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The Best Way

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The Best Way

Postby xon » Sat May 01, 2004 9:36 pm

I downloaded "First Greek Book". I've got the alphabet mostly memorized, and can transliterate the Lesson 1 words and give the names of the letters. So, on to Lesson 2. It talks about the cirumflex, which (always?) goes on long syllables. How does the circumflex indicate which syllable gets the most emphasis? And the grave, can anyone describe in real life terms what makes that different from the acute?

Does the long symbol over a vowel make it do this, for example: a without long symbol sounds like o in rot, a with long symbol sounds like a in race ?

After getting the pronunciation down, what would be the best way to begin learning Lesson 3 and so on, completely understand each lesson, or just understand the basics and quickly move to the next lesson?
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Re: The Best Way

Postby Bert » Sun May 02, 2004 11:22 pm

I would have thought someone more knowledgeable would have given an answer by now.
I'll give it a crack.

xon wrote:I downloaded "First Greek Book". I've got the alphabet mostly memorized, and can transliterate the Lesson 1 words and give the names of the letters. So, on to Lesson 2. It talks about the cirumflex, which (always?) goes on long syllables. How does the circumflex indicate which syllable gets the most emphasis?
When you see a circumflex you know that that syllable is long, but not every long syllable gets a circumflex.
The accented syllable gets the "emphasis".
In ancient Greek the accents indicated where the pitch rose of fell but in later Greek it just indicates a stess accent like we have in English.

xon wrote:And the grave, can anyone describe in real life terms what makes that different from the acute?
The acute accent indicates a rise in pitch on that syllable.
When there is an acute on the last syllable of a word (with some exceptions) and it is followed by another word, then the acute changes to a grave. The pitch does not rise then but stays the same. So the grave just indicates where there used to be a acute.

xon wrote:Does the long symbol over a vowel make it do this, for example: a without long symbol sounds like o in rot, a with long symbol sounds like a in race ?

The long symbol (macron) just shows that the vowel is long.
This is not the same as what you just described but it simply means how long the sound is held but is the same sound. So it is not the difference between rot and race but the vowel of rot held for 1/2 a second or for a whole second.

xon wrote:After getting the pronunciation down, what would be the best way to begin learning Lesson 3 and so on, completely understand each lesson, or just understand the basics and quickly move to the next lesson?


I would think it is best to get a good understanding of a chapter before moving on. You will have to review once in a while as well.
If you don't understand the lessons before moving on, the following lessons will be very frustrating for you.

I hope that this is helpful to you.
Best wishes.
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Postby xon » Mon May 03, 2004 2:42 pm

Thanks, that was much help. :)
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Postby chad » Tue May 04, 2004 4:13 am

hi xon, just to add, back in greek times--at least as far as the evidence shows us--a grave-accented syllable is never marked out in greek music as lower in pitch than the other syllables in the same word (which means that the word either has a flat pitch or goes up in pitch), and it's never higher in pitch than the next syllable beginning the next word. from what i've read of the ancient greek songs, grave-accented words graft onto the front of following words, like proclitic words (such as prepositions) so in e.g. iliad, line 3,

[face=SPIonic]polla_j d' i0fqi/mouj[/face] (which means "and many brave...")

the syllables rise steadily up pitch by pitch to the accent in the 2nd word, as if the words are all 1 word, and then drops sharply on the final syllable after the acute, maybe back down to the level of the first syllable in the first word.

the evidence also shows that, in a case like this where you've got a grave-accented word grafting on to the next word, the acute in that next word is higher, by at least a tone, compared to the same word if you didn't have the grave-accented word on the front.

the basic rules for what the accents sounded like are summarised in lots of modern books; there's a good introduction in the new book called (something like) "a new approach to accenting greek".

remember that this is only the "reconstructed" pronunciation though, and not necessarily the "authentic ancient" pronunciation. basically since we can't get oral evidence from the greeks all we can go on is written evidence. and the written evidence has to be weighed and judged critically because it's in the contexts of ancient grammar/style explanations or musical fragments, from which modern people have "reconstructed" the prosody of greek. but the greeks were pretty good at explaining things thoroughly in writing, so it's not completely unreliable evidence...
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Postby xon » Mon May 17, 2004 7:39 pm

That is something that interests me, how are we supposed to know what a language sounded like 3000 years ago? Did they (the Greeks) record mouth movements also?

I have nearly completed the pronunciation phase of my learning; I went to BBC's Greek news site and recognized the first word as "necro" (death?) . I was also suprised how many prefixes used in English are standalone words in Greek.
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Postby annis » Mon May 17, 2004 8:52 pm

xon wrote:That is something that interests me, how are we supposed to know what a language sounded like 3000 years ago? Did they (the Greeks) record mouth movements also?


Almost. Grammarians wrote down some interesting details to help barbarians speak the language better. Also we can compare how Greeks spelled words from other languages, and vice versa, to get some good information, too.

Of course, all of this is somewhat speculative, but we're probably not totally wrong.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby chad » Mon May 17, 2004 11:16 pm

sorry xon, i didn't see that there was a reply to this email. yes, the greeks recorded the movements of the mouth to pronounce letters. check out dionysius of halicarnassus, volume 2 of the loeb version, critical essays. it's only about 100 pages of translation, it won't take long to read. the details are far more precise and helpful than one might expect before reading it. :)
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Postby mingshey » Tue May 18, 2004 12:04 pm

Hmm, loeb series. All the series will add up to quite a fortune needed to purchase. I realy need a library that hosts them. Those books are under harsh copyright, aren't they? But a Korean library hosting greek classics? I'd do a little searchwork, anyway.
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Postby Soma » Sat May 29, 2004 3:05 am

I don't see the point of learning about the accents. I just skipped over it. :D
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Postby Bert » Sun May 30, 2004 12:29 pm

Even if you don't want to learn the rules, I would suggest that you pay attention to the accents in pronunciation.
Later on you may decide to learn the rules and then you are half way there already.
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Postby xon » Mon Jun 07, 2004 12:37 am

Accents. Hrm, well I have the main ones memorized. I know how to use them in Greek, but can't say I know how to use them in this beta-code thing everyone uses.

Another question: Let's say I learn "New Testament Greek" from the aptly titled Greek in a Nutshell, which is what I want to do. Can what I learn with GiN be backwards-compatible to Classic Greek such as Heroditus and Homer? If I learn NT Greek does that mean I can still understand Classic Greek? Or is it vice-versa?
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Postby chad » Mon Jun 07, 2004 12:58 am

hi xon, check out this online summary of the differences between attic and koine:

http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~jtreat/koine/classical.html

a quote from the 1st paragraph:

Koinê was more practical than academic, putting the stress on clarity rather than eloquence. Its grammar was simplified, exceptions were decreased and generalized, inflections were dropped or harmonized, and sentence-construction made easier. Koinê was the language of life and not of books.


i think the quick answer is that, if you start any of the greek dialects, you will find learning the other dialects easier, but you won't be able to read them straight away. if you learn koine first, you'll have to learn lots of extra grammar to read attic (but, if you start with attic, you'll have to learn this all anyway...).

if you start with homeric, the spelling of attic words will make more sense if you learn it later (like attic contractions). but the spelling is the easier part of the language: you won't be able to just read attic having studied homeric, because each dialect has its own idiomatic way of saying things, e.g. idiomatic syntax and phrases, which you can only learn by studying the dialect itself (rather than another greek dialect).
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