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An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

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An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby daivid » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:38 pm

An Introduction to Classical Greek
by Kristian Waite, Fred Pragnell

The grammar explanations are reasonable.
It has lots of single sentence exercises Greek to English and the other way round.

It is much the same kind of textbook as John Taylor's Greek to GCSE.
However, Talylor has much more readings where as this book really only has, admittedly quite long, reading on the Battle of Marathon.
Also Taylor manages to make his single sentences original and curiously intriguing - a trick that Waite, & Pragnell don't pull off.

I bought the book for revision. However, it covers the areas that other books cover well and hence I am okay with. It stops at the point where other textbooks rather rush through and as a result I continue to have difficulty.
Hence it does the 1st and 2nd aorist but it doesn't do the subjunctive or the optative, let alone the perfect, not even aorist participles.

As a first book it is okay but others do the same better ie Taylor.
As a revision book it isn't advanced enough.

So I wouldn't recommend this book nor would I warn you off. It's just a bit average.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby Scribo » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:50 pm

If you're having problem with something specific like the subj and opt moods, maybe pick up something like Rijksbaron's book on the Greek verb? It helps a lot of people.

Thanks for the review, never heard of this before.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby daivid » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:32 pm

Scribo wrote:If you're having problem with something specific like the subj and opt moods, maybe pick up something like Rijksbaron's book on the Greek verb? It helps a lot of people.

The thing is that I'm okay on the theory. The problem is if I don't practice it I forget it.

It does seem to me that text book writers start slowly because in the beginners courses there is a mixture of able and less able students. Then at the start of the intermediate stage all the less able drop out. Hence they find they can go much quicker and they assume that things like the optative are easy and they can skimp on the exercises.
(I have no evidence for this beyond the Sherlock Holmes principle of when you have excluded everything else whatever remains ...)
My ideal textbook now would be something like Waite & Pragnell's book that took as much time as they have on the basic stuff concentrating just on the optative and the subjunctive.

I do feel I'm falling through the cracks because everything I try is either far too difficult for me or too easy. I beginning to feel I am never going to get beyond this chasm.

Mind you I well try Rijksbaron's book. It isn't what I really need but it seems from previews to be an excellent book. Thanks.

Scribo wrote:Thanks for the review, never heard of this before.


The first half has been around some time. This edition extends it to cover things like the aorist and comparatives. This seems to be related to there being a basic and more advanced common entrance exam.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby Scribo » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:48 pm

Don't worry about the chasm. At best it diminishes, it never *quite* goes away. Every so often something will trip you up.

I'm not sure what I can do to help I'm afraid. Whenever I've had difficulty I've always tried to break down the problem. Roughly get: i) formation ii) usage iii) practice. The first is the easy part, just keep reading grammar charts and then try to reproduce the optative until you can do so effortlessly both oral and written. The second and third are somewhat interrelated. Most grammars will tell you when the mood is used and link it to wider phenomena in the language (circle of tenses, expected result etc). Rijksbaron is more modern in that he pays attention to tense as well as aspect and many students seem to like it. However it's example light.

Goodwin, which happens to be on this site, is more example heavy. Though you trade off for slightly outdated descriptions. Once you've got those examples down it's a question of encountering those constructions "in the wild" as well as being able to reproduce them with some degree of confidence.

No idea where you are all in this. I suspect this advice is too basic for you and that your chasm is just the basic kind of psychological hangup language learning brings with it. You'll get there.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby daivid » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:03 pm

Scribo wrote:Don't worry about the chasm. At best it diminishes, it never *quite* goes away. Every so often something will trip you up.

I'm not sure what I can do to help I'm afraid. Whenever I've had difficulty I've always tried to break down the problem. Roughly get: i) formation ii) usage iii) practice. The first is the easy part, just keep reading grammar charts and then try to reproduce the optative until you can do so effortlessly both oral and written. The second and third are somewhat interrelated. Most grammars will tell you when the mood is used and link it to wider phenomena in the language (circle of tenses, expected result etc). Rijksbaron is more modern in that he pays attention to tense as well as aspect and many students seem to like it. However it's example light.

Goodwin, which happens to be on this site, is more example heavy. Though you trade off for slightly outdated descriptions. Once you've got those examples down it's a question of encountering those constructions "in the wild" as well as being able to reproduce them with some degree of confidence.

No idea where you are all in this. I suspect this advice is too basic for you and that your chasm is just the basic kind of psychological hangup language learning brings with it. You'll get there.


Thanks for the encouragement. You are (mostly) right that I'm going through a psychological panic that I need to push through. I've made a resolution not to study any actual Greek for at least the next six months. Spending two hours puzzling over a single sentence is only a good way to get depressed.

I say mostly because I do think there is a real problem for people like me. Basically textbooks are very easy or fiendishly difficult. The chasm is between the easy stuff and the hard stuff. Textbooks will even switch from easy to super hard in mid volume eg Athenaze mid way through volume 2.

But I've calmed down a bit. There is stuff I can manage
I'm now reading . Phillpotts and  Jerram's adapted Anabasis  https://archive.org/details/easyselectionsa00xenogoog (Thanks Markos)
and given my ideal textbook is not likely to appear soon I've decided to do writing stories focused on the bits of grammar I find difficult more often. Thanks for the sympathetic ear and helping me see there are ways of bridging the chasm.

I do still wonder if it really should be so hard to read real Greek after three years of study.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby Scribo » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:13 pm

You're welcome, everybody needs encouragement.

"I do still wonder if it really should be so hard to read real Greek after three years of study."

Hm. Yes? Well it depends, I'm sure you've had other things to do so it's hardly going to be three years full time. It also depends on the target doesn't it? I mean think about it. Imagine picking up English...via Milton or Spenser. I think there's a lot of modern English stuff that can thin the blood of a second language reader unless they've had a lot of practice.

If you don't need to read the Classics ASAP there are probably easier ways in. Simplified texts are one of them. The other major help will be easy readers (such as those steadman produced) and bilingual texts. It really is hard to overestimate the utility of bilingual texts - even I can admit that and I've never managed to make use of them properly. If you can workout what is in the original by what is on the facing leaf...no matter how long it takes, you're making progress.

For readers I'd have to recommend the JACT series which occassionally appear quite cheap and Steadman. In terms of bilingual texts whatever you like really. I'd stay away from poetry though and some of the more insane texts. I think Lysias would be a good choice. For bilingual texts I'd advocate the Aris and Phillips series btw,

Sometimes it's not a language problem either but one of idiom and style. I recall my early days with Latin. I'd covered the vast majority of the grammar myself and was working through syntax prior to term. Then uni began and we tore through Catullus et al. Great fun. I felt like a badass so I picked up the Aeneid and it too fell before my grammatical sword. I learnt much in this time: Virgil, Catullus, Cicero, Lucretius...these were heads attached to the chariot I drove around a tower of "Latin Literature" laughing maniacally.

Then I met Ovid and wanted to quit. It was like Alienese. It took MONTHS for me to feel comfortable with him. I thought I'd managed to forget Latin or something. It turned out I was simply really unfamiliar with the finer elements of Latin poetic style. This stuff is still difficult btw after years and years of sweat, blood, and tears.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby jeidsath » Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:40 am

I've made a resolution not to study any actual Greek for at least the next six months. Spending two hours puzzling over a single sentence is only a good way to get depressed.


This stood out to me. I'm afraid that I would recommend the opposite. Put your textbooks down for 6 months, and only study real Greek. Work on reading aloud and pronunciation. Memorize sentences. Use translations. Don't continue with what hasn't been working for you. Above all, trust that your brain will make the connections without your help. Your brain is good at learning languages, it just needs lots of input. If you could time travel and spend the next 3 months in ancient Greece, conversing with people in the ἀγορά everyday, you would come back fluent. Since you can't do that, try to approximate as best you can, and have faith! Also, read the language learning articles here: http://antimoon.com. They are gold.

Finally, remember that language learning is not mathematics. You can't treat sentences as problems to be solved. They are patterns to be internalized. Don't parse, memorize. Spending two hours on any one sentence is never going to be of much use to you. If you are going to become fluent, you need far more input than just a few words an hour.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby daivid » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:06 am

jeidsath wrote:
I've made a resolution not to study any actual Greek for at least the next six months. Spending two hours puzzling over a single sentence is only a good way to get depressed.


This stood out to me. I'm afraid that I would recommend the opposite. Put your textbooks down for 6 months, and only study real Greek.

If I were to do that, I guarantee that at the end of it I would not merely have given up but have acquired an intense phobia at the very sight of Greek.

jeidsath wrote:Work on reading aloud and pronunciation. Memorize sentences.

I will try and follow that advice. Memorizing sentences I feel helped me a lot when learning Serbo-Croat. I have been collecting sentences for this purpose of which about a quarter are real Greek. Thanks for pushing me to do that seriously.
jeidsath wrote:Use translations.

Of course I use translations. But when I compare the translations to the Greek I am mystified as to how the translator got his English version from the Greek.
jeidsath wrote: Don't continue with what hasn't been working for you. Above all, trust that your brain will make the connections without your help. Your brain is good at learning languages, it just needs lots of input.

Very true, which is why I intend to read stuff now that I can read in sufficient quantity.
jeidsath wrote:If you could time travel and spend the next 3 months in ancient Greece, conversing with people in the ἀγορά everyday, you would come back fluent.

In a market place when you ask for a quarter kilo of mushroom you get instant feedback if you have made a mistake. In the market place people will instantly switch register and talk you in a version of the language they know you will have been taught and they will avoid the long ornate sentences that the Greek writers that have survived indulge in.

But even with all that it took me a great deal longer than 3 months of frequenting Zagreb market places to get on top of SerboCroat. Kajkavski with is the local Zagreb dialect, which I heard every day for 5 years but passively, remains, however, an entirely closed book.
jeidsath wrote: Since you can't do that, try to approximate as best you can, and have faith! Also, read the language learning articles here: http://antimoon.com. They are gold.

They are right about the pointlessness of language clases.
 
jeidsath wrote:
Finally, remember that language learning is not mathematics. You can't treat sentences as problems to be solved. They are patterns to be internalized. Don't parse, memorize. Spending two hours on any one sentence is never going to be of much use to you. If you are going to become fluent, you need far more input than just a few words an hour.


I don't think you realise where I am. There is no point in memorizing something you do not understand. Further it is very difficult to memorize something that you don't understand. I don't spend so long over a sentence out of some pedancy. Unless I parse, I am reading/memorizing a bunch of unrelated sounds.
But yes, I do need more than just a few words an hour
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby daivid » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:22 pm

Scribo wrote:You're welcome, everybody needs encouragement.

"I do still wonder if it really should be so hard to read real Greek after three years of study."

Hm. Yes? Well it depends, I'm sure you've had other things to do so it's hardly going to be three years full time.
Errr, while it has not been the only thing, it has been my main focus.
Scribo wrote:It also depends on the target doesn't it? I mean think about it. Imagine picking up English...via Milton or Spenser. I think there's a lot of modern English stuff that can thin the blood of a second language reader unless they've had a lot of practice.
There must have been light reading for the Greeks but sadly that's the kind of thing that copyists didn't choose to preserve.
Scribo wrote:If you don't need to read the Classics ASAP there are probably easier ways in. Simplified texts are one of them. The other major help will be easy readers (such as those steadman produced)
Steadman doesn't write easy readers. They the full unadapted text. He does really try hard to answer every possible difficulty. Unfortunately "every possible" doesn't extend to all the dificulties that I have so even with Steadman's help I still find Lysias and Heroditos too hard.
Scribo wrote:and bilingual texts. It really is hard to overestimate the utility of bilingual texts - even I can admit that and I've never managed to make use of them properly. If you can workout what is in the original by what is on the facing leaf...no matter how long it takes, you're making progress.
Even when how long ends up as two hours a sentence?.
Scribo wrote:
For readers I'd have to recommend the JACT series which occassionally appear quite cheap and Steadman.
.
JACT was my first textbook. I didn't get on very well with it. However, it may well be time now to have another go at the readings.
Scribo wrote:In terms of bilingual texts whatever you like really. I'd stay away from poetry though and some of the more insane texts. I think Lysias would be a good choice. For bilingual texts I'd advocate the Aris and Phillips series btw,
.
I've checked out Aris and Phillips and they do look like a good series and I have made a note of them for the future.

Thanks for the time to talk things over.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby Scribo » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:35 pm

You're welcome, sometimes it helps to talk things through.

"There must have been light reading for the Greeks but sadly that's the kind of thing that copyists didn't choose to preserve."

This reminds me of a funny bit in Persius, one of the best Latin poets imo, ...post prandia Callirhoen do. "After lunch I recommend a Callirhoe". A disparaging remark aimed at those unable to appreciate proper literature hence consigned either to cheap novels like Callirhoe or, worse, a few lines earlier the imperial acta. Honestly I agree with him, the novels are awful stuff yet they're the "in" thing right now much to my distaste. Anyway the round about point I'm making is that we do have some easy reading like the novels but they're insipid beyond belief and not in good classical Greek. They're in an otherwise sophisticated literary koine. Actually these WERE avoided because they were thought to impinge upon developing prose styles but that is not an issue here.

Ok so I've picked up Chariton and it is...well it does seem rather easy actually. The vocab isn't bad and there are mainly short sentences in the first book. Flicking through the third book I see a lot of genitive absolutes and some otherwise complex participle usage quite reminiscent of Attic. There's a lot of funny idioms too: koptousa de tous opthalmous. Well no one is literally smacking or cutting their eyes, it's the expression for consternation. I'm not sure how accessible this text would be to read overall or to even get hold of. If you do want light reading then the novels will be easier than Herodotus (which isn't easy actually) and Lysias. But bear in mind the vocabulary will be divergent. All suicides and kidnapped maidens, ransoms, pirates etc.

Sometimes it's best just to attack on all fronts. A bit of steadman's Xenophon until you can't go on, an Aris and Phillips on Orators until the relationship between text and translation doesn't quite make sense, some annotated PDF found online etc. You're learning even if you don't realise it. Good luck. :D
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby Shenoute » Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:03 pm

daivid wrote:I've made a resolution not to study any actual Greek for at least the next six months. Spending two hours puzzling over a single sentence is only a good way to get depressed.

Sorry for intruding but this also intrigued me. Wanting to understand everything perfectly is fine but at some point it's just to much work for not enough results. For what it's worth I think you could greatly benefit from reading a lot of Greek without trying to understand everything. Sure, you'll miss 30/50/70% of what is said but the constant repetition of syntactical features, verbal forms and vocabulary is really worth it in the end.

I would maybe even say that familiarity with syntactical patterns is more important than intimate knowledge of verbal morphology.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck with your Greek studies !
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby Qimmik » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:41 pm

I've made a resolution not to study any actual Greek for at least the next six months. Spending two hours puzzling over a single sentence is only a good way to get depressed.


Shenoute's suggestion is a good one. The more Greek you read, the more you are exposed to and assimilate the syntactic patterns, the easier it will become. So you should plow right through and not allow yourself to get bogged down with difficulties. I would suggest resorting to a translation when you find you absolutely can't figure something out after making a reasonable effort (hopefully using an annotated text). Some translations are more literal than others, but even free translations can help you understand the syntax, and once you've done that, you can make progress in understanding the Greek on its own terms.

I have to admit, though, that I find myself spending too much time puzzling over sentences and eventually cheating with a translation (especially as I'm reading Thucydides). I don't think you will ever get beyond that entirely. And in many cases, you'll find that scholars aren't in agreement over the meaning of a passage, or someone has proposed a textual emendation--that's reassuring as well as disheartening because it usually means that poeple who know Greek much better than you or I have stumbled over the passage, too.

You should also never lose sight of the fact that you're engaging with texts that are 2000 or more years old, written in a language that no one speaks today as a native speaker, composed in a radically different cultural context from ours, and transmitted to us through a very imperfect process of repeated copyings, each of which introduced new errors. The process of uncovering the meaning of these texts has been one that has stretched over nearly the entire course of their 2,000-year history. The oldest texts reuired scholarly commentary a few hundred years after they were written, and our understanding of these texts today is built primarily on several hundred years of scholarship since the revival of Greek studies in the Renaissance. So you shouldn't be surprised that you encounter passages that you need to work on for a long time before reaching an understanding. And, as I mentioned earlier, there are many passages that are the subject of sharp disagreement among specialists.

One other suggestion. I find that when I don't understand a passage, it yields its meaning if I come back to it later, sometimes because what follows gives the clue, and sometimes, it seems, just by taking a fresh look having let go of the difficulty for a while.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby daivid » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:46 pm

Scribo wrote:Ok so I've picked up Chariton and it is...well it does seem rather easy actually. The vocab isn't bad and there are mainly short sentences in the first book. Flicking through the third book I see a lot of genitive absolutes and some otherwise complex participle usage quite reminiscent of Attic. There's a lot of funny idioms too: koptousa de tous opthalmous. Well no one is literally smacking or cutting their eyes, it's the expression for consternation. I'm not sure how accessible this text would be to read overall or to even get hold of. If you do want light reading then the novels will be easier than Herodotus (which isn't easy actually) and Lysias. But bear in mind the vocabulary will be divergent. All suicides and kidnapped maidens, ransoms, pirates etc.

I have tried Chariton and it is still too difficult for me but it is a lot easier than the Greek writers you mention. So yes you're right it is a good one to start on. I have the read the comment that he didn't set out to write easy reading and would probably be mortified to be classified as such. The sentence that gave me the most trouble was a reference to Homer and I have a suspicion that he gets his most flowery (and hence for me harder) when he is trying to be the most literary.

I am on the look out for a good beginners commentary (of the Steadman type) because this is likely be the book I work on when I have another go at real Greek.

Scribo wrote:Sometimes it's best just to attack on all fronts. A bit of Steadman's Xenophon until you can't go on, an Aris and Phillips on Orators until the relationship between text and translation doesn't quite make sense, some annotated PDF found online etc. You're learning even if you don't realise it. Good luck. :D


I have heard about the plateau, the time when a language learner feels they are making no progress even when they are. However, I am very skeptical that it is helping me to read Lysias at a stage when it is so far beyond me. But you may still be right so thanks for the encouragement.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby daivid » Tue May 20, 2014 10:52 am

I have found the advice to memorize the sentences that I read really useful. Indeed I now memorize every sentence real Greek (as opposed to text book simplified Greek) that I encounter. This means I haven't read much real Greek as memorizing a sentence takes me a long time (but I was getting so demolarized before that I wasn't doing much of that anyway) It does mean far more of the time I spend on a sentence is done actually understanding it as opposed to the initial tortuous struggle feeling completely confused.

And almost as an added bonus, despite only a few sentences so far memorized, I am already finding that, when reading a new sentence, rembering a memorized one is really helpful.
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby Scribo » Tue May 20, 2014 4:06 pm

Kalws. https://archive.org/details/anewgreekdelect00adamgoog Has some sentences I think (a textkit find, can't remember who).
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby mwh » Wed May 21, 2014 6:04 pm

I have to protest Scribo's take on the greek novels. Heliodorus is difficult, and supreme in every way. The language! The plotting! ... Longus is delectable, and easy enough once you're attuned to the style. But if Chariton is too difficult, perhaps better wait a while.

Pazienza! Coraggio! Forza!
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Re: An Introduction to Classical Greek, Waite & Pragnell

Postby daivid » Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:19 pm

Scribo wrote:Kalws. https://archive.org/details/anewgreekdelect00adamgoog Has some sentences I think (a textkit find, can't remember who).


The organization of the examples seemed very odd to me at first. The first section deals solely with nouns and only includes verbs in the form of the 1st person singular present. Surely, I was asking myself, someone who has got on to a form like ἠώς (dawn of very obscure 3rd declension form) would have got onto the aorist. Then I downloaded the grammar that the examples are intended to illustrate. Wordsworth's Greek Primer is a reference grammar so goes through all the forms of nouns before it goes near verbs.

Hence the syntax for the first part is far too basic for the level I am at yet this has proved very useful. I am learning a lot of forms and an obscure form in sentence is often the straw that breaks the camels back changing a sentence that is simply tricky to impossible. And it is nice to have the feeling that the Greek I'm reading is too easy rather than way too difficult.

Scribo, you have my gratitude for that link.
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