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listening to greek to connect sight and sound

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listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby bjk » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:45 am

I've been trying to learn Greek for some time and not having much success. I haven't had much trouble learning German and French, and I've wondered what the difference is . . . Greek is a syntactically complicated language, but much of the problem is just relearning the same vocabulary over and over. None of it seemed to stick. I got to thinking maybe it was because I don't have any idea how Greek sounds, so I wasn't able to connect the sound of the words with the meaning. Some German words stick in my mind because of the connection between the sound and the meaning, like schwitzen or feucht.

That's why I've tried to listen to some spoken Greek, and I've found the Stanley Lombardo Iliad very helpful, although it's in the hateful Realaudio, so I can't save it to my mp3 player. It really is wonderful to hear the sounds of the words, and it's gotten me much more excited about learning Homer. Maybe I could do a test with my next few hundred lines, see if I learn passages faster with and without the audio.

My question is, anybody else find that listening to Greek (or even speaking it) has sped up their learning? Are their any studies that speaking and hearing benefits learning over just reading for comprehension?
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby jk0592 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:49 am

Hearing Greek being read did not help me per se. But certainly hearing the Iliad read by Stanley Lombardo did a lot to stimulate my studies when I started. I had pleasure in following the text as it was read.
By the way,It was not difficult to transform the audio format to something that my ipod can play.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby modus.irrealis » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:28 am

I think hearing is useful. I used to do this thing where I'd record exercise sentences from my textbook and then play them back later -- I found it helpful because it forced me to understand words in the order they come in, so I can't look back and ahead and mentally rearrange the sentence into something that's easier to understand. I also got exposed to spoken, or rather, chanted Greek since I grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church -- some of it was really helpful, e.g. bible readings are done in English and Greek, so if you pay attention, it's hard not to pick up vocabulary. Also the prayers and hymns I had to memorize were helpful in making certain things sound right, e.g. if you've heard γάρ all your life being used only in second position, it then sounds wrong if you try to use it at the beginning of a sentence. But in the end, I think for me it's just easier to remember things if I hear them rather than just see them, whether it's a matter of vocab or a grammatical construction. And poetry by its very nature is catchy so it should stick.

bjk wrote:Are their any studies that speaking and hearing benefits learning over just reading for comprehension?

I don't know about studies but this seems to be an extremely widespread position among second language teachers. And we are hardwired to learn spoken language, not written language.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby anglicus » Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:41 am

modus.irrealis wrote:I don't know about studies but this seems to be an extremely widespread position among second language teachers. And we are hardwired to learn spoken language, not written language.


While I think there's no question that speaking and hearing will enhance your language learning over just reading alone, I have to wonder about the idea that speaking must necessarily be primal. Would learning a language just by hearing and speaking be easier than learning it just by reading and writing? Some would immediately say yes, but I think these people are imagining going to a foreign land and being immersed in the spoken language versus continuing to use your native language in speech and merely reading and writing the new language a little each day. I think if you assume the same level of immersion, then one approach wouldn't necessarily be superior to the other, but both would of course leave you with weaknesses in different areas. I personally would feel very handicapped by never being able to see a written expression of the language, and I think I would probably learn more slowly that way. Words on a page are much more concrete to me than sounds.

It seems logical to assume that the act of speaking and hearing should be the most natural and therefore easiest way to learn, since we have been speaking as a species much longer than we have been reading and writing, but I tend towards the view that we are rather just predisposed to symbolic thinking in general, which just happens to normally express itself in speech, but doesn't have to. After all, people deaf from birth learn sign language quite as readily, which though isn't exactly a "written" language, has more in common with writing than speech, since its words must be visually recognized and manually created, just as in reading and writing.

I learned a great deal of German primarily through reading and writing before I spend any considerable time speaking it, and I had a very curious experience when I started to finally listen to a lot of spoken German after only reading it for so long. I found that as I listened I involuntarily visualized each word I was hearing. I would see whole sentences scroll across my visual field, and I couldn't stop it without breaking my concentration so much that I didn't understand what I was hearing anymore. It was like I was so used to treating German just as a visual language that when I tried to use it as a spoken language, my brain was forced to restructure what I was hearing into written form for me to properly understand it. Eventually my aural comprehension improved and this phenomenon started to fade away. But I think it's very interesting that it happened at all, and I think it shows that the brain really doesn't always give preference to speech, but can treat written or visual language as a "primary" mode if the language is introduced that way.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby modus.irrealis » Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:14 am

I see what you mean, and actually, I think it's more than plausible that it's a matter of a more general symbolic thinking than speech alone, but the science on this is not something I'm knowledgeable about. And in fact, Greek for me is a written language, so I can only hope for my own sake that approaching it primarily through writing will not cause any problems, but the little exposure I've had to interacting with it through speech has been beneficial to me.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby anglicus » Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:26 am

I'm not at all that familiar with the science either, but was just speculating based on my own experiences. But as I said, I do agree that, whatever the underlying basis of our language abilities, using it in both written and spoken form will enhance our learning, and we should try to do that as much as possible.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby bjk » Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:14 pm

After I listen to some Greek (primarily the Lombardo) I can still hear fragments in my head bouncing around, like the way he pronounces kathaude . . . I think just listening passively to a foreign language makes a big difference. Greek is obviously a dead language, although I remember reading that David Grene recommended that his grad students go to Greece and learn modern Greek. Well why not listen and maybe even learn to speak a little ancient Greek? Maybe then students wouldn't plod along and read a handful of lines at a time, even after a year of Greek. I like this idea, going to buy some of the tapes of ancient Greek on Amazon . . .

Here are some web links to recited Greek . . .

http://wiredforbooks.org/iliad/
http://www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/agp/
http://humanities.uchicago.edu/depts/cl ... /Crito.mov
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~classics/po ... homer.html

OK just found this helpful list . . .

http://new.textkit.com/node/86
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby spiphany » Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:24 pm

bjk wrote:OK just found this helpful list . . .

http://new.textkit.com/node/86

Hi. Glad you found this useful. The focus is primarily on recordings using the reconstructed pronunciation, which means that the recordings tend to be somewhat short and fragmentary, unfortunately. Lombardo's interpretation is more...äh...dramatic than accurate, I'm afraid, but it does at least help make the connection between the words on the page and the ear.

There's an updated version of my list with some additional information on the linguistic/theoretical aspects of recitation at my blog. I included a couple of websites which have now disappeared. If you're interested in the recordings, drop me a line and I may be able to help you out.
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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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby theodoros » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:46 am

I am Greek and I know ancient greek but listening to Stanley Lombardo only a few words I understood. He uses Erasmian pronunciation that no one in Greece understands. The Greeks pronounce ancient Greek according to the evolution of language from the ancient to the modern. You can visit http://www.internetpolyglot.com/playSlideShow.html to listen some greek words. You can also hear ancient greek spoken in any greek church all over the world. If you want I would be willing to e-mail you a few simple rules for pronunciation.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby Bert » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:59 am

χάριν ἔχω. I listened to a few words. I was surprised at the pronunciation of the θ in η αλήθεια. It sounded like it was made with the throat instead of with the tongue and teeth.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby modus.irrealis » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:34 pm

One frustrating thing about the Modern Greek pronunciation (when used for Ancient Greek) is that you don't distinguish the forms of ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς. It seems to me that in the vast majority of cases, either word makes sense in context, so unless you already know what's being said (or can see it written), you can never be sure what's being said.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby Swth\r » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:30 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:One frustrating thing about the Modern Greek pronunciation (when used for Ancient Greek) is that you don't distinguish the forms of ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς. It seems to me that in the vast majority of cases, either word makes sense in context, so unless you already know what's being said (or can see it written), you can never be sure what's being said.


Acoustic attributes differ so much between modern and ancient greek... It would be great if it was only that... Prosody can not be understood even by students of major semesters in the university... Placing the correct accent is often a matter of guesing or memorising...
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby theodoros » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:12 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:One frustrating thing about the Modern Greek pronunciation (when used for Ancient Greek) is that you don't distinguish the forms of ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς. It seems to me that in the vast majority of cases, either word makes sense in context, so unless you already know what's being said (or can see it written), you can never be sure what's being said.



Would be preferable for an Anglophone to pronounce the letter k in the word knight to distinguish it by the word night? And what would be the preferred reading in the Greek alphabet: νάιτ or κνίγγχτ?
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby bedwere » Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:09 pm

Are there groups in Greece where people speak the ancient language with the modern pronunciation?
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby Bert » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:34 am

theodoros wrote:
modus.irrealis wrote:One frustrating thing about the Modern Greek pronunciation (when used for Ancient Greek) is that you don't distinguish the forms of ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς. It seems to me that in the vast majority of cases, either word makes sense in context, so unless you already know what's being said (or can see it written), you can never be sure what's being said.



Would be preferable for an Anglophone to pronounce the letter k in the word knight to distinguish it by the word night? And what would be the preferred reading in the Greek alphabet: νάιτ or κνίγγχτ?

Touch́e
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:47 am

Except how common are contexts where night and knight would both make sense? The frustrating thing for me is that the context is often not enough to decide between ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς without doubt. Sure there are obvious cases like Ὑπὲρ ... τῆς σωτηρίας τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν τοῦ Κυρίου δεηθῶμεν, but there are cases like 2 John 1-3, which in the text of the Orthodox Church is

Ὁ πρεσβύτερος ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς, οὓς ἐγὼ ἀγαπῶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, καὶ οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάντες οἱ ἐγνωκότες τὴν ἀλήθειαν, διὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν μένουσαν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ μεθ' ἡμῶν ἔσται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα· ἔσται μεθ' ὑμῶν χάρις, ἔλεος, εἰρήνη παρὰ Θεοῦ πατρός καὶ παρὰ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ πατρός, ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἀγάπῃ.

but in my UBS Greek New Testament that last ὑμῶν is ἡμῶν, and it doesn't even mention a variant reading. I'm not sure how you could decide which reading is right, especially in real time as you hear it. It might just be me, but my experience has been that it can be difficult to know which word is meant.

And besides, the Greek language itself agrees with me. It did after all form new plural personal pronouns ;).
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby Bert » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:44 am

In answer to the question: How old are you? someone answers: thirty; he then receives the reply, I'm thirty two. He won't know if the other guy is 32 or 30 too. I think almost every frustrating thing we encounter learning Greek, a Greek would encounter learning English as well.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:39 pm

I see what you mean, but it's not really the language here that's frustrating -- it's just there's a frustrating side effect of the modern pronunciation. The two words were distinguished when the New Testament for example was written. But still, what's frustrating is how common this confusion is. Does any language fail to distinguish the 1st and 2nd person pronouns? That just seems like the kind of ambiguity that a language couldn't sustain.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby Bert » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:02 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:I see what you mean, but it's not really the language here that's frustrating -- it's just there's a frustrating side effect of the modern pronunciation. The two words were distinguished when the New Testament for example was written. But still, what's frustrating is how common this confusion is. Does any language fail to distinguish the 1st and 2nd person pronouns? That just seems like the kind of ambiguity that a language couldn't sustain.

Try the pronunciation of Living Koine at http://www.biblicalulpan.org/
It attempts to use the koine pronunciation the way it would have been. it is close to Modern Greek but it does distinguish eta from upsilon. I try to use this but I do pronounce the rough breathings; something Living Koine doesn't. ( I don't do it because I think that the rough breathing was still pronounced at the time the New Testament was written but I am used to it and it gives a distinction between some words. A valid distinction even though it may have been out of date during the NT times.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:32 pm

But how do I get the people at church to use it too? :D

I normally use the Classical pronunciation (or rather, my attempt at it) except for things I'm likely to hear with the modern pronunciation.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby IreneY » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:50 pm

You don't :) Sure, I can see your point in the case of the personal pronoun but convincing people to use a different pronunciation system from their native one for just two words? (The possible MG-pronunciation homonyms' meaning for all other cases can be determined by context). Nah!

Note just to be a true curmudgeon: It has nothing to do with pronunciation but the fact that "you" can refer to one or many is quite frustrating you know :D (Not to mention the not-so-rare "Do I have to turn left? - Right" :lol:
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby Bert » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:36 pm

Or: Go ahead, back up.
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby modus.irrealis » Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:22 pm

IreneY wrote:You don't :) Sure, I can see your point in the case of the personal pronoun but convincing people to use a different pronunciation system from their native one for just two words? (The possible MG-pronunciation homonyms' meaning for all other cases can be determined by context). Nah!

That's true -- I can't think of anything else that's confusing solely due to the pronunciation.

Note just to be a true curmudgeon: It has nothing to do with pronunciation but the fact that "you" can refer to one or many is quite frustrating you know :D

Wait a second -- I'd be very surprised if you have trouble with εσείς being used to address a single person ;). But actually I do think this is a kind of ambiguity that is difficult for languages to sustain, except perhaps in more formal registers. In my own English, when I speak casually, "you" is always singular and for the plural I have "you guys."
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby NuclearWarhead » Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:21 pm

theodoros wrote:
modus.irrealis wrote:One frustrating thing about the Modern Greek pronunciation (when used for Ancient Greek) is that you don't distinguish the forms of ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς. It seems to me that in the vast majority of cases, either word makes sense in context, so unless you already know what's being said (or can see it written), you can never be sure what's being said.



Would be preferable for an Anglophone to pronounce the letter k in the word knight to distinguish it by the word night? And what would be the preferred reading in the Greek alphabet: νάιτ or κνίγγχτ?


Not that it has anything to do with this, but probably around 1400-1600 in English phonological history word initial /kn/ was reduced to /n/ thus creating the homophones they are now. (And during the same period the Great Vowel Shift took place whereby the original Middle English /i:/ was diphtongized).

Sorry if you already knew that. And sorry for the excursion. :)
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Re: listening to greek to connect sight and sound

Postby Swth\r » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:37 pm

bedwere wrote:Are there groups in Greece where people speak the ancient language with the modern pronunciation?


You can have a quite good idea if you visit on a sunday morning an orthodox churche and hear something read out of a gospell.
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