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An Interesting Take...

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An Interesting Take...

Postby xon » Sat Jul 31, 2004 4:03 am

I have respect for anyone trying to learn Ancient Greek. I have the most respect for those who have already learned Ancient Greek.

For the past few months, I memorized how to read and pronounce the Greek alphabet. I memorized the endings of the first declension. I skipped ahead to verbs. The book "Greek in a Nutshell" was very helpful for something written over a hundred years ago.

However I have realized Greek is much harder that I thought it would be! This realization came after stumbling upon the verbs, of all things.

Resultingly, I am no longer studying Ancient Greek. I do not have the time nor the patience; this is my problem, not a problem with Greek.

Good luck to everyone.

Xon
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Postby Eureka » Sat Jul 31, 2004 9:56 am

Although you've probably already made up your mind; I would just like to say that if learning a language is impossible, you're probably doing it incorrectly.

Languages are just chunks of context wrapped in (sometimes amusing) oral noises. This is most true when it comes to the verbs.

It sounds to me like your textbook is too dry, giving grammatical explanations like they are a science. They are not. Even the complex Greek grammar is just a slave to the context, and the verb's ending only tells you what its surrounding nouns have already said.


Anyway, consider taking a break, finding a textbook that's actually fun, and starting again.



Either that, or go learn French. :)
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Postby Bert » Sat Jul 31, 2004 1:42 pm

And if you do decide to try again, don't skip ahead.
Skipping ahead in a grammar, especially your first grammar, is too overwelming and discouraging. (You have noticed that haven't you?)
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Postby Geoff » Sun Aug 01, 2004 1:56 pm

Never Give Up!

I wonder if Churchill could read Greek?

If you desire to learn Greek, then learn it since you desire it. Do a little everyday and don't beat yourself up for your slow progression as an autodidact. Make it a part of your lifestyle and over the years your progress will show.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sun Aug 01, 2004 2:07 pm

I wonder if Churchill could read Greek?


He did. It's one of the quotes at the beginning of Wheelock.

But I gave up on Greek too, at least for now. Unless someone can direct me to a better one, the only textbooks here at Textkit are painfully dry. Not to criticize Jeff at all; he's done an indescribably great service to the whole world by his efforts, as the members of this community can equally attest. Nevertheless, until I encounter a better text, I shall refrain my Greek studies for the time being. Shame the only teacher at my university really, really sucks.
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Postby Paul » Sun Aug 01, 2004 3:54 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:But I gave up on Greek too, at least for now. Unless someone can direct me to a better one, the only textbooks here at Textkit are painfully dry......Nevertheless, until I encounter a better text, I shall refrain my Greek studies for the time being.


Hi,

I am genuinely interested in your opinions as to effective and less dry Greek textbooks. What, ideally, would you like to see in such a book?

Also, of the Greek textbooks you've looked at, did any even approach this ideal?

I do think Geoff's recommendation is excellent. Most of us are not full-time students. We've got a lot on our plates besides Greek or Latin. Hence an internal posture toward language mastery that takes the 'long view' can be very helpful.

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sun Aug 01, 2004 6:07 pm

Well, a Greek version of Wheelock or D'Ooge would be nice, I think. They're both very instructive, teaching it like a real language, instead of like something that's not worth teaching properly. It's quite saddening, actually.
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Athenaze is a lot of fun

Postby elisa » Mon Aug 02, 2004 3:48 pm

Athenaze is a lot of fun. It has you reading fun stories and simplified parts of myths right away. A few have mentioned here that the grammatical explanations aren't all there right from the beginning, but they do have some at the end of each chapter, as well as a section at the end of the book. I'd suggest using Athenaze as the main learning text with a more detailed grammar on the side. One thing nice about reading right away is you feel you're getting somewhere, and you also get to see the grammar in context which makes it much easier to learn. Athenaze also has teacher's manuals available so you can see the translations and check your answers.
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Postby PeterD » Mon Aug 02, 2004 7:48 pm

Paul wrote:I am genuinely interested in your opinions as to effective and less dry Greek textbooks. What, ideally, would you like to see in such a book?

Also, of the Greek textbooks you've looked at, did any even approach this ideal?


It is incontrovertibly clear that Paul is up to something supremely smashing. :)

I shan't tell, for now. :wink:

Now, If I may be excused, I shall return to my Homeric studies at www.greekgeek.org


~[face=SPIonic]e(khbo/loj[/face]
Fanatical ranting is not just fine because it's eloquent. What if I ranted for the extermination of a people in an eloquent manner, would that make it fine? Rather, ranting, be it fanatical or otherwise, is fine if what is said is true and just. ---PeterD, in reply to IreneY and Annis
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Postby Turpissimus » Mon Aug 02, 2004 8:07 pm

I've found Moreland and Fleisher to be one of the best Latin textbooks around. I noticed that they have a companion volume for Greek by Hardy Hansen. Is this book in any way comparable to M&F's fine effort? Does it for example make a point of acquainting the student with the subjunctive and other often postponed elements of grammar early on in the course, and does it include from the very beginning unadulterated greek texts that prepare the reader for the very different constructions of the ancient greek language?

If it does, then I may well in future have two enormously difficult dead languages on my plate.
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Postby PeterD » Mon Aug 02, 2004 11:17 pm

Turpissimus wrote:If it does, then I may well in future have two enormously difficult dead languages on my plate.


Oh, bollocks!

I must vehemently take exception to your reference to "dead languages." Plato and Virgil may be dead, but Greek and Latin are alive and doing well. The Romance languages originate from Latin; Modern Greek from Ancient Greek. Scratch the surface of French and you will find the lustre of Latin. A good chunk of the English lexicon is derived from Greek and Latin roots. Moreover, we still read and study the plethora of classical literature available to us, that has shaped and continues to shape western civilization.

Indeed, Turpissimus, dead is a bit too harsh. Don't you think? :wink:


~[face=SPIonic]e(khbo/loj[/face]
Fanatical ranting is not just fine because it's eloquent. What if I ranted for the extermination of a people in an eloquent manner, would that make it fine? Rather, ranting, be it fanatical or otherwise, is fine if what is said is true and just. ---PeterD, in reply to IreneY and Annis
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new generation of Greek instruction

Postby xanthos64 » Tue Aug 03, 2004 3:59 pm

Paul said,

"I am genuinely interested in your opinions as to effective and less dry Greek textbooks. What, ideally, would you like to see in such a book?"

I have been complaining for over 20 years about the lack of Greek instruction texts addressed to the twentieth/twenty-first century learner. I posted awhile ago "Emperor Pharr's New Clothes" arguing that even the Pharr book, which many of you swear by, seems addressed to the learned British school boy of the late 1800s.

To me, an effective Greek instruction book would be written in the idiom of modern English usage (no "thee", "would that", or "learnt", please, Professor White). It would be fun (a la Peter Jones). And it would contain plenty of exercises with answers (as a modern language textbook does).

Perhaps as important, it would not contain a whole new language of symbols and abbreviations that the student has to learn to read the book (see the J.A.C.T. grammar), and it wouldn't have chapter lessons that say simply: "Subjunctive - memorize Table 29 in the appendix".

No such textbook exists as far as I know.

[/quote]
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Postby whiteoctave » Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:28 pm

Fine words Peter,

Latin and Greek are of course alive.

~D
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Re: new generation of Greek instruction

Postby Democritus » Tue Aug 03, 2004 6:52 pm

xanthos64 wrote:I have been complaining for over 20 years about the lack of Greek instruction texts addressed to the twentieth/twenty-first century learner. I posted awhile ago "Emperor Pharr's New Clothes" arguing that even the Pharr book, which many of you swear by, seems addressed to the learned British school boy of the late 1800s.

To me, an effective Greek instruction book would be written in the idiom of modern English usage (no "thee", "would that", or "learnt", please, Professor White). It would be fun (a la Peter Jones). And it would contain plenty of exercises with answers (as a modern language textbook does).


Well, I see your point, and I agree, a book like the one you described would be quite useful.

On the other hand, anyone interested in reading original texts from 2400-odd years ago shouldn't mind too terribly having to read English or British style from 150-odd years ago.

People don't just read Greek in order to understand the Greeks, they also read it to understand how the Greeks influenced our own cultural ancestors. Learning Greek is part of becoming an educated English speaker (in the very, very broad sense).

In other words, when I learn Greek, I'm not just learning Greek. I'm entering into the world of the Greeks, but also into the world of all the people who have studied Greek, in previous centuries. When I learn Greek, I'm also learning English.
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Postby Geoff » Tue Aug 03, 2004 7:21 pm

the only textbooks here at Textkit are painfully dry


Textbooks on textkit are extremely effective if not "tasty" Think of the textbooks as the meat and potato(e)s :wink: and the website as the spice. Try translating original texts. Examine more than one textbook at a time and overcome one obstacle at a time. Reward yourself for your itty bitty victories.

Someday you'll be walking along, see some greek, read it and several paces later realize what happened. Its worth it if you set your mind to it.

Modern textbooks are great too, but I like using them in conjunction with the old "here you are" style.
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Postby Clemens » Tue Aug 03, 2004 7:48 pm

Paul wrote:I am genuinely interested in your opinions as to effective and less dry Greek textbooks. What, ideally, would you like to see in such a book?

I would absolutely love a Greek version of Ørberg's "Lingua Latina per se illustrata". :)
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Postby Turpissimus » Tue Aug 03, 2004 8:14 pm

That Canadian guy who's always on about politics wrote:Indeed, Turpissimus, dead is a bit too harsh. Don't you think?


Yes you have a point here. Just a jocose way of refering to my two most favourite languages. I like reading Lucretius as much as the next man (but quite slowly). As for my question, do you know if Hansen and Quinn in any way matches up to the superb Moreland and Fleisher?
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I'm going to get you Canuck!!!!!

Postby Turpissimus » Tue Aug 03, 2004 9:53 pm

Oh bollocks


Just a friendly note to let you know I'm on to you PeterD.

Prepare to be humiliated to the tune of an elegiac couplet.

Coming soon....

Very soon...

In a couple of weeks perhaps....

Just as soon as I can fit the concept of delay around the last two feet of a hexameter and the whole of a pentameter......

EDIT: Half past eleven and one pentameter to go.
Last edited by Turpissimus on Tue Aug 03, 2004 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: new generation of Greek instruction

Postby xanthos64 » Tue Aug 03, 2004 10:23 pm

Democritus said:

"On the other hand, anyone interested in reading original texts from 2400-odd years ago shouldn't mind too terribly having to read English or British style from 150-odd years ago."

I see your point, but I do mind terribly if reading centuries old ENglish stifles my first objective --learning the Greek language well.

In other words, I'd like some day to get to that warm, fuzzy feeling about appreciating how the 19th century school boy learned Greek, but prior thereto I'd like to be able to say I know the mechanics of the language as well as he/she did.

I guess I'm looking for a modern book effective at teaching a modern student the Greek language. The airy appreciation of the finer points the language and its study offer can come after I know the language.



People don't just read Greek in order to understand the Greeks, they also read it to understand how the Greeks influenced our own cultural ancestors. Learning Greek is part of becoming an educated English speaker (in the very, very broad sense).

In other words, when I learn Greek, I'm not just learning Greek. I'm entering into the world of the Greeks, but also into the world of all the people who have studied Greek, in previous centuries. When I learn Greek, I'm also learning English.[/quote]
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Postby xon » Tue Aug 03, 2004 10:45 pm

I am genuinely interested in your opinions as to effective and less dry Greek textbooks. What, ideally, would you like to see in such a book?

Also, of the Greek textbooks you've looked at, did any even approach this ideal?


The e-book most useful to me was NT Greek in a Nutshell. Some sections were organized excellently; others, like the Verbs, never fully explained themselves. The list of pronouns was incomplete, including only third-person.
The other e-book I used was "First Greek Book", but its major drawback was size. It seemed to jump around lesson-to-lesson with regards to grammar points, and I wasn't able to fit things together.

An ideal book would mean:

1. Grammar Notes on each Part-of-Speech: Nouns first, of course, followed by Adjectives (and articles) and then Verbs. Spend LOTS of time on the verbs. Give charts for every verb. Nutshell didn't explain the -mi verbs properly.

2. After the Grammar Notes, offer Reading Lessons within a set vocabulary for each lesson. Each subsequent lesson would add more vocabulary.

3. A good index.

4. Under 25 pages (which means, any inkjet like mine can print it)

My motivations for wanting to learn Greek were to understand Hellenic culture, myths, science, philosophy, and battles. I later learned that Greek was the main language of Byzantium, which had a nearly thousand-year-reign over Asia Minor.

A distraction was realizing that I could read translations of Greek texts in English. From that point, it was more learning the language than the texts.
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Postby nelly » Thu Aug 12, 2004 11:47 pm

xon-

I recently completed my first year of classical greek at University. I really enjoyed the textbook we used and never found it (gasp!) dry. By the fifth chapter -- which takes only a day or so to work up to -- the book has you translating (albeit very simplified) Aesop's Fables. Every chapter from 5-25 has an enjoyable Aesop translation, and the ensuing chapters work from Thucydides, Xenophon, and Demosthenes.

So without further ado, we used Anne H. Groton's From Alpha to Omega, Third Edition. Its copyright is 2000, so the English is easy.

Hope this helps if you reconsider studying Greek.

-If anyone else here has used this text, I am interested in your opinions.
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Postby BobFunland » Thu Aug 19, 2004 6:12 am

I have been complaining for over 20 years about the lack of Greek instruction texts addressed to the twentieth/twenty-first century learner. I posted awhile ago "Emperor Pharr's New Clothes" arguing that even the Pharr book, which many of you swear by, seems addressed to the learned British school boy of the late 1800s.


I don't know how the rest of you operate, but no matter what I'm learning, I try to focus on the material presented and not the way it's presented. That doesn't mean there aren't some really horrible textbooks out there, no matter what subject they're for.

I see your point, but I do mind terribly if reading centuries old ENglish stifles my first objective --learning the Greek language well.


If reading 150 year-old English bothers you, try reading Old English! :mrgreen:
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Postby xon » Tue Oct 12, 2004 10:38 pm

I have returned to Greek. I cam using NT Greek in a Nutshell. Over all of the other "solutions", only this 20-page self-described "Manual" has given me any help. The power of it rests in its reading Lessons, where they go over each and every word. I know new words, finally.

Yet Nutshell can be improved upon. It sounds like some people here have a new textbook on their minds. Writing a really good, short 30 page manual for Ancient Greek would be an EXCELLENT help. Not everything has to be explained. Just the basics. Just enough to give people enough greek so they can say that they know greek. Additional learning material could be obtained from separate dictionaries and grammars or readers.

HINT: I printed Nutshell landscape and dual-page, so I can have a view of everything...quickly. I may go back and print it double-sided as well.
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Postby Soma » Wed Oct 13, 2004 7:31 am

From what I've seen, the Greek primers on Textkit assume one has knowledge of Latin, which can be quite problematic for someone who's completely new to learning a classical language.

xon, have you tried Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar? It seems to get rave reviews, and it's written for complete beginners. Unfortunately, you can't download it for free, but it seems like it might be an option for you to consider...
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Postby PeterD » Fri Oct 15, 2004 6:56 pm

xon wrote:I have returned to Greek.


Great!

Remember, xon, just do a little bit each day.
Fanatical ranting is not just fine because it's eloquent. What if I ranted for the extermination of a people in an eloquent manner, would that make it fine? Rather, ranting, be it fanatical or otherwise, is fine if what is said is true and just. ---PeterD, in reply to IreneY and Annis
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Postby michel » Fri Oct 15, 2004 9:48 pm

Hi, I just started to study Greek today and found this excellent site. I am now using Smith's A First Greek Course and find it to be exactly what I needed (although some audio samples somewhere as a supplement would be helpful, particularly for the diphthongs).

Btw, I noticed in the little explanation of the vocative declension (pg 10) that it says it is common for words to begin with the interjection [face=SPIonic]w[/face]. Is this why in a lot of older English literature when addressing a particular person or group the statement begins with "O?" Or is it just a coincidence?
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