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How Long?

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How Long?

Postby DayRaven » Tue Jul 24, 2018 12:48 pm

I'm not sure if this is the right area, my apologies if not.

I would like to know how long it was before folks who learned both Latin and Greek took the second language up after the first i.e. if you started Latin first how long did you study it before you felt able to start with Greek (or vice versa)?
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Re: How Long?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:02 pm

Never really thought about it in terms of ability, but I had 2 years of high school Latin before starting Greek as a freshman in college, and I continued with Latin as well.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
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Re: How Long?

Postby RandyGibbons » Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:54 pm

DayRaven,

If you're looking for advice, your question is probably impossible to answer without knowing a whole host of circumstances. I learned Latin and Greek simultaneously beginning my third year of college (actually, I was also studying German), but I had the time and zeal and focus to do that.

Questions that come to mind: Which of the "seven ages of man" do you fall into? Are you a matriculated student somewhere, or strictly an autodidact? What restraints do you have on your time (a job, a partner, children, ...)? What previous secondary language experience do you have? Especially, what are your goals for learning Latin and Greek, and how patient and realistic do you feel you will be in achieving them?

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Re: How Long?

Postby DayRaven » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:11 pm

Thanks for the replies.

@RandyGibbons

I'm more curious than anything else, but advice is welcome.

I'm not unfamiliar with learning to read archaic languages. I've studied Old English and Old Norse (on my own) to be proficient enough in reading without (too much) need of a dictionary and to translate from both. The two languages are sufficiently similar in grammar and in much of the lexicon to make them, in my view, unwise to learn side by side as a beginner. I was proficient in OE grammar and knew a fair amount of vocabulary (much the harder of the two areas in my experience) before I started with ON.

I suppose I'm wondering how much knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary I would need to have down solid before learning Greek without finding one was crossing into the other. To give an idea of where I am now I'm using Wheelock and have got ten chapters into the book (about a chapter a week or so depending on circumstances) and have not found it particularly difficult up to now. My end goal is really to be able to read the Latin histories of Ammianus Marcellinus, Procopius, Bede and Saxo Grammaticus (the late Roman and early medieval history being of interest) as well as Boethius. As for Greek I'm mostly looking at Homeric for the Iliad, Odyssey and Theogony. Attic doesn't interest me so much but I would like to learn enough Koine to read Marcus Aurelius and the letters of Julian.
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Re: How Long?

Postby RandyGibbons » Wed Jul 25, 2018 3:53 pm

without finding one was crossing into the other

This is not going to be a concern with Latin and Greek, with grammar or vocabulary. In fact, other than their both being Indo-European and both being heavily inflected, linguists tell us they are not very similar.

Again, in theory, if you were (or are?) lucky enough to be able to spend half a day on one and half on the other, there's no reason why you couldn't learn both at the same time. As I said, I did that as a full-time college student. Decades later, I decided to resurrect my Latin and Greek in anticipation of retirement. Because I was working, I could only do one at a time. Roughly speaking, I spent a year going through my Latin fundamentals, then a year on Greek, during which year my Latin lay fallow.

Assuming you are going to proceed sequentially, and given your experience as an autodidact with OE and ON and your seriousness of purpose, I'd say very roughly (and I mean very roughly) you'll spend a year with Wheelock and perhaps some supplemental material you pick up along the way. However long it ends up taking, I'm guessing you'll then have to make two decisions:

1. Whether to keep the momentum going with reading some real Latin, either from an intermediate reader or (my recommendation, given your experience and evident self-confidence) diving right into one of your chosen authors; that's probably at least another six months or so. Or, to then set aside the Latin and do the same year or so for Greek (Greek has more "stuff" to learn and many find Greek 101/102 takes a bit longer than Latin - there's a thread about that in Textkit, if you're curious).

2. Given your very specific intentions for what to read in Greek, which Greek to learn first, Homeric, Koine, or Attic. Though you're not planning to read Attic, an argument could be made that that should nevertheless be your starting point. (There's also a thread or probably more than one about that in Textkit.)

You've got a really cool set of authors in mind. Good luck with it!


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Re: How Long?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:05 pm

RandyGibbons wrote:
without finding one was crossing into the other

This is not going to be a concern with Latin and Greek, with grammar or vocabulary. In fact, other than their both being Indo-European and both being heavily inflected, linguists tell us they are not very similar.


Just commenting on this one point, and recognizing that the advice that Randy has given is very good advice. The common experience for most students starting with Latin and then moving to Greek is that Latin is a huge help to learning the Greek (and the few students I have known who have gone the other way claim that ancient Greek was a great help for Latin). While on one level Randy is correct (e.g., with regard to aspect and tense of verbs), on the basic structural level, they are quite similar, and that helps quite a bit the one doing both languages.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
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Re: How Long?

Postby RandyGibbons » Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:50 pm

I certainly agree with Barry. In particular, I think the experience with the heavy inflection of the one helps a lot when you move on to the second.
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Re: How Long?

Postby DayRaven » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:41 pm

Once again, thanks for taking the time to reply. :)
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