Jonathan wrote: Modern Greek has much more and probably much better resources for those who want to learn a language with a living languages approach.
According to Wikipedia, there are 13 million speakers of Modern Greek, so, yes, I would say Modern Greek has about 12.99999999 million more resources for learning it than does Koine Greek.
Now, in terms of non-human resources—Rosetta Stone, children’s books, videos, audio drills, phrase books, songs, target language dictionaries--Modern Greek also wins hands down. The gap is huge, BUT the gap is much less now than it was just a few years ago. Every day the gap grows smaller, as excellent new Koine resources are produced. Moreover, because the gap is so large, it forces learners of Living Koine TO PRODUCE THEIR OWN RESOURCES, which, ΙΜΟ, is a good thing. Over on B-Hebrew a guy, basically an amateur, wrote his own Hebrew lexicon. I don’t know how good it turned out to be, but the process of writing a lexicon, FOR THE GUY who writes it, is a more valuable resource than all the existing lexicons in the target language. In the same way, I think it is more helpful to PRODUCE part of a Koine Rosetta Stone, as many people on this list have done, (including you, Jonathan) rather than to USE one prepared by others.
If some people start with Homer or Attic Greek then move forward in time to Koine, is there anything to be said for starting with modern Greek, then moving back in time to the Koine period?
Absolutely there is. διαλεγώμεθα δή.
The differences between modern and Koine are significant, but so are the differences between Homeric and Koine.
In fact, it has been argued that the differences between Modern Greek and Koine are less than the differences between Koine and Homer. Hmmm...?
Wayne wrote: Someone much more familiar with Modern Greek than I will have to chime in, but I would suppose that it comes down to just how different the two are.
That’s actually part of the problem. The more familiar one is with Modern Greek, the more similar it appears to Ancient Greek. Same with Homer. My first thought on opening the Iliad was, “This IS Greek, right?” Now it seems very similar, not by any means the same, but similar, to Koine. There is a very subjective element here, but it does seem like there ought to be some objective way to resolve this question.
Good idea? Bad idea? Why?
It’s certainly not a bad idea, although I bet there will be some purists who will say it will “harm” your Ancient Greek by introducing meanings and constructions that are not part of “authentic” Ancient Greek. Believe it or not, there are some purists who say that if you are learning Biblical Hebrew you should NOT learn Modern Hebrew because it will “interfere” with it. When I hear this, I want to cringe, because I could only wish that Modern Greek was as close to Ancient Greek as Modern Hebrew is to Ancient Hebrew. If it were, we would not be having this conversation.
It’s a good idea because, some will argue, theoretically, by going to Greece or by hooking up with Native Greeks, one could learn Modern Greek quickly and well, and then you could see how helpful it would be to reading Ancient Greek. Some people will say it is a good idea because some people, while accepting the idea of living language methodologies, will always view Living Koine as “artificial.” I’ve been told several times that if I want to learn to speak Greek I should just learn to speak Modern Greek, but I have never been told this by someone who himself actually speaks Modern Greek.
Does anyone have concrete experience with this approach?
This is the heart of the matter. Surprisingly, considering how we tend to beat topics to death here, I recall very little discussion of this on B-Greek. (φήμι δὴ τούτον τὸν ἵππον ἔτι ζῶντα.) I hope someone out there does have concrete experience and will come forward. I have had concrete experience in learning Koine as living language, and I can say that it has been TREMENDOUSLY helpful in improving my reading fluency. There are many others out there who have said the same thing. What I want to know is, will learning Modern Greek as a living language do the same thing. I honestly don’t know. I’m glad that Jonathan started this thread. I await further responses.