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how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

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how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby daivid » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:07 pm

This is another way of posing the question of how different are Classical Greek and modern Greek.

So do modern Greeks just pick it up from being exposed to bits of Homer in the way British kids
are exposed to Shakespeare at school? Are there Classical Greek to Modern Greek dictionaries?
Are there translations of Herodotos into Modern Greek? Are the textbooks to help modern Greeks get to grips with Homer etc?
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Re: how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby pster » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:48 pm

I showed a 65 year old, native, not particularly scholarly yet not particularly dumb, Greek man my Plato one day and I asked him if he could read it. He popped it open and read a sentence and waved his hands as though to say that it wasn't that hard to read. I also got the impression that he had had some exposure to the original texts when he was back in grade school. It is interesting though that native Greeks do not dominate classics the way, for example, Italians dominate Dante studies and Italian Renaissance studies. Of course there are plenty of non-Italians who work on Dante and the Italian Renaissance, but my sense is that the most knowledgeable writers and probably a majority overall are native Italians. Italy is four times bigger than Greece, and the Italian of 1200-1600 is closer to today's Italian than Attic is to today's Greek. Still, off the top of my head, I can only think of a couple of prominent native Greek classicists.
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Re: how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby Scribo » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:04 pm

pster wrote:I showed a 65 year old, native, not particularly scholarly yet not particularly dumb, Greek man my Plato one day and I asked him if he could read it. He popped it open and read a sentence and waved his hands as though to say that it wasn't that hard to read. I also got the impression that he had had some exposure to the original texts when he was back in grade school. It is interesting though that native Greeks do not dominate classics the way, for example, Italians dominate Dante studies and Italian Renaissance studies. Of course there are plenty of non-Italians who work on Dante and the Italian Renaissance, but my sense is that the most knowledgeable writers and probably a majority overall are native Italians. Italy is four times bigger than Greece, and the Italian of 1200-1600 is closer to today's Italian than Attic is to today's Greek. Still, off the top of my head, I can only think of a couple of prominent native Greek classicists.


For several important reasons, but its best not to go into it. There have been some would be prominent Greek Classicists like Kakridis but they were demonised by the establishment, even now the best Greek Classicists tend to end up marginalised, I can think of (for example) Athanassaki who is a powerhouse internationally but is barely read in Greek and teaches in Rethymno I believe.

There are...lots of reasons, and just thinking about it makes me mad. Very mad. There is something very, very, very rotten in the Greek mindset.
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Re: how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby LSorenson » Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:55 am

Nicholas Adamou, on the B-Greek site, gave an extensive account of how he studied modern Greek and then Ancient Greek in the 1950's or 1960's. His story can be found at the topic "Learning Greek Experience as a Native Greek" http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1117&p=5396&hilit=adamou#p5380
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Re: how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby Scribo » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:24 pm

LSorenson wrote:Nicholas Adamou, on the B-Greek site, gave an extensive account of how he studied modern Greek and then Ancient Greek in the 1950's or 1960's. His story can be found at the topic "Learning Greek Experience as a Native Greek" http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1117&p=5396&hilit=adamou#p5380


Interesting, he learnt in the 50's/60's so I guess that puts him in our parents generation or so? The references to biblical Greek are telling...thankfully no one is forced to read the bible or anything nowadays.

Some questionable statements, e.g those in the Scientific path being the more competitive students etc. Not necessarily, a lot of my friends who went through that tend to certainly think that is the case, I've certainly given up trying to explain ancient Greece or linguistics to them. Thankfully some of the more wealthy ones have been able to study in Europe and had their asses suitably kicked by our education to learn to shut up a bit. In general I think those in the Humanities side tend to be more intelligent, hell my partner did well enough that she could have transferred to Medicine - arguably the most competitive programme after Law.

I don't really understand how one can learn a language in context without proper phonology, a good grasp of historical context - which is deliberately lacking. Honestly, if you look at textbooks used in Athens like Babinotis' <<συνοπτική ιστορία τής ελληνικής γλώσσας>> you can see oodles of mistakes, though I think Horrock's book has been translated and I know its used in Thessaloniki Uni...

For what its worth, despite the near Hesiodic amount of lamenting in that account I think the way Greek and Ancient Greek is taught in Greece now is arguably a lot better. Its less obsessed with the bible, less interpretative and less romantacised. Moreover modern Greek philology is now getting pretty badass. The next 50-100 years will be very interested, with a slow (but hopefully steady) adoption of modern philological methods and the increase of students getting familiar with Latin too - well until the recession hit...
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Re: how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby daivid » Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:02 pm

LSorenson wrote:Nicholas Adamou, on the B-Greek site, gave an extensive account of how he studied modern Greek and then Ancient Greek in the 1950's or 1960's. His story can be found at the topic "Learning Greek Experience as a Native Greek" http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1117&p=5396&hilit=adamou#p5380


Thanks for providing that link. What I found especially telling was even though he met a lot of Ancient Greek at church - memorising whole sections of it even - he still had to be formally taught classical Greek over quite a long period.

However odd 16th and 17th century English may seem to modern native speakers it isn't formally taught and simple exposure to Shakespeare and the King James version is sufficient. Hence the difference between modern an classical Greek must be as great as between modern English and Chaucer.
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Re: how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby MiguelM » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:52 am

Scribo wrote:For several important reasons, but its best not to go into it. There have been some would be prominent Greek Classicists like Kakridis but they were demonised by the establishment, even now the best Greek Classicists tend to end up marginalised, I can think of (for example) Athanassaki who is a powerhouse internationally but is barely read in Greek and teaches in Rethymno I believe.

There are...lots of reasons, and just thinking about it makes me mad. Very mad. There is something very, very, very rotten in the Greek mindset.


I stumbled upon this thread while checking if there was any thread where hints for learning Modern Greek after having learnt the Classical had already been started around here. Instead I found this, and you'll forgive me for resurrecting an old conversation and asking: I know you said it's best not to go into it, but what did you mean by that? I ask that as someone who's had barely no acquaintance with Modern Greek philology — were you talking about the True Heirs of Classical Greece jingoism, or something else?
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Re: how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby daivid » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:19 pm

MiguelM wrote:
Scribo wrote:For several important reasons, but its best not to go into it. There have been some would be prominent Greek Classicists like Kakridis but they were demonised by the establishment, <snip>


I stumbled upon this thread while checking if there was any thread where hints for learning Modern Greek after having learnt the Classical had already been started around here. Instead I found this, and you'll forgive me for resurrecting an old conversation and asking: I know you said it's best not to go into it, but what did you mean by that? I ask that as someone who's had barely no acquaintance with Modern Greek philology — were you talking about the True Heirs of Classical Greece jingoism, or something else?


You should check out the Wikipedia page for Ioannis Kakridis where it says he was sacked from his university post for republishing a lecture in the monotonic system in 1941. I surmise (Scribo correct me if I'm wrong) that the establishment could live with bohemian poets adopting demotic but for a classicist to do so was, for them, betrayal.

Sort of relevant is the story our Greek teacher told of his national service in the army. The army still uses Ancient Greek but in an entirely fossilised form. For instance a sentry will make the challenge "Halt, τις ει"
(Any mistake is down to me). Not even the officers had a clue what it actually meant - it was just the words you used when challenging someone when on sentry duty. From that I conclude that for a section of the Greek establishment a symbolic but empty connection with Ancient Greek was more important than the reality.

And I wonder if Ioannis Kakridis' translation of Homer into modern Greek was exactly approved of.
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Re: how do modern greeks learn ancient greek

Postby Scribo » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:08 pm

Your inference is hardly off, however I commented I'm not going to go into it and I stand by it. There's a lot of nastiness there and textkit is a wonderful place and I'd rather not attract more of the mentalists I have to deal with quite often. Even family members, otherwise intelligent enough, can revert to the rabid nationalist and retarded a-philological when this subject comes up, let alone the kind of know it all idiots one finds on the internet. You know, philology is devilry, western imperialists, Greek is a magic language and all that.

I'll answer vs. Kakridis, though. Well the translation was done with Kazantzakis whom I sure is known to all as a famous novelist. For an example of its ideological orientation bear in mind it was dedicated to Alexandros Pallis. Here's a wonderful Wiki excerpt:

Code: Select all
Alexandros Pallis (Αλέξανδρος Πάλλης) (Piraeus, 1851 – Liverpool, 1935) was a Greek educational and language reformer who translated the New Testament into Modern Greek. The publication, in the Akropolis newspaper, caused riots in Athens in 1901 in which 8 people died. The New Testament in Modern Greek was not legalised until 1924.


As for the translation itself its not very accurate and often difficult due to its use of hyper demotic words but its rather pretty, take the first lines where Akhilleus loses his patronym and is simply called "famous" (ξακουστος). It generally has a wonderful slightly swaying rhythm and I love it but its not Homer.
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