Why not start with modern Greek?

Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby RandallButh » March 1st, 2012, 3:55 pm

Buth wrote on his website http://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/ " learn easily…progress further…remember for life…."
(hi Randall. Have you thought about adding “learn faster?”)


Hi Mark.

We've distilled the triplet into

REALLY LEARN

Come to Fresno and get the T-shirt :D
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby Mark Lightman » March 1st, 2012, 4:22 pm

ἔγραψε Randall Buth: Hi Mark.

We've distilled the triplet into

REALLY LEARN

Come to Fresno and get the T-shirt



Nice, but let’s get back to the question at hand.

Have many of your students or facilitators have learned to speak Modern Greek? How helpful do they say it to be? Have you ever heard of a fluent Modern Greek speaker who decides s/he now has to learn to speak Ancient Greek in order to improve reading fluency in Ancient Greek?

I’m serious when I say that this particular topic has not been discussed enough. We need a consensus on just how valuable MG is in learning the ancient tongue. Nobody with any concrete experience is coming forward.
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby RandallButh » March 1st, 2012, 5:26 pm

None of us at BLC are fluent in modern Greek.
I have discussed the question with Greeks themselves. And a few years ago I visited a high school class in Patmos.
The class was amused to hear someone speak with infinitives, datives, and futures (all missing in modern Greek). In general, I am impressed with the level of reading skill that comes from a modern Greek mother-tongue, followed by a highschool ancient Greek curriculum, and a university curriculum with a classics major. I can't say whether the language is like Chaucer or Beowolf or somewhere in between for them, but the combination of training is effective. Who knows, if enough outsiders/βαρβαροι learned to speak ancient/αρχαια, some modern Greeks might take it up as a hobby, too. However, the older generation just substitutes a kathereuousa mix when I have been able to talk in Kos.
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby Mark Lightman » March 2nd, 2012, 12:16 pm

Buth wrote: I can't say whether the language is like Chaucer or Beowolf or somewhere in between for them…


This is spot on. Demotic is NOT to Attic what Stephen King is to Shakespeare, though you sometimes hear this alleged by both Native Greeks (who don't know English that well) and by Americans (who don't know MG that well.) For me, working back from Chaucer to Beowolf the trajectory passes from the difficult-but-okay-I-sort-of-know-what-that-means to the unintelligible, but at what precise point I cannot tell.

I often get comments from Native Greeks on my YouTube Koine videos. They can understand what I say because what I say is so simple. Often the comments they send me are in Modern Greek, but, even though I do not know Modern Greek, I can always understand what they say, because I pretty much know ahead of time what a comment on a video will be. I’ll write back to them in Koine and we get a little conversation going. One guy thought I was French (hi, Christophe Rico) which I took as a compliment.

I am impressed with the level of reading skill that comes from a modern Greek mother-tongue, followed by a highschool ancient Greek curriculum, and a university curriculum with a classics major… the combination of training is effective.


That’s sort of like saying studying the law will help you become a better nurse if you get a law degree and then go to medical school.

I’m beginning to think that learning to speak Modern Greek is to Koine reading fluency what chicken soup is to curing the common cold; it can’t hurt.

ιθι πολλα χαιρων
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby RandallButh » March 2nd, 2012, 1:14 pm

That’s sort of like saying studying the law will help you become a better nurse if you get a law degree and then go to medical school.

I’m beginning to think that learning to speak Modern Greek is to Koine reading fluency what chicken soup is to curing the common cold; it can’t hurt.


you exagerate. The point for outsiders is time (which is considerable, and considerably more than what some monolinguals may imagine if they have only related to languages as 'credits' in school), and whether or not they want to know modern Greek.
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby Nikolaos Adamou » March 2nd, 2012, 10:59 pm

There is a unique continuity and unity in the Greek language, where most of the change happens between Homeric and Classical, but from that period, to the Hellenistic, Eastern Roman Empire, Under Ottoman Occupation and Modern times, all the way up to the linguistic reform in early 80’s, the language shows stability and continuity. Particular and significant role in this continuity and stability play the usage of Biblical Greek in the liturgical life of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Italian is another language different that Latin, λατινογενῆς, Modern Greek is NOT another ἑλληνογενῆς language, substantially different from the New and Old Testament Greek or classical. The difference between Modern Greek and Hellenistic Greek is much smaller than the Shakespearian and modern English.
All those of us who were educated before the 80’s are very comfortable with datives and all other forms of classical Greek that exist also in the so called katharevousa form of the Modern Greek. The official ecclesiastical communication of the Orthodox Church practiced today in Jerusalem, Alexandria Egypt, and Constantinople, and Mount Sinai Egypt is much closer to the official attic form used at the period of the Eastern Roman Empire than todays barbaric modern Greek. It is not correct the statement “Modern Greek speakers have to learn ancient Greek as a different language”, I learn ancient Greek as my language. Biblical Greek is still a living language used uninterrupted in the Orthodox Church from the first century up to now. The hymnology used is the same composed from the third century up to today.

For more essential discussion, I one may look at the following:
1. Grammatica Graeca 1712, by Alexander Helladius ‪(Google Books)‬
2. On the rhythmical declamation of the ancients, by Prof. John Stuart Blakie 1843, Google Books
3. The Modern Greek language in its relation to the Ancient Greek Prof Edmund Martin Geldar, 1870, Google Books
4. The Modern Greek its pronunciation and relations to ancient Greek, by Prof. Telemachus Thomas Timayenis 1877, Google Books
5. An historical Greek grammar: chiefly of the Attic dialect as written and spoken from classical antiquity down to the present time, founded upon the ancient texts, inscriptions, papyri and present popular Greek, 1897, ‬ by Antonius Nicholas Jannaris ‪(Google Books)‬
6. The Development of Greek and the New Testament: Morphology, Syntax, Phonology, and Textual Transmission, 2004, by Chrys C. Caragounis

There is plenty of similar literature from the 15 and 16 centuries as well, that Google made it available to all today. Most of this literatiure, like the work by Helladius is also bilingual, in Greek and Latin, that does not allow any misunderstanding of the text.

Knowledge of Modern Greek for example does not allow one to confuse the γινώσκω from ἀναγινώσκω, as almost all textbooks entitled «reading greek» focus on the γινώσκω but not ἀναγινώσκω, while all the grammarians from the 2nd BC to the 14AD centuries written by Greeks provide a balance and interrelated presentation of both.

A great advantance of approaching Hellenistic and Classical Greek from a Modern Greek language point of view, is the option to communicate with Greeks themselves.

The main question I have is what are the advantages of interrupting articicially the unity and continuation of my language besides to have a discussion about my language not in Greek and without the Greeks.
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby klriley » March 3rd, 2012, 4:07 am

For me, the best argument for learning modern Greek, apart from the fact that it is intrinsically worth learning, it that it is there, or rather, here. I can turn on my TV set at a number of different times during the day and modern Greek is there ready to listen to. I can go to the newsagent and buy a newspaper in modern Greek. If I went door knocking in my suburb, it wouldn't take too long to find a Greek person willing to talk to me in modern Greek. I can order fish and chips at a number of places (or gyros, etc) in modern Greek and get what I ordered. That means I can learn the rhythm of the language as I learn the words. I have a naive belief that both Koiné and Classical Greek probably sounded more like modern Greek than like modern English. If you don't live in a city blessed with an abundance of Greeks, there are still numerous courses you can use that have native speakers of modern Greek speaking in modern Greek for you to hear. I haven't done this yet - I am late in finishing my PhD and my wife has made it abundantly clear that chasing any more non-PhD related subjects will lead to serious harm to my health. But I have courses for beginners ready to go once that (insert words of choice) PhD is handed in. And I look forward to the opportunity of ordering Greek food in Greek. Will that help my Koiné Greek? I'm not sure, but I think it will make me sound like it did, and that's a good start:)
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby Mark Lightman » March 3rd, 2012, 8:36 am

Hi, Niko. It’s great to hear from you. You have been our go-to guy on things Modern Greek for a long time here on B-Greek, and we are very glad that you are here.

Niko wrote

The difference between Modern Greek and Hellenistic Greek is much smaller than the Shakespearian and modern English
.

after Mark Lightman had basically written the opposite earlier in the thread:

Demotic is NOT to Attic what Stephen King is to Shakespeare


I honestly don’t know who is right here. “We reason but from what we know.”

It is not correct the statement “Modern Greek speakers have to learn ancient Greek as a different language”, I learn ancient Greek as my language.


This is exactly what Jonathan and I were looking for when we asked about people with concrete experience on this issue. You move to the head of the line in settling this question.

Biblical Greek is still a living language used uninterrupted in the Orthodox Church from the first century up to now
.

If this were true, there should be audios or videos of Orthodox priests chatting in Koine Greek. Not reading or singing Biblical texts or liturgy, but just two guys shooting the breeze in Ancient Greek, like these two guys

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWczu-In ... r_embedded

Are there such resources? How come none of these fluent native Greek speakers of Koine Greek have come forward?

Speaking of resources…

Kevin R. wrote: I can go to the newsagent and buy a newspaper in modern Greek


Hi, Kevin. As you know, you can also get a newspaper in Attic Greek.

http://www.akwn.net/

But I have courses for beginners ready to go once that (insert words of choice) PhD is handed in
.

τὸ κατηραμένον Φ.δ.

Niko wrote: The main question I have is what are the advantages of interrupting articicially the unity and continuation of my language besides to have a discussion about my language not in Greek and without the Greeks.


Excellent point. By starting with Modern Greek one would not wind up talking about Greek in a language not Greek. By the time you got to Koine, you could talk about it in Greek, not English.

Jonathan asked: Why not start with Modern Greek?


πῶς γὰρ οὐ;
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby Brian Peterson » April 20th, 2013, 11:59 am

I think this thread is deserving of more insights, if there are those who still feel they can contribute to the discussion

I'm a self-taught student of biblical greek. My long term goals are to be able to read the GNT with ease, and maybe learn some proficiency in speaking modern Greek (when studying a language, there's just something to knowing that your efforts will allow you to speak to millions of the same tongue). Up to this point in my Greek studies, I have simply memorized paradigm charts and vocabulary (with modern Greek pronunciation due to the influence of Spiros Zodhiates); I have worked through Trenchard's Vocab book and have just about memorized all words that occur 10 times or more in the NT. Yet, I now realize that I need an immersion type program going forward if I really want to learn the language. Since I'd like to maintain a modern Greek pronunciation, I'm wondering if Randall Buth's program would still be the best option (due to a couple slight differences from the modern pronunciation). Or would a modern Greek program be as a good for my stated goals? And what modern Greek programs are effective for self study?

Thanks you.

Brian
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Re: Why not start with modern Greek?

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 23rd, 2013, 10:45 am

The thing that Buth's program can give you that self-study really cannot is internalizing the language by hearing and speaking the language. If you are considering Modern Greek, I would keep this in mind and strongly prefer a Modern Greek program with a living, breathing, speaking, and listening teacher rather than self-study if that option is feasible.

As I have not really studied Modern Greek, I can't tell you how much it could help your Koine Greek, but I can tell that studying Italian has been beneficial to my Latin. (And, yes, I do prefer the Italianate pronunciation of Latin!)
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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