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beginners Greek: how accurate is the Greek?

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beginners Greek: how accurate is the Greek?

Postby daivid » Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:22 pm

Almost all textbooks have some form of simple Greek whether adaption such as
found in Taylor's books or the original story that runs through Athenaze. I guess those of you who are well enough read to recognize good and bad Greek won't have much reason to look at basic text books but if any of you do I would be curious to know how you rate them and if you feel they fall short, as far as authenticity goes, in what way.
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Re: beginners Greek: how accurate is the Greek?

Postby Markos » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:38 pm

Well, I think you know that I don't buy into your premise--if there is such a premise in your question--that inauthentic Greek is NECESSARILY a bad thing. Simplified Greek, which is by definition inauthentic Greek and is as a practical matter bad Greek, has a role--an underutilized role in my opinion--in learning the language. At some point, less simplified Greek, and therefore more authentic and better Greek comes to be an advantage. But I think even radically simplified (and therefore inauthentic and bad) Greek has a role in at least the early stages of learning. Of course I think this, because nobody's adapted Greek is more simplified, inauthentic and bad than some of my more basic "leveled" Greek readings.

viewtopic.php?f=28&t=22003

I should say I THINK some of my most basic readings, which of course make no attempt to be authentic or good Greek, are useful for beginning to intermediate learners. I don't know for sure if they are. The only way that anyone will ever know if they are useful or not is if people try them, but even then there will not be a control group of people who spent the same amount of time reading something else. If somebody thinks that by reading my Greek their Greek fluency will be HARMED, then of course they should stop reading, but I've never thought it possible that one's Greek CAN be harmed by any resource.

Having said this, one can evaluate the various text books on the standard you have proposed. JACT does make an attempt, I think, to be more authentic than Athenaze, which really means that it is harder, (and arguably less useful) for beginners. (It was for me.) The exercises in the Greek Ollendorf are not of course authentic Greek because they are designed to be short and simple and easy to assimilate, which they wonderfully are, particularly when heard read aloud. The made up sentences of Mounce are a little less authentic than those of Machen. Of the two marvelous adapters of Xenophon, Phillpotts is more authentic, and in my opinion, less useful, than his colleague Jerram. Rouse is more authentic than Morrice. Rico's text is of course not very authentic and is arguably the best single resource every produced for learning Ancient Greek.

You get the point. I know many, maybe most, will disagree, that real Greek is always better than adapted Greek and therefore the most authentically adapted Greek is always to be preferred. I respect the views of such people, but I disagree, and I think when it comes to learning Greek, purists are not made, but born. What is good about public forums is that you get all views, or should I say all tastes, aired.
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Re: beginners Greek: how accurate is the Greek?

Postby daivid » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:53 pm

Markos wrote:Well, I think you know that I don't buy into your premise--if there is such a premise in your question--that inauthentic Greek is NECESSARILY a bad thing. Simplified Greek, which is by definition inauthentic Greek and is as a practical matter bad Greek, has a role--an underutilized role in my opinion--in learning the language. At some point, less simplified Greek, and therefore more authentic and better Greek comes to be an advantage. But I think even radically simplified (and therefore inauthentic and bad) Greek has a role in at least the early stages of learning.


While there is some truth in what you say that there is a trade off between easy and manageable and difficult and authentic I don't believe it can be a simple spectrum - for one thing different text books will chose different subsets in their simplification.

A good simple Greek IMO takes a subset of Greek in the sense of vocabulary and grammar. The very lack of diversity that produces could be seen as "inauthentic". However, there is a difference between a text that a native speaker would regard as childishly simple and repetitive and a text that uses constructions that no Ancient Greek would ever have used.

To criticize a beginners text for being simple is, you are right, no criticism at all but simplification can be done well and it can be done badly.
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Re: beginners Greek: how accurate is the Greek?

Postby uberdwayne » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:35 pm

One thing I can say for certain, is that reading "Simple" greek tends to help boost my moral. It has an opposing affect from trying to read, say, the LXX or Acts. Going Through John over the last month or so has been a relative ease in reading, perhaps because the vocabulary set is simple. Either way, my point is that simpler, although maybe not authentic, would in my opinion, keep your moral going. Because language is a lot of work and can sometimes be discouraging.
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Re: beginners Greek: how accurate is the Greek?

Postby daivid » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:27 pm

Markos wrote: Rico's text is of course not very authentic and is arguably the best single resource every produced for learning Ancient Greek. .


Given that you have argued for a simple trade of between simple and authentic I am really surprised that you consider Rico as inauthentic. Rico is not simple. In chapter 2 he is teaching the aorist imperative. The aorist imperative is not more complicated that the present which is where most textbooks start but he trys to teach all of it. Both first and second aorist not to mention root aorists and μι verbs.

It is not adapted and it may be harder to write original readings (or in Rico's case scripts) but in principle there is no reason why an original text written today should not be authentic.

So why is Rico inauthentic and why the "of course"?
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Re: beginners Greek: how accurate is the Greek?

Postby Scribo » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:45 pm

I don't hate adapted Greek. I think in the beginning stages it can be helpful but people tend to use it as a crutch not realising that there is quite a lot of clear, easy to follow, Greek beginners can latch onto. Plato is very easy if an instructor explains the main points of dialogue. There is a world of difference between reading Homer and Homeric philology.

I think instructional textbooks are opening up to the possibilities of using other Greek too, like the novels. In one sense this is good but they're ignoring elements of classical Greek which are really, really, easy. Aristotle on virtues and vices. Very easy. Huge swathes of Demosthenes. Very easy.

I also think a) people rely too much on their textbooks. This always puzzles me, I was eager to get away from mine not repeatedly go through others. b) Textbooks spend too much time trying to reinvent the wheel. The old ways of going onto Xenophon, Lysias etc were fine.
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Re: beginners Greek: how accurate is the Greek?

Postby daivid » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:34 pm

Scribo wrote:. In one sense this is good but they're ignoring elements of classical Greek which are really, really, easy. Aristotle on virtues and vices. Very easy. Huge swathes of Demosthenes. Very easy.


I have just had go at Aristotle on virtues and vices and it is not easy to me let alone very easy.

Scribo wrote:I also think a) people rely too much on their textbooks. This always puzzles me, I was eager to get away from mine not repeatedly go through others.


People make rational choices on the basis of where they are not on where they would like to be.
When I get to the point that Aristotle on virtues and vices is easy I won't bother with text books.
But I haven't so I do.
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