Textkit Logo

Methods for learning Greek

Here's where you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Methods for learning Greek

Postby pster » Sun Jan 30, 2011 4:56 am

Moderator's note: This thread is split from "What if all I want is Aristotle?"

Hey cb, can you rank Attic authors from hardest to easiest for us? Assuming that one has the requisite conceptual historical background, how would you rank the following?

Plato (early)
Plato (middle/late)
Aristotle (Ethics/Politics)
Aristotle (Metaphysics)
Demosthenes
Aeschylus
Sophocles
Euripides
Thucydides
Aristophanes
Any other Attic or later pagan authors you care to include.

Thanks.
Last edited by IreneY on Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added mod note
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby cb » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:43 pm

hi, yes i can rank the attic authors you mention by difficulty, however before that i think it would be useful to outline what i think makes reading these authors difficult, and how to overcome the difficulties. this has become a long post so i'll break it up into sections.

(A) ten points you need to have covered in order to be able to read a text without difficulty.

firstly, in order to read a text comfortably without help, i think you would need to have covered all of the following ground before you open the first page of the text:

1. you would need to know all the grammar/morphology used in the text, not just the most frequently used forms
2. you would need to be able to determine without looking up a dictionary/looking at a footnote etc. the meaning of every single word as you read it(not just the most frequent lexical items)
3. you would need to have an understanding of all the "antiquities" behind each word (a term i personally use to designate all the background knowledge you need to understand a word beyond its dictionary definition)
4. you would need to understand all the syntactical constructions used in the text
5. you would need to have an understanding of the typical word order (i.e. at the intra-clause level) and how it is/is not reflected in each sentence
6. you would need to be comfortable with all the different types of sentence structure used (i.e. at the inter-clause level)
7. you would need to know at a minimum all the rules of accentuation that give a clue to the meaning of a word/its function in the sentence
plus you would need to be comfortable with what i call the three "p"s:
8. particles
9. prepositions
10. pronouns (not their morphology, but what they are referring to in each case – this is not advance knowledge but the skill of consciously concentrating when you get to each pronoun to determine what it is referring to)

there might be other points that others would add (e.g. being able to use the critical apparatus). but for attic prose, i think that if you are missing any of the above ten points, even if you are strong in all the others, then you are going to hit a point (or several) in reading where you stall: i.e. where you don't get what the author is saying or where the sentence is going, and then you keep reading further in the sentence desperately looking for help and you get more lost because you can’t discern the meaning/syntactical use etc. of the previous words or the new words you’re reading, and then you conclude that you're not up to the level to read the text and you stop reading.

i put together the list of ten points above over time, by reading texts and hitting the point of stalling that i described above, and then asking myself on reflection why i stalled there.

(B) why you stall, even if you work hard at your learning materials and with your commentaries.

no classics textbooks or learning materials that i've ever seen cover all the ten points above. if I’m right that you need to know the ten points above to read a text without difficulty (and this for me in practice is the case), then no attic textbooks or learning materials properly train you to read attic texts without difficulty:

- almost every textbook i've seen covers point (1) in detail, and gives dribs and drabs of the other nine (but never comprehensively).
- almost every commentary that i've seen covers dribs and drabs of points (2) to (10) (but never comprehensively), and no commentary ever seems to cover the key points that i need covered (because the commentator tends, in my opinion, to address the particular areas that they themselves, or their students in their experience, struggle with, whereas each of us studying classics has a unique package of partial mastery of the ten points above, and we may be strong in the areas that the commentators or their students struggle with, but weak in the areas that the commentator or their students find easy, and so the commentary is largely useless to us, although useful to the students of the commentators perhaps.)

so if you follow the time-honoured path of first finishing a textbook, and then reading a text with a commentary and a dictionary:
- before you read the text, you will only have covered point (1) plus whatever from points (2) to (10) was mentioned in the textbook, and
- as you are reading the text, your reading will continually be interrupted by checking whatever from points (2) to (10) the commentator thought fit to comment and looking up every word you don’t know,
i.e. at no point (and, especially, not before starting to read the text) will you have covered the points that you need to read the text without difficulty.

this is not particularly shocking, that learning materials do not cover what you need to read texts without difficulty; it means however that you need to identify your own personal weaknesses in each of the ten points listed above, and find ways to get stronger in each of those areas (rather than just saying that you are "intermediate" and reading books for intermediate students etc.).

(C) how to improve.

it isn't possible (as far as i'm aware) to completely master all the ten points, and so any attempt to do so would mean that you’ll never get round to reading attic texts, the reason you study the learning materials in the first place. so you need to think about what practically you can do to best improve each of the ten areas in the time you have.

firstly you need to diagnose the areas in which you are weakest. the quickest way to identify your weaknesses is to read a text, see where you stall, and identify concretely each time you stall which of the ten points best reflects the reason you stalled there. do this with all the main attic authors and see if a pattern of particular weaknesses arises for you.

then, you need to:
- gain a base-level of competence in each of the ten areas, plus
- focus further (using larger specialised resources) on the particular areas where you found you are weakest.

you need to separate out the classics resources you use to constitute your "base level" knowledge (these should be short enough so that you actually read all of them) from the specialised ones that you should use for your focus areas (which i get the feeling are very rarely read all the way through). having a large 500-page masterpiece resource on your bookshelf that you'll probably never read all the way through is less useful for reading without difficulty than having read all the way through (in advance of reading your text) a less complete 50- to 100-page coverage of the same area.

(D) base-level resources

To constitute my own "base level" knowledge in the term areas I personally used (i.e. read, re-read, summarised, diagrammed: anything which gets it into your head) the following:

1. grammar/morphology:
(a) for verb grammar/morphology, although my favourite text is duhoux's le verbe grec ancien (2000), i would not recommend this for a base level knowledge of verbs (it is the kind of book which is very hard to read cover-to-cover, particularly if you are not a classicist and don’t have all day to dedicate to the classics): instead i would recommend the much shorter tiarks (1883), only 64 pages of content, available online: http://www.archive.org/stream/conjugati ... 8/mode/1up
(b) for the grammar/morphology other types of words, any textbook which groups the rules for nouns, together in one place, pronouns etc. all together in another place will be fine for a base level.
2. meaning of all words: you need to take two approaches here, firstly building up your base knowledge of grk vocab generally, and second studying in advance of beginning to read your text all the vocab used therein (a technique i swear by, but haven't seen recommended previously which is really strange to me because it works so well):
(a) firstly, to build up your base knowledge of grk vocab generally:
(i) study a list of attic words arranged by frequency (there are several of these available, and also can be generated through perseus, but you then need to look up the dictionary entries for the words one by one and read those entries in full),
(ii) study a list of attic words arranged thematically (e.g. the words for hand, foot, head etc. put together in one list): in french there is e.g. the lexique nouveau de la langue grecque (2006)
(iii) study the principles of word formation, so that you can identify new words built from words you know: start from smyth's grammar, part iii (formation of words), only about 30 pages of content: http://www.archive.org/stream/agreekgra ... 5/mode/1up
(b) secondly, you need to know all the words in advance, not just the most frequently occurring – whether a word occurs many times in a text or just once, if you don't know it when you get to it (and can't work out what it means), you're going to stall. therefore you need to study the vocabulary in advance – this is so evident to me that i am surprised that it is not widely recommended. many editions of texts already have word lists in the back; these can also be generated online for many texts. the aim here is to have all the words in your long-term memory, not your short-term memory. i tried the latter, i.e. reading through a word list, spotting the entries that i didn't know and looking them up, and then starting straight away to read the text – of course i forgot the words i had only just recently learnt. when instead i spent a while working through the word lists, looking up words i didn't know, using any memory technique that got the words into my head properly, testing myself, then putting away the list for a day or two (and working on something else), then coming back and testing myself again on the word list, etc. until i knew the words very well, then i found it much easier to read entire long texts without difficulty.
3. the "antiquities" (i.e. the background knowledge you need to understand a word beyond its dictionary definition): my personal choice for attic antiquities, dense enough to be really useful but not long enough to prevent you from finishing it (and which i am currently re-reading cover to cover), is JACT (1984), the world of athens: an introduction to classical athenian culture
4. syntax: the best coverage of attic syntax for my base level, which i have re-read many times, is the introductory notes (103 pages of content) in sidgwick's introduction to greek prose composition, available online: http://www.archive.org/stream/introduct ... 0/mode/1up
5. typical word order (i.e. at the intra-clause level): although topic-focus people may say that the analysis in this book looks at the wrong thing (sentence syntax rather than discourse), my personal choice for a base-level in grk word order is dover (1960), greek word order
6. different types of sentence structure (i.e. at the inter-clause level): start with the easily readable online article by hansen (1999) here: http://web.gc.cuny.edu/classics/gk701/rhetfig.htm
7. rules of accentuation: work through all the exercises in probert (2003), a new short guide to the accentuation of ancient greek
8. particles: the reflex to say "denniston" here, i think, is not right for a base level knowledge of particles: i really doubt that many people read this cover to cover. instead i recommend that, for a base level in grk particles, you read all the way through (only 74 pages of content): paley (1881), a short treatise on the greek particles and their combinations according to attic usage, available online: http://www.archive.org/stream/shorttrea ... 6/mode/1up
9. prepositions: although some of the texts that have appeared in the last decade and which i am currently working through (because prepositions are one of my weaknesses) – i.e. luraghi (2003) and bertone (2010) – provide a more detailed treatment, i would not recommend these for base level knowledge of prepositions (i really doubt that many people will read these all the way through) – instead i would recommend the much more readable (although written in 1800s-style english) adams (1882), the greek prepositions, studied from their original meanings as designations of space, available online: http://www.archive.org/stream/greekprep ... 9/mode/1up
10. pronouns (what they are referring to in each case): this doesn't require pre-reading but instead practice, e.g. working through a text and diligently noting every single time what each pronoun is referring to (i.e. write above the pronoun the grk noun that the pronoun represents) – if you don’t do this and get lazy when reading and assume (without concentrating) that a pronoun stands for something (whereas with a little bit of concentration you can see that, given its gender etc. it must represent something else), you can easily lose your way in the middle of a sentence.

i personally think that someone wanting to read attic prose without difficulty needs to have constituted a base level of knowledge covering the matters i describe above (or any other equivalents), but not e.g. reading a much bigger text for particles and assuming that you don’t really need to work on prepositions, etc.

for poetry, i think you need to constitute a separate specific base knowledge for each of the types of poetry that you read, e.g. for iambic poetry:
- for the syntax base level resource, i would replace sidgwick with moorhouse (1982), the syntax of sophocles
- for word order i would replace dover (1960) with something like my annotations to iambic composition exercises here (where i took statistics from helma dik on word placement in iambic poetry and turned it into a composition technique): http://mhninaeide.webs.com/grkiambiccomp-23-apr-06.pdf
- for the meaning of words i would include in the base knowledge pre-reading rouse (1899), demonstrations in greek iambic verse, available online: http://www.archive.org/stream/demonstra ... 1/mode/1up
etc.

(E) ranking difficulty of authors.

it follows from what i’ve said above that the difficulty of any author for me will not be the same as for others: it will depend on whether the particular author’s style is heavy or light on the points where i’m weakest.

e.g. i am relatively weak on vocab for everyday objects, and so i find many parts of aristophanes harder to read than many historical passages of thucydides (although typically thucydides is seen as one of the hardest attic prose authors). if, on the other hand, someone is weak in the “antiquities” of philosophers such as plato (by “antiquities” again i mean it in the sense which i personally give it, being everything you need to understand a word beyond the dictionary definition, i.e. here all the philosophical conceptual background), they may find passages of plato much harder than more syntactically complicated passages of the orators.

therefore any ranking of the authors by difficulty, and more generally any set of notes/commentary on an author, is interesting to me primarily as an almost autobiographical confession of that person’s particular weaknesses - which is one reason why reading ancient scholia is really interesting.

I would rank (from hardest to easiest):
- aeschylus’s lyric (you need to distinguish in drama the chorus from the rest of the play – the chorus is much tricker) followed by
- the lyric of sophocles and euripides, then
- aristophanes and demosthenes (for different reasons: aristophanes because of the vocab and antiquities of common life, demosthenes because of the syntax), then
- thucydides (although some passages of thucydides are very tricky), then
- the iambic parts of aeschylus, then
- the iambic parts of sophocles, then
- the iambic parts of euripides, then
- aristotle then finally
- plato.

as I noted above these lists are almost autobiograpical, e.g. i studied philosophy and law at uni but I’ve never studied formally the classics or classical literature, and so am more comfortable with the “antiquities” of philosophical and rhetorical texts than e.g. tragic choral verse steeped in ancient myth.

(F) This technique I describe above shouldn’t be used all the time: you should mix up reading fluently with reading slowly and taking notes

one last note: the above only relates to improving your skill in reading a text without difficulty. this is definitely not the only way I read a text, e.g. i do lots of work with the dictionaries and large specialist works or author-specific works, working word-by-word through a text and making notes (in grk), without e.g. having learnt all the vocab in advance. I think it’s good to read in both ways from time to time, but they require different skills without doubt, and so when i hear classicists say that after X years of carefully working through texts word-by-word with commentaries and dictionary in hand, and have never been able to read texts comfortably without any assistance, and they despair, then i’d suggest that they start analysing if there are any major weaknesses in their “base” (which is entirely possible even after years of study according to the time-honoured method, because as I mentioned above I don’t think that classics learning materials train you to acquire a reading ability without difficulty, but rather to translate into your native language – something i never ever do), and that such persons wishing to learn to read without difficulty should think about trying the approach that i’ve outlined above, which i have not seen explained anywhere else so far and it has worked OK for me.

i’d be interested in hearing from others what techniques have worked for them outside the traditional “textbook + commentary + dictionary, translate” approach.

cheers, chad :)
cb
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:52 pm

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby helios » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:08 pm

Wow, Chad...this is great. I am going to paste this into a Word doc and compare it against what I have been doing with Greek and my methods. Thanks for this.

I'll post again later with specifics.
Keep it rill.
User avatar
helios
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:25 pm
Location: I was born by the river in a little tent / and just like the river, I've been running ever since

Re:What if all I want is Aristotle? (how to read)

Postby Markos » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:49 pm

Chad wrote

and second studying in advance of beginning to read your text all the vocab used therein (a technique i swear by, but haven't seen recommended previously which is really strange to me because it works so well):


You are right, Chad. The opposite approach is usually pushed, namely to learn Greek words BY reading a text. But I don't see how your method could not work just as well. I think I will try it.

Thanks for all the other great ideas in your post. Forums like this are at their best when you can learn how others learn.
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.
Markos
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:07 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby pster » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:27 pm

Great stuff Chad. Thanks SO much.

"i hear classicists say that after X years of carefully working through texts word-by-word with commentaries and dictionary in hand, and have never been able to read texts comfortably without any assistance, and they despair"

These words should make most of us tremble in fear at JUST HOW HIGH THE STAKES ARE here. I am pretty damed smart. I have done a lot of really really hard things that most people couldn't imagine. We'll just leave it at that. But in my decades spent in the life of the mind, almost nothing has made me question myself as much as studying Attic. Over the last two and a half years, I've put at least 2000 hours into Attic and I have been strugggggggglllling with Plato. Just about any typical sentence from the Apology throws up a half a dozen puzzles. At least once a week, a single sentence will bog me down for at least an hour. The truth may even be worse than I'm letting on. When I see these workshop style intensive summer classes, in the back of my mind I somehow believe somewhere some false advertising must be in play. Nobody could really learn enough Attic in 6 weeks to read Plato, could they?? (I almost blew a gasket an hour ago when I read that Chad ranked Plato easiest! For crying out loud, the next thing I'm going to learn is that the Apology is the easiest Plato, even easier than Xenophon!)

The CRITICAL point Chad has made us face is how important METHOD is for Attic. It is not like learning German, where if you are serious enough, eventually, even if it is only through total immersion, you WILL be able to achieve fluency. With Attic, there is no such guarantee. A long time ago when I was studying music, I had done a very large number of exercises on my own. After that, I started relatively advanced lessons with a top musician. When I showed him all the exercises I had done, he asked me if they sounded like music to me. With slumped shoulders I had to admit that they did not. He got me started with a multifaceted approach that was AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE more rewarding. To this day, I remember the things that I did with him. I have no memory whatsoever of the exercises that I had done on my own.

Chad knows a whole lot more about Attic than I do, but what he is saying about METHOD really resonates with all that I know about learning ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF all of the troubles I am having with Attic. With the WRONG METHOD or A LAZY METHOD you could WASTE A LIFETIME.

Amazingly, today I had planned to catch up with textkit threads and I was going to put my new little method up which fits perfectly into Chad's bigger method. Somewhere on textkit, someone mentioned flashcardmachine.com. Well I checked it out and it allows you to make really good flashcards online. Here is what I do as of the last 5 days:
-I take two pages of Plato (e.g., 29a-30e) and I go through them on Perseus looking for words that I don't know.
-I click on every word that I don't know and I get the word and short definition in another browser; then I click on the Middle Liddell and sometimes LSJ to get a definition that I like. Then, I continue scanning the text clicking on words I don't know through to LSJ.
-When I am done with the two pages of Plato, let's imagine that is 20 words, then I open a new browser with flashcardmachine.com.
-Now using the back button on the lexicon browser, I go through the whole list of 20 words, putting each word and its WHOLE LEXICON ENTRY on the two sides of a virtual notecard.
-Then I drill those 20 notecards for a day or two BEFORE I get to 29a-30e.
-When I get to 29a-30e, it's not all fun and games, but it is A LOT easier than it was last week.
Furthermore, I am getting A LOT more out of LSJ than ever before. Because I'm drilling the words that I'm actually encountering in my readings, I am voraciously tearing deep into the LSJ entry, WHICH I HAVE ON MY NOTECARD, to make sure that I am squaring Plato's exact sense and usage. Even after I have moved on, I can continue to review that vocabulary with or without making use of the "marking" fearture they have. (My only regret is that it seems for the foreseeable future my Attic experience is going to be largely an online one as this process I have outlined is a Perseus centric one.)

Now I am pretty sure that this adjustment has QUALITATIVELY improved my comprehension and READING EASE. What I now need to do is systematically incorporate the other 9 dimensions of CHAD'S METHOD. I am so glad to hear that even the lowly preposition deserves focus as a real potential STALL cause.

Thanks Chad. This has been truly invaluable and I think anyone who considers himself or herself to be a beginner or intermediate should take this whole issue extremely seriously. As for you more advanced folks, genius we know plays by its own rules. :)

Mods, Chad's contribution is so good, I think that it somehow should be given it's own (sticky?) thread. I'm not sure if you can do that here, but I think it is MOST DESERVING.

I have some follow up questions, but I want to wait a few days so as to keep the light on all that Chad has served up.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby helios » Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:33 pm

Mods, Chad's contribution is so good, I think that it somehow should be given it's own (sticky?) thread. I'm not sure if you can do that here, but I think it is MOST DESERVING.


Pster is right…love to see this in its own thread and stickied.

I have begun collecting the books Chad has mentioned in e-book form. I am going to combine them and send the whole thing to Staples and have it printed with a nice stiff back and cover. Then, when I am ready to read, I'll follow the process he has so carefully outlined.

My target text that I was going to study this summer is near the top of the list of difficulty. After hearing about pster's issues with Plato, I am wondering if I have picked K2 as my first mountain to climb when I should be aiming for Pike's Peak instead!
Keep it rill.
User avatar
helios
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:25 pm
Location: I was born by the river in a little tent / and just like the river, I've been running ever since

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby Scribo » Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:49 pm

I disagree fundamentally with your ordering of textual difficulty. I found Thucydides much more difficult than Aiskhylos, in fact I tend to fly through Greek (well third year Classicist, would bloody hope so) but Thucydides really annoys me.

Outside of the textbook/commentary thing you could always try my method of "just about passing first year, getting told off by department, getting mega pumped and devouring Greek textbooks and then reading anything and everything" though it's not really recommended.

To the guy above who said that Plato is really frustrating him, I forget your name, I suggest you take a step back and go over the grammar and syntax one more time before plunging into him. Plato should not be difficult, also it is important to calm down and not to panic when reading. It's only Greek after all, It's not Old High Irish or something which is genuinely annoying.

Relax! You're meant to enjoy it. Alternatively everyone should just go read Homer instead.
User avatar
Scribo
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 708
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia.

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby IreneY » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:57 pm

I would love to sticky a whole thread which contains splendid posts like chad's with alternative methods and suggestions. One size doesn't fit all and, while his method is most sensible and I'm sure will work wonders for many, I know for a fact that it doesn't work for me for example. It doesn't mean it is wrong in any way, but I am more or less like Scribo; it would be wrong therefore to sticky a single teaching path/method (not to mention the trouble from my inner teacher :D ).

shcromlet, my apologies for hijacking your thread :oops:
User avatar
IreneY
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 800
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:27 am
Location: U.S.A (not American though)

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby Scribo » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:21 pm

IreneY wrote:I would love to sticky a whole thread which contains splendid posts like chad's with alternative methods and suggestions. One size doesn't fit all and, while his method is most sensible and I'm sure will work wonders for many, I know for a fact that it doesn't work for me for example. It doesn't mean it is wrong in any way, but I am more or less like Scribo; it would be wrong therefore to sticky a single teaching path/method (not to mention the trouble from my inner teacher :D ).

shcromlet, my apologies for hijacking your thread :oops:


Haha it is the best way, truly. In fairness I should also have that I also have cause to use a lot of Modern Greek so that might have helped a little with my hectic method.
User avatar
Scribo
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 708
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia.

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby pster » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:40 pm

If this thread goes on for a while I may just switch to aphorisms. Why? Because having seen many a teacher across many a discipline over many a year, I have extremely absolutist impulses in an unhappy combination with extremely skeptical impulses. I μέν can guarantee you that there are objective differences between the good ones and the bad ones. I've seen pedagogic brilliance and it's opposite. And anyway, at the end of the day, there IS an answer to the EMPIRICAL question: what would be the QUICKEST WAY to for MOST students to learn X given circumstances C. Subjectivism δέ threatens because students ARE different and because X AND C need to be specified in a great amount of detail. Is this method for someone who has 1hr a day to spend or 10 hours a day to spend? Is it for someone who has easy access to a community or for someone who really only has access to textkit? ETC. ETC. ETC. This general observation should I think explain why Chad HAD TO include so much autobiography in presenting his method.

@ helios: This past week, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on why I have been struggling. I'll say this. After finishing the textbook, I wish I had drilled myself silly--and this is going to sound silly--on all Greek words of FOUR LETTERS OR LESS and all words in the same conjugation or declension of any four letter word. This should cover most of Chad's three p's but also the most common verb forms for "to be" and "to say" etc. I looked up the imperfect forms of "to be" too many times after starting Plato. And words like the indefinite tis, ti and the pronoun autos tripped me up way way too often. Keep in mind by this time I had already done EVERY exercise in Mastronarde which is a VERY comprehensive textbook and perhaps the most comprehensive available. I had looked at every tree in the forest, and had looked at the whole forest, but I couldn't remember any particular tree very well. But one really shouldn't be looking up the four letter words. Almost as important as that, I wish I had broken up the Apology into chunks so that I could have maybe 200 vocabulary notecards per chunk. Then before beginning a chunk, I wish I had memorized those notecards. Basically, my problem was really a vocabulary problem. I was no master of grammar, but the vast majority of my STALLS were vocabulary driven.

@ Irene: I'm curious what method works for you. You say you are more like Scribo, but you didn't get pumped after your advisor chewed you out did you? :)

@ Scribo: It is fine and good to tell me I shouldn't be struggling with Plato. But what would you tell Chad's classicist who despairs? Go back and study more grammar? :) Maybe Chad met your advisor at a cocktail party and your somewhat tipsy advisor confessed that to Chad! :) You see, the stakes are high. I would like to relax more, but I would like it if the next 2000 hours are more efficient than the last 2000 hours. :(

@ Everybody: Here's the thing. While I love Chad's approach as much as anybody, it is a very stolid German 19th century kind of approach. It may not be practical for someone who only has an hour a day to spend on Greek. (For the record, for the next couple of years I have 2-4 hours a day.) And it may be less than effective for someone who has access to a top flight academic department community. But let's bracket those considerations for a moment. Is Chad's method really the best? Even Scribo concedes in the end that it is the best. But is it? Note that it still seems to be implicit in Chad's method that one will start with a textbook. But is textbook+Chad the best? Is it really better than going to do modern Greek immersion for a summer, then starting Attic? I sure wish I had some verbal ability. Seems idiotic to study a language for 2000 hours and not be able to say "Hello" or "How are you?" Scribo isn't sure to what extent speaking Modern Greek has contributed to her flying through Greek. Is Chad's method really better than starting out by memorizing and declaiming aloud your five favorite books from the Iliad and the Odyssey? Frankly, leaving the Homeric vs. Attic matter aside, if I had it to do all over again, I would be very very strongly tempted to just start with singing Homer and leave the textbook till later. Having lines of Homer bouncing around in your head day in and day out may be the most powerful of all methods and the best foundation. When you get to a verb in a textbook, what could be better than already having sentences from Homer that use that verb??!! After all, I'm not the first to say "everyone should just go read Homer instead".

And what of accents? I doubt they are making Chad's classicist despair. Plato didn't use them. We don't know how to speak Attic. Yet, we torture ourselves with accents. Couldn't they be left until year five? Doesn't the beginner and the intermediate and maybe even the despairing faculty member have something MORE IMPORTANT to do than worry about accents?!?! "Byzantine" was not a compliment last time I looked!!

Sorry to be such a gadfly. Must be too much Socrates!!

Speaking of Modern Greek, I'm going to Greece this summer for three weeks and I was wondering if anybody has any ideas about how I should prepare for that in order to have a good time with the locals and also to improve my Attic.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby pster » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:12 pm

@ helios et. al.: I forgot to say this. I also think that I have not done enough translating from English into Greek. In 2000 hours I have only translated some 200 sentences into Greek. How big of a mistake do you guys think that has been?
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby IreneY » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:04 pm

@ Irene: I'm curious what method works for you. You say you are more like Scribo, but you didn't get pumped after your advisor chewed you out did you? :)


Depends on how you define "advisor". See, the main reason I'm not explaining my method is that I'm Greek. I was therefore lucky enough to have as my native language the direct descendant of ancient Greek and although (no matter what some Greek nuts are saying) it's not the same language it's pretty damn close in many, many levels. And now comes the "advisor" part: Mom's a teacher of ancient Greek (among other things). Guess who acted as my tutor and advisor and slave master throughout high-school and university :mrgreen: Did she have to chew me up? Yep. Big time. And at one time in particular, when it mattered most, she did help me get my act together and stop all nonsense and get off my behind and really study.

Anyway, I have only taught Ancient Greek to Greeks. While I do have plenty of ideas about how one should go about teaching and/or learning Ancient Greek, I have no empirical data to back my ideas. Just theory and my experience from helping foreigners learn modern Greek and from teaching in general. If you are interested in those I'll be more than happy to explain.
User avatar
IreneY
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 800
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:27 am
Location: U.S.A (not American though)

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby Scribo » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:42 pm

Hm this thread brings up quite a few interesting problems that we, as community, don't really seem to have been able to work out over the years.

I don't know what I'd tell Chad's Classicist, probably that their doing it wrong to be honest. Like I say, it's Greek...not Old High Irish or whatever. After being right royally chewed out for falling behind I basically had a few weeks for getting upto reading standard in order to continue, I managed it.

Honestly I think we're maybe looking at it the wrong way, perhaps we should discuss methods rather than method? perhaps for most people a combination is needed? It is vital to cover the grammar and build a working vocabulary but people need to practice reading alongside that, in an ideal world there would also be composition. Unfortunately this always gets pushed far down the list of priorities, I've produced a few iambices and even a (bad) mock epic (of a few hexamtres) but I find that even starting to speak a few words of Ancient Greek as people suggests causes me to flounder and fall back onto Modern Greek...

I understand your predicament, you want to get the balance between enjoying yourself and progress...ah..I wish I could help more, I mean maybe it's worth getting a handle-able text and commentary or something and working your way through it making notes on difficult vocab/constructions and finding them out?

As for Modern Greek...don't use it to try to learn Attic. The language, as much as I love it, has changed, even where things seem the same subtle differences in meaning etc and it can really confuse things for you. At best it will help with lessening the fear you feel whenever you open a text and see lines of Greek and therefore indirectly acclimatise you to reading or something, which is good.

Χαχα Ειρηνη, εισθε Ελληνιδα? δεν το ξερα, σπουδατε λογοτεχνεια κλασσικη?
User avatar
Scribo
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 708
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia.

Re: What if all I want is Aristotle?

Postby helios » Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:02 pm

pster wrote:@ helios: This past week, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on why I have been struggling. I'll say this. After finishing the textbook, I wish I had drilled myself silly--and this is going to sound silly--on all Greek words of FOUR LETTERS OR LESS and all words in the same conjugation or declension of any four letter word...


Pster, thank you for your comments. It's funny, I am working on preposition in the early chapters of H&Q's Intensive Greek and am realizing how big these small words are. All of what you said and what Chad said are very helpful and point .

I'd also like to say that Irene's comments and Scribo's have been valuable as well. Hearing what worked and didn't only helps me in my efforts. I am coming to Greek as an English/German speaker with a good deal of French and a little Latin. But I find this Attic Greek to be harder than anything that I have encountered before. Nonetheless, I am persevering, because I can think of nothing more exciting that ~1000 years of Greek literature at my disposal. So I am eating up every word in this thread.

I am also heeding the words of poster Annis who has said in many old threads (I've been doing a lot of Textkit thread reading) that one should expose oneself to "wild Greek" (unadapted to smooth off the rough passages, I think he means) as often as possible. I've also found many of cb/Chad's old posts to be informative. (And, off topic, I've found some posts that Episcopus and/or whiteoctave are involved in to be funny belong belief.)

So---I am working on my blog where I detail my methods and books and texts as I get deeper into Greek. I won't post the link yet because I am not far enough in. But it gets me thinking---with Jeff's new thoughts about where Textkit can go, I wonder if it's possible to create some sort space here where everyone can do the same. You know, where people can detail how they managed to learn Greek of Latin? I think this would be helpful to beginners who are easily intimidated by the plethora of options and possibilities in approaching a new language.

Irene, you hint at your methods and experience and offer to explain. Could you? I'd love to hear what you have to say.
Keep it rill.
User avatar
helios
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:25 pm
Location: I was born by the river in a little tent / and just like the river, I've been running ever since

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby IreneY » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:32 pm

Mod hat on: OK everyone, I hope you agree with my decision to split this discussion. If not please PM me (send me a Private Message).

Mod hat off: Scibo, ναι Ελληνίδα είμαι. Παρακαλώ δεν χρειάζεται ο πληθυντικός. Ναι, σπούδασα φιλόλογος.

Helios, I'm in a bit of a hurry but here it goes (not a full guide though; nothing as detailed as chad's post; also note that my husband's playing Dead Space 2 and it's kind of distracting) :

First of all, a general advise. Utilize your own language. One has to be careful when making comparisons but the valid ones help. A lot. If your language happens to belong to the Indo-European group you're in luck; no matter how different the languages look, they follow the same underlying logic. If it's not I guess (since I don't know much about how other language groups work) you have to work with "equations" ("where we use a suffix they use a prepositional phrase" kind of thing)

1) Learn grammatical concepts and terms in your own language. There are very few of us who are familiar with all these apositives and agents and relative causes and whatnot that we encounter when learning Ancient Greek. Learning what's what is much easier and faster in one's native language and takes away one of the horrors of learning AG.
If you have some time (not much needed) and some way to check your work, try to do some parsing of a text in your native language too. For English speakers I would suggest staying clear of the beautiful, terse, crisp style of Hemingway and go for something like, I don't know, the beautiful, verbose style of Faulkner :D . Ancient Greek tends towards the convoluted not the straightforward of an analytical language such as English.

2) Learn some very basic things: The verb "to be" obviously, the personal and relative pronouns, some other verbs that are used all the time (and what they are accompanied with), the main (at least) conjunctions (very important: lets you know the correlation between the words and where most of the dependent clauses start; the rest start with relative pronouns). Learn the declination of these things (those that are declined obviously). Cheap memorization tricks are more than welcome :)
This step can be done in and by itself or while using a textbook. I prefer having a textbook to help me along when learning a new language because I get bored out of my mind otherwise. Note: You don't have to know everything to go ahead and start reading whichever way you go. Obviously, the more you know, the easier reading will be. But, unless you are one of those lucky people who can retain endless rows of declination tables and vocabulary lists, by the time you read list#20 you'll start forgetting list #1.

3) Things start to differentiate about here. How much time do you have in your hands? How driven are you? What method works best for you in learning anything? (Some may say that things start differentiate at #2 but the way I see it, no matter what method you use, no matter how much time you have in your hands, you do need some basic grammar). Also, and this is very important, what kind of ancient Greek are you interested in?
If you are interested in only one form of Greek start by that one. If not, start with the older (Homeric) and work your way forward. OR start from the middle; Attic Greek in particular. It works.
Remember that each "period" has its own little quirks and its own vocabulary so whichever way you go, you'll have to do some extra studying when you switch periods.

I personally prefer starting with one textbook or another and then moving to an actual work. This way you have adapted texts or actual excerpts that are tailored to your level and/or to the particular thing about ancient Greek you've just learned.
The problems with this method? a) it takes time and b)it can be really boring (a text here and there may be interesting but on the whole they are not)

Jump right into it and start reading an actual text that you are interested in. This way you are actually spending your time reading something you really want to read and, being a more "immersive" method you are speeding up your learning process; including teaching you to understand by context (very, very important in any language).
The problems with this method? It can be really, truly difficult during the first stages of learning AG (I would recommend getting past the "introductory" stages using a textbook and then wading in an actual text).
My recommendations:
a) know what the text talks about before starting.
b) See if you can find a not so good yet accurate translation. Let me explain what I mean: A good translation should focus equally in being as accurate as possible and in producing a flowing beautiful text in the target language. That last we don't want right now. Obviously, if you can have access to both kinds of translations that's the best. If not go for a clumsier translation.
c) Choose your text wisely. While there are different opinions on who's more difficult than whom, all agree for instance that Aristotle's works are quite difficult.As I see it, Arrian (Arrianus) or Xenophon would be a good starting point for those who prefer history (though Xenophon has some pretty difficult passages you may want to skip); Plato is the easiest of the two major philosophers; Lysias the most accesible of the orators.
However: It doesn't matter if anyone swears that the work of i.e. Plato is really easy. If you see it doesn't work for you try to switch writers. It may be that you need to study some more but it may very well be that this writer is not the right one for you. Something in his style of writing may be not be the right one for you.

I should close this post since I have to cook but one last note: it is good, really good, to analyze each word and consult dictionaries and grammar books. This is the only way to learn. Do not however, rely on those things only. Context is everything and you will never achieve true fluency if you look at the text, not as a whole, but as a collection of individual words and clauses.

I realize I haven't touched the matter of pronunciation and some others at all but it's high time I ended this post. Remember that these are just suggestions. This is really important: People, be they teachers and/or experts and/or friends, can only help guide you through the learning process. You do the actual learning and by now you should be old enough to think for yourself and devise your own plan.
User avatar
IreneY
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 800
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:27 am
Location: U.S.A (not American though)

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:54 pm

Greetings Everyone,

I am certainly not one to be giving advice on this subject but I don't think anyone has mentioned one of my favorite language-learning activities. That is, going to a website like http://www.wordchamp.com and creating flashcards. The hands-on, active involvement is very rewarding to me. I find myself having to focus more and more sharply onto the concepts, words, and sentences I am building into a flashcard list for later study. For instance, in studying participles, the flashcards I create for myself more often than not display a phrase with one or more participles in it. And in the flip side, or answer part of the flashcard, I show the gender, tense, etc, of the participle being focused on. I also write in the main verb from which the participle is derived. I also show meanings of some, though not all, of the other words in the phrase as well as the whole translated phrase in the answer part of the card. This gives me "context" with which to help me remember the participles and other words I am trying to remember. All this information makes for a slower perusal of the cards but a much richer one.

Anyway, I like this method for myself, in studying Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as a lot of the other ideas I've seen mentioned in this thread.

James
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby pster » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:15 am

@jamesbath. I in the last two weeks have become rather addicted to flashcardmachine.com. It is totally free and you can use other flashcards that people have chosen to make public. I have my own Greek and French flashcards, but I have been using somebody else's Italian cards. I really hate staring at the computer screen anymore than I have to, but virtual flashcards are way way way superior to physical ones for a number of reasons: easier to organize, easier to select subsets, easier to combine, never lose them, can cut and paste long definitions, etc. I bought the greek flashcards that come in the box, but while they seem really cool you really need a personal assistant just to maintain the damned things. I'll have these virtual ones for the rest of my life and I can grown them and by choosing subsets (marking) and aggregating I can ensure that I am always reviewing just the most troublesome words. If anybody wants to try it out, I have some flashcards there I could make public.

But I might not have given the site you recommend enough of a try. How many picture flashcards do they have for French for example? And are they going to want money at some point?

Actually, I'm starting to think that the best way to learn Greek is to sing Homer plus do flashcards for verbs for the first three months. Hehe. Not joking!
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:50 pm

Hello cb!

I'm trying to "translate" your very interesting scheme for reading Attic Greek without difficulty to Latin (and also to a somewhat less scholarly level). I wonder if you are willing to answer a few questions:

  • What is the difference between the "syntactical constructions" of point 4 and the "intra-clause" worder order (point 5) and the "different types of sentence structure" (point 6)
  • What exactly is the scope of "morphology" as used in point 1 of your scheme? Only conjugations and declinations, or something else as well?
  • What exactly are "particles". There seem to be different definitions. According to Wikipedia, „In grammar, a particle is a function word that does not belong to any of the inflected grammatical word classes“. But that would be true for the prepositions (point 9) as well, wouldn't it? Are these perhaps only the adverbial particles, conjunctions, and interjections?
Bye,

Carolus Raeticus
Carolus Raeticus
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:46 am

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:26 pm

pster wrote:@jamesbath. I in the last two weeks have become rather addicted to flashcardmachine.com.


pster, I recently became a member of flashcardmachine.com but did not go back because of the annoying ads on their pages. But after you mentioned them, I went back for a second look. I see now that there is much to recommend the site. Their text editor is far superior to WordChamp.com's because it can change fonts and text sizes, though I see no way to get rid of the "cutesy" lines on the simulated index cards when a Study Session is being run (those lines distract the eyes, especially when they run through the words on the card). Anyway, both websites have their particular advantages and I suppose I will be using both of them in the future.
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby calvinist » Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:56 pm

Has anyone mentioned Anki? It's a great free flashcard program and there are many pre-made flashcard sets.
http://ankisrs.net/
Speech is my hammer, bang the world into shape, now let it fall! -Mos Def
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby SeanL » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:29 pm

pster wrote:If anybody wants to try it out, I have some flashcards there I could make public.

I would be interested. I am signing up for an account there even as I type. I most definitely tend to prefer actual things to virtual simulations, and I am putting a lot of work into creating cards to use with White. But you make a good case.
Last edited by SeanL on Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
phpbb
SeanL
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2005 6:56 am
Location: Washington, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby pster » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:38 pm

@jamesbath: I don't have any problems with their ads. They give you the option of hiding the annoying ad that is on the actual flash card page. That one I agree has to go, but they give you the option to block it. On their home page they have one side ad that is fairly unobtrusive and and I don't pay it much attention. I use the Opera browser most of the time and it lets you block content with about four clicks, so if something is really bothering me, I can zap it. I'm hoping pretty soon browsers will be smart enough to let you zap some ad location on a oft used page and make the location itself blocked rather than just a specific ad. Maybe it is already possible?? Truth be told, I actually feel I need to use four different browsers for different kinds of features so I should maybe know the answer. Anyway, flashcardmachine is totally free and pretty damned good, so I don't begrudge them one ad to try and make some money for their trouble. In just two weeks I've created about 400 fairly detailed flashcards and pilfered another 2000 from the public db. My only complaint about the site--and it is a small one--is that you can't mark up cards that somebody else has created.

I just saw that you are interested in some cards. I got all 200+ Mastronarde verbs. I got 50 correlatives. I got 100 Plato cards for the Apology. I got 300 French verbs. Note that you can do HTML cards, so if you cut and paste from Perseus/LSJ you will have live links that you can click on to open up Demosthenes! No physical flashcard can rival that! And note the import features. If you have a two column tab separated list, you can import it and voila you instantly have flashcards. Tres cool. That's how I did my French verbs.

Anyway, I'm done shilling for flashcardmachine.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby pster » Sat Feb 19, 2011 10:17 am

There is a discussion of Heinrich Schliemann's method at:

http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/fo ... D=943&PN=2

Here are the key excerpts:

From his autobiography:

"I applied myself with extraordinary diligence to the study of English. Necessity taught me a method which greatly facilitates the study of the language. This method consists in reading a great deal aloud, without making a translation, taking a lesson every day, constantly writing essays upon subjects of interest, correcting these under the supervision of a teacher, learning them by heart, and repeating in the next lesson what was corrected on the previous day. My memory was bad, since from my childhood it had not been exercised upon any object; but I made use of every moment, and even stole time for study. In order to acquire a good pronounciation quickly, I went twice every Sunday to the English church, and repeated to myself in a low voice every word of the clergyman's sermon. I never went on my errands, even in the rain, without having my book in my hand and learning something by heart; and I never waited at the post-office without reading. By such methods I gradually strengthened my memory, and in three month's time found no difficulty in reciting from memory to my teacher, Mr. Taylor, in each day's lesson, word by word, twenty printed pages, after having read them over three times attentively. In this way \ I committed to memory the whole of Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield and Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. From over-excitement I slept but little, and employed my sleepless hours at night in going over in my mind what I had read on the preceding evening. The memory being always much more concentrated at night than in the day-time, I found these repetitions at night of paramount use. Thus I succeeded in acquiring a thorough knowledge of the English language.

"I then applied the same method to the study of French, the difficulties of which I overcame likewise in another six months. Of French authors I learned by heart the whole of Fenelon's Aventures de Telemaque and Bernardin de Saint Pierre's Paul et Virginie. This unremitting study had in the course of a single year strengthened my memeory to such a degree, that the study of Dutch, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese appeared very easy, and did not take me more than six weeks to write and speak each of these languages fluently....

"My wish to learn Greek had always been great, but before the Crimean war I did not venture upon its study, for I was afraid that this language would exercise too great a fascination over me and estrange me from my commercial business; and during the war I was so overwhelmed with work, that I could not even read the newspapers, far less a book. When, however, in January 1856, the first tidings of peace reached St. Petersburg, I was no longer able to restrain my desire to learn Greek, and at once set vigorously to work, taking first as my teacher Mr. Nicolaos Pappadakes and then Mr. Theokletos Vimpos, both from Athens, where the latter is now archbishop. I again faithfully followed my old method; but in order to acquire quickly the Greek vocabulary, which seemed to me far more difficult even than the Russian, I procured a modern Greek translation of Paul et Virginie, and read it through, comparing every word with its equivalent in the French original. When I had finished this task, I knew at least one-half the Greek words the book contained, and after repeating the operation I knew them all, or nearly so, without having lost a single minute by being obliged to use a dictionary. In this manner it did not take me more than six weeks to master the difficulties of modern Greek, and I next applied myself to the ancient language, of which in three months I learned sufficient to understand some of the ancient authors, and especially Homer, whom I read and re-read with the most lively enthusiasm.
I then occupied myself for two years exclusively with the literature of ancient Greece; and during this time I read almost all the classical authors cursorily, and the Iliad and Odyssey several times. Of the Greek grammar, I learned only the declensions and the verbs, and never lost my precious time in studying its rules; for as I saw that boys, after being troubled and tormented for eight years and more in schools with the tedious rules of grammar, can nevertheless none of them write a letter in ancient Greek without making hundreds of atrocious blunders, I thought the method pursued by the schoolmasters must be altogether wrong, and that a thorough knowledge of the Greek grammar could only be obtained by practice,--that is to say, by the attentive reading of the prose classics, and by committing choice pieces of them to memory. Following this very simple method, I learnt ancient Greek as I would have learnt a living language. I can write in it with the greatest fluency on any subject I am acquainted with, and can never forget it. I am perfectly acquainted with all the grammatical rules without even knowing whether or not they are contained in the grammars; and whenever a man finds errors in my Greek, I can immediately prove that I am right, by merely reciting passages from the classics where the sentences employed by me occur."

Now the kicker from one of the comments:

"A recent biography questioning his honesty about his archaeological finds does not question his language ability. His letters and diary entries prove his fluency in many languages."
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:20 pm

pster wrote:I just saw that you are interested in some cards. I got all 200+ Mastronarde verbs. I got 50 correlatives. I got 100 Plato cards for the Apology. I got 300 French verbs. Note that you can do HTML cards, so if you cut and paste from Perseus/LSJ you will have live links that you can click on to open up Demosthenes! No physical flashcard can rival that! And note the import features. If you have a two column tab separated list, you can import it and voila you instantly have flashcards. Tres cool. That's how I did my French verbs.

Anyway, I'm done shilling for flashcardmachine.


Well you shilled successfully. You sold me on flashcardmachine.com. If the offer still stands, I would like to see your flashcards. Thanks.
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:29 pm

calvinist wrote:Has anyone mentioned Anki? It's a great free flashcard program and there are many pre-made flashcard sets.
http://ankisrs.net/

Thanks for the url. I'm preparing to download and check it out now.

(By the way, for whatever few minutes I can rob out of each day for language studies, I am enjoying "The Basics of New Testament Syntax" very much and looking forward to applying much of it to a flashcard database).
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby calvinist » Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:58 am

jamesbath wrote:(By the way, for whatever few minutes I can rob out of each day for language studies, I am enjoying "The Basics of New Testament Syntax" very much and looking forward to applying much of it to a flashcard database).


I think that's a great idea! The way the text is organized lends itself to flashcards very easily. I like how Wallace breaks everything into categories.
Speech is my hammer, bang the world into shape, now let it fall! -Mos Def
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby helios » Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:09 pm

Irene, thank you for taking the time to agree to my request.

IreneY wrote:1) Learn grammatical concepts and terms in your own language. There are very few of us who are familiar with all these apositives and agents and relative causes and whatnot that we encounter when learning Ancient Greek.


Luckily I have a strong interest and university degree in my own language. I have always been fascinated by the structure of language, so I'm ok here.

IreneY wrote:2) Learn some very basic things: The verb "to be" obviously, the personal and relative pronouns, some other verbs that are used all the time...


Got it.

IreneY wrote:3) Things start to differentiate about here. How much time do you have in your hands? How driven are you? What method works best for you in learning anything? (Some may say that things start differentiate at #2 but the way I see it, no matter what method you use, no matter how much time you have in your hands, you do need some basic grammar). Also, and this is very important, what kind of ancient Greek are you interested in?


I am interested in a lot of ancient Greek, but the dramas tower over everything else for me. Good to know I have my goals set before I get deep into my studies.

IreneY wrote:Jump right into it and start reading an actual text that you are interested in. This way you are actually spending your time reading something you really want to read and, being a more "immersive" method you are speeding up your learning process; including teaching you to understand by context (very, very important in any language).


I've done this in French and it has catapulted me to the top of my French class in reading skills (even if others can speak it better and understand what they are hearing better.)

IreneY wrote:It is good, really good, to analyze each word and consult dictionaries and grammar books. This is the only way to learn. Do not however, rely on those things only. Context is everything and you will never achieve true fluency if you look at the text, not as a whole, but as a collection of individual words and clauses.


Great advice.

IreneY wrote:This is really important: People, be they teachers and/or experts and/or friends, can only help guide you through the learning process. You do the actual learning and by now you should be old enough to think for yourself and devise your own plan.


Excellent point.

Thanks again, Irene.
Keep it rill.
User avatar
helios
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:25 pm
Location: I was born by the river in a little tent / and just like the river, I've been running ever since

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby helios » Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:10 pm

pster wrote:There is a discussion of Heinrich Schliemann's method at:
http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/fo ... D=943&PN=2


Thanks, pster...that is great reading.
Keep it rill.
User avatar
helios
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:25 pm
Location: I was born by the river in a little tent / and just like the river, I've been running ever since

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby calvinist » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:04 am

helios wrote:
pster wrote:There is a discussion of Heinrich Schliemann's method at:
http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/fo ... D=943&PN=2


Thanks, pster...that is great reading.

Has anyone tried the method of "memorizing large chunks of text" in the target language? I'm tempted to try the method myself for Chinese which I've started just a couple months ago. It seems that it could be very effective, as you would be virtually stamping the basic morphology/syntax/vocabulary of the language firmly onto your mind, and all of this within a real context.
Speech is my hammer, bang the world into shape, now let it fall! -Mos Def
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:52 am

calvinist wrote:Has anyone tried the method of "memorizing large chunks of text" in the target language? I'm tempted to try the method myself for Chinese which I've started just a couple months ago. It seems that it could be very effective, as you would be virtually stamping the basic morphology/syntax/vocabulary of the language firmly onto your mind, and all of this within a real context.


By all means let us know how that turns out. In the meanwhile, since you mentioned Chinese, please tell me where, in the history of that language, you are beginning your studies. What form have you chosen? The reason I ask is that I have been wanting to begin studying some form of Chinese. I am very interested in learning how it compares with Greek and Latin, grammatically and otherwise.

I suppose the Mandarin dialect would be the way to go, since it is the most used of the Chinese dialects.

Thanks.
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby pster » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:36 pm

I am going to memorize Demosthenes's Third Philippic starting March 1st. It is 10 dense pages, about 75 relatively long sentences. I think I am going to memorize it first without looking up words I don't know. Then I will look up whatever words I haven't been able to figure out. I'm hoping that I won't want to look up any grammar when I'm done with those first two steps. Schliemann seemed to vary his approach over the years and not sure what he would say his polished method was. Anyway, I think it is going to rock!
Last edited by pster on Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby pster » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:46 pm

jamesbath wrote:If the offer still stands, I would like to see your flashcards. Thanks.


james, I made some cards available with the title "Plato's Apology" and the description "Vocabulary from 31-33", but they are not appearing. Perhaps it takes a bit of time? These are the the first cards I made and so they rather inconsistent in format which I think is probably a good thing as it will allow you to see a range of possibilities. Make sure to try and click on the blue HTML words and see how you get sent to Perseus LSJ.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:04 pm

pster wrote:james, I made some cards available with the title "Plato's Apology" and the description "Vocabulary from 31-33", but they are not appearing. Perhaps it takes a bit of time? These are the the first cards I made and so they rather inconsistent in format which I think is probably a good thing as it will allow you to see a range of possibilities. Make sure to try and click on the blue HTML words and see how you get sent to Perseus LSJ.


pster, thank you very much. I hope it wasn't too much trouble for you. I will look for them.
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:06 pm

pster wrote:I am going to memorize Demosthenes's Third Philippic starting March 1st. It is 10 dense pages, about 75 relatively long sentences. I think I am going to memorize it first without looking up words I don't know. Then I will look up whatever words I haven't been able to figure out. I'm hoping that I won't want to look up any grammar when I'm done with those first two steps. Schliemann seemed to vary his approach over the years and not sure what he would say his polished method was. Anyway, I think it is going to rock!

Whew! Good luck. I'd be very interested to see how you do with this.
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby calvinist » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:13 pm

jamesbath wrote: In the meanwhile, since you mentioned Chinese, please tell me where, in the history of that language, you are beginning your studies. What form have you chosen? The reason I ask is that I have been wanting to begin studying some form of Chinese.

Mandarin. My goal is verbal fluency and Mandarin is the 'standard' form of the spoken language, so that's where I'm focusing my efforts. I'm not really interested in reading ancient Chinese texts, although that may change over time.

jamesbath wrote: I am very interested in learning how it compares with Greek and Latin, grammatically and otherwise.

Quite different. Chinese is a very analytic language, whereas Latin and Greek are very synthetic. This means that whereas Latin and Greek encode a lot of information into verbs, nouns, etc., Chinese uses particles and other things to mark ideas like tense, aspect, mood, number. Chinese essentially has no morphology. Nouns don't even change form to mark plurality (there are a couple exceptions to this), this is marked by context or words like "many/few". The nice thing about this is that once you learn a word (noun, verb, adjective)... you know it. The word will always appear the same way. None of the difficulties of someone learning English and seeing "went" and thinking, "Oh yeah, this is from the verb 'go', right?" :D
Speech is my hammer, bang the world into shape, now let it fall! -Mos Def
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:10 pm

calvinist wrote:Quite different. Chinese is a very analytic language, whereas Latin and Greek are very synthetic. This means that whereas Latin and Greek encode a lot of information into verbs, nouns, etc., Chinese uses particles and other things to mark ideas like tense, aspect, mood, number. Chinese essentially has no morphology. Nouns don't even change form to mark plurality (there are a couple exceptions to this), this is marked by context or words like "many/few". The nice thing about this is that once you learn a word (noun, verb, adjective)... you know it. The word will always appear the same way. None of the difficulties of someone learning English and seeing "went" and thinking, "Oh yeah, this is from the verb 'go', right?" :D


Fascinating. So, what with English's considerable dependency on word order and minimal dependency on synthetics, as compared to Latin and Greek, one might say that the grammar mechanics (if you will) of English is halfway between the extremes of Greek/Latin and Chinese...?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to it. And if you have any other bright ideas about books on this subject too, similar to Daniel B. Wallace's Greek Grammar, please don't hesitate to mention them.
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby jamesbath » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:44 pm

pster wrote: ..."Plato's Apology" and the description "Vocabulary from 31-33", but they are not appearing.


pster,

I found them. The links to Perseus LSJ are quite helpful -- more so than I had anticipated. Thanks. If you make more cards and don't mind making them public, please let me know. I'd love to see them.

James
jamesbath
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:51 am
Location: Charleston, SC, USA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby calvinist » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:51 pm

jamesbath wrote:Fascinating. So, what with English's considerable dependency on word order and minimal dependency on synthetics, as compared to Latin and Greek, one might say that the grammar mechanics (if you will) of English is halfway between the extremes of Greek/Latin and Chinese...?

If we think of a synthetic/analytic spectrum:

( pure synthetic---------------------------------------pure analytic )

English would be closer to the analytic side, as you observed the dependency on word order, etc. However, English carries some remains of synthesis in forming plurals, genitives, and the past-tense. This is because English is descended from the same Indo-European language which Latin/Greek are descended from, and although it has become increasingly analytic, it has hints of its origins. Indo-European was even more synthetic than Latin/Greek, having a form for dual number (pairs), more moods for verbs, and more cases for nouns.

We see that Latin became increasingly analytic as it evolved into the modern Romance languages, which have almost entirely dropped the case system and rely more on word order to convey the grammatical functions of nominals. The Romance languages still have synthetic verbs though.

English is interesting because we have mostly analytic verb forms: infinitive--> 'to walk', future--> 'I will walk'; but we also have synthesis present in some verb forms: third-person-singular marker--> 'I walk' 'he walk-s' (only in present tense) past tense--> 'I walk-ed'. We also have forms that are partially analytic and partially synthetic: present progressive--> 'I am walk-ing' (helping verb 'am' is analytic feature, -ing morpheme on verb is synthetic feature).

There are no purely analytic or synthetic languages. As I said, it's a spectrum, but it's a very helpful categorization of how languages structure information. Latin/Greek are on the far end of synthetic languages, and Chinese is on the far end of analytic languages; so in that respect they are almost polar opposites.

Here's a quick example so you can visualize it more:
"The-kids will-go to-the-store."
This is fairly analytic, with the future tense formed by a helping verb, and the idea of motion toward
formed by a prepositional phrase. The word "kids", however, is a synthesis of the root *kid plus the
plural morpheme -s which combines with the root to create the idea of plurality.

Latin would use only three words to express this exact same idea, with the extra information being encoded into morphemes bound to the main words: "kid" "go" "store"

Chinese would be even more analytic than English because there isn't a plural morpheme in Chinese, so the idea would need to be expressed by a plurality word or if it's understood by the context it need not be expressed. The Chinese word "kid" could be sufficient by itself with plurality understood.
Speech is my hammer, bang the world into shape, now let it fall! -Mos Def
User avatar
calvinist
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby pster » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:55 pm

calvinist, are you using "analytic" and "synthetic" in the Kantian sense? Or is it a technical linguistic sense?

james, i'll make all my Greek cards available. Search for author "fster". You should be able to find them in the next day or so.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Methods for learning Greek

Postby rkday » Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:49 pm

pster wrote:calvinist, are you using "analytic" and "synthetic" in the Kantian sense? Or is it a technical linguistic sense?

james, i'll make all my Greek cards available. Search for author "fster". You should be able to find them in the next day or so.


It's a linguistic sense - remember, the Greek roots of analytic and synthetic mean "breaking up" and "grouping together" respectively, so an analytic language usually breaks up meaning into separate words, whereas a synthetic language usually groups them into one word through morphology (e.g. analytic English 'I have loved' vs. synthetic Latin 'amavi', where English uses separate words to express the meanings "first person singular" and "perfect tense").
rkday
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:23 pm

Next

Return to Learning Greek

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Xyloplax and 41 guests