Reading English classics helps Greek learning

Reading English classics helps Greek learning

Postby Mike Noel » November 2nd, 2011, 7:17 pm

My hypothesis is that reading English (or native-language) classic literature helps with learning classical Greek. When I was in high-school and college I avoided reading the "classics" as much as possible because they were boring. Instead I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. But in the last few years I've turned back to some of the classics and I can't help but notice how the language structure in those books (e.g. Swift, Melville) is much more Greekish than what I find in modern fiction. For example, classical English literature makes much more elaborate use of participles than much modern writing. I find that this helps me. Now when I see complex participle phrases or uses of relative pronouns I relate them to Greek which makes the Greek grammar seem more natural.

Maybe it's just my particular experiences (or lack of experiences...) that leads me to see this correlation but I can't help but wonder if a person who is used to reading more sophisticated native-language literature might do better while learning Greek than someone who has only focused on less sophisticated stuff.

Has anyone else noticed this?
Mike Noel
 
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Re: Reading English classics helps Greek learning

Postby refe » November 3rd, 2011, 9:34 am

Mike Noel wrote:My hypothesis is that reading English (or native-language) classic literature helps with learning classical Greek. When I was in high-school and college I avoided reading the "classics" as much as possible because they were boring. Instead I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. But in the last few years I've turned back to some of the classics and I can't help but notice how the language structure in those books (e.g. Swift, Melville) is much more Greekish than what I find in modern fiction. For example, classical English literature makes much more elaborate use of participles than much modern writing. I find that this helps me. Now when I see complex participle phrases or uses of relative pronouns I relate them to Greek which makes the Greek grammar seem more natural.

Maybe it's just my particular experiences (or lack of experiences...) that leads me to see this correlation but I can't help but wonder if a person who is used to reading more sophisticated native-language literature might do better while learning Greek than someone who has only focused on less sophisticated stuff.

Has anyone else noticed this?


Developing the faculties to read and comprehend more formally complex literature probably helps a reader to read and comprehend other more formally complex literature (like classical Greek), but I'm not sure I would take it any further than that. I don't know your age, Mike, but I am in my mid 20's and I can attest to the fact that my generation received very little exposure to classical literature, or really any literature beyond American Literature from the 20's-60's - a genre hardly known for it's formal complexity. So, when I open up Plato I am at a huge disadvantage because not only am I learning to read Greek, in many ways I'm still learning to really read, too.

In that sense, reading the classics probably does help a person read classical Greek. Still, I'd rather spend my time just reading the Greek ;).
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