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i have a quick question

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i have a quick question

Postby alex25 » Sun Jul 03, 2005 2:54 am

i do not have a background in greek or latin and i am about to begin college.

how much more difficult is greek then latin?

i know this question is hard to answer. as a freshman i don't want to spend all of my time studying and i heard that greek is extremely difficult. so i wonder which language i should take.

any suggestions or comments would be appreciated.
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Postby adz000 » Sun Jul 03, 2005 6:40 am

Nonsense! Every language is equally difficult to master. Why would you be interested in taking Greek or Latin to begin with? Or is it a choice that someone is forcing you to make?
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Postby amans » Sun Jul 03, 2005 11:45 am

Hi Alex,

Welcome to Textkit. If you decide to go into the classics in college, you'll find this a great forum, I am sure.

adz000 wrote:Nonsense! Every language is equally difficult to master.


Do you have any evidence to support your claim, adz000? If what you are saying is that an Arab has just as much difficulty learning his or her language as an Englishman has learning his or hers, I agree. But that is not the case here. We are talking about learning foreign languages - are you saying that all foreign languages are equally difficult to master?

It is an interesting position, but I fail to see why languages which are relatively close to English such as German or French should not be easier to learn for a speaker of English than languages which are relatively distant from English, such as Arabic or Chinese...

Now, Latin or Greek? They are both difficult, - and I believe this to be the experience of many students - but Latin at least does use the same alphabet as English. Another advantage may the vocabulary: many words in English are derived from Latin and may be understood immediately.

adz000 wrote:Why would you be interested in taking Greek or Latin to begin with? Or is it a choice that someone is forcing you to make?


This is a highly relevant question, I think. Your first priority, Alex, should be to ask yourself what you'd like to learn, then if it is difficult or not. If you do not have any real interest in the language you undertake to learn, you will be bored and frustrated. Do you have any particular interest in Greek and Latin? What aspects of these cultures interest you? Roman history? Greek philosophy? Roman warfare? Greek plays? etc. If you have a purpose besides studying the language in its own right, it might be easier to find the motivation to study when the going gets tough.

Good luck!
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Postby adz000 » Sun Jul 03, 2005 3:37 pm

It is an interesting position, but I fail to see why languages which are relatively close to English such as German or French should not be easier to learn for a speaker of English than languages which are relatively distant from English, such as Arabic or Chinese...


Not just speak, but master. It is one thing to be able to communicate in a foreign language, quite another to achieve complete native competence. Some languages may be more or less easily comprehended by descriptive grammars, but so much of the life of every language lies within the uncharted vagaries of usage. A foreigner speaks English for most of his adult life and is known by a misused demonstrative or direct article. The system of separable prefixes in German will match pound-for-pound against the hardest feature of Greek to master. So what I'd say is that the amount of effort required to attain total fluency in any language approaches infinity at a certain point, like an asymptote, and it renders all previously expended effort to be insignificant.

At any rate, the point of arguing that all languages are equally difficult to master is, I hope, to place the difficulty question in the background where it belongs (if you care principally about learning a language, rather than passing classes) and push the question of motivation to the foreground. You won't get far with any language, let alone Greek & Latin, if you aren't strongly motivated.

Of course, if you're only interested in making grades in a class then it's the initial difficulty before the asymptote that matters -- no class will push you even close to fluency. But a light rinse of Latin and Greek doesn't do anyone much good these days; a witty allusion to Pindar or Horace isn't going to advance your career or improve your social standing anymore. It has been a long time since Dr. Johnson's day, when one could say "Greek is like lace, a man gets as much of it as he can."

But if you're being forced into class and want to take the path of least resistance, I second amans' judgment about Latin.
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Postby Democritus » Sun Jul 03, 2005 5:45 pm

IMHO Latin is significantly easier than Greek. But both languages are challenging. Latin is also quite tough.

The difficulty of the class depends a lot on the professor teaching it, so make sure to research the instructors, before making your decision. If I were you, I would pick the language that is taught by the best instructor.

If you are in the US: http://www.ratemyprofessor.com/

Good luck! :)
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Postby Yhevhe » Sun Jul 03, 2005 11:56 pm

amans wrote:an Arab has just as much difficulty learning his or her language as an Englishman has learning his or hers


Don't know about Arabs and Englishmen, but I've read that Japanese people have difficulty even learning their own language because of the kanji :?
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