Textkit Logo

Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Here's where you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby TonyLoco23 » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:14 pm

Aside from the obvious headstart one gets from Latin in that many of the words are immediately familiar to English speakers, which is harder Classical Latin or Attic?

I have spent the last couple of years intensively studying Latin on my own and am still struggling through Classical authors at an abysmal pace.

What I find hardest about Latin is working out the meanings of all the datives and ablatives in a sentence. Also the way that it is so easy to confuse declension endings i.e. a word ending in "ae" could mean so many different things and a word ending in "is" could be dative, ablative plural or genitive singular.

I have only just started with Attic in the last few months and I am already seeing some glimpses into an easier path ahead. First off the use of articles (ο, η, το) etc. should remove a lot of the ambiguities that exist in Latin, also the declension endings are in no way similar to each other so it should always be easy to determine the role a word is playing in a sentence right?

However I have only just started learning Attic so I am in no position to determine which is easier yet. Perhaps later down the road I will find that there are many other unforeseen things about Attic that make it more difficult than Latin…..

What do other people think?
User avatar
TonyLoco23
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Sinister Petrus » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:50 pm

TonyLoco23 wrote:Aside from the obvious headstart one gets from Latin in that many of the words are immediately familiar to English speakers, which is harder Classical Latin or Attic?


Except that the obvious headstart is a huge advantage. And the alphabet too. These are not things to be lightly tossed out. It's like asking which is harder: Spanish or German, if you discount the fact that there are millions of native Spanish speakers in the US producing floods of comprehensible input.

Here are places I think Latin is harder:
•More ambiguity in cases, as you note
•Verbs, six tenses is all you get to navigate possibilities
•Indirect Statement
•How the Genitive relates to what it modifies

Here are places I think Greek is harder (from my point of study):
•Particles
•Plural neuter subjects get singular verbs
•All the things that affect spelling—elision (or is it assimilation?), contractions, nu moveable, variations on ου, ουκ, ουχ) [That said, it probably makes it easier to speak it, since the written language is probably closer to the spoken language on that count.]
•All that accent business, which, yes, does affect meaning (τι vs. τἰ), contrary to what some folks would like you to think.
•The dialects
•Poorer introductory texts. They assume you know Latin, want to decode Greek or don't like clean layout (most texts, Crosby & Shafer, JACT Reading Greek respectively)

Where Latin is easier:
•Better introductory textbooks (Ørberg for one)
•Fairly uniform written standard (though some medieval Latin runs astray of that)
•Better availability and diversity of instruction

Where Greek is easier:
•The article and everything connected with it
•Indirect speech with οτι
•Compelling reading in original texts
Sinister Petrus
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby lauragibbs » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:26 pm

The best way to make progress with ANY language is to read things that seem EASY to you, not things that seem too hard or frustrating. If you read lots and lots of easy things (and you will find that easy to do, of course), you will actually gain far more than struggling through a little bit of reading that is simply too difficult. Many Latin students move on to classical authors far too quickly - remember that those classical authors were hyper-intellects trying to make a big impression on their hyper-intellectual audience and, if you are reading classical Latin authors, they could usually expect that their audience was not only fully fluent in Latin (being native speakers), but fully fluent in Greek, too. In other words: it's not that the classical Latin language is hard, but classical Latin LITERATURE is incredibly hard, and intentionally show. That's how the authors proved their greatness!

I would suggest you try reading some easier materials and see if you do not make more progress. It is really only in the 20th century that the cult of reading classical authors took hold; in the 19th century, it was assumed that people would read lots and lots of beginning and intermediate Latin (not by classical authors, but instead written especially for Latin students) before proceeding to classical authors. I've collected lots of those old Latin readers here - http://ilovegooglebooks.blogspot.com/se ... tinReaders - and have transcribed some of the stories here - http://anecdotalatina.blogspot.com/. In addition, I try to publish a few adapted Aesop's fables every week here - http://latinviafables.blogspot.com/. If you are finding the Latin you are reading too frustrating, just shift the level a little bit, and work up to the classical authors. There are all kinds of easy and intermediate Latin texts out there - if you can find one that you really like, I think you will be able to experience a greater sense of progress. :-)
User avatar
lauragibbs
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:10 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby TonyLoco23 » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:39 pm

lauragibbs wrote:The best way to make progress with ANY language is to read things that seem EASY to you, not things that seem too hard or frustrating. If you read lots and lots of easy things (and you will find that easy to do, of course), you will actually gain far more than struggling through a little bit of reading that is simply too difficult. Many Latin students move on to classical authors far too quickly.


Thanks as always Laura for your excellent advice. You were the one that put me onto the Gesta Romanorum which improved my Medieval Latin reading skills incredibly well. I am happy to say that I read the whole thing and by the end of it I was able to read the passages as fast as I read English! No joke, I was blown away by how much progress I made. But now turning back to Classical Latin, it is 100s of times harder, it was a real come down to go from the Gesta back to Classical, it was as if I had gone from the top of the mountain all the way back to the bottom. I have now realised that the most important thing that a reader should have is an accurate english translation so that I can check my work and if I get stuck I can immediately learn where I am going wrong. I was previously reading Viris Illustribus which is on the same website as the Gesta but since there is no english translation, I have given up on that and am now working on Caesar's Gallic wars, it is much harder, but because there are good english translations, every sentence that I get stuck on, I can find out where I am wrong and immediately learn something.
User avatar
TonyLoco23
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby TonyLoco23 » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:51 pm

Thanks for the reply Petrus, that was reasurring.
Sinister Petrus wrote:
Except that the obvious headstart is a huge advantage. And the alphabet too. These are not things to be lightly tossed out.

Well if that is genuienly one of the disadvantages of Attic then I am not worried at all as I have already learnt the alphabet. It took me about 4 hours to memorize the letters and read them well, whereas I have spent 1,000s of hours trying to decode Latin datives and ablatives.

Sinister Petrus wrote:
•Verbs, six tenses is all you get to navigate possibilities

What do you mean by this? Do you mean that Latin has less tenses and is therefore harder? There are many more tenses than 6 in Latin though, can you elaborate on what you mean here?
User avatar
TonyLoco23
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby pster » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:51 am

Attic no doubt for reasons that have been mentioned here PLUS what I think is the biggest reason of them all: vocabulary building. How does one ever build up the Attic vocabulary??? Latin grammar, Latin vocabulary, Attic grammar all seem to shrink to nothing as the K2 of Attic vocabulary looms. How many people can pick up a random Attic text from an author they have not studied and read a a 200 word page without consulting the dictionary a dozen times?
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby helios » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:12 am

Sinister Petrus wrote:
•Verbs, six tenses is all you get to navigate possibilities

TonyLoco23 wrote:What do you mean by this? Do you mean that Latin has less tenses and is therefore harder? There are many more tenses than 6 in Latin though, can you elaborate on what you mean here?


I am guessing, but I think he meant principal parts. Greek has six (unless a defective verb) and Latin has four. More to memorize when learning each verb and in Greek it's not always easy to guess what the form of any given form will be.

I don't consider this to be a tremendous handicap, but it does take me extra time to study the forms and learn them for each verb in Greek.
Keep it rill.
User avatar
helios
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:25 pm
Location: I was born by the river in a little tent / and just like the river, I've been running ever since

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby TonyLoco23 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:41 pm

pster wrote:Attic no doubt for reasons that have been mentioned here PLUS what I think is the biggest reason of them all: vocabulary building. How does one ever build up the Attic vocabulary??? Latin grammar, Latin vocabulary, Attic grammar all seem to shrink to nothing as the K2 of Attic vocabulary looms.


Interesting perspective and I suppose it highlights that everyone has different learning styles and different strengths and weaknesses. The positive side about vocabulary learning is that as long as you dedicate the time to it, you are guaranteed to learn the words and make progress, which is not necessarily the case with deciphering Latin sentences, I have dedicated an enormous amount of time already to reading Latin and I still stumble through deciphering sentences where I know the definitions of all the words.

Then again, perhaps the hardest thing about Greek is the combination of the huge ammount of vocab and the lack of there being a good online dictionary. With Latin, the easiest part is copying and pasting the words into the Whitakers Words website and getting the meaning in a split second. I am not at the stage where I have even tried to read Classical Attic texts yet so I do not yet know how I will handle looking up words.
User avatar
TonyLoco23
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Scribo » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:47 pm

Latin, by far. Greek has always been easy for me. Latin can be painful sometimes.
User avatar
Scribo
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia.

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Rothbardian » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:29 pm

TonyLoco23 wrote:Aside from the obvious headstart one gets from Latin in that many of the words are immediately familiar to English speakers, which is harder Classical Latin or Attic?


Greek. (But the reasons people are giving above are trivial.)

{But it depends what you want to read, of course...}

What I find hardest about Latin is working out the meanings of all the datives and ablatives in a sentence. Also the way that it is so easy to confuse declension endings i.e. a word ending in "ae" could mean so many different things and a word ending in "is" could be dative, ablative plural or genitive singular.


So English must be nigh impossible for you, with all those cases, and person and number, and sometimes even tense, all being identical... :)

I have only just started with Attic in the last few months and I am already seeing some glimpses into an easier path ahead. First off the use of articles (ο, η, το) etc. should remove a lot of the ambiguities that exist in Latin, also the declension endings are in no way similar to each other so it should always be easy to determine the role a word is playing in a sentence right?


I doubt it.
Rothbardian
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 4:53 am

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Sinister Petrus » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:34 pm

Rothbardian wrote: (But the reasons people are giving above are trivial.)


True, I could have been so much more succinct. Latin is easier where it is more similar to English. Greek is easier where it is more similar to English. I also do most emphatically not think that the dialect business is trivial—unless you truly understand Greek. For a Greek slacker like myself, it's a big deal. My understanding of Greek is pretty passive (and frankly, that's all the more I want at this point).

OT: Great user name.

helios wrote:
Sinister Petrus wrote:
•Verbs, six tenses is all you get to navigate possibilities

TonyLoco23 wrote:What do you mean by this?


I am guessing, but I think he meant principal parts.


No, principal parts aren't too bad. I mean that six tenses cover all of the possible sorts of action. May, might, could, will, would, shall, should, have been, had been, going to, and any other sort of grammatical encrustation English puts on its verbs get boiled down into six tenses (ten if you count the four subjunctive tenses as well). Obviously, it can be managed, but it seems like the Latin verb is very spare by comparison to the baroque complexity of the English verb.

For example: sedeo: I sit, I am sitting, I do sit. Maybe English slices some of these differences into fine pieces, but that's where I live and breathe. My brain thinks these divisions are important—and they are if I want to talk to other English speakers. As a result, when I'm struggling with some bit o' Latin I try to shoehorn the Latin verb into an English understanding: it doesn't work when I fail to let Latin be Latin.

Also, if classical Latin is a struggle, try reading Eutropius's Breviarium. It's pretty quick reading too, and (feels to me anyway) it can serve as an intro to Livy.
Sinister Petrus
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby TonyLoco23 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:41 pm

Rothbardian wrote: Greek. (But the reasons people are giving above are trivial.)

Care to enlighten us on the real reasons then?

So English must be nigh impossible for you, with all those cases, and person and number, and sometimes even tense, all being identical... :)

I am afriad you have lost me here, English has no cases as it is not an inflected language.
User avatar
TonyLoco23
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby helios » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:32 pm

Rothbardian wrote: So English must be nigh impossible for you, with all those cases, and person and number, and sometimes even tense, all being identical... :)

TonyLoco23 wrote: I am afraid you have lost me here, English has no cases as it is not an inflected language.


Tony, you better duck because there's going to be a flurry of responses to this!

It is inflected and yes it does have cases. You don't say Me think, do you? Why? Because me is the object case. Subject case is I, of course. You use the genitive every time you say my house, and nouns do decline: foot, feet, etc. Verbs conjugate as a form of inflection: I walk, she walks, etc.
Keep it rill.
User avatar
helios
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:25 pm
Location: I was born by the river in a little tent / and just like the river, I've been running ever since

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby NateD26 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:37 pm

TonyLoco23 wrote:
Rothbardian wrote:Greek. (But the reasons people are giving above are trivial.)

Care to enlighten us on the real reasons then?

There is no real reason why the answer would be this clear-cut (it isn't), but by trivializing
the reasons above without giving his/her own or explaining why in his/her view they are
not worthy of consideration, Rothbardian has done you a disservice.

I have not learned Latin in university, though I have tried on my own for a few weeks,
but eventually left it, not because it was difficult to me but I just couldn't find any interest in it.
Again, this is my own subjective (and brief) experience with Latin, but it is not the reason
why Attic Greek, which I have learned in university for one year and then continued since
then on my own, is easier to and more interesting for me. You may find it the other way around.

In the end, you would form your own opinion from the subjective reasons you've been given
as to which is harder.
Nate.
NateD26
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 789
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:14 am

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby TonyLoco23 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:40 pm

helios wrote:It is inflected and yes it does have cases. You don't say Me think, do you? Why? Because me is the object case. Subject case is I, of course. You use the genitive every time you say my house, and nouns do decline: foot, feet, etc. Verbs conjugate as a form of inflection: I walk, she walks, etc.


I was half expecting someone would bring up personal pronouns when I wrote that English is not an inflected language. But you will have to concede that any student of English should be able to learn the concept of inflected personal pronouns within an hour or so and to memorize the handful or forms that exist, especially since Romance languages also have the same or similar inflected personal pronouns where the regular nouns are also not inflected. There is really no comparison between the level of inflection in Latin and that of English.

Anyway we are going a little off topic here, the point I wanted to make is not the Latin is difficult because it is inflected but because the various inflected cases are not always easy to distinguish. In English, complex sentences usually adhere to a vigorous word order which takes the place of inflection, in Classical Latin the word order gives you very few clues.
User avatar
TonyLoco23
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Rothbardian » Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:32 am

NateD26 wrote:
TonyLoco23 wrote:... by trivializing
the reasons above without giving his/her own or explaining why in his/her view they are
not worthy of consideration, Rothbardian has done you a disservice.


The "reasons above" were things like "it has a different alphabet", and "neuter plurals get singular verbs", but these are just things you learn in, say, an hour or two, and then you just know them; they don't get in your way (in some ways, the different alphabet makes it easier). What makes Greek harder? It's just "more different"; I haven't really thought about the reasons. The verb system is more complicated. Middle voice.
Rothbardian
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 4:53 am

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Lex » Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:53 pm

TonyLoco23 wrote:...the point I wanted to make is not the Latin is difficult because it is inflected but because the various inflected cases are not always easy to distinguish.


I think the amount of inflection is the thing that makes Greek, at least, harder. I once typed up a text file with the verb ἀείδω fully conjugated (granted, including a full conjugation of participles). It is 34kB in size. The irregularities and similarities make things harder, but even were these non-existent, the sheer size of the paradigms is daunting (at least to me).
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Sinister Petrus » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:14 am

Rothbardian wrote:
NateD26 wrote:
TonyLoco23 wrote:... by trivializing
the reasons above without giving his/her own or explaining why in his/her view they are
not worthy of consideration, Rothbardian has done you a disservice.


The "reasons above" were things like "it has a different alphabet", and "neuter plurals get singular verbs", but these are just things you learn in, say, an hour or two, and then you just know them; they don't get in your way (in some ways, the different alphabet makes it easier). What makes Greek harder? It's just "more different"; I haven't really thought about the reasons. The verb system is more complicated. Middle voice.


Whereas middle voice is (for me from what I recall from college and my current re-learning) no big deal. You just memorize the forms and you're done. No?

Or is it just one of those things? You struggle here, I struggle there, some other guy never struggles. There are people in this thread who think Attic Greek is easier than Latin!

For me, I know the neuter plural gets singular verbs: but I get jarred by it when I run across it, even though I memorized the rule. Every time. It's different. And even though I've known the Greek alphabet from my early teen years, it still doesn't feel quite natural to me a quarter century later.
Sinister Petrus
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby John Birchall » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:51 pm

Scribo wrote:Latin, by far. Greek has always been easy for me. Latin can be painful sometimes.


...easy...! That is impressive.

I agree Latin can be painful. Word order in Greek is more helpful. So if your approach to reading is to get a general impression of the meaning, Greek is easier except when you hit a complex passage. If you are learning the language in a way where you will (at least once in a while, to test yourself) write out a translation (and better still, stand by your translation!), the people who find Greek easy with that rather more strict approach must be rare.

Having had the luck to be taught both languages, I am filled with admiration for people who are self-taught. With both languages you have to put in a lot of hours (and the teacher helps you use those hours more efficiently). I am inclined to think getting that hang of the Greek of Thucydides costs more hours than the Latin of Cicero, if you are going to get the level of a UK Classics degree 30 years ago (or UK A-levels 50 years ago), that is, to take a paragraph of middling difficulty and have to know enough translate it with only minor mistakes in 40 minutes. But it does also depend on which language suits the kind of mind you have.

My honest and long-held opinion is that learning Latin self-taught, my chances of success (given my basic abilities, and lack of early exposure to foreign languages) were, with a lot of effort, about 50:50, but that learning Greek self-taught, my chances of success were pretty low. By 'learning' I mean getting to a stage where I could translate a paragraph accurately in an exam (with or without a dictionary). The resources on the Internet these days are great, and go part of the way to replacing a teacher.
John Birchall
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:02 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Scribo » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:10 pm

You have a somewhat skewed view of what we do for Classics degree's in the UK. During first year the five preliminary exams throughout the year were about an hour and more than a single paragraph, complete with grammar and syntax questions. From the second year onwards we were asked to read and be prepared to handle a lot more than that alongside grammar/syntax and literary questions. Having just don't my third year there was no question of translation whatsoever: we were set a few books of this and that and it was assumed that we'd have read it all prior to class. Classes were literary discussions of the text though any difficult points were allowed to be raised, students took turns to give seminars on various authors throughout the year and the exams likewise reflected that.

Others took verse and prose composition, I didn't do verse formally. I honestly rate modern Classics degrees higher than the older ones, sorry, no we might not read quite as much and I admit our versification is slightly lacking but there's more to Classical studies than just Literature and we know much more about the Ancient World now than before.

I don't think my finding Greek easier than Latin has anything to do with how my mind works actually. I've had a lot of exposure to Greek as a living language, in it's modern form, and that takes a lot of the fear away from it despite the staggering differences. Incidentally due to various reasons I largely self taught myself the languages due to not having access to them at school and needing to rocket up to the highest levels asap so that would involve insane amounts of study and reading in the target languages. Between around 7-12 per day sometimes.

I could not have done that without Textkit. I doubt I'd be able to go onto research next year without this site, if it wasn't for this site I really doubt I'd be studying Classics actually.

In my humble opinion the biggest problem people have with learning the Classical languages are mental: People build the tongues up to an impossible difficulty, People are worried of looking silly, People are scared of making mistakes. I know what it's like, I'm insanely self conscious. I refuse to speak French out loud because of that...I shouldn't I know but that's life and I know it's much easier for someone in my position who is younger and with more free time and a degree hanging on learning them but still.

Hopefully one day I'll be able to use Latin like Adrianus and Lucus etc can, I doubt it though since I spend so much time in Greek and Latin just defeats me most times. Ah well, it's the journey that counts, right?
User avatar
Scribo
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia.

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby daivid » Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:05 pm

It is inflected and yes it does have cases. You don't say Me think, do you? Why? Because me is the object case. Subject case is I, of course. You use the genitive every time you say my house, and nouns do decline: foot, feet, etc. Verbs conjugate as a form of inflection: I walk, she walks, etc.


Like most people I say "you and me both think..." but when I want to be taken very
seriously I say "You and I both think..."
I had a girlfriend who in certain circumstances would say
"Me doesn't like that." or "Me likes that." It was intended to be cute - it was.

In Greek the inflection caries the meaning and the word order caries
emphasis.

In English the word order caries the meaning and non standard uses of words like
me simply give a different emphasis - they never change the meaning.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1144
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Markos » Sun Jul 17, 2011 5:47 pm

εγραψεν ὁ Δαιυιδ

In Greek the inflection caries the meaning and the word order caries
emphasis.


I agree, This is a valid and well-stated rule. But in addition to emphasis, euphony is also a significant factor in Greek word order.

{ συμφημι δη. ὁ παρα σου νομος καλως μεν λεγεται, επι δε τουτῳ, ἡ των λογων ταξις εστι κατα την ευφωνιαν. }
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.
Markos
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:07 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby pster » Sun Jul 17, 2011 7:27 pm

Markos wrote:
In Greek the inflection caries the meaning and the word order caries
emphasis.


I agree, This is a valid and well-stated rule. But in addition to emphasis, euphony is also a significant factor in Greek word order.


I was just reading about this an hour ago in Sidgwick. He says for Greek word order is determined by "clearness: emphasis: neatness and euphony...Clearness is the chief thing...In a Latin sentence you have to think about balance and point and marshalling of verbs and so forth....A common mistake...is ... for example that notion (derived from Latin) that all verbs must be at the end of the clauses..."
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby daivid » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:43 pm

euphony is also a significant factor in Greek word order.

I didn't know that, thanks.

And it is also true that I overstated things a little it isn't quite true that you can jumble up all the
words of a sentence and for the meaning to remain unaffected. However, whenever I have
been completely stumped by a Greek sentence, the problem has always been that I have
been allowing the meaning I get from English word order to override what the inflections
are telling me.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1144
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby jefferz » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:13 pm

lauragibbs wrote:The best way to make progress with ANY language is to read things that seem EASY to you... Many Latin students move on to classical authors far too quickly.. In other words: it's not that the classical Latin language is hard, but classical Latin LITERATURE is incredibly hard, and intentionally show. That's how the authors proved their greatness!

I would suggest you try reading some easier materials and see if you do not make more progress. ... I've collected lots of those old Latin readers here ...


thank you laura so much.. would you by any chance be able to point me to a similar list of "old Greek readers", where the material is easier, and one can start there first and build up, before moving up to the classics -- in a similar way to the process you're describing for Latin?

thanks!
jefferz
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:56 am

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Nooj » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:44 am

I studied Latin in high school for four or five years, doing it for my HSC. I've studied Attic Greek for precisely two years (this is my second). I find Greek much, much easier to read than Latin. I can't tell you why. On the other hand, writing Latin comes much easier to me. There came a point where I thought I even started to think in Latin.
Dolor poetas creat.
Nooj
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:53 pm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Gregorius » Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:50 pm

First, let me put in my two cents on the matter of case distinction in Greek and Latin as compared to languages. As I see it, all languages have case, even ones like Mandarin Chinese. What makes the difference is how case is indicated (i.e. morphologically as in Latin or Greek vs. syntactically as in English or Chinese). English speakers often have difficulty when they're first learning case declension systems not because case doesn't exist in English but because their familiar word-order-based method of indicating case leaves them with the illusion that it's something entirely new and foreign. In other words, they confuse the underlying concept of case with the morphological method of marking case.

Also, don't confuse verb tenses with distinct verb forms. In Latin, for example, there are, I believe, six tenses, three moods, and two voices. It's the Battleship-style cross-multiplication of these three categories that creates the myriad of forms.
phpbb
User avatar
Gregorius
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 9:48 pm
Location: http://student.fgcu.edu/ghbontra/mainpage.htm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Scribo » Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:53 pm

No English does not have cases, end of story. Of course it has the same functions as cases (i.e showing subject/object, possession etc) and has specific markers and word order to flag this up but to say it has actual cases, a morphological feature, is wrong. It's an analytical language.
User avatar
Scribo
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia.

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Gregorius » Tue Aug 16, 2011 8:03 pm

Scribo wrote:No English does not have cases, end of story. Of course it has the same functions as cases (i.e showing subject/object, possession etc) and has specific markers and word order to flag this up but to say it has actual cases, a morphological feature, is wrong. It's an analytical language.


Yes, English is an analytical language. That is indisputable. What I'm saying is that all languages distinguish different roles for substantives (nouns, pronouns, and adjectives). No language can function as such without at least the simplest possible set of distinct roles.

Perhaps the issue is that my definition of "case" differs from the generally accepted one. To me, "case" is simply the role that a substantive plays relative to other components in the sentence of which it is part, not to be confused with the specific means of representing that role in a given language. By this logic, "analytic" then means "marking case implicitly through syntax" (rather than "lacking case altogether") while "synthetic" means "marking case explicitly through morphology."

Since your definition appears to be the widely held one, you are academically correct, so I'll cede the point. I just think that this narrower definition leaves speakers of an analytical language who wish to learn a synthetic language at a conceptual disadvantage.

Anyway, back to the main topic at hand, I am on chapter 14 of H&Q, and I can see how reading Greek might actually be a bit easier than reading Latin (all those ambiguous datives/ablatives throw me off too). Still, from an overall grammatical/morphological perspective, my own opinion is that Greek is easily harder. Six principal parts, separate subjunctive and optative moods, various exceptions/subdivisions of the third declension, morphological distinction of middle and passive voices in the future and aorist, etc.

Of course, some of my difficulty may stem from the fact that I studied Latin and three of its descendants before turning to Greek. Greek grammar seems to violate certain notions that my Romance-saturated mind had until then taken for granted. Had I learned Greek first, I might be saying similar things about Latin. I am also studying German, which has no imperfect tense and uses the indicative mood in some situations where Romance wouldn't dream of using anything but the subjunctive.

I personally tend to study use languages with a mindset geared towards creative use rather than merely decoding ancient texts, so that's probably why the challenges of reading Greek vs. Latin don't influence my overall opinion as heavily as they do for others.
phpbb
User avatar
Gregorius
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 9:48 pm
Location: http://student.fgcu.edu/ghbontra/mainpage.htm

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Lex » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:37 am

Scribo wrote:No English does not have cases, end of story.... It's an analytical language.


I would say that English is mostly analytical, but has vestiges of cases. Let's not force-fit a language into a category that it doesn't completely fit into, just for the sake of categorical purity.
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!
User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

Re: Which is harder: Attic or Classical Latin?

Postby Nooj » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:48 pm

As I see it, all languages have case, even ones like Mandarin Chinese.
Linguistically speaking, all languages have (some) grammatical functions. Case = inflection, and isolating languages don't inflect at all.
Dolor poetas creat.
Nooj
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:53 pm


Return to Learning Greek

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ariphron and 51 guests