I am often amazed at the high level of English spoken by the Greek people as a general rule, whether they are university professors or fishmongers. Their facility with English and a certain degree of cache bestowed on all things foreign has led to a profusion of foreign language names of businesses–mostly English, but a few French. On a stroll through our neighborhood, you will encounter the “Happy Hippo” kids’ shoe store, “Pet City,” “Mind the Cut” hair salon, “Bike World,” Tasty House” coffee, “Dance Palette” dance school, the “Eye View” optical shop, the straightforwardly named “Coffee House,” and the ambiguously named “Wemen Beauty Salon.” (Is this a salon for “Us Guys” or for women and men? For very small men? No idea.) The Greeks’ fondness for using English in the naming of businesses and products often produces results that are almost right, but are just a bit…off.
In our neighborhood, we have the “Butcher Café,” which serves drinks and coffee but no meat of any kind; the “All Classic Music Bar,” from which we have never heard a note of music emanating, and the “Homemade” cocktail bar, where I’m pretty sure the gin and whisky comes from regular old store-bought bottles, not grandpa’s moonshine still.
But my favorite example of this phenomenon is “Homeless Real Estate,” a huge banner for which I recently saw on a local apartment building. I can just imagine their slogan: “Stick with us and we guarantee you’ll soon be homeless too!”
Second prize in our neighborhood has to go to “I’m Woman’s Toys,” a women’s clothing shop.