Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

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pies
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Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by pies » Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:29 am

I'm finding the transition from beginner's Greek (of which I have a pretty good grasp) to "real Greek" somewhat difficult, particularly in assessing different author's styles and preferences for certain expressions, meters, etc. , and was hoping my fellow Greek learners could provide me with some resources to help. I quite like the model of Cambridge Intermediate Latin Readers (e.g. From Augustus to Nero, ISBN 10: 0521528046) where grammar and style of various Roman authors was explained nicely alongside unmodified text. Is there a Greek equivalent by any chance? If it helps, I've finished both Athenaze textbooks, and found them (at least in the area of explaining the nuances of various Greek authors) absolutely useless.
Many thanks!
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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by Lucretius2327 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:43 pm

You have hit the nail on the head concerning the problem with books, teaching Greek or Latin, that base ones reading on "made-up Latin or Greek" — which really, all too often, just amounts to English sentences with Greek or Latin words inserted in place of the English. The leap from that to "real Greek" is very difficult.

Best to start with a simple PROSE author: either Xenophon, Herodotus, or something like the Apology of Socrates. The Bolchazy-Carduuci edition of the Apology is very user friendly.

Here are some early notes from my (unpublished) commentary on Book I of the Iliad, speaking of the opening lines 1-8. What is said here is transferrable throughout Greek literature.


(1-4) μῆνιν . . . πολλὰς δ’ . . . αὐτοὺς δὲ

• Νote here the predominant tendency of Greek word order, a tendency very much at odds with English, and thus the biggest obstacle to "reading Greek from left to right" — that is to say, with continuous understanding of what linguistic information is being delivered bit by bit in the inflections, prefixes, suffixes, and particles of Greek. Leading with the accusative direct object of the verb is the predominant tendency of Greek word order.

• For watchful eyes examples abound: from μῆνιν and ἄνδρα of the Homeric epics to the opening of Aeschylus' Agamemnon: θεούς μὲν αἰτῶ τῶνδ’ ἀπαλλαγὴν πόνων, The gods I beg for release from these present toils. Awareness of the accusative-first goes a long way in enabling one to tackle a Greek sentence at its waist. It proves helpful even in unraveling Thucydides. The modification of that accusative by a genitive (τροπῆς in Thucydides) is the second-most important norm to expect. In Greek the genitive is the helpmate of both accusative and nominative substantives.

(1-8) Μῆνιν ἄειδε. . . . πολλὰς δ’ . . . αὐτοὺς δὲ . . . Διὸς δὲ . . . τίς τ’ ἄρ . . . ὁ γὰρ . . .
ὀλέκοντο δὲ . . . ὁ γὰρ ἦλθε . . . καὶ λίσσετο S: 1094b, 2771

• "Sentence adverbs (or particles [CM: 6]) are adverbs that affect the sentence as a whole or give emphasis to particular words of any kind . . . Either alone or in combination these sentence adverbs give a distinctness to the relations between ideas which is foreign to other languages, and often resist translation by separate words, which in English are frequently over emphatic and cumbersome in comparison to the light and delicate nature of the Greek originals (e.g. ἄρα, γέ, τοί). The force of such words is frequently best rendered by pause, stress, or alterations of pitch. To catch the subtle and elusive meaning of these often insignificant elements of speech challenges the utmost vigilance and skill of the student." (Μy emphasis)

• The sentence adverbs (particles) supply the logical and emotive blueprint of a Greek sentence. They enable the reader to delineate clearly its segments and limbs. Therefore, their importance, even for the beginner, is far-reaching. Resistance to the particles — the all too common attitude that they are 'throw-away'-items and that Greek like English can be understood without regard for the nuance they present — is a common but deadly mistake. It is an even more hazardous symptom of mental addiction to the tendencies of a non-inflected language.

• [D: 162] provides an initial beachhead against this complex set of issues: "As a connective, δέ denotes either pure connection, 'and', or contrast, 'but', with all that lies between . . . The former sense predominates where no μέν precedes, and in such cases there is no essential difference between δέ and καί: though it is to be noticed that δέ usually couples sentence, clauses, or phrases, single words being joined by καί and (in some styles) τε. . . . Continuative δέ is the normal equivalent of 'and' at the beginning of a sentence. Cf. Pl. R. 614b-fin. (Vision of Er), where καί is only occasionally used at the beginning of a sentence."

• Denniston spotlights Iliad Α 1-5, 43-49, 345-51 along with Euripides Rh. 762-803 (Messenger's speech), and Xenophon. Cyr. i 2. 1. as passages "where continuative δέ preponderates." [D: 163] To this list one could add Β 93-100 and many others.

• Instances of γάρ are "confirmatory and causal, giving the ground for a belief, or the motive for an action . . . This usage may be illustrated from any page of any Greek author. It is, however, commoner in writers whose mode of thought is simple than in those whose logical faculties are more fully developed. The former tend to state the fact before investigating the reason while the latter more frequently follow the logical order, cause and effect, whether they employ subordination or co-ordination of clauses. Broschman calls attention to the commonness of γάρ in Homer and Herodotus, and to the comparative rarity in Herodotus of the syntactical conjunctions [MC: 7], ἐπεί, ἐπειδή, ὅτι, ὠς." [D: 58]

(End of cut and paste.)

Greek word order is deeply intelligible and transparent FROM LEFT TO RIGHT — as long as one ingests ALL the information provided by the inflectional endings and sentence adverbs. Good luck reading. If you want some individual help, my own rate for private tutoring —via Google Hangouts — is $25 US dollars/hour. I can be contacted at:

wroberts@detroitgreekandlatin.com

A couple hours one-on-one live with me would get you into the swing of "real Greek" pretty quickly.

Good luck

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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by jeidsath » Sun Nov 16, 2014 6:26 pm

Geoffrey Steadman has been doing great work with his readers. The digital versions are available for free.

http://geoffreysteadman.com/

However I don't find intermediate commentaries too helpful. The constant context shift back and forth between English and Greek make these sorts of books tough going, even ones as good as Steadman's. This is obviously not your experience in Latin, so take feel free to discount what I'm about to say next.

My guess is that the brain doesn't learn languages directly from grammar explanations. It learns language by example. The perfect reader, for me, would be one that concentrated on phrase and vocabulary explanations, mostly by giving examples of the same Greek constructs in simpler settings. 100% Greek isn't necessary, but you start to lose a lot when you drop below 90-95%.

That said, I'm working on Lucian's dialogues with Rouse's notes (100% Greek) right now. Lucian is real Greek, and fairly intelligible to me. Rouse's Greek, once you get to know him, is centered around a core vocabulary that he mastered by teaching students in 100% Greek living language classrooms. In the places where it's opaque, you can easily imagine the hand gestures, etc., that were meant to supplement the words. If you find Rouse's Greek notes unhelpful, I recommend a read through his Greek Boy. His language and style should become fairly clear after that. It's a bit of a pidgin, of course, but super useful if you can use it to jumpstart your reading (and there are large swaths that are authentic Greek). Athenazde and so on are very much inspired by Rouse (but not so interesting).
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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by pies » Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:56 am

Many thanks for the various pieces of advice.

Lucretius2327, I have read Xen. Hellenica, but I find Xenophon's Greek very different from other authors (namely Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes: the third possessing obvious differences, being verse). Forgive me for this massive oversimplification, but I find that Xenophon is much like the simpler "made-up" Greek that is present in books like Athenaze.
Then again, I suppose in my OP I should not have used the incredibly generalising term "Real Greek", and instead should have listed specific authors. My bad. Thank you for the useful commentary though.

jeidsath- incredibly, in my 2 years of Greek I have not come across Steadman's commentaries. I'll be sure to check them out.

I totally understand where you're coming from though. I agree that ideally, a language learner does not learn by grammar drills and explanations, but by becoming accustomed to common expressions and recurring stylistic choices. However, I think at my level (breaking into harder literature), grammar explanations shall suffice. I have a slight distaste towards immersion Greek, only because I feel that my personal objective (to be able to read hard bits of Greek literature and enjoy it) is only made further and harder to reach by having to learn "living Greek". But it is perhaps a little ironic that my favorite bits of Greek are usually extracts that I think push the (sometimes highfalutin) language back into the context of a real place that existed with real people.
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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by cb » Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:31 am

hi, ah a fellow aussie - i'm originally from syd too - what i'd suggest is that you try this technique i wrote here, viewtopic.php?t=11778, and try to (by reading a clean text you've never seen and reflecting on each point where you stall, and think about what it was about that spot that made you stop there) isolate the particular areas that are preventing you from reading comfortably.

as i said there, commentaries are only really helpful if the author/author's students happen to find hard the same aspects of greek as you do, which would be a coincidence - commentaries are like autobiographies of the commentary author's personal weaknesses or those of the classes they teach (and so they seem to think "...if my students find this hard, then i should put this in my commentary..." but this may depend on the particular textbooks their students have used in previous years and you might have a different learning history... and so often you find that the bit you find hardest isn't treated at all, and there are 5 pages of notes on something you're already very comfortable with...)

and so instead, i think it's good to try form a base across all the areas i mentioned there (covering the whole ground at a high level with the shortest good texts you can find), and then focus going forward on the particular areas where you stall when doing a clean read of a text you've never seen before.

for me vocab is always the stumbling block, and so i've followed my own procedure there and for the last few years i've been writing my own scholia in greek to all the texts i read (which forces you to think about the greek in both the defined word and in the definition, and how they are linked, and it forms 2-way knowledge). worth a try anyway in combination with all the other good advice that you'll get on this great forum. cheers, chad

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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by Markos » Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:49 pm

One way to bridge the gap between easy and real Greek is to increase the volume of the easy Greek that you read and listen to. Increase it to, say, 100 pages:

https://archive.org/details/Esafx

The theory here is that while simplified Greek by design avoids the type of complicated syntax that one will eventually have to master, the voluminous repetion of the basic forms will cause one to so internalize these forms that when one DOES encounter complicated syntax, one has the mental energy left over (because you don't have to struggle with forms) for syntactic breakdown.

If I knew how to directly teach you the skill of syntactic breakdown, I would have million drachmae.

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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by jeidsath » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:47 pm

have read Xen. Hellenica, but I find Xenophon's Greek very different from other authors (namely Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes: the third possessing obvious differences, being verse). Forgive me for this massive oversimplification, but I find that Xenophon is much like the simpler "made-up" Greek that is present in books like Athenaze.


Interesting! It sounds like we're near each other in our Greek learning. Although I may be behind you still. I wish that I could read Xenophon as easily as the parts of Athenazde that I've sampled. I'm finishing up Anabasis right now. The early sections, which I've read through many times, I can read like a novel (books 1 & 2). Sections that I have read through just once slow me down, but are still fairly easy going. New sections I get maybe 70% understanding on, but eventually have to turn to the dictionary. Audio comprehension is similar, except for on new sections (ie., I can't read aloud a chapter once, then play through the audio I've just recorded, and understand 70%. Closer to 10%, maybe.)

I have been planning to continue on with all of Xenophon's writings, Hellenica next, or his Memoirs of Socrates, and including whatever other "easy" authors I can find. So far that's included reading a fair amount of Plato on the side, Lucian like I mentioned, Koine works like the Gospels, and others.

I figure that there is a fair amount of Xenophon left before I run out, and I plan to read everything that he's written (a few times?) until my comprehension allows me to tackle trickier texts. It worries me that you've found such a gulf between him and harder authors. I will no doubt run into the same thing.

I really like cb's suggestion about writing your own scholia. I've been starting to feel like I'm at the place where I can produce Greek quickly and accurately enough that it won't detract from my learning efficiency (ie., just reading more has been a better bet until now).

@Markos -- Did you check out my Anki flashcards thread from a few days ago? One of the things that I've been trying to drill on, and that seems to have exploded sentence comprehension at my level, has been really nailing down case. There were a good number of noun declensions that I didn't run into frequently enough to grasp immediately, so I've been doing all-greek drills of "FRONT: declined noun -> BACK: article(s) + declined noun" for every noun in Smyth. I'm starting to understand a lot more at the syntax level now that I see all the pieces. For example, when my brain sees something in the accusative, it starts looking for a verb to do that to, etc. Sentences are starting to look more like "this stuff I want to talk about goes at the beginning and then we need X, Y, Z to complete them."
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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by daivid » Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:49 pm

I think Markos is right to say we shouldn't dismiss the easy Greek stuff when we are at the intermediate stage. When I've got stuck with a bit of real Greek it is often the bits that I "know" that trip me up. By that I mean that something I've covered, and which wouldn't give me trouble in a simple sentence, is often the straw that breaks the camels back when I meet it in a more complex sentence. Until forms are second nature it is always worth going over the stuff you know so as to overlearn them.

The lack of intermediate readers is I think the biggest barrier to learning Greek. I wish I knew what could be done to persuade those who know Greek well enough to write such books that it would be something worthwhile to do. :cry:

However they do exist. Christophe Rico's Polis is definitely intermediate. It is a bit hard for a complete beginner but it keeps the same level throughout. Hence if you can manage the first chapter you will be fine with last. (It's not like most other textbooks which start very very easy and then ramp up the complexity so by the end the adapted texts are as hard as real Greek)

Also check out Morice's reader which someone recently recommended to me on this forum https://openlibrary.org/books/OL2045694 ... .D._Morice
I have only just started it so I can't comment on the book as a whole but it seems not to easy not too hard - just right.

And when you do get to the point of reading real Greek grammar commentaries like Brn Mawr and Steadman are definitely a help and in my experience it is definitely worth having two different ones that cover the same text.
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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by ariphron » Sun Nov 23, 2014 3:55 am

I think the Greek of the adapted Thucydides and the verse readings at the end of Athenaze are more difficult than most of the Anabasis or the Apology, so there isn't really that great a gap between textbook Greek and "Real" Greek. That said, there is a huge amount of vocabulary to learn at the intermediate level, so the more you read, the better. After all, most of the everyday language of the ancients was easier than the vast majority of the texts that have come down to us.

As a companion to Phillpotts' Easy Selections Adapted From Xenophon, of which Bedwere has made an excellent recording (Markos linked to it above), and Morice's reader, which Daivid mentioned, I would add Phillpotts' Stories from Herodotus, in Attic Greek, which I have started making recordings of.

https://archive.org/details/phillpotts_ ... s_ariphron

Jeidsath's Anki flashcards are wonderful. I had previously done some similar types of drills with a spreadsheet file of the nouns from the first half of Hansen and Quinn, but the Anki set is much more comprehensive. With each noun, it asks you to: (1) identify number and case, which is the key grammatical information you want to infer when seeing a noun in text; (2) recall the gender, which needs a lot of drilling for native English speakers to get used to; (3) recall the nominative singular form, including its persistent accent, which often cannot be inferred from the inflected form. All of this is absolute "nuts and bolts" basic facts of the language, which you want to get down before you get into thorny interpretive issues.

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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by Markos » Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:58 pm

ariphron wrote: I would add Phillpotts' Stories from Herodotus, in Attic Greek, which I have started making recordings of.

https://archive.org/details/phillpotts_ ... s_ariphron
Thanks for finding this. I am a big fan of Phillpotts, but somehow I missed this work. The level of difficulty here is a notch above his Anabasis, but I found the story of Rhampsinitus quite engaging. (I don't know the original.) In switching dialects, Phillpotts is sort of doing for Herodotus what Gaza did for Homer.

Your recordings are very good. I like your pace and the προφορά is καλή. After reading the story I was pretty much able to comprehend most of your reading. It seems like a few times you place the stress on the wrong syllable, although, as I have noticed other Restored readers doing this, I'm not sure if this has something to do with the meter?
jeidsath wrote: @Markos -- Did you check out my Anki flashcards thread from a few days ago? One of the things that I've been trying to drill on, and that seems to have exploded sentence comprehension at my level, has been really nailing down case."
Yes, those type of drills are a good idea. What I have said about that the skill of "nailing down," as you say, the forms, is that we pretty much know a variety of things you can to improve this, whereas for the skill of sentence comprehension, we don't really have effective drills. But nailing down the former, really nailing it down through drills or tons of reading easy Greek, does help with the latter.
daivid wrote: Also check out Morice's reader which someone recently recommended to me on this forum https://openlibrary.org/books/OL2045694 ... .D._Morice
I have only just started it so I can't comment on the book as a whole but it seems not to easy not too hard - just right.
Morice is pretty good, but while his syntax is very simple by design, his vocabulary is unnecessarily difficult. He often has rare words when more well-known equivalents are available, and this sort of defeats the purpose of simplified Greek. (I provided some examples on my Amazon review.)

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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by bedwere » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:56 pm

ariphron wrote:
As a companion to Phillpotts' Easy Selections Adapted From Xenophon, of which Bedwere has made an excellent recording (Markos linked to it above), and Morice's reader, which Daivid mentioned, I would add Phillpotts' Stories from Herodotus, in Attic Greek, which I have started making recordings of.

https://archive.org/details/phillpotts_ ... s_ariphron
Great! Audio Greek is coming of age! I'll write a post about this on my Greek blog.
By the way, once I've finished with my revised Posselius, I plan to read the Catasterismi

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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by ariphron » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:30 am

I'm excited that my recordings are attracting attention. Thanks, everybody, for listening! First of all, I'm relieved that the large number of sounds for which I choose a different pronunciation from anybody else are not attracting comment. It confirms my impression that it doesn’t matter too much exactly which sound you pick, and that listeners can easily get used to a wide range of pronunciations as long as the reader is consistent about them and the prosody and expression are good.
Markos wrote:It seems like a few times you place the stress on the wrong syllable, although, as I have noticed other Restored readers doing this, I'm not sure if this has something to do with the meter?
Since the tone accent did not coincide with a lexically significant stress, I have to guess on every word where a stress would have been appropriate, and I put stress wherever it feels like it makes the most sense, based on the analysis into morphemes and the quantity of individual syllables. Often I try to put the stress on one syllable, and it doesn’t come out that way because it’s a light syllable followed by a heavy one -- the stress naturally shifts to the next syllable. In any case, I consider a stress on the wrong syllable to be a minor fault, which means you may occasionally hear me doing it wrong in the recordings I put online. If you give me specific examples, I can tell you whether I intended to put the stress where you heard it and why I would have chosen to put the stress there.

Last night I added more files to my audio collections at Internet Archive. You can now download the Phillpotts Herodotus I: 3, A Greek Boy at Home 22, Anabasis I: 7, and five more reading passages from White’s First Greek Book numbered 238-278. The online listening tool doesn’t always update to include newly added files. I don’t know if I need to adjust a setting somewhere.

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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by bedwere » Fri Nov 28, 2014 1:19 am

Πολλαὶ ἠχωγραφαὶ παρὰ Ἀρίφρονος

Καλὴ τῶν εὐχαριστιῶν ἑορτὴ πᾶσιν ὑμῖν. :D

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Re: Bridging Beginner Courses and "Real" Greek?

Post by daivid » Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:01 pm

pies wrote: Lucretius2327, I have read Xen. Hellenica, but I find Xenophon's Greek very different from other authors (namely Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes: the third possessing obvious differences, being verse). Forgive me for this massive oversimplification, but I find that Xenophon is much like the simpler "made-up" Greek that is present in books like Athenaze.
Then again, I suppose in my OP I should not have used the incredibly generalising term "Real Greek", and instead should have listed specific authors. My bad. Thank you for the useful commentary though.

jeidsath- incredibly, in my 2 years of Greek I have not come across Steadman's commentaries. I'll be sure to check them out.
Rereading your post I realize my earlier comments were really irrelevant to where you are now. You are clearly fr beyond a beginners level.
If you find that Xenophon to be just like made up Greek - almost a sort of anglo-Greek - I would suggest that is an illusion. It is the general experience of learners that grammatical constructions that when first encountered seem alien but over time become so second nature that they seem really no different from the grammar of their native language. Hence is very easy to get discouraged because you belittle your progress you have made. It is also means you undervalue the progress you are making. Hence I doubt that you have so mastered Xenophon that you are getting no value from reading him. The quantity of Xenophon's works to survive is exceptionally large and varied so it makes sense to make use of him to further practice your reading.

As for Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes, as well as Steadman's commentaries (he has done Herodotos's books 1 and 7) there is also the Bryn Mawr Commentaries http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/commentaries.html. I have found it quite difficult to get copies of Bryn Mawr Commentaries in Britain and imagine you won't find it easier in Australia. In Britain booksellers tend to stock only a small selection of the commentaries but that selection changes over time. I imagine it will be no different in Australia.
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