2 years of Greek

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jeidsath
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2 years of Greek

Post by jeidsath » Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:18 pm

A second year of Greek.

Last year's post here.

Here's a section of the Anabasis that I read aloud, translating into English as I go to give you an idea of where I'm at right now: video

It has been two years now since I began my serious study of Greek. During this past year, I've found that my accidence began to come in at reading speed. At the end of the last year, I was only beginning to understand cases, and could only recognize the first and second declension. I also had present indicative vowel verbs well enough, but nothing else. Over the course of this year, everything else came in (at reading speed), starting with the third declension, and then the aorist. I still have trouble distinguishing second aorists from imperfects. I also have trouble with principle parts of many verbs, especially -μι verbs, and there are some adjective/noun declensions that I don't have perfectly. But it feels more like cleanup at this point, at least for Attic accidence. There are no great unexplored mountains.

Reading has been helpful for this, but a few months ago I began using some specialized Anki decks for memorizing the grammar. I generally ask myself to recall an entire table at a time. Example question: What are all the forms of λύω present active indicative? This method of study has made a big difference, but it wasn't something that I could have done last year (it only took me a week to memorize the entire grammar in a first pass a few weeks ago, due to my reading experience).

I have kept up my audio work and conversation. I feel that I am just beginning to get to the point where conversation is becoming useful (I need to thank bedwere and my friend Daniel for putting up with my errors in our weekly conversations all this time).

I'm made some attempts at composition, with mixed results. Currently my main memorization exercise is to memorize all the phrase examples in Sidgwick's First Greek Writer (I just started and it's going fairly quickly), and after that I will quickly go through all of the exercises and then begin on his second Prose Writer, and eventually his Verse writer (but that last may be another year off).

My comprehension is getting there. There are many texts where I'm lost without dictionary help, but the Septuagint, the NT, and Xenophon I can often read without any help, even sections that I have never seen before. You can listen to the video at the top for an idea of where I'm at. I could probably do the same with any section of the first 4 books of the Anabasis, and the rest I can read with decent comprehension.

If I can make any recommendation to teachers/learners, one thing that I feel would have helped me learn faster would have been to use a more phrase-based approach. Students should memorize phrases from Ollendorf or Valpy's Greek Delectus rather than memorizing grammar tables. A sentence should be memorized to demonstrate every form. And again the same for syntax: Rather than English syntax descriptions, they should memorize phrases. Tools like Anki make this very doable, even at classroom scale.

I continue to believe that speaking and listening is fundamental to learning any foreign language, even ancient Greek. Over the past few months I've been learning/refreshing my German. I took four years in high school, but never got to the point where I could read or hold a conversation. A few months ago I purchased Der Hobbit as an audiobook. I had to listen to the first few chapters several times, but after that I was able to continue at a good pace, comprehending much. I'm listening to the German version of the Lord of the Rings now, and comprehending even more. I've also been chatting with German tourists whenever I meet them in the city. If only I could learn Greek this way!
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.

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Re: 2 years of Greek

Post by jeidsath » Thu Dec 22, 2016 4:44 am

Now 3 years of Greek.

If last year was accidence, this year was syntax. Early in this year I read all of the syntax examples of Sidgwick's prose composition books, and reviewed them periodically. This, in addition to sight-translating The Apology with a local reading group, made a big difference in my comprehension. But I think that the thing that made the biggest difference was just continuing to read Greek. Sidgwick was only useful after I had a lot of Greek under my belt.

Happily my appreciation of poetry has finally kicked in, helped especially by the introduction to Sidgwick's verse composition. I know that mwh and others prefer Maas's responsion-based notation for metre, and I understand the arguments behind that, but I found Sidgwick an eye- and ear-opener. Greek metre has become a great deal of fun to read, although I still have a long way to go. (Memorized poetry is also very useful at quieting crying infants. I think they [sample size: 1] like the long vowels together with the rhythm.) At some point I am going to take another opportunity to read Maas, because I feel that I will get much more out of him now.

My reading of Greek aloud has gotten appreciably better. I sound like an American, no doubt, but for a text that I know well, I can now read it aloud in what I think is a communicative manner. I will make some recordings later on to demonstrate. I am still not at a place where I can sight-read and do this. It has to be a text that I know throughly, and understand what each word is doing without having to think.

I am enjoying "Mod" commentaries for all sorts of Greek. I've read a bunch of Plato this year, and Lucian, and Homer, some Demosthenes, much Xenophon, and bits and pieces of many other things.

I have neglected actual composition. My German (mentioned in the last post) got fairly good without too much effort, and I find that I can chat pretty easily with natives, who tend to assume that I know much more German than I do. But I continue to feel very limited in my Greek. I think that the difference is that I have listened to at least a hundred hours of native speakers reading German. This year, I hope to make a number of hours of "communicative" audio from texts that I know well, and listen to them. And to do more composition.

I still have to look up lots of words while I read Greek, and re-read sections. Even with Xenophon outside of the Anabasis. So fluency is still a distant, but perceptible, goal!
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.

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Re: 2 years of Greek

Post by rmedinap » Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:02 pm

Hi, I find your "learning log" very interesting as a teacher and inspiring as a learner. You may find it encouraging if I told you that the most successful students of Greek that I have seen were partially or totally self-taught learners (myself included).

I would like to ask you if you have used the books that I recommended on my post, and if so to what effect. From what I can tell Zuntz's Lehrgang would provide you with what you are looking for right now: 1) Excuse, materials and exercises for composition. 2) Selective reading of Greek. 3) A light but useful introduction to metre and poetry (Zuntz took particular pains to select passages that illustrate the differences and nuances in the poetic language and compared it to prose, so that the student could "acquire the taste" of Greek poetry).

The Italian version of the Athenaze (and its corresponding exercise books) is also perfect for composition, they offer a wide variety of texts for translation into Greek and composition as well as questions in Greek to be answered in Greek, they're designed to examine reading and comprehension. The second volume of the Athenaze is actually a story made up taking pieces of Plato, Thucydides and Herodotus with detailed and illustrative drawings and explanations that lead to tremendous improvement in the acquisition of vocabulary and reading. As a staunch supporter of the so called "active method", "nature method" or "inductive method" (best exemplified by Ørberg's Lingua Latīna per sē illūstrāta or Arthur M. Jensen's Nature Methods for modern languages) I must clearly state that this is the one aspect were I find Zuntz's Lehrgang (as well as all the other books that I'm recommending) lacking and disappointing; I firmly believe that as teachers we must try our very best to teach a language using only that language, or illustrations, drawings, synonyms, etc. But not a dictionary or a list of vocabulary, and we should not force-feed the pupils with Grammar rules and tables and complicated explanations, but rather let them discover the rules by themselves (though I must admit that Zunt'z Lehrgang can actually be very accommodating for this methodology except in the vocabulary part, were he relies on the typical vocabulary lists).

Just those materials would probably be enough to keep you occupied for a while, but since you seem to be very proactive (and you do not have the limitation of not speaking German), I recommend you also Menge's Repetitorium der griechischen Syntax. The whole book is actually a series of German phrases to be translated into Greek, and questions regarding Grammar with an exhaustive and detailed answer's section (the one thing that both the Lehrgang and the Italian Athenaze lack). The one defect of this book is that is very demanding and (if you do not read Greek constantly) dull and oft-times boring. From the 10th edition onwards, the Repetitorium includes a supplement by Jürgen Wiesner on particles, it is very thorough and illustrative with an impresive variety of examples, it is not theoretic like Denniston's Greek Patricles and is far more student friendly and straightforward, I have not found a better tool for the study of particles. Denniston (and Dover for that matter) may be unsurpassed in their knowledge and expertise of the Greek language but I simply cannot conceive a pupil (much less a beginner) actually consulting the Greek Particles to his advantage if he does not have previously a very good command of the subject.

Another great tool for composition (far more beginners-friendly than the Repetitorium) are the two volumes written by Herwig Görgemanns, Manuel Baumbach & Helga Köhler:

Griechische Stilübungen I. Übungsbuch zur Formenlehre und Kasussyntax

Griechische Stilübungen II. Übungsbuch zur Verbalsyntax und Satzlehre

Like Menge's book, these two have answers sections, reasonably short but explicative (they also register other possible correct solutions or variations of the correct answer) and actually explain why something is right or wrong. They refer always to two Greek Grammars in their explanations:

1) Hans Zinsmeister's Griechische Grammatik I: Griechische Laut- und Formenlehre and Hans Lindemann & Hans Färber's Griechische Grammatik II: Satzlehre, Dialektgrammatik und Metrik. It is a very good and practical grammar, made with the University student in mind, pays special attention to linguistic phenomena.

2) Eduard Bornemann & Ernst Risch's Griechische Grammatik. Is the official grammar used everywhere in Germany to teach Greek. Very reliable and direct, is not exhaustive but still is detailed enough to make it the basic reference grammar for beginners.

For the reading there is an infinite number of good and interesting anthologies everywhere. But the Spanish professors Francisco Rodríguez Adrados & Manuel Fernández Galiano published several that are specially useful because they are both interesting and well organized by grammar subject and very concise and clear in their explanations.

So far I know the existence of (and have used) the following:

Primera antología griega. Madrid: Gredos, 1955. (2nd edition 1963; 3rd edition 1966)

Segunda antología griega. Madrid: Gredos, 1962. (2nd edition 1965; 3rd edition 1969)

Nueva antología griega. Madrid: Gredos, 1975. (ISBN 9788424934415)

Antología de historia griega. Heródoto. Madrid: Gredos, 1960.

(The Spanish publishing house Gredos has sadly decayed in the quality of their books and they no longer reprint many of the excellent books written by the previous generation of Spanish scholars, so that much of their materials are lost even to them, you will not find these books in their catalogues, but they are relatively easy to find in places like AbeBooks, Amazon and ZVAB.)

Lastly I can only recommend that you consult frequently the "didactic resources" page from the Vivarium Novum Academy. My friends and former teachers make lists of new or rediscovered/unnoticed materials that they consider useful for the teaching and learning of Greek and Latin. There's sadly not much the composition's section and they focus more on Latin, but I still don't know a better source for information on didactic materials.

Anyway, I hope this helps and wish you the best of luck with your Greek.

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Re: 2 years of Greek

Post by jeidsath » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:18 pm

Thank you for all of the suggestions. I have enjoyed going through the German version of Zuntz's Lehrgang, and ordered an English copy for myself. As I said in the earlier post, I can chat in German, but I'm still very limited. However, I do think that I need to start reading more Greek-orientated German, and pick up the technical vocabulary. I have a copy of Menge's dictionary, which I really like.

I'm interested in German composition books and how they compare to Sidgwick/North & Hillard.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
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Re: 2 years of Greek

Post by daivid » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:53 am

Even though I am convinced of the value of reading aloud I have never managed to do it for more than short spurts - it has never become a habit.

I think the crucial bit that I am missing out is the recording of my reading. Of course recording gives you feedback on how you are doing but more crucially you have something concrete that you can offer to other people. Creating something that will be a help to other learners is, I believe, crucial to motivating yourself.

The reason I don't record is partly technical (no mike on my computer) but also lack of confidence about my pronunciation. As I put this down to my less than perfect hearing I am less than confident that practice would solve that.
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Re: 2 years of Greek

Post by rmedinap » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:31 pm

Even though I am convinced of the value of reading aloud I have never managed to do it for more than short spurts - it has never become a habit.
Might I suggest that you try and teach someone or practice with somebody?

Over the years I've become staunchly convinced that one never learns more (and better) than when one has to teach something, group studying or a conversation group being the most effective.

I also appreciate the immense value of recordings but there's really no replacement (in learning any language) than an actual conversation where you are "forced" to produce actual answers to actual living situations instead of simply repeating (however well you may do so) the "petrified" words .

I also find important to practice with material that is designed to be read aloud instead of simply read. Poetry in general, or, Herodotus being ideal for instance, while only a very bold man would try to read Thucydides out loud and hope to get the cold, subtle nuances of his writings, even when reading his speeches.

One good idea that I got from a very creative pupil is to practice alone speeches of Demosthenes or Lysias as if you were to speak in front of the Agora.

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Re: 2 years of Greek

Post by jeidsath » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:10 pm

One of the things that I've found, over the years of listening to lots of recordings, is that intelligibility is much more important than pronunciation style.

Reading groups are surprisingly helpful.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.

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