Omónia, in the heart of Athens, is a working-class district of six- and eight-story concrete high-rises built in the nineteen-sixties on the bones of old garden houses, in an enormous development scheme that Athenians now regret. Even with its streets festooned with colorful Olympic flags and its traffic thinned by newly constructed sections of the Athens metro, Omónia is dense and oppressive. This is where a good many of Greece’s new immigrants live or hang out—Albanians, South Asians, and, in the back streets and cafés around the Hotel Joker, off St. Konstantin Street, Iraqis.
In the first place, the accent on “Omónia” is strange, because he doesn’t put accents on any other Greek names; later in the paragraph he refers to “Karaiskaki Stadium,” not Karaiskáki. But what I want to talk about is “St. Konstantin Street.” This is utterly bizarre. The normal way to render Greek “Odos Agiou Konstantinou” is “Agiou Konstantinou Street” (or, with nods to actual pronunciation, “Ayiou” and/or “Konstandinou”), which reproduces the Greek genitive form (‘street of St. Constantine’). It’s odd enough to want to translate the name (note that he doesn’t translate Omónia to ‘Concord’), but what’s up with “St. Konstantin”? There’s a Bulgarian resort called Sveti Konstantin that’s sometimes called St. Konstantin in English, but why on earth would you translate Greek “Agios Konstantinos” into a Bulgarian form? In English, the only way to render the name of the Byzantine saint is St. Constantine. Where are those famous New Yorker fact checkers?