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Emperor Pharr's new clothes

Are you reading Homeric Greek? Whether you are a total beginner or an advanced Homerist, here you can meet kindred spirits. Beside Homer, use this board for all things early Greek poetry.

Emperor Pharr's new clothes

Postby xanthos64 » Wed Jun 30, 2004 7:39 pm

Hello All

This is a terrific forum.

I've been reading the Pharr book "Homeric Greek A book for Beginners" and I want to register my advice to beginners: I don't believe this is truly a book for beginners.

Like all other Greek instruction books I've read (with the possible exception of the Paul Jones "Learn Greek" book), the Pharr book is written in the style of turn-of-the-century British schoolmaster-ese. Example: Lesson 1 (yes, the very first lesson in Greek for the "beginner") involves classifying "spirants" and memorizing vowel quantity (no definition of quantity given, just memorize it). My rule of thumb is if I have trouble understanding the English in the book, I'm going to have trouble with the Greek!

Has anyone undertaken a study of Pharr's central thesis, i.e., that learning Greek is easier if Homeric is tackled first, and then Attic, as opposed to the other way around?

My next posting will be more upbeat I promise!
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Postby chad » Thu Jul 01, 2004 12:52 am

hi xanthos, you're right. lots of us on this forum have worked through pharr, or are working through it now, and the one thing we all agree is that it's unforgiving on beginners, and is especially heavy-going if you haven't studied latin before.

to get through the first few lessons on the alphabet, accents, breathings &c you can read other books and websites. peter jones' "learn ancient greek" goes through the alphabet and breathings well, but basically ignores quantity and accents.

to get a feel for the accents, see this site:

http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~ancgreek/ ... ation.html

to get a feel for how the accents and quantity actually sound, see this:

http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris ... cents.html

ask questions here as well when things don't make sense... lots of complete beginners have done the same and got through the first bit.

once you get to lesson 3 and following (learning the greek grammar), you can see the answers to the first few lessons here, on a site run by a textkit moderator (will):


it's definitely worth working through these first few lessons and going on with pharr. the central thesis: starting with homer before attic: has many benefits. will has summarised them in an excellent draft article here:

http://www.co-prosperity.org/~annis/tex ... lects.html

(i don't mean to bombard you with info: just letting you know that there's lots of resources out there for complete beginners starting with pharr. people have put them online, because they know that working through pharr is one of the best ways into ancient greek).

hope this helps :)
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