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Council of Desperation

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Council of Desperation

Postby CanadianGirl » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:18 pm

Hi-not sure what council of desperation means, but anyway, The situation is this-I had three years of Greek in college & I've sort of studied Greek on my own since then. I am a sub. Latin teacher, also do some other things. I don't have a problem with latin, but I'm extremely discouraged because, after all this time, I still can't read Greek at all. I looked t Xenophon Anabasis(supposed to be pretty easy Greek) and I had a semester with this text, and just couldn't read it-I could guess at a lot of the words, but really I couldn't do it. In school i had NT, Homer, Xenophon, Herodotus and Thucydides, & my professors were very good (Oxford grads), so there's no excuse obviously. I have sort of tutored a couple of people in basic Greek & really liked it, but -you don't have to know anything to teach sort of intro to Greek. So I'm feeling very discouraged at this point, so this is what I have decided to do-I got out my old Pharr Homeric Greek-it's so old the covers are gone-it's worn out, and I got a notebook and I'm just going to sort of go thru from the beginning and "explicate" every word. Like "Mhnin=accus. of the noun mhnis" or what ever. Obviously this will be very labor intensive-it will take a week to do one page. But I'm hoping this will fix the vocab. and grammar in my mind, because after @ nine years total, I still don't know it. If this doesnt work, don't know what I'll do-I have wanted to be able to read Greek since we read Homer in high school, but if you can't do it, you can't do it. So , this is my last-ditch effort. I really, really hate the thought of giving it up, but if you can't do something after @ 9 years, what are you supposed to do. I picked Homer because he isn't my favorite author, but I thought Homer's "intensity" or whatever you call it might help. And I like the way Pharr's book is laid out, though it's really old. Also, there's a certain "prestige" in working with Homer, when people ask what you're doing, so maybe that will help keep me focussed. Anyway, thought you guys might be interested-this is my last shot at Greek, if anybody has any suggestions, go ahead, but obviously I have to do it, or not, by myself. Thanks for listening! PS-It just occured to me-maybe this should be in the General Discussion, so Dear Moderator, feel free to move it!
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Re: Council of Desperation

Postby IreneY » Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:17 pm

OK what exactly is about Greek that makes in impossible for you to learn it? For example, are you sure you want to learn or do you think like you ought to? If the latter don't bother! Find a language that you are interested in, really interested it and go for that one. I obviously like ancient Greek (and, obviously, modern too :D ) but that doesn't mean that everyone should like it and/or learn it.
Is it the vocabulary and if so it what way? Is it the grammar? Also, personally, I wouldn't go for what is considered prestigious. I myself like too few things about Homer and only one ancient Greek poet (Archilochus) so I sort of slogged through my university classes on these subjects and hardly ever looked back. Plato I had to study (since I had to teach his writings) so I sort of put up with him, but I would never, ever choose his writings to learn Greek. Heck, I'd be glad if I didn't have anything to do with his dialogues and such books as the State, the Laws etc.
Others would really disagree with my tastes but de gustibus non est disputandum so there you go.
Note: While Xenophon is in general easy, he has some passages that are really, truly difficult. Me, I would go with Lysias myself (I like him anyway, even his slimy speeches :D )

Anyway, as I said before, you have to think if you really do want to study and if you do, what exactly is that blocks your way forward so to speak.

Cheers,
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Re: Council of Desperation

Postby Markos » Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:05 am

Canadian Girl wrote:
So I'm feeling very discouraged at this point... Anyway, thought you guys might be interested-this is my last shot at Greek...


Yes, I am interested, and thanks for sharing this. I think that feeling discouraged is a basic part of learning Greek. I have been studying Greek on my own for four and half years, every day, on average an hour a day, on many days many more than an hour and I still don't know it as well as I'd like to. I have made great progress, and sometimes when I try to read unfamiliar Greek I am thrilled that I can do it. But there are many times when I try to read something in Greek and I can't or I still find passages in Homer or even in the Greek New Testament very hard, passages that I have read many times. I have tried everything in learning Ancient Greek, including speaking it, and I have concluded that it is just hard.

But don't give up. I like your plan of persisting with Pharr. Homer is the guy you need to get you through this. Approach learning Greek the way Churchill approached beating the Germans. "Never give up. Never, ever, ever give up."

I hear your desperation. I share it. Remember that you did not choose Greek. It chose you. This is your last shot. Take it, and then if that fails, take one more shot. ερρωσο.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Council of Desperation

Postby CanadianGirl » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:48 pm

Thanks for the in-put guys. My situation is I like some -not all by any means-Greek lit. like you, Irene, but beyond that, I am really, totally hooked on Greek civ. I can see i will be studying it for the rest of my life. Naturally, you don't really know Russian history & civ. if you can't speak & read Russian, and you don't know French history & civ. if you don't know French, etc. etc. so that is my main motivation. Also to be honest, I sort of like the "prestige" (rightly or wrongly) of supposedly knowing Greek. And I really, really would like to be able to read, slowly and painfully, the stuff I'm interested in. Don't know if its' just inability to retain the vocab. or what, but I can't do it. And Greek is the only language I want to learn, I'm pretty good at French , and I can teach HS Latin, so don't know why all my work in Greek hasn't paid off. Anybody ever try learning Modern Greek first, & seeing if it will transfer to classical? I can actually speak a little modern-enough to order a meal & ask directions, etc. Maybe i should try that.
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Re: Council of Desperation

Postby Sondern » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:54 am

If you're going to maintain a focus on learning the language, then I would say that you need to develop a passion for the literature. If you don't really have an interest in Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides or some other ancient Greek author, then I don't really understand why you would go to the trouble of learning the language. In fact, I don't think it's possible to learn the language unless the literature motivates you. To really have and maintain an understanding of the language, you will need to commit to years of reading and working with the language and the payoff for all that work, the carrot at the end of the stick so to speak, is the unmediated text. The experience of communicating directly with the author in the author's language is the big payoff.

Furthermore, I don't think a teacher can really convey the magic of a particular subject unless they have a genuine passion for it. So I would advise you to drop the vocabulary lists and paradigms and simply read your favorite ancient Greek literature in translation and ask yourself whether you really enjoy the work enough to commit to the language. Try reading the Bacchae or Ajax or the Medea , along with some commentary, and then ask yourself whether you're sufficiently interested to carry on with the language. If you decide to tackle the language, then I would recommend learning from the texts you actually enjoy. Good luck.
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Re: Council of Desperation

Postby IreneY » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:10 pm

Hi there! Sorry for the delay but I was running around like crazy!
Yes, modern Greek does help. I'm not saying that just because as a native speaker I can spot the many similarities between the two forms of Greek but also because I know quite a few people who first learned MG and then AG. I usually wouldn't recommend taking that route since learning MG is an extra step, completely unnecessary to those who are strictly interested in AG. In your case though it may be worth the effort :)
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