Its a good thing to at least try to learn some Greek, even if only a few words. Learning modern Greek should be sufficient to get you by.
However, there is a dialect in Cyprus, much like in different parts of the United Kingdom. Cypriots may not fully understand some Greek words, but don't let that put you off.
What languages are spoken in Cyprus?
After the Turkish occupation of the north in 1974, Cyprus was split into two linguistic states. The Turkish speaking north, and the south which speaks both Greek and Turkish.
Other notable languages spoken in the south are English, Russian and Armenian. It is estimated 76% of the southern Cypriots can speak some English.
If you have a basic understanding of Greek, you will slowly pick up the Cypriot dialect(s). You should first try to learn the Greek alphabet which consists of 24 letters as below:
Greek Alphabet and How to Pronounce it
|Beta (veeta)||Β||β||v as in vote|
|Gamma (gahma)||Γ||γ||hard ‘g’ before a,o,u.|
|Zeta (zeeta)||Ζ||ζ||z as in zebra|
|Eta (eeta)||Η||η||ee as in sleep|
|Theta (theeta)||Θ||θ||soft th|
|Iota (yota)||Ι||ι||ee as in sleep|
|Kappa (kahpah)||Κ||κ||k as in keep|
|Lambda (lamtha)||Λ||λ||l as in large|
|Mu (mee)||Μ||μ||m as in mark|
|Nu (Nee)||Ν||ν||n as in noon|
|Ksi (xee)||Ξ||ξ||the letter x|
|Omicron (oh me chron)||Ο||ο||o as in own|
|Pi (pee)||Π||π||p as in people|
|Ro (row)||Ρ||ρ||r as in robot|
|Sigma (seehgma)||Σ||σ, ς||s as in seagull|
|Tau (taf)||Τ||τ||t as in toad|
|Upsilon (eepsilon)||Υ||υ||ee as in sleep|
|Phi (fee)||Φ||φ||f as in food|
|Chi (xhee)||Χ||χ||throaty ch as in chaos|
|Psi (see)||Ψ||ψ||ps as in lopsided|
|Omega (o may gah)||Ω||ω||o as in on|
Greek Pronunciation Video
Learn the Greek Language
To help you get started with the Greek language, including discovering your first words and putting sentences together you could try learning Greek online which can be done in your own time and at a pace you are comfortable with.
If you need to learn Greek fast, we recommend Greek Pod 101. The videos and podcasts of Greek Pod 101 are much better than just reading an instruction book. There are free and paid memberships, depending on how fast you want to learn the language.
Book Language Course
If you prefer to learn at your own pace there is a great book/cd set called Living Language Greek - Beginner through Advanced (check price on Amazon). It comes with 9 CDs and a 300-page book that steps you through reading and writing in addition to just speaking the language. It's probably the top of the line for learning Greek.
Learning Greek while in Cyprus
There are also over 300 Government adult training centers throughout Cyprus where you can take a course at evening school to learn 'Greek for foreigners'.
These courses are Co-financed by the European Social Fund of the EU and offered free to EU citizens, which makes them extremely worthwhile if you plan to live in Cyprus.
Private language training schools are also numerous and can be found in every major city. These courses can be more flexible with your time, some offering day or evening classes.
The whole course is completed faster than the government courses, so this may be a better option if you need to learn Greek fast.