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Modern Greek: Would it help?

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Modern Greek: Would it help?

Postby Arvid » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:52 pm

There's a question I've always wondered about, and now that we have some Modern Greek speakers posting to the forum, perhaps they could shed some light on it for me.

There are of course many resources available to learn Modern Greek; I've downloaded the 3-volume course from http://fsi-language-courses.com/ for example, tapes and all. Before really getting into it, though, I was wondering how much of a help (or hindrance) that would be in learning Ancient Greek?

If Modern Greek is to Ancient Greek as Italian is to Latin, let's say, I could see how it would be a considerable help. If I were fluent in Italian, I'm sure learning Latin would be much easier than it is for me as a monoglot English-speaker.

On the other hand, if Modern Greek is to Ancient Greek more like Modern English is to Anglo-Saxon, which I always thought was closer to the truth, then it wouldn't be any help at all (other than building up your brain's language muscles that much more.)

Of course, Modern Greek would be of interest in and of itself, but if anyone could throw any light on how much help it would be in the long, slow process of getting somewhere with Ancient Greek, I would appreciate it!
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Postby modus.irrealis » Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:36 pm

I would say that it won't make learning Ancient Greek any easier -- my thinking is that the easiest way to learn a language is to learn it directly and that no other language is going to provide a shortcut. I mean, if you did learn Modern Greek first, then of course whatever it shares with Ancient Greek you won't have to relearn, but you would have had to learn those aspects anyway and plus you still have to learn everything which differs between Ancient and Modern Greek and that is not insignificant.

But as for how similar they are, I'd say Modern Greek is more similar to Ancient Greek than Italian is to Latin, and much more similar than Modern English is to Old English. This is true even superficially in that Modern Greek words look like Ancient Greek words since the spelling is very conservative, but there's other things like the preservation of case and the declensions are still reasonably close. Modern Greek also draws more on Ancient Greek, which is not really felt of as being a separate language, even to the point that Ancient Greek declension pattern have been put back into use, and that also increases the number of similarities.

I mean, obviously, learning both Ancient Greek and Modern Greek should take less time and effort than learning Ancient Greek and some other language, but learning just Ancient Greek should take less time and effort than learning both -- but if you are interested in learning both, it might be better to get a good start in one of them before starting the next one because they are similar enough to cause confusion.
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Postby Bert » Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:04 am

I can see one major advantage; We can learn MG by immersion or at least with the aid of a MG speaker. That would help "thinking in Greek" and that can only be beneficial when it comes to learning AG.
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Postby edonnelly » Tue Jul 17, 2007 3:33 am

Another potential advantage, though this is getting way off topic, is that if you ever do get to go to Greece I hear that the Greeks are among the most appreciative in the world when they hear you are trying to learn their language, even if your skills are the most basic (as opposed to say, the French, who have a reputation for being indignant if your French is not all but perfect). I'm not sure why this is, maybe most visitors to Greece make no effort to learn the language. Anyway, I would love to get to Greece someday, and it's always been my goal to study some modern Greek before I do (though I suspect this is all many years away, and I've got a lot of ancient Greek to conquer before I can even think of beginning with modern).
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library
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Postby spiphany » Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:10 am

IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Postby Aristoklhs » Tue Jul 17, 2007 6:42 pm

I think at first they will seem as two completely different languages. Modern greek as in those scripts of FSI (I have downloaded them as well because of the polytonic system) are based on an oral language and ancient on a written.

Although I have never lived in an anglophonic country I use the textkit books plus some german books. That is because I find the greek system of teaching ancient greek terrible. I now use North and Hillard where only english sentences are being translated into ancient Greek and I cannot see any advantage at all. The words I would choose to express the meaning are different than those used in the key.
So I learn ancient greek as a totally different language using english and german books because otherwise I shall never learn it.
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Re: Modern Greek: Would it help?

Postby perispomenon » Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:13 pm

Arvid wrote:Of course, Modern Greek would be of interest in and of itself, but if anyone could throw any light on how much help it would be in the long, slow process of getting somewhere with Ancient Greek, I would appreciate it!


I just recently decided to try to learn modern Greek (after an earlier attempt some years ago), but I do not have the idea that it will be very helpful in learning ancient Greek.

When reading ancient Greek, I at least can recognize the construction of the sentence. Up to now, modern Greek has been totally alien to me. The construction of sentences seems to be quite different, and ancient vocabulary is only of limited help.
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Re: Modern Greek: Would it help?

Postby Arvid » Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:31 pm

perispomenon wrote:The construction of sentences seems to be quite different, and ancient vocabulary is only of limited help.


That was the point of my example of Italian vs. Latin. A lot of the words would be recognizable (although less so than in Greek, because spelling has been allowed to change with pronunciation to a much greater extent in Italian) but structurally, the languages are completely different. In Italian, word order and separate words used as grammatical particles carry most of the load, as opposes to the inflections of Latin. It's my understanding that much the same is true of Modern Greek as opposed to Ancient Greek.

Still, it seems as if things might be easier if more of the words looked familiar (however they're pronounced nowadays) so you could concentrate on the grammatical mechanism.

I've always wanted to visit Greece too, and I'm glad to hear they're appreciative of any efforts you make in the direction of using their language. (Although the first time I pronounced "yee-ros" as "gü-raws" that would probably evaporate!
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Postby IreneY » Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:20 pm

Well, I've mentioned my opinion before (if you know it it helps, if you don't go straight to ancient Greek) but I must admit myself surprised by some things I've read.

Aristoklh a different language? I was never taught of AG this way and using modern Greek to explain ancient Greek has always been one of my favourite tools that I miss when explaining things to non-Greek speakers. And I can't understand that point about oral language I'm afraid.

Perispomenon, in general modern Greek sentence structure is just more simplified and analytical than ancient Greek :D Other than that it follows the same structure as ancient Greek is less freely (and the loss of the infinitive and severe restriction of use of the participle hamper us something dreadful comparatively speaking but, again, it only means that we go for more analytical structure).

As for the ancient words well, the trick is to forget the third declension and think of the AG accusative as the nominative more or less in these cases :D

True, it's not as if our vocabulary hasn't changed along grammar but in general Greek is rather "conservative" really.

Pronunciation? God help you there :lol:

Anyway, from friends of mine who have gone either way (from one form of the language to the other) I've heard that it helped. It's too much of a bother if you are not interested in one of the two forms and if we're talking about Homeric and not classical or Koine Greek then things start looking a bit tricky but it is true that we don't expect any visitor to know modern Greek so we tend to react very enthusiastically when one does :D :wink:
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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:59 am

I'd say learn one and then the other. I think going in chronological order makes the most sense, Ancient to Modern. I tried learning both simultaneously — I performed well, but I would have been much happier knowing Ancient Greek before taking on Modern, which would fall into place easier thereafter.
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Postby perispomenon » Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:23 pm

IreneY wrote:Perispomenon, in general modern Greek sentence structure is just more simplified and analytical than ancient Greek :D Other than that it follows the same structure as ancient Greek is less freely (and the loss of the infinitive and severe restriction of use of the participle hamper us something dreadful comparatively speaking but, again, it only means that we go for more analytical structure).

As for the ancient words well, the trick is to forget the third declension and think of the AG accusative as the nominative more or less in these cases :D

True, it's not as if our vocabulary hasn't changed along grammar but in general Greek is rather "conservative" really.


Well, I'm going for it! Hope to be able to utter a few sentences in modern Greek on my next holiday... Who scared me, was my first teacher of modern Greek, who said: "I admire you all for wanting to learn modern Greek. You are very brave and also very naive, because you will n-e-v-e-r learn the language. Greek is too difficult."

He was fired shortly afterwards; I have to mention that :D
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Postby IreneY » Thu Jul 19, 2007 5:31 pm

!! Greek in any form is not one of the easiest languages around. However, with the exception of learning how each letter is pronounced, modern Greek is much simpler than ancient Greek really. And what about all these people I know who learnt to speak modern Greek then?
Glad you decided to fire him. Weird teacher by the way if you think about it.

Anyway, if you ever need any help just holler. I promise to be more careful with both my Greek and, more importantly my English, if I try to explain something. I'm still wincing from thinking the number of mistakes I managed to shoehorn in a few lines in my previous post.
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Postby perispomenon » Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:25 pm

IreneY wrote:Glad you decided to fire him. Weird teacher by the way if you think about it.

<snip>

Anyway, if you ever need any help just holler.


I will surely do that, actually have a question for you right now. But I just have to check some more, before I ask.

By the way, it wasn't a private teacher, so it was not me who fired him, but the institution where I took the course.
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Postby megas_yiannakis » Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:42 am

for me anyway it the idea that greek is greek. modern greek is just another form of the alive and ever evolving greek language... homeric, attic, koine, katharevousa, modern....

yes the language is alot simpler... but the same can be said with the difference between attic and koine... when i speak modern greek i like to add in achaisms and touches of old greek which just compliment the language... the main thing also for me is that im thinking in greek... yes sentance structure has changed and grammar etc but the guts of what greek is has remained...

btw i dont know how i would have even began learning AG if i didnt know modern... learning even 'basic' modern greek decreases the 'memory' work load greatly on learning and thinking in 'declensions' etc.

The differences between modern and AG also depend on what type of AG... my γιάγιά amazes me by being able to read the entire bible in koine when she stopped school in grd 4... and shes not just bluffing her way through she really knows what shes reading... obviously doing a 'speed course for travel' in MG isnt going to help overly much... but when you get into the guts of the language (which isfar easier to get into that in AG) one would be surprised how much it helps...

...then again maybe i just support it because im greek :P lol

//Iwannhs

(ps my name is a perfect example of a similarity... even tho i usually go by yianni, yiannara or yiannare) lol
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Postby mingshey » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:50 am

Hi, although I had once said to the contrary, I'm seriously considering a visit to Greece in a few years, with my family, if I can afford it. And I started learning MG again recently. I use the Learn Greek Online site in kypros.org for my study. (This site seems to have maintenance shut-downs from time to time.) A purchased a few textbooks from Star Graphics in Cyprus and the personnel there showed a great delight about a foreigner trying to learn their language and he was very enthusiastic to help me getting the resources.
The greatest hindrance to learning AG is I cannot learn it as a living, spoken language. MG, to the contrary, I can learn as a spoken language; I can listen and repeat. This method is incomparably more effective than any other method in learning a language. And since the two Greek tongues share quite a large body of vocab, learning one can help lerning the other. Presently my having learnt a bit of AG helps me absorbing MG vocabs and sentences. But I believe soon it will get the other way.
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Postby Aristoklhs » Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:33 pm

mingshey wrote:The greatest hindrance to learning AG is I cannot learn it as a living, spoken language.


That is the greatest problem, because most of the methods only try to teach translation.

http://www.akwn.net/

The site above prooves that ancient greek can be learned as a living language, but no one seems to bother.
perispomenon wrote:Well, I'm going for it! Hope to be able to utter a few sentences in modern Greek on my next holiday... Who scared me, was my first teacher of modern Greek, who said: "I admire you all for wanting to learn modern Greek. You are very brave and also very naive, because you will n-e-v-e-r learn the language. Greek is too difficult."


Well, there is a sort of criticism about the level of modern greek by a part of the greek population and sentences like "Greek is so difficult that not even the Greeks themselves can speak it properly" are sarcastic. I don't think greek is more difficult than german for instance.
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Postby CanadianGirl » Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:46 pm

Spiphany-That is a terrific story! I had a couple of adventures like that too-not that good, I certainly couldn't quote one of the dramatists. Perispomenon-That is also a great story-pretty reassuring that the person was fired, isn't it. I would advise people to study classical Greek seriously (with a teacher) & get yourself some good conversational Greek tapes to practice with in your spare time (driving etc.) That's what I did & i picked up enough of the language to communicate (slowly) with non-English speakers. You might keep in mind that the most beautiful & fascinating parts of the country are inland, away from the tourist centers where "everybody" speaks Greek. It's definitely worth the effort.
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Re: Modern Greek: Would it help?

Postby elakbar » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:58 pm

Arvid wrote:There's a question I've always wondered about, and now that we have some Modern Greek speakers posting to the forum, perhaps they could shed some light on it for me.

There are of course many resources available to learn Modern Greek; I've downloaded the 3-volume course from http://fsi-language-courses.com/ for example, tapes and all. Before really getting into it, though, I was wondering how much of a help (or hindrance) that would be in learning Ancient Greek?

If Modern Greek is to Ancient Greek as Italian is to Latin, let's say, I could see how it would be a considerable help. If I were fluent in Italian, I'm sure learning Latin would be much easier than it is for me as a monoglot English-speaker.

On the other hand, if Modern Greek is to Ancient Greek more like Modern English is to Anglo-Saxon, which I always thought was closer to the truth, then it wouldn't be any help at all (other than building up your brain's language muscles that much more.)

Of course, Modern Greek would be of interest in and of itself, but if anyone could throw any light on how much help it would be in the long, slow process of getting somewhere with Ancient Greek, I would appreciate it!


hi, it will not help you to learn ancient greek if you learn modern greek.
I suggest if you do not know anything about greek ,it is better to start from Modern Greek( the basic, simple phrases etc) so you can get used to greek alphabet. Study alone one or two months and then learn ancient Greek. I know from my swedish woman that try to learn modern greek and its to difficult for het to learn the alphabet and the diphogs.
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Postby πετÏ￾ης » Sun Mar 16, 2008 3:56 pm

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Re: Modern Greek: Would it help?

Postby Symmachus » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:08 am

To put a bit of a twist on the topic, I would like to hear some thoughts on whether Modern Greek might be helpful for someone learning Ancient Greek once that person has a bit of grounding in the language (i.e. has a good grasp of the grammar and has already read some texts - I'm talking about myself, of course). Since, given the right resources, Modern Greek could be far easier to practice in a casual setting than the ancient language, could it have any use as a tool for learning vocabulary?

The notion occurred to me because Duolingo is due to release the beta version of its Greek course this month. Though I tend to be skeptical of the Rosetta Stone-style approach to language, I do find it to be effective when used for languages whose grammar one already basically understands - so, for example, I think it would be more helpful and useful for an Italian to use Duolingo for French than, say, Polish or Welsh, for which she would need a number of additional resources. And a German-speaker could well use it to learn a Scandinavian language whose grammar is similar to but in most respects simpler than that of his own language. Hence my idea and my question, though the parallel is not at all exact - if one already knows Ancient Greek grammar, would Modern Greek be close enough structurally to allow one to dive right in, and if so, would one then be able to apply a good chunk of Modern Greek vocabulary, thus learned in a casual/active setting, to reading Ancient Greek? Or is it just too different?
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Re: Modern Greek: Would it help?

Postby Symmachus » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:15 pm

Now that Duolingo has released its Modern Greek course in beta, I can answer my own question.

So far I am actually finding it fairly useful for vocabulary; I am trying to stay a bit detached from the grammar and am mostly focusing on the individual words and their roots (while looking out for the occasional Italian/Turkish/French loanword). For certain branches of the vocabulary tree, the ancient roots are immediately recognizable and often unchanged; in some cases, the ancient word is hiding behind a spelling that reflects phonetic changes incl. syncopation (e.g. γιατρός = ἰατρός, στο = εἰς τό, φέτος = [I presume] αὐτ'ἔτος).

The more interactive sort of practice that Duolingo promotes is a good counterbalance to the passive way in which classical languages are (usually) taught, where, following a few introductory courses, from a certain point onward students are mainly asked to translate one-way. In my case, this led to me being able to recognize a lot of vocabulary strictly in the context of the work where I first encountered it, and often not elsewhere.

To read fluently in Ancient Greek, meanwhile, you need the sort of lexical flexibility that allows you to immediately recognize alternate forms and spellings of a given word in various contexts. The fact that Duolingo makes you use what are essentially the same ancient roots over and over in new contexts is, I think (with all due caution), reason enough for it to work as a casual, fun-format learning tool for Ancient Greek. Just make sure that you understand the ancient grammar on its own terms first.

Duolingo has not made Greek available on its mobile app yet - the course is still in very early beta - but the browser version is up and running on the website.
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Re: Modern Greek: Would it help?

Postby marcofurio » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:53 pm

There was a very interesting previous discussion in this forum about Modern Greek some time ago (1) and I’d like to add 3 links where reasons are shown why someone interested in ancient Greece might like to learn Modern Greek. In the first one (2) an excellent list of Greek learning resources (both Ancient and Modern Greek) is shown, with reasons for learning the modern language, an interesting point about "reverse chronological reading" together with the author’s proposal to someone starting from scratch to learn it even before the ancient version!!. The second link (3) is to a very clear and nice essay on the importance of Modern Greek and the reasons for not yet “having a seat at the classicists’ table”. The last link (4) is to a fine group of interviews where top professors are shown talking (in modern Greek) about a single language… Greek!. I have also included the first sentence of three literary pieces together with their Modern Greek version just as a place for reflection on differences and similarities between both.

Apollodorus’ bibliotheca (c 150 BC) (5):
Ancient Greek: Οὐρανὸς πρῶτος τοῦ παντὸς ἐδυνάστευσε κόσμου.
Modern Greek: Ο πρώτος άρχοντας του σύμπαντος ήταν ο Ουρανός.

Arrian’s anabasis of Alexander (c 120 AD) (6):
Ancient Greek: Πτολεμαῖος ὁ Λάγου καὶ Ἀριστόβουλος ὁ Ἀριστοβούλου ὅσα μὲν ταὐτὰ ἄμφω περὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τοῦ Φιλίππου συνέγραψαν, ταῦτα ἐγώ ὡς πάντῃ ἀληθῇ ἀναγράφω, ὅσα δὲ οὐ ταὐτά, τούτων τὰ πιστότερα ἐμοὶ φαινόμενα καὶ ἅμα ἀξιαφηγητότερα ἐπιλεξάμενος.
Modern Greek: Ο Πτολεμαίος, ο γιος του Λάγου, και ο Αριστόβουλος του Αριστοβούλου, όσα έγραψαν ίδια οι δυο τους για τον Αλέξανδρο, το γιο του Φιλίππου, αυτά εγώ τα γράφω ως εντελώς αληθινά, όσα όμως δε συνφωνούν μεταξύ τους, απ’αυτά (κατάγρφω), αφού επέλεξα, όσα μου φαίνονται περισσότερο αξιόπιστα και ταυτόχρονα περισσότερο άξια εξιστόρησης.

Plato’s Crito (c 360 BC) (7):
Ancient Greek: Τί τηνικάδε ἀφίξαι, ὦ Κρίτων; ἢ οὐ πρῲ ἔτι ἐστίν;
Modern Greek: Γιατί ήρθες τέτοια ώρα, Κρίτωνα; Ή δεν είναι πια πρωί;

(1) viewtopic.php?f=2&t=63697
(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AelM2zyv5Us
(3) https://eidolon.pub/on-not-knowing-mode ... 302071bf9f
(4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBNjNpeoP0Q
(5) http://www.politeianet.gr/books/9789608 ... mos-140316
(6) http://www.politeianet.gr/books/9789607 ... hiki-56257
(7) http://www.politeianet.gr/books/9789608 ... ton-194295
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