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Which type of Greek?

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Which type of Greek?

Postby ahngang942 » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:08 pm

Hello my name is Patrick
I am a new Textkit user, and excited about learning Latin and Greek.
However, right now, I'm kinda confused which type of Greek I should learn.
I want to read the Oddyssey and Iliad in original text.
I've done some research, but still I'm doubtful.
Here I have numerous Greek experts
so please help me!!!
Which Greek am I supposed to learn to read Homer's epic poems???
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby Sinister Petrus » Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:24 pm

I'd say you should learn epic Greek if that's what you want to read.
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby ahngang942 » Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:43 am

Oh really? Is there any difference between ancient greek and epic greek?
Are they harder to learn than Modern Greek?
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:02 pm

There is not one single Ancient Greek but different dialects from different times and places. The ones that are commonly studied are Homeric Greek, Attic Greek and Koine Greek.

Epic Greek is more or less the same as Homeric Greek. If you want to read Homer, this is obviously what you should learn ;). It's the oldest dialect of the three.

If someone says just "Ancient Greek", usually that means Attic Greek. It was spoken in Ancient Athens and it was the language of Socrates, Plato, Aristoteles, Aristophanes etc.

Koine Greek is about the same as New Testament Greek. It was spoken in large area around the Mediterranean after the conquests of Alexander the Great, a bit like English is now spoken widely around the world.

The ancient dialects are not very different from each other, so if you know one it's easy to learn another. Modern Greek is quite different, like Latin compared to Modern Italian.
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby Scribo » Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:39 pm

Well solid synopsis there Paul. However the analogy of Latin to Italian and Greek....well to Greek is not quite true since the Greek is much, much, closer to....well...Greek. Especially when we consider the language of the NT....
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby pster » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:50 pm

ahngang, just read Homeric Greek. Case closed. You are very lucky that you want to start with Homer. You can learn nice poetry from the get go. Get some good recordings of Homer and just start memorizing the sound. Easiest way of getting into the language and it is what you want anyway. Memorize as much Homer OUT LOUD as you can. Much much much much much much much much more efficient than anything else. Stupid me I wanted to learn Attic. I ENVY YOU. :(
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby Scribo » Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:50 am

Yes, well I agree, but where to find these recordings?
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby pster » Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:10 pm

ahngang, there are a number of recordings available for Homer. Most are just sections, but there are I believe some complete sets. If you do a search, you will find past discussions of audio recordings. Beware though, Scribo has some very high standards. So perhaps the best is just to pay Scribo to record Homer. Despite her jet setting around Greece, I'm sure she would make the time. What's your price for a complete recording of Illiad Scrib? Hades, maybe I'll chip in. :mrgreen:
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:33 pm

Hmm... I'm sorry to disagree, but I wouldn't recommend a beginner to spend too much time listening to audio recordings of Homer, though this would be the right approach for living languages. The whole issue of reconstructed pronunciation is just too controversial. Keep it simple.

Just learn Homeric Greek. There is an excellent book called "Homeric Greek - a Book for Beginners" by Clyde Pharr, also available online here on Textkit http://www.textkit.com/learn/ID/165/author_id/81/.
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby pster » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:51 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Hmm... I'm sorry to disagree, but I wouldn't recommend a beginner to spend too much time listening to audio recordings of Homer, though this would be the right approach for living languages. The whole issue of reconstructed pronunciation is just too controversial. Keep it simple.

Just learn Homeric Greek. There is an excellent book called "Homeric Greek - a Book for Beginners" by Clyde Pharr, also available online here on Textkit http://www.textkit.com/learn/ID/165/author_id/81/.


Nah, the fact that there is a dispute is irrelevant. The details of the pronunciation don't matter as long as it is consistent. And I didn't say just listen to recordings. One has to practise reciting out loud. Pharr's book is great to have. But for efficiency nothing comes close to speaking out loud. Poetry, Homer arguably more than any other, is meant to be experienced this way. Go look at how Heinrich Schliemann was able to achieve fluency in so many languages. And, if you look at how people in 2011 are learning a dozen languages, most of them are doing it by memorizing and speaking large chunks of texts. Homer is ideally suited for this. I have recently started memorizing Demosthenes using audio recordings as a guide and it has helped more than anything. To take just one tiny example, I know where to accent any word from Demosthenes without having to think about it. Plus, it is much much much more fun than studying. People have a hard time admitting that the laborious way they have been doing things was an unnecessary waste of time, but one finds greater inefficiencies in language learning than in any other area of study. I'm not saying don't buy a dictionary or a grammar. What I am saying is that a typical hour singing Homer will get you farther than a typical hour doing anything else. And it is more fun. And the fact that it is more efficient is tightly connected with its being more fun.
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby Koehnsen » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:43 am

ahngang942 wrote:I'm kinda confused which type of Greek I should learn


I read the following article when I set out to learn and it answered all of my questions. (I ultimately, after a few false starts, settled on Attic.) If you're a fan of Homer then learn Homeric! There are lots of resources for Homeric Greek.

Here's the link:
http://www.aoidoi.org/articles/dialects.html
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:27 am

Pster, I don't think I really disagree with you in principle. Immersion is the right way to learn a language, textbooks and grammars are there only to get you started and for occasional consultation. You learn to read a language by reading it and you learn to speak a language by talking and listening.

But I insist it is possible to read Greek pretty fluently without being able to speak it correctly. Of course, accents don't make any sense then, and learning to put those accents correctly is more difficult. And I'm not contesting that Homer is poetry and was intended to be read aloud. Actually I'd give my left hand to be able to pronounce Greek with a consistent reconstructed pitch accent. I'm disagreeing with you for practical reasons: good recordings are hard to come by, beside the fact that different recordings use different pronounciations.

I find the whole issue of reconstructed pronounciation fascinating, and I'd be grateful to know if there is a comprehensive list of internet and other resources somewhere.
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby spiphany » Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:39 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:I find the whole issue of reconstructed pronounciation fascinating, and I'd be grateful to know if there is a comprehensive list of internet and other resources somewhere.

Yes there is :D
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: Which type of Greek?

Postby Scribo » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:26 am

pster wrote:ahngang, there are a number of recordings available for Homer. Most are just sections, but there are I believe some complete sets. If you do a search, you will find past discussions of audio recordings. Beware though, Scribo has some very high standards. So perhaps the best is just to pay Scribo to record Homer. Despite her jet setting around Greece, I'm sure she would make the time. What's your price for a complete recording of Illiad Scrib? Hades, maybe I'll chip in. :mrgreen:


Damn, lost my entire post...infernal netbook! To the crows with it by god!

I don't think my standards are too high, just that we have a lot of really insane recordings passing around. Personally for Homer I like the embedded recordings in one of the aoidoi.org articles, they need to do a whole book or two like that. Oh I'm male by the way.

There's no real debate about the reconstructed pronunciation: the evidence is best summarised in Allen's "Vox Graece" and Horrock's mammoth book. Although both of these seem to miss some of the near Eastern evidence, but ah well.

I think that if I ever tried to record it I'd deserve 10-15 years lol, I come across with a largely modern pronunciation, though I keep my vowels pretty strict and I'm told that this is slowly changing. In general no matter what pronunciation one chooses it is always best to keep the historical one in mind I think.

Sorry if this comes across as terse, typing on this thing is annoying and my lost post was much longer and nicer. :(
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Re: Which type of Greek?

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:12 am

We're straying far from the original subject, but anyway...

By saying that reconstructed pronounciation is controversial, I didn't mean that there's controversy about the scientific basis of pitch accent or the quality and quantity of vowels, except for detail. The differences in detail will add to the confusion of the beginner, but that's not the main point.

By controversy I mean that attempting reconstructed pronounciation in public will cause immediate derision, especially I you're a beginner, because people want to pronounce Greek the way they always have. Bringing the subject up on web forum will initiate a flame war. Someone will tell you that pitch accents are ridiculous, and anyway Classical Greek is pronounced like Modern Greek... ;)

Reconstructed pronounciation is also largely ignored by textbooks. By controversy, I didn't mean that there is (much of) a scientific controversy, but rather that there is, for a beginner, a overwhelming amount of conflicting information.
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