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Does anyone feel guilty for studying dead languages?

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Does anyone feel guilty for studying dead languages?

Postby 1%homeless » Fri Jan 02, 2004 5:40 am

Do you feel guilty for studying dead languages? I just feel like poop when my mom asks me “what language is that?” I kind of lie and just say I’m doing it for fun and I’m not taking it seriously, which is still bad in of it self already because I should be studying something practical like computer science and should not be wasting my time. Luckily, I’m interested in live languages too, but that still doesn’t make my parents jump for joy either. I’ve been switching majors too many times and stuck in community college for way too long. I doubt people want to hear about my mellodramtic life. Sooo... The only jobs for language enthusiasts are teaching, translating, and reasearch. I read some of “Who Killed Homer?” and this just add to more reasons why I’m 99 percent on my way of being a homeless whino on the street. Anyways, I’m going to probably apply for a retail clerk postion at the local Goodwill store next week. Ohhhh the guilt... heh-heh.
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Postby whiteoctave » Fri Jan 02, 2004 9:14 am

Surely you can counter any criticism from your Mother with the fact that the linguistic study of Classical languages (which, incidentally, still live) gives you the necessary tools to engage with Classical literature: works older than two millennia which portray the fragility, flippancy, resolve and, ultimately, the meaning of the human condition; works whose very existence up until the modern day is testament to the breadth and depth of the subjects dealt with therein; works whose linguistic beauty far surpasses anything that has been written subsequently or, doubtless, will be?
The study of Latin, Greek, and all its contingent subjects under the aegis of Classics, is one of the most valuable that anyone can undertake. Not only is the logical and mathematical part of the mind pushed by the syntactical, grammatical and inflectional juggling that defines the languages, nor just the creative and philosophical part inspired (literally) by the learned Classical opera and their eternal truths about life, but the whole mind in every capacity can be stimulated by what the Classics hold to offer. It is, indeed, this immeasurable span of Classics and the freedom therefore offered within it that make it one of the most highly respected subjects to read at college/university and thus one of the most employable.

Set your Mum straight!

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Re: Does anyone feel guilty for studying dead languages?

Postby Keesa » Fri Jan 02, 2004 1:22 pm

1%homeless wrote:Do you feel guilty for studying dead languages?


Sure, all the time. It was especially bad over the Christmas season, when there was so much else to be done, and we were rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to get things done. (Have you ever seen a chicken running around after its head has just been cut off? It's very...interesting.) That's why I did absolutely nothing on my languages over the holidays. Of course, now I feel very guilty because I didn't.

Have you considered becoming a professor, and entering Acadamia? (Have you ever wondered why "Acadamia" sounds so much like "Macademia"? I think it's because the world looks at Academics as Nuts! :lol: ) Sorry. Laughing at yourself helps.

Unless the idea of becoming a professor is completely distasteful to you, you might want to think about it. If nothing else, it will give you a reasonable reason for studying dead languages, even if you don't intend to teach them. People tend to be more complaisent about Macademics (Ooops-I meant Academics, of course :wink: ) poring over dead languages.
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Postby Episcopus » Fri Jan 02, 2004 2:46 pm

whiteoctave wrote: It is, indeed, this immeasurable span of Classics and the freedom therefore offered within it that make it one of the most highly respected subjects to read at college/university and thus one of the most employable.

Set your Mum straight!

~dave


Really? I always thought them to be quite underrated - I would say that Latin is harder than, say, maths, but is there a difference as they are both at the same "level", if you know what I mean.

I have only pity for those who think that learning any language except a select few is pointless.
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Postby klewlis » Fri Jan 02, 2004 3:21 pm

Don't ever feel guilty about learning something and loving it! In addition to all of the benefits mentioned by others above, I'm a huge fan of learning for the sake of learning, regardless of whether it's "practical" or not. Of course, ancient languages are quite practical, but even if they weren't it really wouldn't matter. Don't buy into the modernist idea that something must be "useful" and "productive" in order to be valuable. Science and math are great but they are only one aspect of life, and there is SO much more.

I'd rather be poor and happy than spend all my time working and schooling for things I don't love, just to have more money, and no time to do the things I really want to do!
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Guilty? What for?

Postby Cleo » Fri Jan 02, 2004 3:22 pm

It's funny, I don't feel guilty at all.
In fact, just the day before yesterday, my mom told me she wished Latin was still a mandatory course in school. Huh? What? And I thought she would be the one to yell at me for letting my child learn latin instead of Spanish.

The way I see it, Latin will give my child a strong grammatical base, that he can apply towards French, Italian, Spanish and a bit towards English too. It will develop his analytical skills (and mine too!) And if he gives up before getting to the grammar part, at least he will have expanded his vocabulary and gotten an inkling of where words come from.


Guilt was never a part of the equation.
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Postby benissimus » Fri Jan 02, 2004 4:44 pm

I have no guilt and only pity for those who think learning any language is useless.

Edit: Episcopus copied me :(
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Postby Kalailan » Fri Jan 02, 2004 8:35 pm

the thought that one should under any circumstance feel guilty for liking somethimg disturbs me greatly.
how exactly, is math more useful then greek or latin?
it is obvious that most people in most jobs use none of the two; nevertheless, one is greatly admired by the masses and the second is not.
i don't think should feel guilty for doing something he/she likes.

but... i am turning this into too much of an academy subject...

now to the question:

the only times in which i did feel guilty for learning latin are the times i did so on expense of violin practice. yet how much time can i do scalework?!?!

<in truth, scalework is not Kal's problem. it is, for instance, bruch.>
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Re: Does anyone feel guilty for studying dead languages?

Postby 1%homeless » Fri Jan 02, 2004 11:19 pm

I guess I should’ve explained my parent’s background. They survived a brutal holocaust in South East Asia in the 70s. They think in terms of survival and economic survival. It’s pretty difficult to explain to them the academic justification for learning something that is not economically prosperous. In our language, we say “looking for eating” for making money. Like any immigrant with children, I’m sure they hope their child to live the progandish American dream. What I would call superficial they probably would call it survival...

Keesa wrote:Have you considered becoming a professor, and entering Acadamia? (Have you ever wondered why "Acadamia" sounds so much like "Macademia"? I think it's because the world looks at Academics as Nuts! :lol: ) Sorry. Laughing at yourself helps.


From what I read, the Classics are dying. Many people scramble for teaching positions. Classics departments get downsized everyday or completely removed. I actually don't care what I do, just as long it is involved with languages that I enjoy.

the only times in which i did feel guilty for learning latin are the times i did so on expense of violin practise. yet how much time can i do scalework?!?!


:lol:
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Postby Moerus » Sat Jan 03, 2004 1:10 am

Do you feel guilty for studying dead languages?


Hell no!
Latin and Greek aren't dead! Sermo patris nemini iam hodie est. But there really are people who talk Latin. I know there are also people who exaggerate! Like some Latin professor at congress who entered and said 'ego tantum latine loquor' and who refused to anser a non-Latin question. Or a professor who went to the bank ans asked his money in Latin. I know people like that unforynatly!
But it's a great language. And speaking Latin with people who know the language is a good thing to improove your language skills.
Exaggeration is never good!

I'm not gonno say the classical motives for studying Latin or Greek. We all know them: better skills for learning other languages, the democracy is based on the Greek democracy, etc.

But above this, it gives you a method of thinking and most of all, Latin and Greek belong to a beautiful culture!

The greatest thing about these languages is that they are a sort of humanity! In Dutch highschool = humaniora. Also in Frensh we speak of the humanities. And Latin and Greek are a great aid in that project.

These languages and the culture on which they are based make people more human! You all know the differences between men and animals. Aristotle sais we are animalia rationalia etc ...
But the thing is: Latin ans Greek help us to create skills that let us enjoy more what we are reading etc. We can get more with the same texts, culture, ...
That's why you should'nt be ashamed!
Shame on you to be ashamed!

Latin and Greek give us the ability to see things in an other way. And we are the people who can communicate that to younger people and people all over the world. That's a privillege we have. Can we be ashamed of that?

We are all witness here at textkit that Latin and Greek brought us together. We are spread all over teh world and we are in contact because of Latin and Greek. We help each other and all the people here are very friendly, very human (humanised by the languages). Can anyone say that this is not a great thing?

I don' think there had to be shame. I know it's sometimes difficult to fight a struggle against the world.
Some people will think Latin is useless. But we know the origine of that. Most people don'nt know what Latin or Greek are! And some know that they are languages, but nothing more. Then we have the people who thought it was easy and stopped with it. It's only a few who persist in the study, but when you do so, you are witness of a miracle.
Our job is to tell people about that! But for that you may not feel any shame.

Fortes fortuna iuvat!

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Postby mingshey » Sat Jan 03, 2004 1:22 am

In Korea, science and technology has been a slogan for development and many young people rushed for sci-tech specialties. But the social system drove those sci-tech people to a poor salarymen who are easy prey of tax collectors while some specialties were enjoying good incomes and tax avoidance. And even the job opportunity is greatly reducing. They say in satire, "take the exam again, and go to medical, dental, and traditional-medical schools".

"Take greek and latin and it will be easy to arrange those queer medical terms and memorize them", I'd say to those who laugh at learning Greek and Latin. ;) :P
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Postby annis » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:06 am

klewlis wrote:Of course, ancient languages are quite practical, but even if they weren't it really wouldn't matter. Don't buy into the modernist idea that something must be "useful" and "productive" in order to be valuable. Science and math are great but they are only one aspect of life, and there is SO much more.


Hear, hear!

(Actually, I have a fondness for Modernist architecture which I feel compelled to defend, but I'll pass that over for now. :) )

Even the most practical life has many more elements than the merely instrumental (by which word I mean "merely an instrument to reach other goals" not "vital," the more common sense).

A few other points to consider:

1. Of the many computer people I know, very few have degrees that have anything to do with computers at all. My unix sysadmin co-workers have degrees in Byzantine History and Meteorology. I gather this degree-career mismatch is common in many professions. A demonstrated ability to learn is more important in many fields than actually knowing particular things, though of course that is helpful. This doesn't work for licensed professions, though.

2. My career, which I like well enough, supports my classiscs habit. I see the study of Greek as simply part of a well rounded education and life, and I'd be reading Homer no matter what degree I got or what job I have. It just means I don't learn Greek quite as quickly as the professional classicist, which is fine. It's not a contest.

So, I don't get to work with these languages I love in my work, but I produce the most erudite and well-read system documentation in the city. 8) Also, my boss recognizes paradigm tables in my doodling during meetings. If he finds out I'm practicing the principal parts or conjugation of verbs like "to slaughter" or "to die" he knows the meeting should end soon.
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Postby Bert » Sat Jan 03, 2004 3:19 am

A little 'aside' question; Why is it that so many classicists are also computer experts (or at least computer geeks.)
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Postby mingshey » Sat Jan 03, 2004 3:37 am

Among the classicists, those who like to write online would show up often on the web? ;)
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Postby benissimus » Sat Jan 03, 2004 4:39 am

Yeah, on an online forum for classics, you are probably going to find more computer geeks who just happen to enjoy the classics ;)
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Postby Keesa » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:19 pm

Bert wrote:A little 'aside' question; Why is it that so many classicists are also computer experts (or at least computer geeks.)


I'm neither. :( I can pretty well maneuver my way around online, and I can do most things with computers that I need to do (i.e., format a manuscript on Microsoft Word or outline a resume on Publisher), but calling me a computer expert would, unfortunately, be like calling someone an expert in Greek just because they know that "alpha" is the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

But about the original topic:

There are many things in my life which are not "practical," such as my love for languages, embroidery, calligraphy (I'm getting better at it!), music, drawing, dancing, and a whole host of other things that probably would have been terribly useful in Jane Austen's time, but not today. But I love them, so I learn them, and I try not to feel guilty about them. Christmas is a very hard time not to feel guilt about things that take up time, though.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:40 pm

My family mostly just shake their head when they hear that I'm learning ancient Greek and my friend, who's thinking about studying ancient Greek, has been told by her mother that she won't allow her to do that.
The only reason why my parents sent me to the Latin school was, I think, because in England they'd have had to pay and send me to a private school (which they would never have done) to learn Latin. Just sort of like: oh, it's free let's take it :roll: .

I don't feel at all guilty, just sometimes I wish I'd spend all those hours learning French or Italian, because at least I could use those languages to communicate with others. I believe that languages are in fact the most important subjects at school, because we must be able to understand others. In an English speaking country most people may see it differently, but fact is that languages are very important and will help you find a job.
But then again, I don’t actually want to study ancient Greek and take up a job in the field.

I honestly don't know what it's like in the US, but here employers do look out for Latin and Greek qualifications, not because they expect their employees to need it in their job, in fact they don't believe their employees will need anything much of the information they have learned at school, but because they believe they will need to know how to learn something complex and how to solve problems. And a Latin or Greek qualification shows that they were able to master that language and so should be able to master what ever it is they need to learn for their future job.
Modern languages are a must here, especially French (because French businessmen are really impressed with French speaking people and hate it when people talk in English to them :roll: ).
From what you’ve said it doesn’t sound like it’s anything that would help you find a job in the US, though, otherwise your parents would be wanting you to learn it, wouldn’t they?
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Postby Episcopus » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:49 pm

Emma - that's true, your parents would have been required to pay. That's the unfair thing here - it's good that you have it free though.
I can't believe the reaction of your friend's mother :( She won't allow?
I don't like it when my parents interfere like that when they are very wrong. Yes my parents also shake their head but have given up trying to control what I do because I just go insane.
I agree so much with what you said about the things that we learn in school not really being used at all in a new job. Because you just have to learn new things, what you have to do in a certain job.

A good choice, although with questionable motives, by your parents: English schools and qualification standards are pathetic :wink:
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Postby Keesa » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:58 pm

No, I don't think that Ancient Greek or Latin are exactly vital job qualifications here in the U.S., unless, of course, what Bert hinted at in another thread was true, and all classical language students were computer experts.

There are, however, several languages that business students around here have to study, all Modern Languages in the most modern sense of the word; Basic, C, C+, C++....you get the idea. That's the closest most of my friends come to learning a new language. (I think I'll stick with Latin and Greek.)
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 03, 2004 3:36 pm

Episcopus, you are actually wrong in saying that English schools are pathetic, as I have been to both I would know. English schools might need some improvement, but German ones are really bad. The fact that I can learn Latin and Greek is about the only good thing, otherwise I am all for the English comprehensive system.
I would like to ban private schools :twisted: , because that would force the government to improve standards (rich people seem to be able to put more pressure on the government if you know what I mean).
:? But that's just some mad fantasy, it probably wouldn't help much either. The mayor's daughter was/is(?) in my sister's class so I'm sure he knows that we don't have any electricity in the Phyiscs labs (which means Physics lessons are really really interesting here :evil: ...) and of all the other things my school is missing because of slim funding.
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Postby Keesa » Sat Jan 03, 2004 3:52 pm

Ouch. I still say I'm glad I'm homeschooled...
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 03, 2004 4:05 pm

It feels strange to think about it... I had the chance to leave this school behind me and go to England. I'm sure I would have felt less under pressure there, because the school system here is killing me and I do suffer because of it.
I didn't go to England though, because I wanted to learn Greek and knew I couldn't do it there and I didn't want to loose my friends. But really is was more because of Greek that I didn't go, as I could still have seen my friends in the hols. I just wish this school system hadn't killed (or buried so deep I can't find it) my love of learning and writing... at least that's something home schooling avoids.
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Postby klewlis » Sat Jan 03, 2004 5:28 pm

Keesa wrote:No, I don't think that Ancient Greek or Latin are exactly vital job qualifications here in the U.S., unless, of course, what Bert hinted at in another thread was true, and all classical language students were computer experts.

There are, however, several languages that business students around here have to study, all Modern Languages in the most modern sense of the word; Basic, C, C+, C++....you get the idea. That's the closest most of my friends come to learning a new language. (I think I'll stick with Latin and Greek.)


Business students required to learn Basic and C? I've never heard of that. I can't see any possible way that that would help ANY business student, unless he planned to open a business for hardcore programmers... :P A good friend of mine went to Richard Ivy, Canada's top business school, and the toughest thing computerwise that he had to learn was a tiny bit of HTML... not even a real programming language.

Latin and Greek are most definitely not considered in job qualifications in Canada, except of course when you are looking for a classics job. Classics in Canada is very nearly dead... even the university programs are shrinking and dying.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 03, 2004 5:55 pm

Latin and Greek are most definitely not considered in job qualifications in Canada


And I actually think they shouldn't be if there is no way for you to learn the language. Here (West Germany) though everyone has the choice to learn it or not (though if you're unlucky you don't really have a choice, it depends a lot on your parents and location too).
Latin and Greek are still required for some university courses here so quite a few people choose to do Latin or if they don't they find themselves in trouble later when applying for university (medicine or theology or example).
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Postby Episcopus » Sat Jan 03, 2004 6:33 pm

You should feel guilty for saying that and for having the opportunity to study Latin and Ancient Greek in your school. Don't take that for granted. Some of us have to study it as if it were some kind of affair with a wife's best friend.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 03, 2004 6:52 pm

Which is stupid, as your parents should be proud of what you've achieved :evil: .
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Postby Episcopus » Sat Jan 03, 2004 8:53 pm

Yet my parents would be incredibly proud if I were an international football player :( I prefer Latin even though there is a lot of money in it.

That's what I would feel eternally guilty for: choosing something for the money alone. And when people say they like you, they don't really.
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Postby 1%homeless » Sun Jan 04, 2004 5:22 am

Heh-heh, what I heard is that the Gymnasium in Deutschland is better than the high schools here in America, but Uni is better here. Since there are barely any high schools here that teach Latin or Greek, I have to agree! I might have to disagree with our Uni being better though. Even if Uni is better here, I would rather go to a German college because there is no tuition to pay! :D
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Postby Emma_85 » Sun Jan 04, 2004 11:00 am

Yes, it's definitely true that the German Gymnasium is better than most high schools in the US, but the unis are better there. The Germans don't have tuition fees and they let everyone in. The quality of the unis is terrible though. They are overcrowded and under funded and just can't offer a student the same opportunities an American one can. I hate the idea of tuition fees, but I'm definitely all for tuition fees here, because the situation here is just totally out of control. People don't want to work, they just want to study all the time so they take ages to finish a degree and all the while they're spending taxpayer's money.
It's so bad that Berlin is no longer taking in students from other cities, only Berliners are allowed to study there.
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Postby Keesa » Sun Jan 04, 2004 12:54 pm

Emma_85 wrote: The quality of the unis is terrible though. They are overcrowded and under funded and just can't offer a student the same opportunities an American one can. I hate the idea of tuition fees, but I'm definitely all for tuition fees here, because the situation here is just totally out of control.


Hmm. I guess I never thought of it that way. At the moment, I'm not really fond of tuition fees (I'll be twenty by the time I'm in college!!! :cry: ), and even less fond of room and board fees. :evil: I live on less here in a year than they are charging me for a single semester.

At the same time, the quality of the school is very good. It's neat and tidy and the academics are beyond reproach. The professors are friendly, at least those I've met, and the staff is almost always helpful and polite. (Sometimes they're just polite. :wink: )

So, I guess it's a trade-off.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sun Jan 04, 2004 12:57 pm

The unis used to be good here too and they not only worked without tuition fees you also recieved huge grants, which paid for everything else you needed. But with the German economy in a crisis they no longer have the money and more people than ever before studying.
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Postby Keesa » Sun Jan 04, 2004 1:06 pm

They say I should be going to college almost free this year. I'm first in line for the full tuition scholarship, and the Pell Grant should cover room and board. The problem, of course, is that it's not that simple. I still have to come up with books and fees and feeding myself on weekends, with a doctor's visit and health insurance and...it's a mess.

It's also very frustrating. All I want is a chance to learn something that I don't have the opportunity to learn where I am now.
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Postby Episcopus » Sun Jan 04, 2004 2:07 pm

Still if I go to a great University here, despite this area being "deprived", I will be given nothing and will incur very great debts at the end of everything. At least you have a scholarship. That's really lucky, you should go for it.
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Postby Keesa » Sun Jan 04, 2004 10:52 pm

I am going for it. I just don't know if I'll get it or not. :D
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Re: Does anyone feel guilty for studying dead languages?

Postby Lex » Mon Jan 05, 2004 2:36 pm

1%homeless wrote:I guess I should’ve explained my parent’s background. They survived a brutal holocaust in South East Asia in the 70s. They think in terms of survival and economic survival. It’s pretty difficult to explain to them the academic justification for learning something that is not economically prosperous. In our language, we say “looking for eating” for making money. Like any immigrant with children, I’m sure they hope their child to live the progandish American dream. What I would call superficial they probably would call it survival...


The holocaust they survived was caused by an ideology that believes that human flourishing and happiness must often be sacrificed to ensure human economic survival (nevermind that this ideology doesn't really foster economic survival either). It's understandable that your parents have such a "siege mentality", having been through what they have, but that mentality itself, writ large, is a cause of a lot of the problems that they suffered through.

Mere survival isn't enough. Happiness is what is important. If studying classical languages makes you happy, then study foreign languages. Screw guilt.
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Postby Raya » Tue Jan 06, 2004 2:14 pm

You become alienated once you start studying this subject. Anyone 'unititiated' can't understand why you do it... and among those who are 'initiated', you have great trouble if you don't swallow whole certain ideas. (See my thread at the Academy, Classics and Cultural Greatness.)

I can see plenty of benefits of studying the Classics - I think they've been mentioned already - but I often find myself wondering if it's really worth it...
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Postby 1%homeless » Tue Jan 06, 2004 6:18 pm

Somtimes I also wonder what you wonder too Raya. And yes, it is alienating and I don't know a single person in physical reality that I can linguistically relate to, but I'm a loner anyways so it doesn't matter what I study. :) This forum sucks you in though and I think I'm spending more time here than studying. I'm also sure I'm not the only one guilty of spending way too much time here. :-)
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Postby Episcopus » Tue Jan 06, 2004 6:58 pm

1%homeless wrote:I don't know a single person in physical reality that I can linguistically relate to...I'm also sure I'm not the only one guilty of spending way too much time here. :-)


Mwah agreed! Just look at my postcount.

Raya are you a dual form of my opinion. I detest the ignorance of others who have no clue about it but also dislike the guys praising the dactylic hexameter of Vergil. But I like whiteoctave, perhaps are we unitiated in that we're only relative beginners?
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Postby mingshey » Wed Jan 07, 2004 9:31 am

Raya wrote:I can see plenty of benefits of studying the Classics - I think they've been mentioned already - but I often find myself wondering if it's really worth it...


If you can enjoy it, it's worth doing. Its value is in yourself. If you do it in a necessity, it's okay but its value is outside of you.
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Postby Keesa » Wed Jan 07, 2004 1:10 pm

mingshey wrote:

If you can enjoy it, it's worth doing. Its value is in yourself. If you do it in a necessity, it's okay but its value is outside of you.


Mmm. I like that. I"ll have to remember it.

Classics are the kind of things that I definitely see value in, but it's hard to explain to other people when your studies of dead languages are taking up time that could be "productive". :roll:
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