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using two languages to learn A.G.

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using two languages to learn A.G.

Postby gigas phoberos » Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:53 pm

Does anyone incorporate multiple languages in learning Ancient Greek? I speak both English and Spanish and use them
both(i.e, translating the Greek into both languages) on the theory that I'll learn Greek more thourghly .
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Re: using two languages to learn A.G.

Postby Twpsyn » Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:10 am

Time spent translating the target language into an extra native language is time not spent looking at the target language. And since as a language learner your primary directive is to spend as much time as possible looking at, reading, understanding, and in general being surrounded by your target language, translating things twice over is a waste. Some would even say, perhaps wisely, that cluttering your mind with any other language, when you should be concentrating on your target language, is a waste in itself.
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Re: using two languages to learn A.G.

Postby Markos » Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:14 am

Christophe Rico's new book Polis is in French and Greek. I can still read French from my high school days, and while reading Polis once or twice I "cheated" by reading the French translations. This somehow strikes me as still better than going into English. If I wanted to improve my French, I would do more of this. Another place where this happens of course is reading the LXX. Oxford did a triglot edition of the Psalms not long ago, and it seems to me this is the best way to read the LXX, since often the Greek text only makes sense in relation to the Hebrew. I think what you are doing is fine, especially if you want to keep your Spanish (or English) up. I once tried to teach myself Spanish by using a Spanish-Greek New Testament Interlinear. It didn't work, but it was fun.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: using two languages to learn A.G.

Postby Damoetas » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:26 pm

Yes, I think I am with Twpsyn on this.... The main way that you get better at Greek is by reading lots of Greek; and so, translation, whether into English or any other language, should be kept within limits and not be your primary study activity. Markos mentioned "cheating" by looking at a French translation; I don't agree that this counts as "cheating" or that it's harmful; if you've made an attempt to understand the sentence in Greek first, it's perfectly fine to check it against a translation. (In fact you should do this, if you're not certain about it. What do you gain by remaining in confusion?) But the key is that you should then go back to the Greek sentence and read it again several times with the correct meaning in mind.

I can see some value in studying Greek and a Spanish translation together if it helps you to get more insights on what the Greek is really saying. No translation in any language can convey all the nuances of the original, so there will probably be times when Spanish can say something more naturally, and closer to the original, than English can (and vice versa). It would also be helpful if you are planning to teach Greek in a Spanish-speaking environment someday. Likewise, if you are going into Classics, or Patristics, it would be helpful to study Latin translations of Greek texts, so you can learn the equivalences of words and constructions, and ask yourself why the translators made the choices they did. It can be useful to do these things in small doses, from time to time. But as a general principle, you will learn each language best if you focus on studying it separately.
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Re: using two languages to learn A.G.

Postby gigas phoberos » Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:21 pm

Thanks for responding. My primary study activity is translating. But it sounds like I should cut down on that and go for more reading. I will take your
advice. Do you read aloud?
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Re: using two languages to learn A.G.

Postby Markos » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:06 am

gigas phoberos wrote:Thanks for responding. My primary study activity is translating. But it sounds like I should cut down on that and go for more reading. I will take your
advice. Do you read aloud?


Reading aloud a passage you are working on is very traditonal advice that is often given. But Randall Buth, who is a real expert on this stuff, defies the conventional wisdom and says that reading a passage aloud actually uses up unnecessary mental energy and does not help to internalize a language. You are much better off listening to someone ELSE read the passage outloud, which is becoming more and more of an option with all the freek Greek audio available now on line. Then you can truly focus on understanding, which you cannot really do at the same time you read aloud. Also speaking original Greek that you have composed is immensely useful. Many people will disagree, and I still occasionally will read a tough passage outloud to give me time to collect my thoughts or just to hear how it sounds, but I doubt it helps much. Your time is better spent rereading the passage after you have worked it out, or just reading more.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: using two languages to learn A.G.

Postby Damoetas » Thu Jul 02, 2009 4:44 am

Markos wrote:Reading aloud a passage you are working on is very traditonal advice that is often given. But Randall Buth, who is a real expert on this stuff, defies the conventional wisdom and says that reading a passage aloud actually uses up unnecessary mental energy and does not help to internalize a language.


Yes, good point. I'm sure that Dr. Buth is right -- I have also read some of his stuff and found it to be very good -- but I do sometimes read aloud just for the heck of it. Especially when I've already worked through a whole paragraph, looked up all the words I didn't know and figured out how it all fits together -- then, I will sometimes read it all aloud, with expression, pausing where there are syntactic breaks, etc. I think there is probably some value in that.
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Re: using two languages to learn A.G.

Postby jk0592 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:50 pm

I am french speaking, but I use Athenaze. Reading does not pose a problem, I try not to translate-read. The difficulty is the grammatical terms...perfect and pluperfect for example. And it seems that some verbs take direct object in ancient greek and in english, but not so in french. Gymnastics for the mind, it is sure to keep me intellectually alert for many years to come.
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