Textkit Logo

Gathering Good Ancient Greek Resources in Demotic Greek

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!

Gathering Good Ancient Greek Resources in Demotic Greek

Postby Theocritus » Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:49 pm

Here's a simple two-pronged request: if anyone here has an equal mix of mastery in Ancient and Demotic Greek, I'd like to ask whether this Ancient Greek grammar in Demotic is worthwhile as a working substitute (or supplement) for Smyth's grammar.

Secondly, this demotic lexicon of Ancient and Koine Greek in 15 volumes seems incredible, and the host site claims "c'est l'oeuvre la plus complète sur le grec", so I'd like a confirmation of its usefulness in comparison to LSJ or the Homeric lexicons.

This request is inspired by my quest for monolingual learning, and especially inspired by Markos's desire for Ancient Greek to Greek resources and Gaza's atticization of the Iliad, I figured I'd find the closest thing to Orberg's all-Latin explanations while using the Italian Athenaze (sadly without the meletemata, which I cannot find online). Since I've already had two years of traditional grammar and vocabulary drills, I've been reading through the Greek, copying it, reading it aloud, and writing my own Greek comprehension questions and answers in the style of Orberg.

I'm very curious about these two reference works in particular because I've decided to skip all the linguistic/ethnic controversy and glean some Demotic while I'm learning Ancient Greek. Obviously, learning Latin and the Romance languages will lead to many conflicting ideas about which of the latter proceeds most clearly from the former fount, so I figure that as long as there isn't misinformation in these demotic works, it's probably better to use them as learning tools than to switch constantly between Greek and English or Spanish.

Any replies would be greatly appreciated!
Theocritus
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Gathering Good Ancient Greek Resources in Demotic Greek

Postby Qimmik » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:52 pm

The grammar is aimed at high-school students. It seems to provide a relatively thorough account of ancient Greek morphology, though nowhere near as complete as Smyth, but doesn't include syntax. Maybe there's a companion volume on syntax.

The dictionary seems to aim at completeness over the entire history of written Greek, down to modern katherevousi (I think). Its reliability I can't assess, but it doesn't seem very easy to use on-line. You'd probably do better with LSJ.

LSJ versus monolingual dictionaries:

LSJ is a philological tool for understanding and interpreting ancient Greek texts for English-speakers. It was very carefully compiled, and it's very reliable even though somewhat out of date. It sorts out and classifies the various meanings of Greek words, providing approximate English equivalents, and cites specific examples from specific texts. The English equivalents should always be treated as approximate and provisional--it's the examples that really matter--but the English equivalents are helpful. They allow English speakers trying to understand ancient Greek texts to some degree (and no one's understanding of ancient Greek today can possibly be complete) to see the full range of meanings or usages of a Greek word, and to identify the author or the period in which a particular meaning crops up in the corpus of ancient Greek literature. If you encounter a word in Demosthenes or Thucydides that you don't understand, you can usually find helpful parallel usages cited in LSJ from those authors or from the same periods. Sometimes LSJ even provides glosses on specific passages.

Unless you are very proficient in the language, a monolingual dictionary--one providing definitions in the foreign language rather than approximate English equivalents--isn't nearly as helpful, and could be misleading if you don't completely understand the definition provided in the foreign language. In the case of a philological tool like LSJ, providing definitions in Greek, rather than an English word or phrase that more or less captures a particular sense or meaning of a Greek word--and, again, the English equivalents have to be treated as provisional, and the examples as primary--would result in a very bulky dictionary. Also, since there are no native speakers of ancient Greek, such a dictionary would be very unreliable because you could never be sure that the person writing the definition in ancient Greek had the same understanding of the words used in the definition as a native speaker of ancient Greek would or that you have the same understanding as the person writing the definitions. And you would have to puzzle through complicated explanations in a language you don't really have a full grasp of.

While a very basic monolingual dictionary might be interesting and perhaps even useful at an elementary stage to understand very elementary texts, such a dictionary would be impossible to use and utterly frustrating in trying to read, say, Thucydides or Demosthenes.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1149
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Gathering Good Ancient Greek Resources in Demotic Greek

Postby Markos » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:55 pm

Qimmik wrote:LSJ versus monolingual dictionaries...


I don't at all disagree, Qimmik, with what you have written here. I have admitted that my monolingual Ἀπολλωνίου Λέξικον has not been, and really is not, as "useful," (on one level, anyway) as my Cunliffe. I understand, and to an extent I concede, the argument that Grammar-Translation resources like LSJ and Smyth have a certain efficiency and precision that mono-lingual Greek resources by necessity lack.

But I will continue to maintain that for some of us--maybe different people simply learn differently--reading fluency is increased more by as much mono-lingual immersion as possible as opposed to precise parsing in a non-target language. We agree that the Greek examples found in L.S.J. are more valuable than the English glosses, but there remains something inherently productive about not leaving the target language at all. As a practical matter, it rarely important that one knows precisely what an Ancient Greek word "means," since the meaning of every word is really only what in means in the sentence that one is reading at the time, and Greek immersion as a goal can and does lead to the type of mastery of forms and basic vocab so that meaning can be inferred from the context the command of which one hopes to have in Greek. I believe with all my heart that reading Rouse's Greek Boy along with his (virtually) mono-lingual dictionary will do more to lead to this reading fluency than will reading unadapted texts and slogging through L.S.J. (It would make a huge difference, by the way, if Rouse's Greek glosses were printed at the bottom of the page, rather than in the back of the book.)

We've talked alot about the challenges of a good mono-lingual lexicon or grammar. The ones written by the Ancients are not very accessable to modern learners and to produce a really good modern one, one that could compete with if not replace L.S.J. or Smyth, would require a massive group effort. But it could be done, I think, and it would help lead to better internalization of Ancient Greek.

And the dirty little secret, of course, is that anyone writing a good mono-lingual Greek lexicon would of course consult L.S.J. heavily first. I am not, of course against, L.S.J., though I might say that one should not use it early or often, and I can't loose the notion that at some point it, along with all non-target language resources (yes, even Smyth) must be left behind. At some point, Greek must be accepted as Greek, and mono-lingual resources will always have this advantage.

While a very basic monolingual dictionary might be interesting and perhaps even useful at an elementary stage to understand very elementary texts, such a dictionary would be impossible to use and utterly frustrating in trying to read, say, Thucydides or Demosthenes.


I can't really agree with this because of my experience of reading Gaza's simplified, expansive, and explanatory paraphrase of the Iliad. I don't see why this could not be done with Thucydides. An intra-lingual paraphrase is of course just another form of a lexicon or grammar.

To answer Theocritus' question, that basic problem I have with the Mega Lexicon is that 1. the one-line versions are simple too blurry to read. 2. I don't like using on-line lexicons at any rate.
Markos
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1282
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:07 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Gathering Good Ancient Greek Resources in Demotic Greek

Postby Qimmik » Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:45 pm

We've talked alot about the challenges of a good mono-lingual lexicon or grammar. The ones written by the Ancients are not very accessable to modern learners and to produce a really good modern one, one that could compete with if not replace L.S.J. or Smyth, would require a massive group effort. But it could be done, I think, and it would help lead to better internalization of Ancient Greek.


With all due respect--and I don't mean to be contentious--even when you write "a massive group effort," I think you are vastly underestimating the difficulty of this project and the expense it would entail, and you're substantially overestimating its usefulness. If you are using the on-line version of LSJ exclusively, you may not have a full appreciation of how enormous this dictionary is. And it's definitely not aimed at beginners: it's primarily a tool for advanced scholars who have already internalized the basic vocabulary and grammar.

And if you're getting your Homer through the filter of a Byzantine translation, you're missing a lot. I think you'd be much better off wrestling with the text on its own terms, looking up the words you don't know in Cunliffe, trying to figure out the meaning on your own, and using a good commentary to take advantage of the scholarship that the last two centuries have produced to illuminate the text.

The same holds true, in my view, with other texts. I think that the best way to internalize ancient Greek is to do as much reading as possible--wrestling with the difficulties--and the most efficient way to do that is to use resources that help you understand the texts as fully as possible, which you won't do if you are using resources in a foreign language. And ancient languages, particularly Greek, are different from modern languages for which there are native speakers still alive who might be able to explain fine differences of meaning and cultural and historical allusions.

The goal of learning ancient Greek isn't to speak or communicate in the language. (There are some people who might venture to do this, but you can be assured that our attempts can't come close to anything like real ancient Greek; let's face it, we're barbarians; and what's the point of trying to communicate in bad Greek with others who are trying to speak bad Greek? One might as well learn Klingon--one would probably be able to communicate with more enthusiasts than ancient Greek.) Rather, the goal is to read and understand and engage with and experience as fully as possible texts written in the remote past, in cultural environments that are utterly different from those prevailing today, and transmitted to us in less than pristine form. The process of understanding these texts has taken several hundred years of scholarship. The scholarship isn't, and will never be, complete, of course, but we need to take advantage of this work to help us understand the texts as fully as possible.

You and I will never be able to pick up a text and be able to read it the way we might read a modern French or German text, without resort to dictionaries or grammar or commentary. (I'm not saying that no one alive today can do this, but if there are such people--maybe ML West or mwh--they have advanced degrees and have spent entire careers studying and teaching ancient Greek.) So we need to resign ourselves to the fact that we will never read ancient Greek easily or without help--without relying on the centuries of scholarship that have produced works such as LSJ--and the most efficient way to get that help is not to struggle to understand what we don't know in a language we aren't fully fluent in, but rather to use resources in a language which we are completely familiar with--our own.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1149
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Gathering Good Ancient Greek Resources in Demotic Greek

Postby daivid » Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:08 pm

How many of us read dictionaries just for fun? Definitions when you have to look up many of the words just to understand the definition is tedious. If the definitions are restricted to a core vocabulary that learners will know then that will make the definitions less useful. And imagine the knots that you will tie yourself into trying to define σκίουρος when one word, squirrel, will convey the meaning quickly and precisely. If the choice is between laboriously reading dry definitions and reading Greek that is interesting and thus memorable, then for me the quick fix of checking unknown words in a bilingual dictionary so that I can read a greater quantity wins hands down.

One of the things that makes Rouse's Greek Boy so tedious is the tendency to digress into definitions of words newly introduced.

What have read about the use of monolingual dictionaries for modern languages suggests that the evidence for their value as very dubious. I imagine there must be some properly conducted research into their value. It would be a good idea to try and track it down.

This is not an issue about the value of communicative use of Ancient Greek. Actually using the Greek to communicate gets you more emotionally engaged and hence the language sinks in deeper. Passively reading dictionary definitions is, for me, as unemotionally engaging as you can get.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1010
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Gathering Good Ancient Greek Resources in Demotic Greek

Postby Markos » Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:54 pm

daivid wrote:What I have read about the use of monolingual dictionaries for modern languages suggests that the evidence for their value as very dubious. I imagine there must be some properly conducted research into their value. It would be a good idea to try and track it down.


This snippet would appear to support your point.

http://books.google.com/books?id=4o9Nfy ... &q&f=false

A new term here I learned, "bilingualised." "A bilingualised dictionary is a monolingual dictionary with L1 translations included." This would defeat the purpose Greek immersion, but would make the lexicon less frustrating for you.

Outside of defenders of Grammar-Translation, who see no problem with the almost exclusive use of L1, the rest of us agree that L1 is a necessary evil. The question is, how evil, and how necessary?

And imagine the knots that you will tie yourself into trying to define σκίουρος when one word, squirrel, will convey the meaning quickly and precisely.


I for my part would solve this problem with a picture of the ζῷον in question.

This is not an issue about the value of communicative use of Ancient Greek.


Agreed. Support (or criticism) of communicative use and monolingual resources do not necessarily go hand-in-hand, but they tend, I think, to follow hard upon.
Markos
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1282
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:07 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Gathering Good Ancient Greek Resources in Demotic Greek

Postby renaissancemedici » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:46 am

I would only like to add that the names of the contributors of the lexicon include some of the best (Hadjidakis, Kriaras, Tzartzanos etc) so I would definitely trust it.
Πολλ' οίδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἐχῖνος δέ έν, μέγα.
Αρχίλοχος
User avatar
renaissancemedici
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:04 am


Return to Learning Greek

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 67 guests

cron