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studying greek

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studying greek

Postby conal » Sat Jul 05, 2003 5:54 pm

I am contemplating studying ancient greek at university level next year.I have never studyied greek previously nor do i have much language experience. I do however have an interest in greek civilisation and culture.I was wondering exactly how hard is greek ?
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Re:studying greek

Postby annis » Sun Jul 06, 2003 4:47 pm

[quote author=conal link=board=2;threadid=219;start=0#1069 date=1057427673]<br />I am contemplating studying ancient greek at university level next year.I have never studyied greek previously nor do i have much language experience. I do however have an interest in greek civilisation and culture.I was wondering exactly how hard is greek ? <br />[/quote]<br /><br />Greek is not an easy language. I don't know if you know any of these, but here is some idea, on a scale:<br /><br />For a native speaker of English:<br />
    <br />
  • Greek is easier than Sanskrit or Arabic<br />
  • Greek is just a bit harder than Latin or, in my opinion, Turkish<br />
  • Greek is somewhat harder than German or Russian<br />
  • Greek is quite a bit harder than Spanish, French or Italian<br />
<br /><br />All of this harder and easier has mostly to do with how much memory work you have to do. Compared to the Romance languages, where the vocab is quite easy since modern English has so much French vocabulary influence, Greek is a bit more work. Sure, a lot of technical terms are created from Greek, but there's still a lot to learn.<br /><br />Grammar is always tricky. Some might say that, say, French is really easy since there's less morphology (verb endings, declensions, etc) to memorize, and this is true, but on the other hand using the prepositions correctly can be tricky. Different languages hide their difficulties in different places.<br /><br />Greek has a lot of morphology - different noun declensions, two separate verb classses, with 100s of possible forms for any given verb. Granted these are mostly predictable, but there's still a lot to learn.<br /><br />So, while I think Greek is a beautiful, rich language, and I strongly urge you to study it, I do have to warn you that you'll have a lot of work before if you decide to go that route. It's worth it in the end.<br /><br />
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Re:studying greek

Postby Jeff Tirey » Sun Jul 06, 2003 5:14 pm

I found Ancient Greek to be the most difficult academic challenge I ever faced - and the one I am most proud of. For me, I found it much more challenging than accounting, chemistry, biology, finance, economics, statistics and other demanding academic courses.<br /><br />For me, first semester Greek began with about 25 students, then down to 8, then down to 4 and by 4th semester only 2. There was me and a wizard graduate student I dubbed "Golden Boy". Your class will most likely be small and sight reading will be a heavy task. A good instructor will put you on the spot all the time so Greek class is not a place for day dreamers or students who promise to themselves that they'll study before the exam.<br /><br />Unless your are absolutely brilliant, far unlike myself, you will need hours of preparation each day to be a successful student. I studied on average 6 hours a day.<br /><br />So go for it - but be warned that it will must likely consume a great deal of your time and energy if you hope to be successful. <br /><br /><br />jeff<br />
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Why Greek (and Latin) Is Hard

Postby annis » Sun Jul 06, 2003 5:38 pm

It just occurs to me to make one additional point about the difficulty of the classical languages.<br /><br />In a Greek sequence, you may spend 1 year (2 semesters or 3, depending on how the year is broken up at the shcool) on the basics. Year two, you start reading literature. This is crazy! I took several years of French before I was handed Le Petit Prince, and that is light (if deep) reading.<br /><br />In my opinion part of the difficulty with Greek and Latin as currently presented is that the classes are in such a rush to get you reading soon. Most people study Greek or Latin in College, or perhaps High School (or gymnasium, etc., depending on location), and there is desperate race to get you into interesting material quickly. <br /><br />So, I think Latin and Russian are probably of comparable difficulty, with perhaps Russian being a bit harder. However, they don't hand you Tolstoy for years. In Latin you get Cicero in the second year, in Greek perhaps Homer, or a touch of Herodotus, or the hated Xenophon.
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:49 am

[GGG the necromancer strikes again]

On the French : Personally, I consider French prepositions to be no harder than Greek prepositions. I practically taught myself French (well, I learned a little French in class ... but the students in third year French haven't moved past the present tense, so...), and I tackled Le Petit Prince when I was only a few months in. I was definately not ready for it, but I learned so much trying to work through it that I think it was worth it. I only started French about two and a half years ago, and I can get through a French novel at about 3/4 of the speed of an English novel, which contents me.

It's crazy. I'm crazy. It works out.
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Re: Why Greek (and Latin) Is Hard

Postby Bert » Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:00 pm

annis wrote: In my opinion part of the difficulty with Greek and Latin as currently presented is that the classes are in such a rush to get you reading soon. Most people study Greek or Latin in College, or perhaps High School (or gymnasium, etc., depending on location), and there is desperate race to get you into interesting material quickly. So, I think Latin and Russian are probably of comparable difficulty, with perhaps Russian being a bit harder. However, they don't hand you Tolstoy for years. In Latin you get Cicero in the second year, in Greek perhaps Homer, or a touch of Herodotus, or the hated Xenophon.

When I read this I thought; Who wrote this and what has he done with our William?
Then I realized that this post is two and a half years old.
Have you changed your position William? I remember you saying you liked Pharr because it gets you reading real Greek by lesson 13.
Last edited by Bert on Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why Greek (and Latin) Is Hard

Postby annis » Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:01 am

Bert wrote:Have you changed your position William? I remember you saying you liked Pharr because it gets you reading real Greek by lesson 13.


I have not changed my position. I still think getting into real Greek as quickly as possible is good. But it does make study harder.
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Postby psilord » Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:55 am

To tell you the truth from the mouth of a neophyte, the hard part about greek (that I've encountered) are the various principal parts for a single verb. Sometimes there are six and you simply memorize them. Mix in the infinitives and participles and suddenly by lesson 25 or something you are supposed to know the infinitive systems, participle systems, plus 14 or so verb tenses. Mix in some smattering of dialect considerations (Aeolic, Doric, Ionic) along with morphology ideosyncracies and you find yourself not only with a lot to memorize, but a pile of exception cases.

Getting to the Iliad (via pharr) text fast is awesome, but damn it is slash and burn to get there. I wish I had more excersizes to do in order to cement this stuff into my head. I find myself on shaky intellectual ground with the pharr book simply due to not having enough experience with what I'm learning.
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Postby psilord » Mon Jan 02, 2006 7:58 am

Though, don't let me misrepresent Pharr. I do like the book very much and it is excellent in its knowledge and giving you a path to learn the material.

I just wish I had a workbook with it with far more excersizes to cement all of the wierd stuff.
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