Which is more difficult to learn, Greek or Latin?

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trek bob
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Which is more difficult to learn, Greek or Latin?

Post by trek bob » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:55 pm

I know no other language than English and am not a young man! My long term interest is in reading classics and biblical and early church writings. But I am a realist and want to start with the easier path.

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Re: Which is more difficult to learn, Greek or Latin?

Post by Lex » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:28 pm

If you have no particular preference, I would say start out with Latin. You don't have to learn a new alphabet, the verb conjugations are simpler, and some old (i.e. cheap!) Greek books assume that you have Latin, since that was the traditional order in which the two languages were taught.
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Re: Which is more difficult to learn, Greek or Latin?

Post by paulusnb » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:33 pm

I would second Lex's opinion, if for no other reason than vocab. As an English speaker, you already know a lot of Latin vocab. Not so with the Greek.

On the other hand, if your goal is to simply read New Testament Greek, mastering it might be easier than mastering Latin. With New Testament Greek, you are memorizing words from the start that will appear in the Bible.
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Re: Which is more difficult to learn, Greek or Latin?

Post by thesaurus » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:56 pm

Also, if you're mostly interested in reading Latin biblical/Church writings, learning Latin will become even easier. As paulusnb notes with Biblical Greek, the vocabulary and grammar will generally be easier and more limited within ecclesiastical writing.
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Re: Which is more difficult to learn, Greek or Latin?

Post by rDeckard » Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:00 pm

trek bob brings up a good point. what is everyone's opinion as to which language is easier to learn?

i have four years of structured latin training and only took a year of greek. my greek professor kept telling us that greek starts out harder and then gets easier after the first year, while latin gets more difficult.

i have found that latin hasn't gotten easier for me. even though latin has the helpful attribute of being in a familiar alphabet with reasonably familiar vocabulary i still feel the learning curve increasing. while i only took a year of classical greek i feel that i can work my way through koine as easily as vulgar latin.

my theory is the definite article in greek makes all the difference.

but putting aside dialects and time periods, which language is more difficult to master in its entirety (meaning grad level competency in both), classical greek or classical latin?
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Re: Which is more difficult to learn, Greek or Latin?

Post by Essorant » Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:44 pm

I don't think that is a very sound aspect to go by, for if one is easier or harder than the other it is not so in any very obvious manner, nor in a way that shall make much difference or be very helpful. Also the way a grammar teaches the language often makes a difference as well. One might read a heavier and more awkard grammar for Greek and then think the language more difficult, and even more so if the grammar that he used for Latin was much more user-friendly and helpful by which he learned Latin more swiftly.
Last edited by Essorant on Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which is more difficult to learn, Greek or Latin?

Post by Jacobus » Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:28 pm

I think the question of which is more difficult to a certain extent depends on where you come from, as well as some other important factors. If you've grown up speaking Modern Greek, or one of the Slavonic languages which use an alphabet which is derived from the Ancient Greek one, then I think then you're more likely to find Greek easier. I do realise, though, that the original poster said explicitly that he only knew English, so Latin would be easier in this case.

The alphabet is the same as English, and something like 30% of English words derive from Latin, in comparison to something like 5% from Greek. I think Latin grammar is altogether much simpler; bear in mind that traditional Greek textbooks, at least older ones, assumed that you had Latin before you even started Greek. Maybe this gives some kind of helpful indication as to the difficulty of the two when compared to each other, I don't know. I think a lot has to be said for your motivation to learn it, as well. In my case, I am interested in Roman history as well as the influence of Latin on modern English, so I chose Latin.

I hope that helped to some small degree.


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