Deciphering our μοῖραι

Yesim and Hayley

Many things are available along Larnaca’s turquoise seafront: martinis, phallic slingshots, and sketchy tattoos out the back of large white vans. But most notable, perhaps, is the small green corner shop offering udon noodles, ponzu sauce, and Greek fortune cookies. The best part of a meal from Wok in the Box, besides price, is always the small slips of paper that crumble from the insides of the cookies — equipped with glib sayings nearly as illegible in English as in Greek. Since we’re still waiting with bated breath to discover any inscriptions in the field pottery, we’re keeping our skills sharp by valiantly attempting translations. A Herculean task, since Ancient Greek never had much to say about computer science. Homeric couplets about toilet paper may not be very impressive, but we hope Ellen will be proud of us for practicing (with flash cards!) nonetheless… at least enough to avoid proskynesis.

A woman puzzles over a fortune cookie fortune
Future more or less vivid?

[our commentary will be in brackets]


Modern Greek: Το γέλιο είναι το καλύτερο φάρμακο, αλλά αν γελάς χωρίς λόγο τότε χρειάζεσαι φάρμακο.

Our translation: Laughter is the best medicine but laughter without [we know this word thanks to Mr. Brown’s coffee] reason requires medicine [according to Polyphemus, singing is the best medicine].

Given translation: Laughter is the best medicine, but if you laugh without reason then you need medicine.

Modern Greek: Έχεις το χάρισμα να ελκύεις τους ανθρώπους.

Our translation: You have charisma to influence men.

Given translation: People are naturally attracted to you.

Modern Greek: Μην κρίνεις ένα βιβλίο από το εξώφυλλο του.

Our translation: Don’t judge a book from its cover [easy!].

Given translation: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Modern Greek: Αυτός που γελάει τελευταίος, γελάει μαζί σου.

Our Translation: He who laughs last laughs about you.

Given Translation: He who laughs last is laughing at you.


Modern Greek: Τα πιο σημαντικά πράγματα στη ζωή δεν είναι πράγματα.

Our Translation: The pious (?) semantic things in life are not things. […they are Aeneas]

Given Translation: The most important things in life aren’t things.

Modern Greek: Διλήμματα ζωής: θα προτιμούσες να χρησιμοποιείς οφθαλμικές σταγόνες από ξύδι ή χαρτί υγείας από γυαλόχαρτο;

Our translation: Dilemma of life: Would you rather have need of/use (eye thing) vinegar [we only know this word from Greek Salt and Vinegar chips] or…?

Given translation: Life dilemmas: Would you rather use eye drops made of vinegar or toilet paper made from sandpaper?


Modern Greek: Αν δεν τα καταφέρεις… μάθε εάν ο χαμένος κερδίζει κάτι.

Our translation: If you do not bring these things, then know that lost things will return someday.

Given translation: If you do not succeed… find out if the looser gets anything.

Modern Greek: Κάποιες μέρες εντυπωσιάζεις τον εαυτο σου… κάποιες άλλες, βάζεις τα κλειδιά σου μέσα στο ψυγείο.

Our translation: Do something, you will _____ (direct object) of yourself, you do other things, you will dress yourself in the middle in flight [we shamefully mistook ψ for a φ, sorry Ellen, me bad, *engages in proskynesis*].

Given translation: Some days you amaze yourself… other days you put your keys in the fridge.

Modern Greek: Θα περιτριγυρίζεσαι πάντα από αληθινούς φίλους.

Our translation: You should (vague subjunctive?) surround yourself all around from each other friends.

Given translation: You will always be surrounded by true friends.

Modern Greek: Θα τα πας καλά στον τομέα της πληροφορικής.

Our Translation: It should be that all good in life… of many carried things.

Given Translation: You will do well in the field of computer science. [What?!]

Modern Greek:Τραγωδία είναι όταν κόβεις το δάκτυλο σου. Κωμωδία είναι όταν κάποιος πέσει μέσα σε ανοιχτό υπόνομο και πνιγεί.

Our Translation: It is tragedy when you hurt your finger. It is comedy when someday (?) you do anointed name (?) and ______.

Given Translation: Tragedy is when you cut your finger. Comedy is when someone falls in an open sewer and drowns.

Several fortune cookie fortunes on a table

[Wok in the Box isn’t even that good, we just like getting fortune cookies]

Beyond the cosmic advice of small folds of dough, we’re keeping ourselves busy talking walks, diving in the Mediterranean, eating ridiculously impressive quantities of food, and cackling over Cards Against Humanity — all before bedtime, which is a night owl’s 9:00 pm.