Learning Modern Greek

Here you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Greek, and more.
Nooj
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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by Nooj » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:26 am

Scribo wrote:Well that's neither here nor there. If we were being so utilitarian why would bother with extraneous languages anyway?
Just so you know where I'm coming from, my area of study is linguistics. One of my interests, more like a passion really, is in language endagerment.

Speaking a language with only a couple hundred fluent speakers who are found only in an isolated portion of the country probably won't get you a job or improve your position in life. Heck, you might get looked down for speaking it. But I'm not going to say that these languages should be abandoned just because they're 'useless' in the wider society. I'm opposed to utilitarian arguments like these.

When I say that I want to speak a language that has speakers, it's because I feel lonely learning a language that is primarily connected with the past. I like meeting people from different countries and different backgrounds. Travelling around has made me more aware of this.
Scribo wrote: I learnt AG and Latin due to my overwhelming interest in the ancient world and my chosen courses of study. I'm all about the context, it would be inconceivable for me to ever look at Homer in English and be satisfied, after all don't you know how weird his language actually is? When we're discussing whether or not such a particle is a Luwian loan word or whether such a phrase is a clumsy rendering of an Akkadian original or even reading a Hellenistic novel and laughing at the slight change of an old Homeric phrasing Greek is obviously important.
It's ironic that I can read Homeric Greek but I don't appreciate it!

I'd be satisfied with reading Homer in translation in return for those years spent learning Greek, because Homer doesn't interest me to the extent that say, Sartre does. I'm one of those people who's more interested in existentialism than the debt that Greek owes to the Ancient Near East. That's not to say I'm not interested in Greek at all, but I've realised that I'm not as interested as I first thought. It's why I changed from Classics to linguistics.
Scribo wrote: No learning is in vain. You want Italian or French? well go learn it in the safe knowledge that having learnt Latin your acquisition of them will be somewhat faster and perhaps even more pleasant.
Yes well, French is for next year in university. :D
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Scribo
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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by Scribo » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:49 am

Good luck with your studies friend. For what it's worth I can somewhat understand your angle. :)
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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by IreneY » Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:42 pm

Scribo wrote:. I spend most of my team in Modern Greek....I don't think anyone would reasonably call it a beautiful language.
I think native speakers would take an issue with that wouldn't you? :mrgreen: I mean I don't consider it the most beautiful language in the whole wide world but it's not such a plain language either to me. Actually, for some obscure reason, it sounds better than reconstructed classic and homeric AG to my ears. Go figure! :lol:


As for the similarities between the two, well, yes, those that over-stress them are going way too far, but you wouldn't believe the amount of things that bug foreign students of ancient Greek (no matter which their native language is and whether it's declined or not, or whatever) that a native speaker that actually knows their own language (Greek) finds completely natural.
I didn't suddenly switch to the "MG and AG are almost identical" side (still nuts but not a nut-job thankfully) but I'm just saying.


Nooj if you need any help and/or online sources tell me.

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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by Scribo » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:28 am

IreneY wrote:
Scribo wrote:. I spend most of my team in Modern Greek....I don't think anyone would reasonably call it a beautiful language.
I think native speakers would take an issue with that wouldn't you? :mrgreen: I mean I don't consider it the most beautiful language in the whole wide world but it's not such a plain language either to me. Actually, for some obscure reason, it sounds better than reconstructed classic and homeric AG to my ears. Go figure! :lol:


As for the similarities between the two, well, yes, those that over-stress them are going way too far, but you wouldn't believe the amount of things that bug foreign students of ancient Greek (no matter which their native language is and whether it's declined or not, or whatever) that a native speaker that actually knows their own language (Greek) finds completely natural.
I didn't suddenly switch to the "MG and AG are almost identical" side (still nuts but not a nut-job thankfully) but I'm just saying.


Nooj if you need any help and/or online sources tell me.
synfonw kyria, apla enoousa oti den einai i idih....eixa akousei poly malakies apo tous ellhnes pou kserw. Panda legw oti prepei na diavasete eite "History of the Greek Language and its Speakers" - Horrocks eite "Vox Graeca" prin mou lene kati gia thn phonologia ths ellhnikhs glossa...

sygnomh epeidh den ithela na sas enoxlhsa...
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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by Nooj » Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:00 pm

This seems to be a really awesome resource: http://www.slang.gr/

Now if only I could read it. :)

Is it just me, or do Greek speakers speak Greek faster than English speakers do with English?
Dolor poetas creat.

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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by Alacritas » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:14 am

Nooj wrote: Is it just me, or do Greek speakers speak Greek faster than English speakers do with English?
I would say this depends on a) where you are in the English and Greek-speaking worlds, and b) who's talking. Lots of people tell me I speak too fast (in all the languages I speak), and I know some people who really draaaawl out their words.

Also, I've heard this from so many people, going in every direction. When I was teaching English in Chile, the Spanish speakers said "all English speakers speak so fast! How can we possibly understand?!" While on the other hand, just about every English speaker I've known has said that Spanish speakers "talk so fast, it's impossible to understand what they're saying!" I've heard the same from French speakers about English and Spanish alike, and from English and Spanish speakers about French!

I think any language you're not familiar with sounds fast (obviously this does depend on the individual speaker, like I said, as there certainly is individual variation); the more you learn, the easier it will be come and the less fast it will seem.

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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by LCN » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:29 pm

I think as Alacritas said any language you are not fluent in sounds fast to you, at least if you are trying to understand it. Speech is almost at the speed of thought and people think a thought a lot faster than they translate the same, if they are not fluent in the language.

Also to the person commenting on the Aeneid in translation being "good enough". Good enough for what purpose?

If you had some mild interest in Roman history, but not enough to learn Latin, I guess I could understand that. But otherwise it's like saying the Cliff's Notes of a novel, or a photograph of a painting, are "good enough". The Aeneid is a poem. The only purpose a poem has is to be read (well sung actually, but close enough). If you read it in translation you're reading a different poem. Either it's worth reading or it's not worth reading.

And if you have a genuine interest in philosophy you're doing yourself a grave disservice by not learning Greek. I think it says a lot about the quality of liberal education these days that one can obtain a philosophy PhD without having any Greek.

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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by Nooj » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:32 am

Also to the person commenting on the Aeneid in translation being "good enough". Good enough for what purpose?
To read.
I guess I could understand that. But otherwise it's like saying the Cliff's Notes of a novel, or a photograph of a painting, are "good enough". The Aeneid is a poem. The only purpose a poem has is to be read (well sung actually, but close enough). If you read it in translation you're reading a different poem. Either it's worth reading or it's not worth reading.
What you're saying is that it's worth reading in the original language or it's not worth reading at all. I don't agree.
But otherwise it's like saying the Cliff's Notes of a novel,
Tolstoy has been translated numerous times into English. Are they Cliff Notes versions? That's doing a disservice to the translators. I don't have the time to read every one of my books in the original language they were written in.
or a photograph of a painting, are "good enough".
Actually, yes I think it is. I don't want or need a big painting, I'd be happy with a photograph of it blown up and framed.

And if you have a genuine interest in philosophy you're doing yourself a grave disservice by not learning Greek. I think it says a lot about the quality of liberal education these days that one can obtain a philosophy PhD without having any Greek.
The sort of philosophy I'm interested in doesn't require Greek, although interestingly enough Simone de Beauvoir taught herself Greek. Not sure about Sartre.

It also betrays a Eurocentric perspective. If I was interested in Buddhist philosophy (and I am), I wouldn't need Greek. I'd need Sanskrit. Philosophy is much bigger than the philosophy created over 2000 years ago in one corner of the world. Even in the West, especially in the analytic tradition, there's much philosophy that has nothing to do with the Greeks.
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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by Scribo » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:05 am

Well said Nooj. Well said.
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Re: Learning Modern Greek

Post by LCN » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:31 pm

1. And what's the purpose of reading "the" Aeneid? To say you have read it?

Why listen to a Bob Dylan album when you can read the liner notes instead?

2. I was suggesting that there are not many reasons to read the Aeneid other than to experience the poem that it is. I did give an example of one possible other reason.

3. I think a Russian lover of Tolstoy would indeed tell you that reading him in translation is not "good enough". But there is a significant difference between reading a novel in translation and a poem. You necessarily lose a tremendous amount in the latter which is perhaps not the case in the former.

And translation is an odd business now that you mention it. I think you will find that for many translators of poetry it is a labor of love but they are quite ambivalent about whether they are really doing a service to the world by encouraging reading poetry in translation.

3. So is the purpose of a painting to be seen or to be possessed?

4. Sartre would definitely have had some Greek. And how do you know what the sort of philosophy you are interested in "requires"? What does it mean to seriously understand existentialism? I think neither Sartre nor Heidegger would agree with you about the unimportance of Greek.

Existentialism in a nutshell is a certain working out of what it means to live in an acosmic or irrational world. That is to say it is a rejection of the Platonic and Aristotelian idealisms. If you are really interested in existentialism you will want to know whether it is true, and if you want to satisfy yourself on that point you will have to have Greek.

And even the Analytic types believe themselves to be deeply engaged with the same topics as Aristotle. How well they actually understand Aristotle and thus their own activities is certainly open to question.


Finally regarding your comments on Buddhism, it seems to me that you are the Eurocentric one here in that you project a Greek conflation of wisdom with reason onto a way of life that does not seek wisdom through reason.

To shoehorn Buddhism into "world philosophy" is, to use the old saw, a Procrustean effort. Whatever Buddhism may be (revelation perhaps?) and whatever truth it may hold, it's not philosophy. To read that as an insult to Buddhism is to display a deeply-rooted Western prejudice in favor of philosophy.*

And anyway there's nothing European about ancient Greece, which makes the charge even more ill-fitting.





*In fairness I'm winging it a bit here with regard to Buddhism but I believe I am correct.

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