Which should I learn first?

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retypepassword
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Which should I learn first?

Post by retypepassword » Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:57 pm

I'm planning on learning both Latin and Attic Greek. Should I learn one of them first, or learn them both in conjunction? How long does it take, in general, to learn Latin (or Ancient Greek)?

Thanks in advance.

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Post by Chris Weimer » Sun Feb 04, 2007 9:55 pm

It all depends on what you want to do. I took Latin first, and I recommend doing so, but there are upsides to learning Greek first. If you have the necessary time, do both simultaneously. I wish I had.~

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Post by Agrippa » Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:31 pm

If I had done Greek first I'm certain I would've have quit classical languages. Look, Attic Greek is a lovely, lovely language. Really, I often find it more elaborate, more living, and more elegant than Latin. See (this is my view), Greek is an artist's tongue. Its irregular because it strives to be pretty, it's flexible and very subtle, it's more sung than spoken, and again it's so irregular (AHHH). There are just so many tiny rules, like how in the second-person singular aorist imperative middle the accent is on the ultimate UNLESS it's compounded, or how vowels contract in a certain way but sometimes they either contract in a different way or not at all, or how after memorizing all the verb forms you have to deal with -mi verbs, and...

Well, as you can see, I sort of hate Greek right now, but Latin is such an engineer's language. It's SO regular and so nice and perfect. Greek appears as a much more living language, but learning Latin is so much easier it's absurd, or at least it was for me. That's why I say learn Latin first, because it's easier to get your mind around reading a classical language when you don't have to worry about why the goddamn accent on the omega in ωστε isn't a circumflex despite the fact the rule says it's supposed to be.

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Post by retypepassword » Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:20 pm

@Agrippa
That's why I say learn Latin first, because it's easier to get your mind around reading a classical language when you don't have to worry about why the goddamn accent on the omega in ωστε isn't a circumflex despite the fact the rule says it's supposed to be.
I've been looking through the D'ooge's (sp?) Latin For Beginners, and it makes the pronunciation look somewhat complicated. There are little accent marks all over the place. When I browse 'round this forum and look at what people write in Latin, though, I don't see all those weird marks. I find this difference somewhat confusing; it may be that I haven't even started learning, though.

@Chris Weimer
Unfortunately, I probably don't have the time to do both simultaneously. I don't know how long it will take to learn Latin, though (estimates, anyone?).

You say that there are upsides to learning Greek first. What are these upsides?

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Post by Agrippa » Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:40 pm

I have never read D'ooge's (I've got only love for Wheelock's), but I wouldn't worry about it. They're probably for vowel length, and the only time I bother with that is when I'm reading poetry, and then it comes naturally. The best part of Greek is that they always mark their vowel length (thank you omega and eta!)

Also the pronounciation of Greek is much more complicated; it has a pitch accent and I've got two books with conflicting pronounciations of the zeta.

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Post by Chris Weimer » Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:18 am

The upside of learning Greek is that so much of Latin is built ontop of that. Indeed, even Marcus Aurelius was still writing in Greek for his theological works (Meditations). It's not absolutely mandatory, but certainly helpful to be familiar with Greek literature before embarking on Latin literature.

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Post by Carola » Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:12 am

I did Latin first, then Greek, but at the university I am now attending they do both languages together for the first semester. This way you get a good grounding in the concepts behind both languages.
In hindsight I think it would have been better to do both at once, or Greek first. Greek is only harder for the first week or two while you learn to read and write in a different alphabet (not as hard as it looks!), after that it seems to flow along quite well. The verbs are a pain but all languages have their hurdle (like non-phonetic spelling in English!). The prose is certainly much more exciting and varied, although that may be partly due to the accident of history and what endured over time.
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:15 am

If you really want to learn the languages, you can. Don't let the difficulty let you down!

And pick the language with the literature that is more appealing to you ... if you don't know much about the literature of either language, read some stuff in translation ... but you need only glance at my username to know which language I'm biased towards :D

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Post by retypepassword » Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:00 am

Thanks for all your responses. It seems like most of you started with Latin first, and then went Greek. I think I'll start with both, allotting more of my time to Greek because I think it looks pretty. :D

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Post by Didymus » Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:21 am

You may be interested in some recent discussion on this topic.

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Post by IreneY » Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:54 am

It may seem strange but I recommend you go with Latin first if you find trying both too dificult. I am of course heavily biased toward Greek for any number of reasons (not the least being that I learnt Ancient Greek before Latin -what a surprise eh?). However I still remember how shocked I was with the regularity of Latin. My mom sweared she would record the "no there's NO exeption to the rule" reply of hers as well as the "yes, that's it" one and I also remember, being an absolutely weird person, delving into the Latin language certain that I would at some point find something so complicated as some of the rules of the Greek but alas! nothing came close.

In other words, Greek is absolutely wonderful if you take my word for it (which you shouldn't since, when talking about languages my objectivity goes out the window) but rather more difficult than Latin, especially if you decide to find out how you should pronounce it so that your pronunciation will be as acurate as possible :twisted:
Last edited by IreneY on Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by retypepassword » Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:11 am

Didymus wrote:You may be interested in some recent discussion on this topic.
I should have done a search before posting this thread, eh?
It may seem strange but I recommend you go with Latin first if you find trying both too dificult.
I'm too easily swayed. Pienso que empezaré con Latín porqué ya conozco un poco español. Does that look like a good enough reason to start with Latin and then learn Greek afterwards?

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Post by IreneY » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:30 pm

To me? Absolutely! You'll go "hey that's just like in Spanish" quite often. The trick is of course not to confuse the two but then that's less of a problem with Sp-Lt than Spanish-Italian for example

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Post by EgoIoYoEu » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:53 pm

She's right, you know. I know Spanish, and the similarities are striking. Of course, Spanish's grandaddy is Latin, so....it has "inherited" certain traits. I'm thinking of the imperfect and preterit verb tenses especially. Nearly identical!
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Post by Voxforascausa » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:02 am

EgoIoYoEu wrote:She's right, you know. I know Spanish, and the similarities are striking. Of course, Spanish's grandaddy is Latin, so....it has "inherited" certain traits. I'm thinking of the imperfect and preterit verb tenses especially. Nearly identical!
You know what's surprising? German has a very similar pronunciation to Latin. Consider the name Michael. In Latin you'd say Mee-Kai-Ul. In German you'd say Mee-Chai(ch as in loch)-Ul. However, pronunciation is where the similarities seem to stop.
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Post by retypepassword » Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:38 am

SPAM DELETED (by mod)
Illegal? What is this?!
To me? Absolutely! You'll go "hey that's just like in Spanish" quite often. The trick is of course not to confuse the two but then that's less of a problem with Sp-Lt than Spanish-Italian for example
There's always the possibility that I could confuse the two; that might be somewhat of a problem.

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Post by EgoIoYoEu » Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:04 pm

I believe this is the work of a dastardly and dangerous devil - the BOT! Beware.
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Post by annis » Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:27 pm

Yes. Please don't quote the spam-weasels. I'll obliterate these posts when I notice them.
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Post by Amadeus » Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:03 pm

Voxforascausa wrote:Consider the name Michael. In Latin you'd say Mee-Kai-Ul.
Where do you get that Ul? I've never heard that.
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.

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Post by Voxforascausa » Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:18 pm

Amadeus wrote:
Voxforascausa wrote:Consider the name Michael. In Latin you'd say Mee-Kai-Ul.
Where do you get that Ul? I've never heard that.
I'm a novice to Latin, so ul might not be the right one, but that's how I thought it was pronounced.
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Post by Chris Weimer » Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:07 am

No, pronounce as you see it. El is el.

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Post by retypepassword » Wed Feb 07, 2007 4:24 am

I don't think my questions belong here anymore (perhaps in another forum), but how can I tell when I'm supposed to pronounce a long vowel or a short one?
Ex: Salvete:
Where's the long vowel and where's the short vowel? Is there some rule for this?

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Post by Agrippa » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:34 pm

retypepassword wrote:I don't think my questions belong here anymore (perhaps in another forum), but how can I tell when I'm supposed to pronounce a long vowel or a short one?
Ex: Salvete:
Where's the long vowel and where's the short vowel? Is there some rule for this?
Well, you could look it up, or you could memorize where the stress is. I know from memorization that the first e in Salvete is long, but I also know it's pronounced salvéte, so I would know that that vowel must be long even if I had forgotten that the second e was long. If it were sálvete, I'd know for sure the e was short, but a second conjugation always has the second-person plural imperative active with -Ete and never -ete.

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Post by Lucus Eques » Thu Feb 08, 2007 6:09 pm

The vowel lengths are memorized, by seeing the long marks over them.
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