Textkit Logo

Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Here's where you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby MiguelM » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:21 am

Hello everyone,

Through the living use of the languages —which I discovered through textkit a few years ago— I have been able to reach what I think is a very high level of Latin. The same is not true of Greek, by no means, even though I've taken up acquiring fluency in it as one of the highest goals in my life. I have tried, and occasionally succeeded, to speak and to write Greek with friends and fellow students, but one of the consequences of dedicating the past couple of years to Latin was that going back to texts that were once familiar now take more and more effort, and whatever facility I might have had with it is in danger of gradually disappearing, where it hasn't already.

By some stroke of luck, however, I have found myself with quite some of months ahead free while I await the next stage of my life (I am in one of those European countries at the moment where, if you are young, you are either studying or unemployed, and I am waiting for the next phase of my studies). So, while the fact that I'm now without an occupation isn't good, still it made me blessed enough to have the possibility of choosing to devote these months to Greek, and I intend to use them as profitably and as intensively as possible.

With that in mind, I have decided that I would do two things: I would naturally read as much as I could from established authors from the Archaic to the Byzantine periods. This will take up the bulk of my efforts. However, following up on what I understood about language-learning from my Latin experience, I wanted to try and devote a considerable amount of time to the living language as such, which I have used in the past but needs to be reactivated (this becomes even more plausible given the fact that I might find a way to give classes during this time period, in which I would speak Greek).

And so I come to you, asking for help. I've found Ed Donelly's page full of textbooks for Greek composition, and while some of them are certainly helpful, most seem geared towards absolute beginners, and while I by absolutely no means hold myself as an expert, still I keep wondering whether there are books that start from a higher level. I'm thinking of books that

a) deal with the more colloquial aspects (I've found Posellius's Familiar Dialogues very interesting and fun in this regard, also H.W. Auden's Phraseology);

b) teach vocabulary beyond the basics/conceptual expressions (in this one I've found the Greek versions of Comenius wonderful);

c) teach syntax and what we could call style.

I don't think I'm being too demanding here, if people wrote Greek they must have had style manuals at least in a small portion of what they surely had for Latin, but I just can't find anything (Ed Donnely's page is most wonderful, but deals mostly in English XIX century resources; I wonder, is there a similar one for Renaissance books?). Even the Accademia Vivarium Novum website only lists a pithy 1960 book. Now, I'm very much conscious of the fact that we're supposed to learn the bulk of our skills it by imitation, but still I don't want to arrive 7 months from now to the conclusion that there were some crutches I could have used.


In the end, discarding all this previous personal information, my question is as follows: if you had a fairly decent amount of time to devote virtually exclusively to Greek, and were convinced that the reading of authors should be complemented by personal production, what would you do? What books would you use, whether Modern, Renaissance, Byzantine, or even Ancient? (I say ancient because just yesterday a friend brought to my attention the rhetorical treatises of Aphthonios, and the Hermeneumata Pseudo-Dositheana, which I haven't yet had time to look at, but am assuming will be at least of some use.) And any further tips you could give?

I humbly thank you all very much,
M.


PS: Re-reading this message makes me realize it might seem like I feel I have all the answers already, and am just looking for some sort of communal confirmation. This is absolutely not the case: what I intend to do is a large expenditure of time as well as, let's call it, spiritual energy, and I really want to make sure I get it right. Thanks.
Last edited by MiguelM on Tue Nov 26, 2013 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
MiguelM
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:35 am
Location: Portugal

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby cb » Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:05 am

hi, for grk prose comp, check this out (it's through the wayback resource - it doesn't exist on the net anymore and so you had to know it existed before to find it...)

http://classic-web.archive.org/web/2006 ... sition.htm

the best resource for you will be the one that gets you closer to what you actually want to do "producing" grk. speak with others? find out who they are and use the same books as them so that you have a shared stock. produce stylish grk prose on the model of the ancients? there isn't one answer to this because there are lots of different ancient styles. produce colloquial grk on the model of the ancients? once again you need to think what this means - is it copying aristophanes? plato? etc.

i've spent intensive periods producing grk prose sometimes using demosthenes as a model, sometimes thucydides, other times producing iambics and having that swimming in my head all day, other times producing sapphic aeolics (i have notes here that i produced during some of these periods http://www.freewebs.com/mhninaeide/ ). but none of these really allowed me to then comfortably produce grk in other styles, in the same way that if you learn piano it doesn't mean you will be able to comfortably play all instruments. you'll get some common musical knowledge into your head, but if you want to be able to play violin then you need to learn the violin. similarly with types of grk production i think.

what i'm getting at is that, my suggestion is that if you want to get to the end of your intensive period and not have regrets that you missed out on something which really would have been a benefit during that period, i think this will depend not on finding the magic book which doesn't exist, but on knowing exactly what you want to be able to do at the end of it (speaking with whom in what style etc.), and then back-engineer your curriculum from there. cheers, chad
cb
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 319
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:52 pm

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby MiguelM » Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:50 am

Hello, thanks for the websites, they seem really helpful, and for the advice. What you said about different authors to be imidated makes perfect sense: I guess I wasn't conscious of it since so far I had only worried with writing grammatically correct Greek without thinking of particular styles, collating everything I knew rather indiscriminately — but, naturally, in the long run that can only take me so far.
User avatar
MiguelM
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:35 am
Location: Portugal

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby cb » Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:14 am

hi, yes and i only figured this out myself in retrospect. i delayed starting my career for 18 months after uni to study classics hardcore, 15 hrs a day, was truly obsessed (and i knew that once i started, free time would disappear and so if i didn't do it then it would never happen). the feeling that you are running out of time is always great for intensive learning.

but i guess at the time i thought that, if i studied that much i'd get to a point like opening a door into "advanced" ability and this whole huge area would then be open to me without much more effort - i.e. you have to fight your way to that area but once you're there you're sailing.

with retrospect i now guess it is more like digging a mine shaft - you keep chipping away and the space you create for yourself is just everything behind you. so you really need to know where you are going.

and that's why the hunt for resources (i.e. that stash of books which is like the royal road to classics, which i don't think exists - and i'm a total bibliophile) won't prevent your disappointment if you dig in the wrong direction -- your regret will be that you pushed your intensive effort without the result you wanted.

if your secret thought was say to be able to speak aristophanic colloquial grk with others in 7 months - aristophanic grk has been noted as being perhaps our best window into colloquial grk of the time -- worth checking whether you have people to speak to and how they did it. if it's to be able to write like demosthenes, then you won't get there by doing grk comp books and practising conversation from sentences you've built, but by copying demosthenaic periods and by reading commentaries specifically on demosthenaic style etc. there are 10 famous orators who are models of style, plus historians etc., a really wide expanse of "stylish" grk and so i'd recommend you finish this sentence before you launch into it: in 7 months i want to be able to ..., cheers, chad
cb
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 319
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:52 pm

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby Markos » Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:36 pm

MiguelM wrote:my question is as follows: if you had a fairly decent amount of time to devote virtually exclusively to Greek, and were convinced that the reading of authors should be complemented by personal production, what would you do?


I would write conversational Greek every day on the Textkit weather thread:

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=60687&p=159774#p159774

What books would you use, whether Modern, Renaissance, Byzantine, or even Ancient?


I would not use any book which used English as a trigger to produce Greek. This may be helpful in the early stages, but at your level I would avoid the non-target language as much as possible. If you could find a book written in Ancient Greek that would help you learn to produce Ancient Greek I would use that. Let us know if you find such a book.

And any further tips you could give?


I have found that paraphrasing Ancient Greek texts may be your best bet. You can paste passages from Perseus and then simplify them, "leveling" them down, or you can do a lateral paraphrase. Or, conversely you can take very simple Biblical/Koine texts and "level" them up into more sophisticated Attic. You can convert verse into prose or visa versa. If you find this helpful, post them so that the rest of us can benefit.

viewtopic.php?f=28&t=22003

I've also found it very useful to try to reproduce passages from the simplified Anabasis that Bedwere has been recording:

https://archive.org/details/Esafx

You can listen to and read a section and then try to write out a close approximation. (Don't worry if you don't produce the text exactly; the idea is to get lots and lots and lots of practice producing the forms.) You can (and should) do this orally as well.

Then, if I had the time that you have (I don't) I would spend as much time skyping in Ancient Greek as possible. For me, writing Greek seems more effective than speaking Greek, but they are both essential. And of course, as you plan to do, I would read anything I could in Ancient Greek. I think my ratio of Easy to Hard Greek would be about 4 to 1.

Let us know how it goes.
Markos
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1359
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:07 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby MiguelM » Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:24 pm

cb wrote:but i guess at the time i thought that, if i studied that much i'd get to a point like opening a door into "advanced" ability and this whole huge area would then be open to me without much more effort - i.e. you have to fight your way to that area but once you're there you're sailing.

with retrospect i now guess it is more like digging a mine shaft - you keep chipping away and the space you create for yourself is just everything behind you. so you really need to know where you are going.
cb wrote:and that's why the hunt for resources (i.e. that stash of books which is like the royal road to classics, which i don't think exists - and i'm a total bibliophile) won't prevent your disappointment if you dig in the wrong direction -- your regret will be that you pushed your intensive effort without the result you wanted.
cb wrote: i'd recommend you finish this sentence before you launch into it: in 7 months i want to be able to ..., cheers, chad


Well, if I had to complete that sentence now, I'd say my goal is to be able to read authors with ease from as wide a time range as I am able; give or take some ambition, that's quite a standard goal for learners of Greek: some people are more focused on a particular time frame, but generally speaking that's what we all aim to. I once had a teacher who said the best proof that one can give of one's skill in Greek is to open Plutarch's Moralia at random and see if you can read it fluently, since it's so diverse in subject-matter and words being used. That's fallacious of course, you'd still have huge gaps between Plutarch and, say, Homer, or Gregory Palamas, but the sounder element in the argument — that, after you've got the grammar solid, fluency comes down less to grammar than to unfamiliar vocabulary (or familiar vocabulary being used in unfamiliar circumstances or with nuances) — is still one I think I can sympathize with.

And this is what brings me to writing Greek, I guess. I think it's established opinion that writing & the active use of the languages is good & useful insofar as it turns both grammatical constructions into a second nature, both the vocabulary but also the grammar & syntax; my goal, like I'm guessing everyone's, is therefore not so much to write like Demosthenes or to speak as Aristophanes, and I'm even a bit afraid (do contradict me if you feel I'm on the wrong track here, this is intuitive reasoning and from someone with far less experience than you do) that focusing on a particular author for imitation (both in style but even more importantly in vocabulary) might have nefarious consequences — think Latin, you can either imitate Cicero, or Apuleius, but if you imitate the former chances are it won't help you much when trying to read the latter, who'll still remain opaque; you'd have done better to have a taste of both than to preserve purity.

For it just so happens that we are all mortal, and can't count on the fact that we'll live long to be able to follow Reginaldus Foster's example, who is said to have absorbed to such a degree such different authors as Cicero, Plautus, or Tacitus, as to be able to speak or write ex tempore in their style. Since we have to choose, then, perhaps for the practical purposes of reading, jack of all trades is best?

I may very well conclude that I am wrong: and most of all I don't want to seem ungrateful to your generous advice; and at any rate whatever happens the links and the references that you gave me are most wonderful, and I will be completing some of those (I event took the liberty of saving them unto my computer, seeing their precarious, archive.org-dependent state).

Above all, I thank you for the caveats, because you were spot-on when you warned me against the thought that throwing 10 months (which will be the total) into the language will just magically open every door for me; it won't, because brute force never works, and that's why it is so important for me to get it right. The accumulation of books is another fallacy, of which I am aware but still need constant reminding.

Thank you very much once again.
User avatar
MiguelM
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:35 am
Location: Portugal

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby MiguelM » Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:36 pm

Markos wrote:Let us know how it goes.


I will. You mention Skype, is there a group for that? I used to hang around Sxolh.ning, but for some reason it was always empty, but eh. I will certainly be writing in that thread. Also concerning staying away from vernacular languages, a few months ago I tried to find Greek dictionaries in Greek, and eventually did find some, but unfortunately the scans were almost unreadable, so I gave that up and just started taking my language notes in Greek, writing dictionary entries etc. That was a good way to learn, but the problem was that stylistically it was very pedestrian, since it was just scribbles, definitions etc. I did write a few longer texts, but I didn't do it so much because I was quite lost concerning what about, which is what usually happens you are forced to use a language, a communicative device, essentially in a solitary environment; your suggestions to make up for lack of subject are therefore good and quite welcome, and I will follow them.

About books, while keeping always in mind what cb said earlier on, I will tell you naturally, should I find something. I still have some hopes reserved for some obscure humanist texts that might pop up in the meantime, in the spirit of the Iliad paraphraseis that bedwere posted in that other thread.

Thanks for the encouragement,
καὶ εις αῦθις!
User avatar
MiguelM
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:35 am
Location: Portugal

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby Shenoute » Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:35 am

I see you mentioned Posselius' dialogues. Have you taken a look at Blackie's Dialogues and Primer ?
There's also the (rather short) Kathemerine omilia (p.202).

I'm facing the same problem with Latin and find it hard to activate passive knowledge. Maybe I should start a Latin composition/paraphrasis thread...
Shenoute
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:23 pm

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby ailuros » Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:19 pm

Hi Chad,

Thanks for that awesome link to Greek prose composition texts. I've never heard of many of these. Dan
ailuros
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:40 pm

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby MiguelM » Tue Nov 26, 2013 8:19 pm

Oh, that's great, I'd seen Blackie get name-dropped before, but never actually taken a look at his books. Thanks Shenoute!
User avatar
MiguelM
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:35 am
Location: Portugal

Re: Help in Advanced Intensive Study of Greek

Postby pster » Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:15 pm

OT: Chad, check your PMs. I know you sometimes don't log in and see them.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am


Return to Learning Greek

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ariphron, Bing [Bot], Exabot [Bot] and 42 guests