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Polis by Christophe Rico

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Polis by Christophe Rico

Postby daivid » Sun May 26, 2013 11:28 pm

Markos wrote:daivid:
Polis by Christophe Rico
Available in French, German and Italian but not English.

It is strange that an English version has not yet appeared. Can we take this to mean that Europeans are more supportive of Living Language Methods than Americans and Canadians and Australians, not to mention Brits? On the other hand, I've heard that a second edition, with new material, is forthcoming, and this will be available in English.

I suspect it is simply that he lacks a translator. He certainly runs classes in America but judging by youtube his classes are entirely in Greek (using techniques I remember from my TEFL course) so no translation is needed even for beginners.

Markos wrote:
Your are correct that intermediate Greek learners don't need an English translation anyway, since the whole idea is to stick to the target language.

What, Daivid, do you think of the book so far?

The main readings are excellent. The second lesson allows you to really imagine that you really are listening in on a class run by a teacher who is losing control and Rico's despairing εγω ὑπαγω at the end means that I am not likely to forget its meaning as "retire" (ie in this case "I'm retiring"). For the exercises he trys a lot of different things which I really don't like in exercises because I find myself floundering unclear as to what is expected of me.
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Re: Polis by Christophe Rico

Postby Markos » Thu May 30, 2013 5:05 pm

daivid: The main readings are excellent. The second lesson allows you to really imagine that you really are listening in on a class run by a teacher who is losing control and Rico's despairing εγω ὑπαγω at the end means that I am not likely to forget its meaning as "retire" (ie in this case "I'm retiring").


When I first got Polis, I came up with the concept of "Rico words." A Rico word is a word that you hear Rico or one his readers says in a dramatic context, with heavy emphasis and exaggerated humor, and then you read that same word in a real Greek text. As you read the word, you hear the audio in your head, and the word is somehow more REAL to you, more FAMILIAR, in a word, more INTERNALIZED.

I suspect that if you grew up speaking Ancient Greek, ALL Greek words would be Rico words for you, and the reading process would be quite different than it is for people who only read Ancient Greek without ever hearing it spoken by real people in real communicative settings. I've listened to a lot of spoken Ancient Greek since then, but I still think Rico's audio is the best I have ever heard.

For the exercises he trys a lot of different things which I really don't like in exercises because I find myself floundering unclear as to what is expected of me.


I too, would call his exercises a work in progress. Above all, Rico is trying to do something which is very difficult, viz, come up with an alternative to Greek-to-English and (even) English-to-Greek exercises, which are the bedrock of grammar-translation. I am not prepared to reject these all together, because I think they are effective, but I certainly admire his efforts.
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Re: Polis by Christophe Rico

Postby spiphany » Fri May 31, 2013 7:04 pm

I'm going to offer a dissenting opinion and say that I've never really been able to warm up to Polis. I think a lot of my issue with it may be due to the fact that Polis is really aimed at learners interested in Koine, and my background is mostly from the opposite end of the temporal spectrum (Epic poetry and Attic drama). So I may be biased here, but the Greek in Polis has always felt to me a bit like Greek as produced by the speaker of a modern European language who hasn't been able to get rid of the syntactic and discursive patterns of his native language. It feels, I don't know, tamed somehow, and it's the unique craziness and unpredictability of classical Greek that I love about it so much.

Whereas Assimil or Rouse's Greek Boy at Home or JACT's Speaking Greek all offer what seems to me to be much more idiomatic classical Greek from the very beginning. It's not just the simplified structure at the beginning of Polis (Assimil has that, too), it's more that I keep coming across usages that just don't feel quite right to me. I can't really qualify this -- a proper critique would need to go into detail about stylistics and the specific differences between Attic and Koine, and I don't know if I have the background to do this (my sense of Greek style is mostly passive knowledge, not active knowledge).
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Polis by Christophe Rico

Postby spiphany » Fri May 31, 2013 7:42 pm

Okay, contrary to what I just wrote, I am going to add a couple of concrete examples of what I mean about some of the formulations in Polis seeming odd to someone accustomed to Attic Greek rather than Koine.

Early on, Rico introduces the pair of opposites δυσκολος and ευκοπος (difficult/easy). Neither of these words is particularly common in Attic Greek. It makes more sense at this stage to introduce words that are part of the core vocabulary of the language -- here, I would expect something like χαλεπος and ῥᾳδιος to convey the same meaning.
Similarly: λαλεω for "speak, converse" is comprehensible, but why not λεγω (or some compound of it), or possibly ὁμιλεω? Either of these would sound more natural to me.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Polis by Christophe Rico

Postby Scribo » Fri May 31, 2013 9:06 pm

That's because you're right, Spiphany, however:

radiwn vs khalepos is very firmly classical and constricted to a higher register in later periods, you would expect dysklos and eykolos in Koine as that was spoken idiom. Likewise there are subtle differences in the various Greek verbs for speaking but one would definitely suspect omilew or lallw to be the most common "all purpose" verbs, but then there weren't any all purpose verbs and you'd have to throw in eipa etc too.

Unless all the non literary and later evidence is incorrect. Register and usage is always the single largest stumbling block for these communicative approaches.
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Re: Polis by Christophe Rico

Postby daivid » Fri May 31, 2013 9:28 pm

spiphany wrote:Okay, contrary to what I just wrote, I am going to add a couple of concrete examples of what I mean about some of the formulations in Polis seeming odd to someone accustomed to Attic Greek rather than Koine.

Early on, Rico introduces the pair of opposites δυσκολος and ευκοπος (difficult/easy). Neither of these words is particularly common in Attic Greek. It makes more sense at this stage to introduce words that are part of the core vocabulary of the language -- here, I would expect something like χαλεπος and ῥᾳδιος to convey the same meaning.

I am most interested in Attic and had Rico done an Attic version I would prefer it but its strengths more than outweigh that. And even though δυσκολος is rare in Attic it is found so I don't mind learning it. For one thing it has already stuck in mind so well that I am unlikely to have forgotten it by the time I encounter it "in the wild".
spiphany wrote:Similarly: λαλεω for "speak, converse" is comprehensible, but why not λεγω (or some compound of it), or possibly ὁμιλεω? Either of these would sound more natural to me.

But it doesn't come up in the neutral context where λεγω would be appropriate. It is the bit where Rico is playing himself getting exasperated with students chatting at the back rather than listening him. Rico has taught me that word not as another word to say say but as something more specialized. I would not know if that is correct but looking at the dictionary definition ("talk, chat, prattle,") it seems to me that he has done well to convey those overtones.


But thanks very much for making up those points. I appreciate having flagged up how Rico's language diverges from Attic.
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