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Greek makes Latin easy

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Greek makes Latin easy

Postby scrambledeggs » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:29 am

Ok, I am starting to freak out a little over this. I'm on Mastronarde 17, I've done a unit a week, there are 42 total. Greek seems quite an order of magnitude harder, to the point where latin is feeling simple and easy, and a model of logic.

I am being thrown off by the morph. changes, of -εω verbs having their own little paradigm. It blows my mind that Mastronarde's own course he teaches blows through 3 units a WEEK! I am asking for this pain because I am trying to learn Latin and Attic at the same time (though with six month lead on Latin first). I can't imagine why my book is only an "INtroduction" to ATtic, and worse, the "Intensive Course" book I've seen on amazon, goes for 700 pages.

Is Attic Greek really so hard or is it just that I am learning it right now?

Can anyone tell me what is easier about Greek compared to Latin? That would help me.

I also seem to forget the definitions I learn. I keep forgetting the precise meanings that can be included with prepositions, such as προς depending on the +DAT, +GEN, or +ACC, no matter how many times I do flashcards. I now have difficulty understanding verb conjugations with the imperfect that is added in U16 of Mastronarde, and that is just one tense beyond perfect. How can I ever read this stuff? I am able to translate the examples Mastronarde has at the end of the units, but I have to parse it and look up word after word, as one of the difficult things about these ancient languages seems to be that you have to remember a lot for each word, (not just meaning but gender, middle/passive meaning, whether it is deponent) and if you mess up one word being read, it throws off your whole understanding because of the inflection system.

And if Greek makes Latin look easy, Latin makes Spanish look easy. Spanish is like Child's play compared to these weighty idioms.

I feel like i'm 'falling behind' even though I've kept to my schedule. Maybe I made a mistake and should have concentrated on Latin for another full year before trying Greek. My long term aim is to simply work on the languages, about 6 days a week, reading a certain amount by habit, and overtime be able to read proficiently, but I'm starting to doubt this will ever happen. I think latin has prepared me fairly well Grammatically for Greek, but the problem is remebering all the Greek forms and vocabulary, if I had a perfect memory I could breeze through it, but I just can't remember this much.

Maybe one of the problems is that I use flashcardexchange (Leitner system), which doesn't have an option, as Anki does, for cards to be recalled sooner than others. (I can't install Anki at work, and that is when I do flashcards sometimes, on break of course). Flashcards don't seem to be helping me much, I forget many of them by the time they come back up for review.
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Re: Greek makes Latin easy

Postby thesaurus » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:44 am

I am hardly good at Greek, but coming from Latin I understand your pain. While the difference is not night and day, Greek is clearly tougher than Latin; however, I can assure you that it will eventually become easier. I've used Mastronarde and a handful of other approaches. You're right in the thick of it, when it seems like no end is in sight, and that there is no way to learn more while retaining what you've been learning thus far. The good and bad news is that (after you get out of the textbooks) the language doesn't quiz you on one point at a time. This is good because you will drill all of the core grammatical and lexical concepts every time you read any Greek text. The bad news is that this will feel terrible at first, as you are discovering. It seems like there is no way to remember the grammar, let alone the meaning of the words. However, after a while of reading Greek text (rather than grammar), the many points that you've been cramming will begin to coalesce. Soon you will not struggle to remember things like declensions and essential verb patterns because you will have seen them so many times. The fact that you recognize the gender and number of one noun will help you remember the conjugation of the verb, and so on. Vocabulary will be easier to remember from context.

It won't happen overnight, and it won't be easy, but if you stick to your studies you will get to a point where you can read authentic Greek texts on your own. From there, it's a matter of slowly increasing fluency and confidence. What's critical is that you finish your intro course and begin to read Greek texts rather than grammar, regardless of how tough the reading feels. In my experience, you will lose all your progress if you don't have the momentum to get into the texts. This is because you will never get experience experience the language itself, as a whole, and then you will inevitably forget all the random and seemingly unassociated pieces of grammar that you have struggled to retain. By the time you finish Mastronarde you'll feel like hell and be very unsure about your knowledge, but so long as you retain the essentials you can make progress.

Not having the benefit of a class, and being busy with actual classes, it took me a few goes to get through my textbook to the point where I could read some texts. There have been a few major hiatuses in my studies since then, but it's much easier to pick up where I left off.

You might consider jumping into a simple or graduated Greek reader after finishing Mastronarde. This will allow you to get practice reading without smashing your head against some "wild Greek."
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Greek makes Latin easy

Postby Scribo » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:36 pm

I'm not quite sure I agree, I was speaking with a classmate of mine who has studied both languages now for a period of five years and mentioned that she's been told time and time again that the language you take second comes easier to you, so perhaps it's just a case of that due to your 6 month head start in Latin.

As for myself, I'm a Classics student and as such have to deal with texts in both languages quite often. I don't really think my knowledge of grammar and syntax is all that great, though I find I can read reasonably well. I find that atm I'm more acquainted with Greek morphology than the Latin but that is always liable to change.
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Re: Greek makes Latin easy

Postby thesaurus » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:49 pm

Yes, the second language is definitely easier to learn. Scrambledegges, I think something like a year's lead with your Latin would have given you some more breathing space and comfort. However, you'll just have a steeper uphill climb at the beginning.

Scribo wrote:I'm not quite sure I agree


You disagree that Greek is toughest when you're part way through memorizing the grammar, prior to solidifying skills via reading?
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Greek makes Latin easy

Postby Scribo » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:57 pm

thesaurus wrote:Yes, the second language is definitely easier to learn. Scrambledegges, I think something like a year's lead with your Latin would have given you some more breathing space and comfort. However, you'll just have a steeper uphill climb at the beginning.

Scribo wrote:I'm not quite sure I agree


You disagree that Greek is toughest when you're part way through memorizing the grammar, prior to solidifying skills via reading?


Erm I'm pretty much at the same place in both languages, i.e I can read and do so but still require to work on grammar and syntax, like most students. I don't feel there is a significant gap between the two language. Unlike those with a lot more experience, such as yourself, I think a student like myself is in a good place to judge since we're still learning rather than mastering.

Anyway difficulty is subjective, a native Greek speaker finds picking up Attic or Koine rather easy but has little advantage in Latin. Things like Sanskrit and Old Irish are considerably insanely difficult yet I'm sure there are those able to pick them up at a steady pace.
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Re: Greek makes Latin easy

Postby thesaurus » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:39 pm

I think we're on the same page here. It's necessary to learn grammar and syntax for a long time, even after we've begun reading. And I would consider myself a student, seeing that I'm definitely very far from mastering either language (especially Greek!)
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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