, however, he had no camera. He surprised us by getting up to dance with the students. As he started the slow, precise dance, arms out, eyes closed, he was the personification of “kefi”. That’s what that word means…that something inside of him that showed…he wasn’t just dancing steps, he was ‘feeling’ the music and lost in it as if no one else was there. Can you see it? Yep … that’s what I mean…hard to translate.

Be on the lookout for it. When you see it, you’ll know it!

See you next time.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dan February 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

I am liking the short snacks/storys involving Greece and how we veiw the many things that make up that very special place and its culture. Good job-what a pleasure to read.


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