Sunday, July 31, 2005

Stentorian

Well, I suppose it is no surprise to the world that Greeks are loud. Thanks to My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding everyone knows what Greeks are like (and I thought I knew what to expect when meeting my in-laws). When I first moved here, I was constantly taken aback by the number of people who were seemingly arguing on the streets, on the news, all around me. The the decibel levels of these palavers were damaging to my sensitive American ears, and I just couldn't figure out how people got so worked up over inane subjects.

After some time, however, I realized that these people are not arguing, they are simply talking to one another at a "normal" level and tone (a normal level for a ringmaster in a circus, perhaps). Being the picky American that I am, one who hates the sound of slamming doors, of loud vehicles, and loud voices, I really didn't know if I could ever get used to the volume of speech here. I suppose to an extent, I haven't. I can't stand listening to news that has a panel of people discussing an issue. I can't stand listening to neighbors talking in the hall. And sometimes I can't stand hearing my husband on the phone.

Is there a strain of minor deafness in the Greek ancestry that causes this need for loudness? Is it a Darwinian defense, of trying to make oneself heard over the din of a thousand voices? Or do they just like hearing themselves talk?

To their credit, my in-laws are not that bad. One on one they are positively quiet, comparatively. When you get several family members together, however, the noise level rises a bit more than average. They have learned well how to get one another's attention across a 2000 square foot apartment, though. My pitiable calls for my husband fall on deaf ears, as I can't seem to make myself yell loud enough. Luckily, there is usually someone to run interference for me, who hears my call and vocalizes loud enough for him to hear.

I am the crazy American, who can only speak loudly when I am angry, or in a state of extreme anxiety. We don't want the neighbors to hear us, after all. Yet I forget that here the neighbors are probably speaking so loudly themselves, they could never hear us.

I'll find my voice eventually, I hope. It is the survival of the loudest here, after all.

4 comments:

Rex L. Camino said...

I have had many friends of Italian descent and some of Turkish ancestry. I imagine that if those are your neighbors you will quickly learn to boost the volume.

EllasDevil said...

Well what can I say, Greeks are yet to understand that telephones actually come with amplifiers built in, they think they need to scream to be heard at the other end! The worst is Greeks on their cellphones, have you noticed how it doesn't matter where you are or what your doing, if the phone rings, they'll pick it up and have a conversation on the top of their voice. Now I can usually switch off to this, the one place I can't though is in the movie theater. Now in Greece, American movies play in their original soundtrack and just have Greek subtitles on the bottom. This to a Greek means if my cell rings, I can pick it up and have a conversation about how crappy the film is or that they know the main charactor dies at the end! I've blown my top so many times about this. I remember threatening to insert someone's Cosmote i-mode super dooper video cellphone where the sun doesn't shine if they didn't switch it off there and then!

But you've summed up your blog in one sentence that explains why Greeks are the way they are! They love and adore the sound of their own voice. To them it's like sweet sweet music. It doesn't matter that they are talking complete twaddle and that everyone around them thinks they are a total looser! None of that matters because so long as it's them saying it as loud as humanly possible then everyone around them is blessed to be able to listen to it!

And yeah, you'll have to find your voice. Otherwise your destined to be sat at the dinner table saying nothing whilest the conversation goes on around you!

melusina said...

Rex, the Greeks definitely are as loud as the Italians. I haven't had enough experience with Turks yet.

And yes, the cell phone thing is waaaay annoying. I love how there can be a table of 4 at a restaurant, each of them on their cellphone, paying no attention to one another. Brilliant social skills.

I haven't had the movie theater experience here as yet, but we actually did have a lot of problems at certain movie theaters in Nashville (ahem, the more ethnic areas of town, I hate to say it but it is true).

Now, whether or not I'll stay a wallflower, we'll see. I've never been one to speak up unless I'm with very close friends. Push me to the limit though, and we'll see what happens.

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