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Easiest first text?

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Easiest first text?

Postby Lex » Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:41 pm

What is the easiest first text to start reading real Greek from, for a self-teacher? I've read that Xenophon's Anabasis was traditionally used? Is this a good choice? I understand from other posts here that it's boring, but that doesn't bother me, as long as the syntax is manageable for a raw beginner.<br /><br />Thanks in advance.<br /><br />NB: I'm more interested in classical Attic than Homeric or Koine right at the moment.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Jeff Tirey » Thu Apr 24, 2003 10:26 pm

I think it's a great choice for beginners. I say this because it's straight forward and there are several Textkit grammars specifically designed for Xenophon to help you out along the way. They will reinforce Xenophonic vocabulary for one thing.<br /><br />It's boring in the sense that it's dry and matter-of-fact. Greeks went here, Barbarians went there... you get the point. But if you're a student of history you just might enjoy it!<br /><br />Furtermore, it's solid Attic Greek which is what you're interested in and I don't think you can get any more attic than Xenophon.<br /><br />Demosthanes is another good choice for beginner's that is one step up on the skill ladder. I know you mentioned that attic is your dialect of choice - but please give Homer a try at some point as well.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Lex » Thu Apr 24, 2003 11:46 pm

[quote author=jeff link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#256 date=1051223188]<br />I think it's a great choice for beginners. I say this because it's straight forward and there are several Textkit grammars specifically designed for Xenophon to help you out along the way. They will reinforce Xenophonic vocabulary for one thing.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Thank you. I appreciate the advice.<br /><br />[quote author=jeff link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#256 date=1051223188]<br />I know you mentioned that attic is your dialect of choice - but please give Homer a try at some point as well.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Oh, I intend to, but I don't want to confuse myself at this stage by studying multiple dialects at once. <br /><br />Thanks again.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Elucubrator » Fri Apr 25, 2003 12:47 am

Hi again, Lex<br /><br />I'm with Jeff. Don't listen to Raya on this one. :) (Raya, sorry :-* ) Thucydides and Lysias also write in Attic. But Thucydides is tough in certain spots. Book two of the Pelopponesian wars is purported to contain the most difficult sentence in the Greek language. Demosthenes is also periodic and difficult in parts. Lysias is straightforward and writes along with Xenophon the purest Classical Attic. <br /><br />People often criticise Xenophon for what Jeff had pointed out, but for a beginner it is excellent because he is extremely straightforward and you will feel your abilities improving from one page to the next. <br /><br />:o BUT! and this is a strong BUT! which all beginners should heed. :o<br /><br />Do not be in such a hurry to start reading that you sacrifice attention to the basics of the language, and to the exercises in the grammar books. I have seen many people not really pay enough attention to acquiring the basics. What happens is that they begin reading and end up having to look up every single word and construction, and it's not nearly as much fun as when you know the languages well to begin with and then start your reading programme. Besides most textbooks will have passages for reading that increase in authenticity and difficulty as you progress through the course. You should not take this stage of learning the language lightly and make every effort to lay a strong foundation. From time to time I still go back and write out paradigms to keep sharp. In fact I could really get a lot out of a review right now myself, and though my preferred textbook is Hansen and Quinn's *Greek: an intensive course* I wouldn't mind using White's *first Greek book* since it is available for download here. And if enough people are interested, I'd be willing to start writing an answer key for it as we progress through White together.<br /><br />Any takers?<br /><br />Sebastian
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby annis » Fri Apr 25, 2003 1:07 am

I agree with Sebastian that it is always helpful to attend to the basics. Review forms! Then do it again. I have cards of verbs I read on the bus to work, always in a jacket pocket. I review them in bars waiting for friends. I recite Mimnermus off a card, to memorize it, while walking to go shopping, which almost certainly alarms the neighbors.<br /><br />But I also don't think it's possible to start in on real Greek too quickly. So long as the text is interesting to you, you will be able to stay motivated through the difficult bits of getting vocabulary, which in Greek is huge. And you have to use those student editions honestly, and hunt down grammar you don't get, not just accept the notes. Once you look up a word a few times, it'll stick in your brain. Same with grammar.<br /><br />I have always started in on texts early, in every difficult language I've studied. That's why I was studying the language in the first place, to read the texts. :)<br /><br />Keep your grammar and dictionary handy. Ask questions here!<br /><br />--<br />wm
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Lex » Fri Apr 25, 2003 7:10 pm

[quote author=Elucubrator link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#263 date=1051231624]<br />I wouldn't mind using White's *first Greek book* since it is available for download here. And if enough people are interested, I'd be willing to start writing an answer key for it as we progress through White together.<br /><br />Any takers?<br />[/quote]<br /><br />I have no objections to starting out with White instead of the one I'm using now (this one), which I only chose because it happened to be the only book in the local bookstore on classical Greek besides Smyth, which seemed intimidating and not good as a tutorial.<br /><br />One thing, though. I notice that White uses NGDAV for cases, while my book uses NVAGD. Is this going to confuse me? Should I stick to one order for memorization?<br /><br />Also, would "we progress through White together" in a casual way (everybody studying White independently at their own pace) or would it be something more formal and organized?<br /><br />PS: Thanks to you and William for the additional advice.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Raya » Fri Apr 25, 2003 8:45 pm

[quote author=Elucubrator link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#263 date=1051231624]<br />Don't listen to Raya on this one.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Okay - so I don't like Xenophon, and I'm prone to admitting it excessively... ::)<br /><br />Personally I would rather struggle my way through an interesting text than to take it easy with one I find dull... but that's just me. But then, you can always find ways of making the study of a boring text enjoyable... ;D<br /><br />I have to do a detailed study of Xenophon for an exam, and I'll probably be starting with Anabasis just as you are. We can get through it together, if you like - it helps to have 'classmates' to bounce ideas off. ;)<br /><br />As far as cases go - in my experience, the order is inconsequential. The important thing is to know what the cases signify.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Lex » Fri Apr 25, 2003 9:25 pm

[quote author=Raya link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#282 date=1051303503]<br />I have to do a detailed study of Xenophon for an exam, and I'll probably be starting with Anabasis just as you are. We can get through it together, if you like - it helps to have 'classmates' to bounce ideas off. ;)<br />[/quote]<br /><br />That would be nice, but I don't know if I'm ready for it just yet. When I say that I'm a beginner, I mean I just started studying Greek this month. I only have -w conjugation present indicative, future indicative and infinitive tenses and the first two declensions, and those not very well. <br /><br />[quote author=Raya link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#282 date=1051303503]<br />As far as cases go - in my experience, the order is inconsequential. The important thing is to know what the cases signify.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Yeah, I was thinking that once I truly get them down, order won't be important. I think that flash card idea that William mentioned is a pretty good idea. I can make declension cards, and shuffle them so I am not using any specific ordering as a crutch.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Elucubrator » Fri Apr 25, 2003 10:23 pm

Hi lex,<br /><br />I thought we should use White because it's available for download on textkit. I agree, it's how the cases are used that matters, but it does help to have some kind of framework to help your mind master all the different structures in the language. There are five declensions in Latin and some of the case endings as you have seen in the first two declensions already look the same. So, I don't recommend at first that you jumble things around because learning the cases is different from learning the endings that signify the cases. And settling on one framework or another will help you to grasp the whole system better.<br /><br />I learned from books that presented the cases all at once in the NGDAV sequence, and I have always been a little annoyed with the other way, but the people who present the declensional system the other way, namely, NVAGD do so because they feel it will help the student to memorise the endings of the cases. This is because the Nom. and the Voc. are almost always identical, and because the Acc. looks a lot like them. <br /><br />I prefer the NGDAV method because I feel it helps the mind to avoid confusing the N A V triplet. But the choice is up to you. Give it a try both ways. On a sheet of paper write NGDAV in one column and in another column NAVGD. Pick a few words from each of the declensions you have been working on, and write the declensions of these words according to each of the patterns. <br /><br />Check them carefully to make sure you have them right when you are done. Look at what you have written carefully in each set, and in each set observe as many patterns as you can. Use different coloured pencils to link the patterns in such a way that they will stand out to you clearly. For instance you should notice that in the neuter singular the nominative and the accusative cases are the same. Connect them with a line in the margin. You will notice two more forms in the singular that have the same ending. Draw a red square around each of these.<br /><br />Continue like this observing as many patterns as you can pick out in the singular and in the plural. In each of your sets you will now have a structural diagramme that maps out the declensional patterns. Consider each set, and see which of them you feel will help you to memorise these declensions. And go with that one. <br /><br />Then there is the question of which book to use. Again, if you use White, you will have a lot of people here probably making their way through the same text. If you prefer the Teach Yourself series textbook. I happen to have a copy on my desk and would be happy to help you through it as well. It's not a bad thing to use one text book to learn, to use it again for review, to switch to a new book on your next review. So even if you prefer to use White, you should still hang on to "Betts and Henry" for a future occasion. Going through it then will expose you to a different set of vocabulary. And you could also compare their presentation of the material simultaneously with White's. <br /><br />At any rate, once you decide on which pattern to choose for learning the language, repeat the exercise of writing out the entire declension of every new word you come to. This will be drilling them in. Make sure you pronounce the words aloud as you write and to do so as well whenever you read Greek. This will bring in motor and muscular memory into play with the visual and aural. And it is a very effective method. As you write out the words and pronounce them in Greek try as hard as you can not to think of the English equivalent. NO! hear and feel the Greek and picture the object the word stands for in your head. You will already from your first steps be learning to think in Greek, rather than figuring out merely how to decode and translate, as so many others do.<br /><br />Let me know which pattern worked out best for you later, and how these suggestions worked for you.<br /><br />kalh tuxh! good luck!<br />we'll be waiting for you ;)<br /><br />Seba
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Raya » Sat Apr 26, 2003 3:41 pm

[quote author=Lex link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#284 date=1051305936]<br />When I say that I'm a beginner, I mean I just started studying Greek this month. I only have -w conjugation present indicative, future indicative and infinitive tenses and the first two declensions, and those not very well. <br />[/quote]<br /><br />I'm not particularly advanced myself! I've only been working since February, and even then not as intensely as I'd like (as I've had other exams to prepare for). But those will soon be over, and then I intend to make a fresh start with (Seba's recommendation) Hansen and Quinn's intensive course...
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Lex » Mon Apr 28, 2003 6:41 pm

[quote author=Elucubrator link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#287 date=1051309394]<br />I prefer the NGDAV method because I feel it helps the mind to avoid confusing the N A V triplet. <br />[/quote]<br /><br />I will try out the exercise you suggested, to compare the two methods, but I suspect that I will prefer the NVAGD version better. NVAGD has the merits of splitting neatly into two parts for the dual number, the N and V are often alike (as you mentioned), and the plural neuter N V and A of the 2nd declension are all there in a nice neat group. NGDAV seems to purposely obfuscate the patterns, which doesn't appeal to my learning style. And to make sure I avoid focusing too much on a pattern, I made up flash cards this weekend like William suggested. Shuffling those and running through them should prevent reliance on patterns.<br /><br />[quote author=Elucubrator link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#287 date=1051309394]<br />Then there is the question of which book to use. Again, if you use White, you will have a lot of people here probably making their way through the same text. If you prefer the Teach Yourself series textbook. I happen to have a copy on my desk and would be happy to help you through it as well. It's not a bad thing to use one text book to learn, to use it again for review, to switch to a new book on your next review. So even if you prefer to use White, you should still hang on to "Betts and Henry" for a future occasion. Going through it then will expose you to a different set of vocabulary. And you could also compare their presentation of the material simultaneously with White's. <br />[/quote]<br /><br />I found a few things lacking in Betts this weekend, so I'm starting to think I shouldn't depend on just one book. One was the complete lack of mention of the dual number. The other was that (I think) they oversimplifed the first declension a bit. I noticed elsewhere that there is a subtle difference between sing. fem. nouns ending in [(vowel or rho) + short alpha] and those ending in [(vowel or rho) + long alpha]. If Betts mentioned this, I missed it. So I will probably go through both Betts and White in parallel.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Lex » Mon Apr 28, 2003 7:27 pm

[quote author=Raya link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#294 date=1051371669]<br />[quote author=Lex link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#284 date=1051305936]<br />When I say that I'm a beginner, I mean I just started studying Greek this month. I only have -w conjugation present indicative, future indicative and infinitive tenses and the first two declensions, and those not very well. <br />[/quote]<br /><br />I'm not particularly advanced myself! I've only been working since February, and even then not as intensely as I'd like (as I've had other exams to prepare for). But those will soon be over, and then I intend to make a fresh start with (Seba's recommendation) Hansen and Quinn's intensive course...<br />[/quote]<br /><br />OK, I don't feel so bad now. I certainly wouldn't mind going through Anabasis together with other people, as long as I don't slow others down. <br /><br />Maybe I should ask, what do the experts here think is a good minimum set of grammar to have under one's belt before attempting Anabasis?
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Advice on Reading, learning, and the seductive Dual

Postby Elucubrator » Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:34 pm

Lex (you wrote):<br /><br />OK, I don't feel so bad now. I certainly wouldn't mind going through Anabasis together with other people, as long as I don't slow others down. <br /><br />One of the beauties of the Textkit community is that everyone gets to work at their own pace, with whatever book suits them best, and asking whatever questions they may have as they arise in the Forum. We are all from different walks of life, different backgrounds, different learning styles, and in different stages of learning Greek and Latin. So, no need to ever apologise for being a beginner. We're really happy to have you around and to help you out in such a virtuous and noble endeavour. ;)<br /><br />(Your next question was):<br /><br />Maybe I should ask, what do the experts here think is a good minimum set of grammar to have under one's belt before attempting Anabasis?<br /><br /><br />Well, I believe it's good to be learning a language in multiple different ways at once. For instance it's good (and essential) to work through a grammar book to learn the way the language actually works, acquire vocabulary and so on, but it is also good to practice reading, and composition, and listening, and speaking. Each of these things in themselves will help one learn, but combined together will increase the speed and effectiveness with which you learn.<br /><br />That said, in order to start getting practice reading it is by no means necessary to make it all the way to the end of a grammar book in order to start reading, but you should at least make a good start. I'd say make sure you know everything in the first five lessons of your book well, and then add a little reading each day. Through the reading you will pick up new vocabulary. It will be slow at first, but don't let it deter you. When you can't make sense of something it won't be because you are an idiot and no good at language, but because you are looking at a construction that has not yet been presented to you. Do the best you can! learn the new vocabulary, and make use of the helpful notes in the commentary of your reader. The only no no, is to grab a translation of Xenophon in English to help you make it through it. In this way your mind will not begin adapting itself to the Greek language. So, if you get into a spot where you just can't make sense out of something, and you will, write down your questions. Come back to the Forum and ask them.<br /><br />Incidentally, I am going to refrain from answering every question posted by beginners, because I don't want textkit to become like a classroom where there are teachers and students and where the students stop thinking for themselves because they can just ask a teacher, and whatever the teacher says must be true. Noooooo!<br /><br />One of the best ways that we humans learn, is by talking about what we are learning, and even as beginners, I encourage everyone here, to read other peoples questions; you might just know the answers to help someone else out, or you may know where to look it up. Doing so to help another will reinforce your knowledge. And guess what Lex? To the student that want's to learn Greek and doesn't have a book yet, you are already amasing!!!! <br /><br />How did that saying go about "in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed are kings"? 8) You know the alphabet, you know the concept of declensions and cases, you know and are more in touch with the problems faced by the beginner than we old hands are. Everybody has a worthy contribution to make.<br /><br />By the way, congratulations on deciding which of those systems works best for you. You are starting to forge your own path, which is essential. The advanced among us here will keep a look out to make sure you are not committing any grave errors or developing bad habits which you'll have to unlearn later.<br /><br />Also, as a tip from someone who can see a little farther than you for the moment what the terrain ahead of you looks like. If there is anything you can skimp out on for the moment, in fact, I recommend that you actually ignore it. It is the dual voice. The dual voice is a beautiful thing, but occurs so little, in what you will at first be reading (if at all) that it will slow you down for no reason right now. Later on when you pick up authors who employ it, it is quick to learn. But save that for later. ;) Look at Whites descriptions of it and read it over, but don't worry about writing out the dual when you practice your declensions. Unless of course, you are severely cross-eyed, perpetually intoxicated, or suffering from some other type of affliction which causes you to see 2 of everything. In that case I advise it wholeheartedly, as you will be making heavy use of it in when you try to speak ancient Greek with others. :P ::) ;D
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Re:Advice on Reading, learning, and the seductive Dual

Postby Lex » Mon Apr 28, 2003 9:05 pm

[quote author=Elucubrator link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#329 date=1051562042]<br />Also, as a tip from someone who can see a little farther than you for the moment what the terrain ahead of you looks like. If there is anything you can skimp out on for the moment, in fact, I recommend that you actually ignore it. It is the dual voice. [/quote]<br /><br />I suspected that was why Betts ommitted it, but it would've been nice if they had at least mentioned that it existed. <br /><br />Anyway, thanks for all the advice. I'll let you know how my NGDAV vs. NVAGD experiment works out.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Dean » Tue May 06, 2003 3:54 am

Since I have White's book and am using it, I would like to help start some group where we could post our translations and so on of the exercises and the texts. However, I don't know if this is possible. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. By the way as a history buff. I like the historians.<br /><br />Best Regards,<br />Dean
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Elucubrator » Tue May 06, 2003 5:13 am

[quote author=Dean link=board=2;threadid=69;start=0#381 date=1052193288]<br />Since I have White's book and am using it, I would like to help start some group where we could post our translations and so on of the exercises and the texts. However, I don't know if this is possible. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. By the way as a history buff. I like the historians.<br /><br />Best Regards,<br />Dean<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Hi Dean,<br /><br />Sometime soon, I will find the time to write an answer key to the exercises in White, which will go up into a PDF file of its own for download, and it won't be necessary to post them on the boards. <br /><br />Working on Greek and Latin together in groups is great, but please don't post answer-lists on a board visible for all to see or stumble upon as this can ruin the exercise for someone who has not gotten to that part of the book yet, which is one thing we want to avoid; hence, the up and coming answer keys which will be available for download in the members area. ;)<br /><br />This doesn't mean that there shouldn't be interaction and discussion about grammatical points, syntactical constructions, or even comparing alternative translations on a particular sentence and discussing the virtues of one as opposed to the other, as long as your posts raise questions, discuss interesting points of the language that are different to English there is nothing wrong. This is encouraged. We only oppose the posting of a blank answer list. And because we know it can help we are working on putting them together for you, so that you may CHECK your exercises. Do not let the keys rob you of the pleasure of working the exercises out for yourselves. :)<br /><br />Study in groups can be very fun in real time chat, and this will be easier if people get the MSN messenger (and all the rest) that will make you most adaptable to anyone else.<br /><br />By the way, Dean, to what page of White have you already made it?<br /><br />Sebastian
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Dean » Tue May 06, 2003 7:33 am

I am on page 91. I already had a jump start as I had two quarters of Greek in college and quite a bit of Latin. I have been using the text by Crosby and Shaffer too. Anyway it has been quite a learning experience.<br /><br />Dean
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby vinobrien » Tue May 06, 2003 10:23 am

I was sitting on the train this morning on the way to work hacking through Thucydides (sad, but true) and it struck me that Xenophon has been the maitre d's recommendation as a first text for good reasons<br />- as long as you understand participles, the verbs usually look after themselves<br />- the vocabulary is rarely odd<br />- he certainly lacks Thucydides' mind bending approach to syntax (but he does use duals, Seb).<br />which means you can read him a damn sight faster than you can Thucydides and maybe even follow the plot (sorry Raya) .<br /><br />I write this after a particularly trying session reading Cleon's speech and finding it all a bit difficult...<br /><br /><br />Vincent<br /><br />
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby Alan » Sun Aug 24, 2003 8:39 pm

I noted recently that the Italian writer Italo Calvino has a chapter on Xenpohon in his book "Why Read the Classics?". (that includes Tolstoy, Shakespeare etc.) he makes the point that though the story is a never-ending succession of visual details and action, it is never boring. Xenophon writes succinctly, sprinkles small anecdotes, portraits of soldiers, speeches, and interesting details over the text, and peppers the story with exotic details.<br /><br />It has also gained a certain topicality with the event in Iraq.
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Re:Easiest first text?

Postby mingshey » Mon Aug 25, 2003 2:37 am

This site has some greek materials for school teachers and I found the link "A New Greek Course for Schools" - a textbook with cartoons - amusing. Take a look. ;)<br />
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