we'll all get it in the end mingshey, whether we're greek or not: classical greek was just another normal language which people happily chatted away in without a problem. it just seems so hard to us beginners because of the way we approach it:
1. we learn it through grammar... the unit of grammar is the word
, and we try to get the words right first, then "build" the words into phrases, then into clauses, following the rules of syntax and applying the morphology rules on the fly. no-one can or could do that fluently. i think the greeks, like everyone else, learned the other way: stock phrases
with the conjugations, declensions &c already worked out: "I want a [x]", "can we go to the [x]", "this makes me feel [x]", and then as they got older they started to get a sense of the individual words (when they were already fluent at a basic level).
i've found that e.g. if you take very general greek sentences, practice saying and thinking them fluently, and then make a few little changes, e.g. substitute new nouns/adjectives for the old, you can start to try a few whole new sentences without too much effort; e.g. plato parmenides 137c:
[face=SPIonic]ei) e9/n e0stin, a!llo ti ou0k a@n ei1h polla\ to\ e3n;
if "the one" is, the one would not be many
[face=SPIonic]ei) to\ pe/raj e0sti/n, a!llo ti ou0k a@n ei1h a1peiron to\ pe/raj;
if the finite is, the finite would not be infinite
similarly with homer, e.g. I.1.1:
[face=SPIonic]mh=nin a!eide qea& Phlhi+a&dew 'Axilh=oj
[face=SPIonic]mh=nin a!eide qea& Laertia&dew 'Odush=oj
[face=SPIonic]mh=nin a!eide qea& e9kathbo/lou 'Apo&llwnoj
&c. if you learned enough phrases in a genre, and figured out how to change them to say different things, you'd probably be able to say a fair few things quite fluently after a bit.
2. we start reading the greats, or working up to them: the average greek learner back in ancient times, as well as singing a bit of homer, would have had lots more exposure to simpler written greek, on vases and stuff at home, on inscriptions and graffiti around town, &c. we're doing it the hard way, but we'll get it eventually