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Don't be selfish: learn at least one other language. Toca el tiempo para aprender otra lingua, chingon. Check out Brujeria: Matando Guereos '97. Pito Wilson. See some Roca in Español on my Top All-Time Lists page. Viva Esperanto! Aloha.

I'd eventually like this page to serve as a forum for different language-related and cross-cultural discussion items.  So turn your computer on SAP and stay tuned.  Oralé.

It's all Greek to me.  -Plato

It is hard to beat the thorough information contained on the excellent Babel Site, the Languange page by David Uhair.
For translations, check The Translator's Home Companion or try's Translation page (online translation from and to English, Spanish, French, German or Portuguese).
Grammar Basics in English | Espanol | Tagalog | Greek | Esperanto


Grammar Basics in English

As great as the public schools were where I grew up, we really didn't learn much grammar until ninth grade, and then it wasn't very thorough.  Here I'll include definitions and examples of some of the basic grammar terms you may never need to know, if I get around to it.

Parts of Speech

Adjective: a word that describes a noun, e.g., red, tall, ugly
Adverb: a word that describes a verb, e.g., forcefully, completely; as in "He vomited forcefully," "Make sure you clean it completely."
Direct Object: a noun that generally follows and is affected directly by the verb, e.g., "The cop is beating the crap out of the perpetrator."
Direct Object Pronoun: a pronoun that replaces a Direct Object, e.g., "The cop is beating him."
Indirect Object: a noun that an action was carried out for or to, e.g., "I bought Mary a vibrator" i.e., "I bought a vibrator for Mary"
    or, "I sent the corporate office a nasty letter telling them to fuck off.", i.e., "I sent a nasty letter to the corporate office."
Indirect Object Pronoun: a pronoun that replaces an Indirect Object, e.g., "I bought her a vibrator"; "I sent a nasty letter to them.'
Noun: a person, place or thing, e.g.,  whore, whorehouse, AIDS test
Verb: a word that denotes action, e.g., walk, eat, study, puke

Some words can be used as many different parts of speech, for example the word "shit" can be used as in the following ways:
Are you shitting (verb) me? That shitty (adjective) shit (noun) was shittily (adverb) shitted (verb).

Verb tenses

Future: an action that will happen at a later time than now
Imperfect: A past tense that something something something.
Past: an action that happened earlier in time than now. Includes two simple tenses, the Preterite (completed past) and Imperfect.
Present: an action that happens or is happening now, in the current moment
Preterite: A past tense that refers to completed actions and is used to narrate past events
Progressive: (ending in "ing"); an action in progress, in the process of happening, e.g., "I am puking."
    Future Progressive?: 'I will be puking."
    Past Progressive?: "I was puking."
    Present Progressive?: "I am puking."


Originally I was going to type in some note cards I made for myself in Spanish class, but the following sites do a really good job of explaining the basics:
Babel Site, the Languange page by David Uhair., including their great list of vocabulary and references, a pronunciation guide where you can hear the Spanish sounds actually pronounced, some Spanish Basics for beginners, and this insanely great reference chart of verb forms and conjugations (the three columns, from left to right, are conjugations of regular "ar," "er," and "ir" verbs).

NEW! (4/01)  I've now added a Spanish page, where I try to summarize the basics. It's in progress; feel free to let me know what you think!


The most common language of the Phillipines.  Here are a few phrases and words I learned (these were scribbled on Post-its about 5 years ago so I'm not promising anything).  Later I'll find a couple of links.
I want to kiss you  =  Gusto kitang hali kan. (ayaw ko sa iyo?)
How are you? = Kumusta ka?
Fine = Mabuti po
You're pretty = Maganda ka
Thank you = Salamat
You're welcome = Walang anuman.
Good morning = Magandang umaga
Araw araw = Day to day
Until tomorrow = Hangang bukas
to you = sayo
you = ikau
me = ako
why = bakit
liar = sinungaling
I don't know = Hindi ko alam
as well = din
today = ngayon
big = malaki
love (you) = mahal (kita)
? to yourself = Batukan kong
?  = Sarili ko
? someone else = Sarili mo
Babatukan kita = bap you on the back of the head
Batukan mo =
nangigigil = ?
nakakagigil = ?
matakao ka = you're greedy
pangit ka = you're ugly
kayo = ?
sira pulo = "broken head" (crazy)


A thorough explanation of the Greek alphabet, with punctuation and pronunciation can be found here at, a cooperation between red hat center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That page is part of their evolving online textbook for beginning New Testament Greek.
I copied a bit of their basic page below (not for my own monetary gain) in case their site moves or something.  See their site for so much more.
Or check out this other site.
This table gives the Greek letters, their names, equivalent English letters, and tips for pronouncing those letters which are pronounced differently from the equivalent English letters. (There are actually several acceptable ways to pronounce New Testament Greek)

Greek Alphabet Sigma (s, V):There are two forms for the letter Sigma. When written at the end of a word, it is written like this: V. If it occurs anywhere else, it is written like this: s.

Upsilon (u):In the table at left, we suggest that you pronounce this letter like "u" in "put". The preferred pronunciation is actually more like the German "ü" as in "Brücke", or like the French "u" as in "tu". If you do not speak German or French, don't worry about it, just pronounce it the way the table suggests.

Xi (c): This is the same sound as "ch" in "Bach", which does not sound like "ch" in "chair". The same sound occurs in the Scottish "Loch", as in "Loch Lomond", or the German "ach!".

Dipthongs When two vowels combine to make one sound, it is called a dipthong. There are seven dipthongs in Greek:

Greek dipthongs

The "eu" combination is probably the hardest to learn for most people. It may help to take the "ow" sound and say it slowly: if you notice, there are actually two sounds in "ow" - it starts out with "ah", then glides to an "oo" sound, "ah-oo". Try doing the same with "e" (as in "edward") and "oo" - "e-oo". This is a little like the "e-w" in Edward, if you remove the "d".


Accents tell you which syllable is stressed when the word is pronounced. There are three different accents, but by the time of the New Testament, they were all pronounced the same. Here are the three kinds of accents, with a Greek word to illustrate each:

Greek accents


The rough breathing is pronounced like an "h", and looks like a backwards comma written over a vowel. The smooth breathing is not pronounced at all, and looks like a regular comma written over a vowel. Note the difference between "en" and "hen":

Greek breathing

There are two marks over the epsilon in "hen"; the first is the rough breathing, the second is the accent.


The period and comma are the same as in English. The semicolon is a raised dot, and is also used as a colon. The question mark looks like an English semicolon:

Greek punctuation

A mnemonic for alphabetic order:

If you use this mnemonic, remember that "Chairs" is not really the way to pronounce c, which sounds like "ch" in "Bach". Some people prefer to learn the order based on differences from the order of the English alphabet:

a b g d e
Same as English, except for the gamma
z h q i
zhqi means "live!" in Greek.
k l m n x o
Same as English, except for xi.
p r s t u
Same as English, but no "q"
f c y w
Memorize these, or remember (Under) Five CHairs, PSychiatrists Wink

Footnote 1: Other pronunciation schemes

To be fair, we should mention that there are several different ways to pronounce Greek. We are teaching the Erasmian pronunciation for now. At some point in the future, we may add pages to teach some of the other pronunciations. Here are the main ways that Greek is pronounced:
     Erasmian pronunciation. This is the pronunciation used here, and is probably based on the pronunciation used by a Renaissance scholar named Erasmus, who was the main force behind the first printed copies of the Greek New Testament. The Erasmian pronunciation is probably different from the way Greek was pronounced at the time of the New Testament, but it is widespread among scholars, and it has the advantage that every letter is pronounced, which makes it easy to grasp the spelling of words.
     Modern Greek pronunciation. This is the way Greek is pronounced today in Greece. Some people prefer to teach this pronunciation for New Testament Greek as well. I initially learned the modern Greek pronunciation, but had difficulty learning to spell words, so I switched to the Erasmian. Modern Greek pronunciation is probably more similar to New Testament Greek pronunciation than Erasmian is, but not identical.
     Reconstructed New Testament Greek pronunciation. There are some scholarly books which attempt to reconstruct the original pronunciation of New Testament Greek, and they have reached the point that there seems to be fairly widespread agreement on the original pronunciation. As far as I know, nobody ever teaches this pronunciation. Incidentally, since there was a large variety of Greek dialects, there was no single way to pronounce Greek even in the New Testament era.
     Fraternity, Physics, and Calculus pronunciation. This is the way your physics teacher spoke Greek, and he learned this pronunciation in his fraternity. Next time you hear a physics teacher pronounce Greek, laugh and look superior.


The universal language experiment.  What went wrong?  I guess we're just too damn selfish to take the time to build a universal future based on mutual understanding.  Are we even on the metric system yet?


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Last updated 4/11/01
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