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Beginner's question

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Beginner's question

Postby Hector » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:54 pm

I am an absolute beginner at Greek, and, in fact, have never studied any language that employs cases.This is my first post to Textkit. I am using Pharr's famous book. My question refers to a Greek to English exercise in Lesson IV, specifically, #2. I assume that anyone who can answer this question is very likely to have a copy of Pharr available.

The translation I found online is:

2. The beautiful goddesses are dear to the soul of the terrible sea goddess.

My question, for which I'll refer to the translation, rather than the Greek is, how does one determine grammatically that 'terrible' modifies 'sea goddess', or just 'goddess',
rather than 'sea' (so that the sentence would be speaking of the goddess of the terrible sea).

Perhaps the answer is that this is ambiguous in Greek? I don't know, but would like to understand this grammatical point from the beginning so that whatever I do manage to learn will be built on a secure foundation.

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to set me straight.
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Re: Beginner's question

Postby jeidsath » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:53 am

I think that you will find that very many people can answer this question but don't have a copy of Pharr available. Here is the Greek that you are asking about:

καλαὶ θεαί εἰσι φίλαι ψυχῇ θεᾶς θαλάσσης δεινῆς

I'll leave the rest to someone else though.
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Re: Beginner's question

Postby Hylander » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:02 pm

Every natural language has its ambiguities, but here the ambiguity is the result of an utterly unnatural sentence, in Greek as well as the English translation. What you have to remember is that Homeric Greek doesn't exist outside of Homeric poetry, and Pharr's manufactured "Homeric" Greek prose sentences using only vocabulary items already introduced are not really Homeric Greek or, for that matter, any kind of real Greek at all. (The same is true of the elementary exercises in almost any introductory language book, but in using Pharr you need to bear in mind that "Homeric" Greek prose is doubly artificial.)

Attic Greek would perhaps use the article to resolve some of the ambiguity, but the piling up of genitives that this sentence calls for is very un-Greek.

Paul Derouda, a contributor to this site who learned Greek with Pharr and has gone on to other Greek from there, recently had some good suggestions in this thread:

http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=68309
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Re: Beginner's question

Postby Hector » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:40 pm

Thanks to Joel for supplying the Greek text and to Hylander for his perspective. I conclude that I have not missed a particular grammatical point and may proceed with caution.

As a practical matter, is there a copy of Pharr available (online if possible) from which I can cut and paste short snippets in future. I have seen some copies, including on Textkit, but they don't seem to allow cutting and pasting?

Thanks again.
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Re: Beginner's question

Postby Aetos » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:43 pm

I've looked myself for an online OCR scanned copy of Pharr with no success. I've only found 2 PDF's (including Textkit's) composed from image files of each page. That means that when I post a sentence I have to bang it out on the keyboard. This does have the advantage of reinforcing what you're learning about Greek orthography. Here is a link to a pdf document that does a pretty good job of describing how to install and use a windows polytonic keyboard:
http://www.dramata.com/Ancient%20polyto ... indows.pdf
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Re: Beginner's question

Postby Hector » Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:15 pm

Thanks Aetos for your suggestion. I use a Mac and did install a polytonic Greek keyboard, but am too lazy to use it unnecessarily. Your post convinces me that it will be necessary.
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Re: Beginner's question

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:13 pm

Hylander wrote:... but the piling up of genitives that this sentence calls for is very un-Greek.


But perfectly good Biblical Hebrew and very common in the Septuagint. I'm not a fan of Pharr, if you prefer old textbooks Benner is better for learning Homer.

https://archive.org/details/selectionsfromh01brengoog
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Re: Beginner's question

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:38 pm

The first question I would ask: Do we find any occurrences where the adjective is paired with θάλασσα?

Scholia In Aeschylum,

γναμπτόμενοι] γναμπτόμενοι δὲ καὶ συντριβόμενοι οἱ Πέρ-
σαι τῇ δεινῇ θαλάσσῃ σκύλλονται καὶ σύρονται καὶ ἐσθίονται πρὸς
τῶν ἀναύδων καὶ ἀφώνων παίδων τῆς ἀμιάντου,

γναμπτόμενοι δὲ καὶ συντριβόμενοι οἱ
Πέρσαι τῇ δεινῇ θαλάσσῃ σκύλλονται καὶ σύρονται
καὶ ἐσθίονται πρὸς τῶν ἀναύδων καὶ ἀφώνων παίδων
τῆς ἀμιάντου,


That alone does not settle the issue. The natural pairing of Goddess with Sea makes it probable that the adjective modifies the constituent "Sea Goddess."
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Re: Beginner's question

Postby Aetos » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:16 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:
Hylander wrote:... but the piling up of genitives that this sentence calls for is very un-Greek.


But perfectly good Biblical Hebrew and very common in the Septuagint. I'm not a fan of Pharr, if you prefer old textbooks Benner is better for learning Homer.

https://archive.org/details/selectionsfromh01brengoog


Just took a quick look at this textbook and I must say it is a perfect intermediate book. I was planning to use Leaf & Bayfield to continue after Pharr (which is what 2nd year students did at my college), but this book does a great job of ordering a sufficient number of selections to form a coherent narrative and still keep the task one that can be achieved in a reasonable amount of time. For starting from scratch however, I would still recommend Pharr. There's a nice little essay at the beginning of the book titled "Homer and the study of Greek" and what he had to say sold me. He's not teaching Homer, he's teaching Greek using Homer. As far as the exercises go, the context of his sentences becomes a little clearer once you start the Iliad. (Lesson XIII). The point of the exercises is to recognise and use the vocabulary and grammatical constructions that you've learned in a given lesson. However, as Paul Derouda suggests, don't worry too much about the exercises; especially if you're learning the language to read the ancient texts (as opposed to also attempting to speak and write in it). Of course, the greater your knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and syntax, the less time you'll spend looking stuff up.

Regarding the question about the sentence, I agree with Hylander. It's very ambiguous and forced. I would love to have been in one of Pharr's classes when they went over that one! Personally, I like "the beautiful goddesses were dear to the soul of the goddess of the terrible sea." Why not?
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