Author Topic: If you know...  (Read 1153 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Justin Kissel

  • •|•|•
  • Protospatharios
  • ****************
  • Posts: 31,553
If you know...
« on: May 19, 2014, 10:25:26 PM »
I put this in 'other languages' because I mean to ask about quite a few languages, not Greek alone, Russian alone, etc. Basically what I want to know is: how hard is it, or how much time would it take, to learn one language used in liturgy when already knowing another for daily use. For examples...

Learning Koine Greek if you know Modern Greek
Learning Church Slavonic if you know Russian
Learning Church Slavonic if you know Serbian
Learning Coptic or Syriac if you know Arabic

And so on.

While I am generally in favor of services and religious texts being in the languages best understood by the most people possible*, nonetheless I do wonder how large the gaps are between such languages. I'm not looking to excuse anyone nor judge anyone, just to understand the situation.


* admittedly probably part of my modern, American bias
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 10:31:44 PM by Justin Kissel »
We all have an El Guapo to face. Be brave, and fight like lions!

Form a 'brute squad' then!

Online xOrthodox4Christx

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 4,928
  • Glub Glub Glub.
  • Faith: Eastern Orthodox (Catechumen)
  • Jurisdiction: OCA
Re: If you know...
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2014, 10:41:42 PM »
I think modern Greek and ancient Greek are not that different from each other. I was able to read an article in modern Greek based on my Koine comprehension. Grammar seems to be the main difference, Koine has archaic grammar. Modern Greek also has some modern vocabulary.

I have a high level in Arabic, and based on what little Syriac I have come in contact with, it's similar to Arabic, grammatical and vocabulary wise. Any Syriac/Arabic speaker can correct me if I am wrong.

Learning any language takes time, but it is certainly helpful to have knowledge of a similar language when learning the target language. Arabic helps me a lot with Hebrew, for example.

If you want to know how long it will take, it depends on what level you want to achieve. If you want absolute fluency, it might take a lifetime.

I can read articles and subtitles in Spanish almost perfectly. I started learning Spanish in 2010, so if you're dedicated it could take around that long. Spanish is close to English, vocab wise, so that might give you an idea.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 10:42:10 PM by xOrthodox4Christx »
"Your children shall become the head, but you... will become the tail of the Church; therefore your judges will be those who have always preserved the Catholic Faith... they will be the Orthodox and true Catholics since they have never accepted heretics... but have remained zealous for the True Faith." (Western Bishops' Response to Pope Vigilius)

Offline CopticDeacon

  • Αναγνώστης(Reader) in the God-loving Diocese of New York and New England
  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 597
  • St. Macarius, the Spirit Bearer, Pray for Us!
Re: If you know...
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2014, 10:45:24 PM »
if you know Arabic with no previous Coptic, its a stretch. a few words will be familiar( less than 2%) i don't know Syriac but when i hear it i can pick out a bunch of words. my Greek is quite horrible compared to someone who is fluent but i think it shouldn't be too bad if you are fluent in modern Greek. I can only read some Slavonic and Russian but know neither it nor Russian nor Serbian.
"I see the heavens opened up, and the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God"
-St. Stephen the Archdeacon and Protomartyr

Online Mor Ephrem

  • The Fourteenth Apostle and Judge of the Interwebs
  • Section Moderator
  • Stratopedarches
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,652
    • OrthodoxChristianity.net
Re: If you know...
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 10:50:39 PM »
i don't know Syriac but when i hear it i can pick out a bunch of words.

I don't know Arabic, but when I hear it in Coptic parishes I can pick out a bunch of words and more or less follow along with the holy powerpoint slides because of my Syriac.  :P
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

Mor no longer posts on OCNet.  He follows threads, posts his responses daily, occasionally starts threads, and responds to private messages when and as he wants.  But he really isn't around anymore.


Offline Laird

  • I'm back!
  • Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 303
  • Lord have mercy
Re: If you know...
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2014, 10:53:24 PM »
I think modern Greek and ancient Greek are not that different from each other. I was able to read an article in modern Greek based on my Koine comprehension. Grammar seems to be the main difference, Koine has archaic grammar. Modern Greek also has some modern vocabulary.

Is it comparable to KJV English and modern English?
"Do not deceive yourself with idle hopes that in the world to come you will find life if you have not tried to find it in this present world." - Theophanis the Monk

Offline CopticDeacon

  • Αναγνώστης(Reader) in the God-loving Diocese of New York and New England
  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 597
  • St. Macarius, the Spirit Bearer, Pray for Us!
Re: If you know...
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2014, 10:56:30 PM »
Mor, I can't read Arabic, only speak and understand( i need to work on reading and writing) but according to my omniscient mother, she cannot read Syriac. At all haha

xOrthodox4Christx that's in the right direction but not exact. its similar that some words fell out of use/ changed their use but grammatical structure is lacking(i.e. won't make sense) if you're not skilled in koine
"I see the heavens opened up, and the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God"
-St. Stephen the Archdeacon and Protomartyr

Online xOrthodox4Christx

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 4,928
  • Glub Glub Glub.
  • Faith: Eastern Orthodox (Catechumen)
  • Jurisdiction: OCA
Re: If you know...
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2014, 10:57:54 PM »
I think modern Greek and ancient Greek are not that different from each other. I was able to read an article in modern Greek based on my Koine comprehension. Grammar seems to be the main difference, Koine has archaic grammar. Modern Greek also has some modern vocabulary.

Is it comparable to KJV English and modern English?

Maybe.  ;) It's certainly closer than Old English (Ænglisc) and Modern English are.

A 8th century Greek and a 21st century Greek would have some mutual intelligibility, as would a 8th century Arab and a 21st century Arab (who presumably knows some modern standard). But an 8th century Angle wouldn't understand a thing that the 21st century Angle was saying.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 11:16:51 PM by xOrthodox4Christx »
"Your children shall become the head, but you... will become the tail of the Church; therefore your judges will be those who have always preserved the Catholic Faith... they will be the Orthodox and true Catholics since they have never accepted heretics... but have remained zealous for the True Faith." (Western Bishops' Response to Pope Vigilius)

Offline CopticDeacon

  • Αναγνώστης(Reader) in the God-loving Diocese of New York and New England
  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 597
  • St. Macarius, the Spirit Bearer, Pray for Us!
Re: If you know...
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2014, 10:59:22 PM »
Also that 2% i spoke of is only if you're from Egypt. Formal Saudi Arabic has no sharing of words from Coptic whatsoever.
"I see the heavens opened up, and the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God"
-St. Stephen the Archdeacon and Protomartyr

Offline Hamartolos

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 768
Re: If you know...
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2014, 11:50:08 PM »
I put this in 'other languages' because I mean to ask about quite a few languages, not Greek alone, Russian alone, etc. Basically what I want to know is: how hard is it, or how much time would it take, to learn one language used in liturgy when already knowing another for daily use. For examples...

Learning Koine Greek if you know Modern Greek
Learning Church Slavonic if you know Russian
Learning Church Slavonic if you know Serbian
Learning Coptic or Syriac if you know Arabic

And so on.

While I am generally in favor of services and religious texts being in the languages best understood by the most people possible*, nonetheless I do wonder how large the gaps are between such languages. I'm not looking to excuse anyone nor judge anyone, just to understand the situation.


* admittedly probably part of my modern, American bias

This is a great question.  You are right about our modern American bias.  I very much want to learn several languages and Rosetta Stone is about as good as I can do.  Going to school and taking classes isn't appealing as a friend of mine majored in Arabic in college and 3 years in visited my parish with me and didn't know a word of the Trisagion which we sing partly in Arabic.  I said the words and she still didn't know.  So, I think she was ripped off.  In any case, I don't know what the best way to learn is but the US has had success with that software.

 Didn't mean to get off topic, go on...
Formerly known as "mctavix"

Online Georgii

  • Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 450
  • Holy Martyr Afra, pray to God for us!
  • Faith: Eastern Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: ROCOR, German episcopate
Re: If you know...
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2014, 08:23:05 PM »
Learning Church Slavonic if you know Russian

In general I think that would take longer than it would take a modern English speaker to learn the language of Chaucer, but not nearly as long as learning the language of Beowulf in the original.

Much depends on whether you want to read Church Slavonic, understand it when it is spoken, read it aloud/chant it/sing it, write it, or some combination of the above.

Reading and writing would depend on what alphabet it is written in. The old alphabet and its abbreviations and numerals require some extra study. Already knowing the prayers in the modern Russian alphabet, or by ear, or in a third language, would all save time.

Totally proper pronounciation would be easier for speakers of Ukrainian, or ironically for people who have a good ear for languages but don't speak Russian. Even some very experienced clergy and choir singers retain some of their "Russian accent" in Church Slavonic.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2014, 08:25:16 PM by Georgii »
my garment accuses me, for it is not a wedding garment

Offline MalpanaGiwargis

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 119
  • Māran etraḥam 'lay!
  • Faith: Orthodox inquirer
Re: If you know...
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2014, 11:04:02 PM »
If you are a speaker of Arabic, Syriac might not be too difficult, since the languages are somewhat similar structurally. Syriac and Arabic are from different "branches" of the Semitic family (Syriac is Northwest Semitic and Arabic is South Semitic), so there are definite differences. Syriac's verbal system is much simpler, with nouns there are infinitely fewer broken plurals, etc. There are regular patterns to consonant differences between the two languages, so that can be a help to identifying unfamiliar words.

Coptic is much more distantly related to the Semitic family; I mainly focused on Sahidic (though Bohairic and Lycopolitan were on my doctoral exams), but I encountered very little grammatical similarity between Coptic and the Semitic languages. Some of the later Coptic had adopted some Arabic words, and I understand that Egyptian Arabic has likewise taken on some Coptic vocabulary, but they remain quite distinct in structure. Coptic's verbal system is quite different from anything else I had studied.
Woe is me, that I have read the commandments,
   and have become learned in the Scriptures,
and have been instructed in Your glories,
   and yet I have become occupied in shameful things!

(Giwargis Warda, On Compunction of Soul)