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POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

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POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby greagach » Tue Aug 19, 2003 9:36 pm

An extensive poll for TextKit LEARNERS OF GREEK.<br /><br /> What was that particular thing which brought you to start learning Greek?<br /> How did you first get curious about the language?<br /><br />Please VOTE by choosing one of the following NUMBERS (keeping in mind this is not about WHY you learn it, but about WHAT you found most attractive in Greek).<br /><br /> You can also defend your choice, the longer the better. I'm doing this out of wishing to know us learners better (but also because I'm interested in Psycholinguistics).<br /><br /> PLEASE BE HONEST, this is just a survey. <br />[sorry for presenting it this way, the standard online poll format was too small for this one]<br /><br /><br /> 1. THE ALPHABET<br /> (masterpiece of symmetry, the exotic look, but also the demanding learning and printing)<br /><br /> 2. GREEK LANGUAGE IN GENERAL<br /> (very rich in vocabulary; longest surving language in Europe; very difficult to master / pronounce / write -for Western standards! the precision in meaning and expression; super-productive ability; the Greek view upon the world through its words and sounds; the privileged use of Greek in today's computer language programming, etc.)<br /><br /> 3. THE SOUND OF GREEK<br /> (heard it being recited or sung on some ccasion -and I wonder where!) <br /><br /> 4. MODERN GREEK<br /> (first learnt that one, and then decided to dive back into the past) <br /><br /> 5. LATIN (!)<br /> (fell victim to some Classic Studies syllabus and thought Greek would be no more difficult than distant Latin cousin)<br /><br /> 6. INTEREST IN LANGUAGES AND ETYMOLOGY<br /> (Greek has, directly or indirectly, "fertilized" almost every language of the world; you're a wiz of terminology, a "Sprachfreak", or simply a scientist / artist / doctor wanting to know what you're telling people every day) <br /><br /> 7. TRANSLATION, LITERATURE <br /> (happened to savour the works of a poet or philosopher in your mother tongue, and decided that just wasn't enough change in your life)<br /><br /> 8. ARCHAEOLOGY, EPIGRAPHY<br /> (includes travelling often to Hellas, owning relevant antiquities, being a fan of Indiana Jones, and so on)<br /><br /> 9. THEATRE, AESTHETICS<br /> (tragedy and comedy, and their impact on humanity -need I say more?)<br /><br /> 10. RELIGION<br /> (New Testament reader, priest, Byzantine chants fan, follower of the Greek religion)<br /><br /> 11. MATHEMATICS, MUSIC<br /> (I don't know how to explain this, but so far in my life I met loads of people being interested or excelling in all three of them: MAT / GRE / MUS)<br /><br /> 12. A PAST LIFE <br />(woke up some morning and noticed you were peculiarly fluent in Greek -no kidding, this has really happened to people! unusually attracted to all things Greek) <br /><br /> 13. NONE OF THE ABOVE<br /> (fine, it's my fault: I couldn't think of anything else; please state otherwise, then)<br /><br /><br /> Cocktail-voting is possible, but we need not overdo it... <br /><br /><br /> Now cast your votes. I'd love to hear from all of you. <br />
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby klewlis » Tue Aug 19, 2003 9:55 pm

10 was my initial reason for learning it.<br /><br />since then i have fallen in love with the pure aesthetics of it (so 1 and 2).<br /><br />all of the rest follow naturally (except the last three).<br /><br />
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby Lumen_et_umbra » Tue Aug 19, 2003 10:08 pm

My reason is a combination of 6,5,2, and 1.<br /><br />About number 12, though; I have always been drawn to things Egyptian and sworn that I must have lived there in a past life. Egypt, and the beautiful pyramids and landscape have always felt like home to me. It is pehaps Egyptian influence on Greek and Roman societies that inspired me to learn both Latin and Greek. Don't ask me why I am not yet learning Egyptian! ;)
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby Bert » Wed Aug 20, 2003 12:34 am

#10 was the initial push for sure.
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby mingshey » Wed Aug 20, 2003 2:20 am

Hi! I'v been a beginner for 20 years. no long term systematic education in greek. no teacher around. self tutoring now and then when I get leisure. I really want to master the basic grammar, but find it digesting a whale. so far for whining...<br /><br />1,6, 11 and 10 were my initial motives.<br />And later, fascinated by modern greek sound(greek songs).<br />As I sensed at the first time, the more I learn, the more I find the stimulant. Rich source of ancient philosophy and science will be enough for the reward.<br />
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby bingley » Wed Aug 20, 2003 3:21 am

No. 5 to start with. <br /><br />I think No. 6 was a result of studying Greek and Latin rather than a cause of the interest in the first place. <br /><br />Also No. 10 -- a fascination with mythology. At ages 12 and 13 I knew nothing of the sources, but had had a lot of exposure to the stories and wanted to know more.
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby benissimus » Wed Aug 20, 2003 4:28 am

5 and then 6, or was it 6 and then 5...
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby Skylax » Wed Aug 20, 2003 1:35 pm

2 : mostly because Greek is so diversified (dialects), and because the literary languages is a "non-normalized" one, so very light, fluid and elegant.<br /><br />13 : a) it is like space exploration : every day a discovery, a thing (a way of saying things) you have never thought of,...<br /><br />b) The ancient Greeks were very creative : they have really started something (they were influenced and so on but there was real creation). So you see "new" (i.e. "fresh") things expressed in their literature.<br /><br />The point is that, at a moment, they began to consider the ideas expressed by an individual as valuable ones (in the time before, only tradition ruled). Hence the importance allowed to individual "authors".<br /><br />Note that philosophy, history and lyric poetry appeared almost at the same time. <br /><br />The importance given to individuals allowed critical mind to appear .. and so on (but they stopped before having attained self-criticism).
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby adz000 » Wed Aug 20, 2003 5:47 pm

#2, #5, #6, #7.<br /><br />Particularly #2 which includes a massive amount of things to like; of course the same arguments could be made for just about any language (different way of seeing things, rich non-English vocabulary, opening up history, literature, [face=SPIonic][size=18=12]k.t.l.[/face][/size]). If you want to study historical linguistics, Hittite or Old Church Slavonic are just as useful; if you begin with Latin, it's just as likely you'll be sucked into modern Romance languages as to Greek on the other historical end. In fact the only substantive argument on that list that is unique in favor of Greek is #10, New Testament studies. I'd say that a large number of the other arguments are attractive because of an expressed, or only partly expressed, 14th argument: the western tradition. I'm not proposing that the western tradition is superior to other cultures, merely that it's more relevant and, therefore, if someone in the US or Europe wants to understand their literature, or the etymology of the words they speak, or their historical past, Greek is more valuable.<br /><br />I think we might have to draw a distinction between the question "how did you come upon Greek?" and "what interests led you to Greek?" For example, I might have an interest in rhetoric and that interest might lead me to orations delivered in tribal New Guinea, or it might lead me to Demosthenes, each is an equally rich study in rhetoric; it is a subtly different question, and perhaps a more penetrating one, to ask: through what channels your interests led you to Greek as opposed to other languages?<br /><br />On an unrelated note, I'm curious about two comments in previous posts about things I don't know about. <br />greagach: In what way do programming languages use Greek? (part of reason #2)<br />Skylax: What does "non-normalized" mean? I'm interested in hearing more about that.
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby Skylax » Wed Aug 20, 2003 7:59 pm

Non-normalized. (I wish I hadn't invented it)<br /><br />I mean that Greek writers and poets before Alexander the Great don't seem to hold on too strictly to rules that are felt as components of a "literary" style. They say what they have to say in the best possible way without asking to themselves "Is it true literature?" "Isn't it too straightforward?" You feel the contrary among many Latin writers (except Lucretius and Catullus)... and among the Greek Polybius (2nd century BC). They don't only write, they show also that they are writers. Literary Latin is a language that was "rebuilt" by the writers (French "une langue refaite"), what can be touching, but less exciting than many Greek productions.<br />
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby annis » Thu Aug 21, 2003 12:06 am

6, 7, 13.<br /><br />By 13 I mean you have omitted one small class of lunatic of which I am a shining example. From by desk at this little computer I can look over to my bookshelves. A random sample of titles: "Modern Arabic Grammar", "An Introduction to Old Occitan", "A Pali Primer", "Middle Egyptian Grammar", "Beginner's Assyrian", "Introduction to Sahidic Grammar." I'm sure you get the idea. I adore languages of all sorts, but you'll notice a strong emphasis on the dead or world-historical literary languages (well, Coptic is a bit specialized).<br /><br />Though not a Christian nor a Jew, I read Greek and Hebrew (badly in the last case). Though not Buddhist, I studied Sanskrit for 2 years at university, and some Pali. Though not Muslim, Arab and Islamic history is so important that I can butcher that most elegant language, too, though some day I'd prefer to master it.<br /><br />But really I just like grammar. :) In fact, I so deeply love grammar that I construct strange languages of my very own to play with it. See http://www.vaior.org/ for my most extensive creation.<br /><br />I decided to focus on Greek for several reasons. Most important, I finally decided I should be able to read Homer, which led immediately to some of the incredible productions of the later Lyric poets. I also maintain a very deep personal interest in modern interpretations of Stoicism, and for that Greek is very useful.<br /><br />I now wish I had not waited so long to approach Homer and Sappho and in the original.<br /><br />adz000, modern computer languages don't use greek in any meaningful way that I'm aware of. APL used to require a special keyboard to accomodate Greek characters, but that language is moribund, and lingers only in dark corners of insurance agencies, for whom APL makes actuarial tables easy. But ASCII rules the programming word, though Unicode is slowly catching up. The only remotely Greek thing I can bring into this is that I usually describe obect-oriented programming to non-geeks by saying a class is a Platonic Form, and an instance is a real-world realization of the Ideal.
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby mingshey » Thu Aug 21, 2003 12:51 am

Well, may I recommend the global moderator another ancient language? Chinese has a long history and left great abundance of literature, history, philosophy, politics, etc. It can be considered Greek and Latin of the far east. And you don't need to be a Taoist or Confucianist. ;)<br />
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby annis » Thu Aug 21, 2003 1:13 am

[quote author=mingshey link=board=2;threadid=511;start=0#4546 date=1061427095]<br />Well, may I recommend the global moderator another ancient language? Chinese has a long history and left great abundance of literature, history, philosophy, politics, etc. It can be considered Greek and Latin of the far east. And you don't need to be a Taoist or Confucianist. ;)<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Dao ke dao, fei chang dao; ming ke ming, fei chang ming.<br /><br />:) wo hai xuexi hanyu, but have forgotten most by now.<br /><br />Abosulutely, Chinese counts as a biggie.<br /><br />Top 5 Important World-Historical/Cultural Languages in no particular order:<br />
    <br />
  • Classical Chinese<br />
  • Classical (aka Koranic) Arabic<br />
  • Latin<br />
  • Greek<br />
  • Sanskrit<br />
<br /><br />To this may be added, by the stout of heart and mind, Tibetan, Mongolian, Persian, Pali and Akkadian. Hebrew and Aramaic are vital for the Judeo-Christian tradition, in addition to Greek and Latin.<br /><br />All of these, like Greek and Latin, extended far beyond the range of their native speakers as literary languages and the vehicle of culture, literature, philosophy and often religion. All have added vocabulary to the native languages which they came into contact with, not infrequently bringing the writing system. All these languages bring us writings of deep thinkers, poetry of all kinds, and all of them convey perhaps a few things rather less worthy.<br /><br />In my own opinion every civilized, educated person should know at least a little about all of the top five.<br /><br />I could go on at length justifying this, but right now the first real rain in almost a month is nearly here, and it promises to be an exciting storm. I should get away from the comuter.
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby Lumen_et_umbra » Thu Aug 21, 2003 2:14 am

Might I add, as a sidenote that Arabic (and to a lesser degree Hebrew), has the most beautiful alphabet of all time. Chinese and Japanese characters are beautiful but they do not constitute an alphabet. (I know that Japanese is comprised of several "alphabets"; some of which used to represent the sounds of foreign words, etc... (I am a bit sketchy on the details.))
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby mingshey » Thu Aug 21, 2003 4:11 am

...<br />I could go on at length justifying this, but right now the first real rain in almost a month is nearly here, and it promises to be an exciting storm. I should get away from the comuter.<br /><br />Don't need to justify, for I can't agree more with you. :)<br /><br />Might I add, as a sidenote that Arabic (and to a lesser degree Hebrew), has the most beautiful alphabet of all time. Chinese and Japanese characters are beautiful but they do not constitute an alphabet. (I know that Japanese is comprised of several "alphabets"; some of which used to represent the sounds of foreign words, etc... (I am a bit sketchy on the details.))<br /><br />Yes, japanese have two sets of alphabetical characters, one of which is used for foreign or stressed words, but chinese characters are heavily used. Chinese is said to have more than 50,000 characters which is still increasing in number, but with a little knowledge about the construction and with some experience, many of the frequently used characters are not tremendously hard to master.<br /><br />"Learn, and practice from time to time, for isn't it delightful?"<br /> -- Analects of Confucius --<br />
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby Lumen_et_umbra » Thu Aug 21, 2003 4:52 am

The Chinese government's attempt to simplify Chinese characters didn't facilitate one's learning of the language. <br />If I remember correctly that was quite the debacle over there in China.
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby mingshey » Thu Aug 21, 2003 6:20 am

Well, you're right, and japanese has its own version of simplified chinese characters. No wonder frequent use of complex characters needs some degree of shorthands. Classical chinese HAD several shorthand styles. But public use of simplified forms even in printed characters is too much a loss of great heritage.<br />But elimination of illiteracy has been greater issue than raising more scholars in far eastern developing countries.<br /><br />As far as I know, Taiwan keeps using classical forms of characters. And in China, too, I believe you could access the sources for learning classical forms, if you wish.<br /><br />(I'm from Korea, and we get using chinese characters less and less frequently, though there are rich vocabulary from chinese. And its been a debate whether to teach chinese characters in school or not. The authorities decided not to. A great loss, and a future issue.)<br /><br />--------<br /><br />Back to the topic of this thread, No school teaches geometry with Euclid, and no school teaches fundamentals of physics with Newton these days. There are many new devices of education invented since then. But the primitive masterpieces gives deep insight how to think of your own from looking at the nature with your bare eyes. Plato's Politeia gives how to think out the social ideal from nothing. They give the power to think.<br />
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby bingley » Thu Aug 21, 2003 8:54 am

Sure, when I lived in Singapore for 18 months I got to know about a dozen or so characters just from seeing them in context so often (things like no entry, large, medium, small, etc.) <br /><br />I failed dismally at learning the spoken language though. I just couldn't hear most of the time whether the tones were going up or down or doing a double back flip.<br /><br />I'm so glad I don't have to worry about it with Greek.
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby alain » Thu Aug 21, 2003 11:46 am

<br /> As a retired astronomer I answer 11 without hesitation.<br /><br /> Philikotata<br /><br /> Alain
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby Keesa » Thu Aug 21, 2003 12:39 pm

Six and ten, for me; six for classical, ten for Koine. <br /><br />I'm crazy about words, and I love watching the way they fit together in different languages. I also plan to attend a Bible college soon (then Oxford, I hope!) so you could also say that I'm learning Greek in preparation, although I didn't see that choice on the poll. <br /><br />Keesa
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THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby greagach » Thu Aug 21, 2003 2:13 pm

<br /> It was # 7 for me. (and eventually # 11 )<br /><br /> Literature of the Greeks, in its broadest sense, written and oral heritage, has been the motive to further explore this ancient language. I feel the Greeks had something to say about everything, but their enormous difference is that it's all still so damn relevant today, to many of us, no matter our background or dreams... <br /><br /> I always looked up to these translators, scholars, and editors who believe in those works and continue to foster them to the wider public (though a little concerned if we'll still have that high standard of translators in the years ahead), as of course to these peoples of the past (mediaeval monks, Arabs, etc.) who preserved Greek literature by copying it on. <br /><br />(While of course some other "Greek" monks and barbarians fed the fire with masterpieces of word and science -I count Sappho's destroyed works as one of humanity's most deliberate acts of suicide... )<br /> <br /> I once read in a book that ONLY ABOUT EIGHT PER CENT of the ancient Greek literature has survived the long run. I dread to imagine how many a lifetime it would take me to read just the basics, if only every workpiece had lived up to present day (and provided I were fluent in the language)!<br /><br /> And still, scholars call these fragments a "Greek miracle": So many enlightened and playful minds at one time and place... <br /><br /><br />
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Re:THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby klewlis » Thu Aug 21, 2003 2:46 pm

[quote author=greagach link=board=2;threadid=511;start=15#4597 date=1061475183]<br /> I always looked up to these translators, scholars, and editors who believe in those works and continue to foster them to the wider public (though a little concerned if we'll still have that high standard of translators in the years ahead), as of course to these peoples of the past (mediaeval monks, Arabs, etc.) who preserved Greek literature by copying it on. <br />[/quote]<br /><br />Well I can't speak for everyone but I know that if half of the greek professors in the world are as great as mine were, future translators will be excellent. All three of my greek profs were careful, thoughtful, honest, diligent scholars who worked to instill the same values and habits in their students.
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Re:POLL: THE CHARM OF GREEK

Postby Lumen_et_umbra » Fri Aug 22, 2003 8:37 pm

It is quite unnerving to see the sharp decline in quality of contemporary Latin and Greek grammars (Contemporary Greek grammars are almost non-existent.) Perhaps the scholarly assume that those consummate grammars (A&G, Gilder, Smyth, the other german guy's book... :) ) will suffice, and, perhaps, they understand that an attempt to outclass them would be futile - only the destitute of grammar do not understand this fact, this being the reason for which they still write grammars. ;D<br /><br />It is a long shot, but I tried! :)
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