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What is the best way to.......

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What is the best way to.......

Postby John L » Fri May 21, 2004 3:04 am

I am in the process of learning Greek, and have been studying it on my own. I have been using some different textbooks and even some online courses. Though I must admit that I am having a little trouble grasping all the declensions and syntax. There are just sooooo many diffeent ones that I just feel a little overwelmed. Does it just take a long time to get it all? Any suggestions?
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Postby klewlis » Fri May 21, 2004 4:18 am

The best thing is simply to drill those endings over and over until they come naturally.

I have the Greek Tutor CDRom which allows you to drill endings and vocab on your computer, and I found it EXTREMELY helpful when I was learning. That way you can mix things up a bit rather than simply writing them out by hand or whatever.

It's based on Koine instead of classical, but the vast majority of the endings are the same for both, so you would still find it useful. It's made by Parsons if you want to pick it up.

Others may have recommendations for more software or learning devices.
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Postby Paul » Fri May 21, 2004 4:29 am

Hi John,

Welcome to Textkit!

Hang in there. Greek is hard. But it rewards those who work at it.

What texts and online courses are you using?

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby mingshey » Fri May 21, 2004 5:37 am

Yeah, there's no royal way. I was at first overwhelmed by the hundreds of endings. That's what discouraged me to begin to learn them, for a couble of decades. But learn them by clusters or by sets and there you get some vague idea of patterns. Take a good grammar book and get some help there. There are many hints to help learning those inflections. Good luck! ;)
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Postby chad » Fri May 21, 2004 6:35 am

hi john, here's a suggestion which won't take much time, well not heaps. get a grammar and write out only the 3rd person singular forms, in all tenses, moods and voices, and then say them out loud. 3rd person sg is probably the most common and useful form. so instead of learning a whole set of forms for each tense/mood/voice, you'll just have 1 word, exemplifying the tense/mood/voice, which is far more manageable.

that way you'll cover all tenses and moods which is important--learning lesson by lesson from textbooks makes you think that e.g. the optative is "harder" than the indicative, because it comes in a later lesson but it's not, it just sounds slightly different.

then when u feel comfortable with 3rd p sg, pick another form: maybe 1st p sg or 3rd p plural: and learn that. you'll find it easier because you would have covered all the tenses and moods, and so you'll have an overview of the whole verb system in your head.

but if you haven't focused on them already, concentrate on the participles: they're critical in greek; they're used in so many ways. i think they should come in lesson 2 in greek textbooks after the alphabet, or lesson 3 after the definite article.

good luck :)
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Postby benissimus » Fri May 21, 2004 7:09 am

If they are still really jumbled, you may have gone too fast. Make sure to sort them out one at a time, by drilling each declension. That way you will not lose what you have already learned when you pile on the new paradigms.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby chad » Fri May 21, 2004 7:55 am

i don't know about this. constant drilling and not moving on until you know how to spell everything perfectly might work for some people, but it definitely doesn't work for all, and i reckon that the "drilling" learning method is responsible for culling about 90% of the people who take up greek. it makes it feel like you're not learning a language but are doing primary school maths homework.

many here far better than me at these languages probably have the opposite view, and it's good that both viewpoints are here in a forum after all. but if i had stopped to drill everything i would have stopped over a year ago... i hated maths homework

i've said this a few times, but the greek weren't all geniuses walking around with the instant natural ability to cite hundreds of word-endings on the spot--greek was just another language which people for hundreds of years could speak easily across the mediterranean. you can get to a comfortable level in greek without necessarily being able to spell every word correctly. i'm not saying to go faster through the same textbook, whcih would just mean skipping stuff. i mean concentrate on other parts of the language when sheer memorisation gets too painful--stuff which u have to teach yourself because they don't teach it in most textbooks--like greek's music and rhythm, standard phrases and proverbs, how the poetry works and sounds, different styles of writing like loose and periodic--these things aren't beyond beginners who don't know how to spell a word in the optative. rather it was learning about these things which made me keep going in greek, and made me later focus on getting the spelling right, when i could already read a bit.

i've said this before as well, but a problem with the traditional way of learning greek is that you can end up being able to say a lot about the grammatical properties of a word or clause, but you couldn't even string together a few short sentences on the spot to say something simple, even after years of study. i really think that so many textbooks don't teach greek; they just teach grammar using greek examples. so that when people think about greek, they think "aorist, imperfect, optative, dative, apposition" rather than about greek itself. i've asked people who teach greek at uni after studying it since primary/high school to say something in greek and they side-step the issue. ask someone who started french 2 weeks ago and they'll happily bonjour you :)
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Postby benissimus » Fri May 21, 2004 9:58 am

I agree with you Chad, and I am a total newbie at Greek. What I meant to say before was that it is not a good idea to try to memorize and sort out 3 declensions all at once. It isn't necessary to have them all down completely for quite some time, but trying to acquaint yourself with all of them at once is a very difficult thing to do. At least if you become fairly familiar with first declension before moving onto second declension, you are confusing your -as and -hs and not your -oi and -ai :?
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Postby chad » Fri May 21, 2004 10:17 am

hi benissimus, i definitely agree with you there. i still find greek nouns hard, because in the 3rd declension there are so many variations that you're never really sure of a form unless you've seen it before. good luck with your greek :) i know how you feel, i'm just getting back into latin and it can be a bit overwhelming, the way they present it.
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Postby John L » Fri May 21, 2004 2:13 pm

Wow!!!! Thank you all very much for your suggestions!

Here is where I am. I am studying koine Greek. I have taken a course from ibiblio Greek 101. I also have tried studying a couple of very old books that teach Greek. They have helped, but they are from my public library so I had to take them back. I am now needing to purchase one.

I had studied Greek in intervals awhile back. I learned some then, but have now devoted myself to a daily study to just learn it. I have a Greek NT and am looking to get the LXX(Ralhfs). I have learned some of the endings of some of the verbs and nouns, but I find it confusing after you get to about lesson 4 or 5 in most textbooks.

I have been memorizing passages from the Greek NT, those that I had already known in English. I also have made flashcards of a great number of Greek site words and have alot memorized. I also have made cassettes of the words to listen to them as I drive. I guess I am just expecting too much too fast.

Thanks for all the replies, I really do appreciate it!!!
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Postby Bert » Sat May 22, 2004 5:41 pm

John L wrote:Wow!!!! Thank you all very much for your suggestions!

Here is where I am. I am studying koine Greek. I have taken a course from ibiblio Greek 101. I also have tried studying a couple of very old books that teach Greek. They have helped, but they are from my public library so I had to take them back. I am now needing to purchase one....


I used Basics of Biblical Greek by William Mounce. Unless you are committed to another book already I recommend you get this one.
It is very 'user-friendly' and clear. It comes with a workbook (and it is offered on e-bay.)
Best wishes.
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Postby klewlis » Sun May 23, 2004 4:32 pm

Mounce also comes with a supplemental CDROM which you may find helpful.
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Postby John L » Mon May 24, 2004 2:06 am

Bert,

I just ordered it! Thanks!
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