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Author Topic: Greek difficult to learn?  (Read 2425 times) Average Rating: 0
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Thepeug
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« on: July 04, 2005, 09:48:42 PM »

I'm taking Elementary Greek this upcoming semester (I'll be a junior in college) because I'd like to attend seminary after graduation and I think that a foundation in Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic would be useful for post-graduate religious studies.  Plus, it'd be really cool to read the Pauline letters in the original Greek.  I've heard from some that Greek is relatively easy to pick up, while others say that it is extremely difficult for a native English speaker.  Can any Greek speakers or those who have learned Greek offer some input?  Thanks in advance.
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2005, 10:29:34 PM »

From what I've seen of it, it's more difficult than Latin (if only because of a different alphabet and fewer borrowings into English), about as difficult as Russian or one of the modern Slavic languages, and easier than Arabic, Syriac, or one of the other Semitic languages.
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2005, 10:53:12 PM »

Is it harder than Japanese?
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2005, 10:56:46 PM »

I'm attempting (and poorly I might add) to learn Coptic.  I've found that there is a striking resemblence to the Coptic text with the ancient Greek text.  Granted, the Coptic used today derived some of it's letters from the ancient Greek.  But it makes you wonder, if you learn Greek, does it make learning Coptic that much easier and vice versa?

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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2005, 11:02:13 PM »

I do not speak either Greek or Arabic or Japanese.

But, I do tend to believe that the first foreign language you lear will be the hardest. Especially, if it is not in the same family as your own language. Once you learn first one, you will get the idea how to learn languages and every next one will be easier. So, if the greek is someone's first foreign language to learn, it is goin to be tough. If it is 3rd or 4th then it will be hard but not as hard as the first one.

Letters (alphabet) are just the first (obvious) thing. Believe it or not, it is by far the easiest thing to learn. The problems start when you have to figure out grammatical stuff.

English is very poor when it comes to grammar. Greek... ola la la... Good luck.
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2005, 11:53:29 PM »

For me, Greek is the hardest topic for me to learn. I struggle regularly with this subject, but that is because I have always struggled with every language, including my native tongue of English. One reason why I majored in Fire Engineering and minored in Math and Chemistry is precisely because this reduced my class loading in English to the bare minimum needed.

The fact is that some people learn language easily, and others struggle. Now, it is not a bad thing to struggle (I realize now). The real question is: 'How much do you want to learn it?'

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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2005, 12:34:53 AM »

Quote
Is it harder than Japanese?

Yes and no. Japanese, when looked at as a language per se, really isn't that difficult. Even if you don't accept the theory that it is a relative of the Altaic languages (such as Turkish), it still shares with them the characteristics of being highly logical and regular. The problem with Japanese, though, is that so much of what is required to become actually fluent in the language (as opposed to just being able to make your meaning understood) is tied up with Japanese culture, that a foreigner has little chance of truly learning it without extensive and lengthy immersion experience. But if you just want to be able to communicate with someone, Japanese has Greek beaten hands-down. (Turkish does, too; as much as it pains me to say it, it's hard to find a more regular and easy-to-learn language.)
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2005, 02:31:42 AM »

I find Greek to be considerably easier to learn than Russian or Polish.  I actually find Greek having its own alphabit easier as I can go from English mode to Greek mode more swiftly.  After looking at German (and I especially see this in my sister who is fluent in it) we'll both misprounonce English words like start as "shtart" or switch v and w.  I guess what I mean to say is that since Greek is so different you won't worry about it blurring into your English.  It's actually kind of funny to listen to my sister speak to me after she hasn't spoken English in awhile...

If you apply yourself and have a chance to practice, you shouldn't have any problem with Greek.
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Thepeug
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2005, 04:49:40 AM »

Thanks for the input, everyone.  I look forward to the challenge, and I'll let you know how it goes.

God bless,

Chris
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2005, 10:10:00 AM »

Once you get past the alphabet, Greek is not impossible. It is a very very precise language. The cases and the declentions of words can make it difficult. The point about Greek is always being able to see the whole forest, and not getting fixated with the individual trees. When I first began to study Greek (Classical and then Koine) I HATED it.  Then someone suggested I attend a Divine Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Church and that WORKED.   Grin  I got to hear Koine in action. It was no longer a dead, boring textbook language. It was alive, it had rhythm, it even sounded kind of cool when they would chant it. I really liked it. I don't know any modern Greek, but I have been told that it is much easier than Classical or Koine and has been simplified over time. Perhaps some native Greek speakers on this board could comment on this. But regardless of the changes, the Greek alphabet is still exactly the same. And once you learn to read it, you never forget it (at least I haven't)
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2005, 12:08:41 PM »

The question that you haven't really specified is this: Which Greek language do you want to learn?

Attic Greek (spoken by Euripdes, etc.) and Koine Greek is about as different from Demotic (modern spoken Greek) as English is from Chaucer. (Try and read the Canterbury tales with no footnotes and you'll see what I mean).

Homeric Greek is even further removed from Attic Greek. The language of Homer was tonal, like Chinese.

My point here is this: If you, (like I did) take Ancient Greek and then think you're going to be able to converse with a yiayia (grandmother) after liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Church, then think again!

Here's a couple of links to show you what I'm talking about. First, a Web site where you can hear Ancient Greek as Homer spoke it:

http://www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/agp/

Listen to that awhile and then compare it to what you hear on some modern Greek radio stations that you can hear over the Internet, here:

http://www.e-radio.com.cy/

See what I mean? The two languages are very different in pronounciation. Plus, Modern Greek has a whole host of loanwords from Latin, French, Turkish and English. In the liturgy, (which uses Koine Greek), the priest at one point says "Tas thyras, tas thyras, en sophia proskomen!" (Which means "the doors, the doors, in Wisdom, let us attend!" But, by contrast, Modern Greek does not use the word "thyra" for door, but instead uses the word "porta" which was taken from Latin.

Hope that clears some things up.




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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2005, 03:20:27 AM »

I studied Koine Greek at Theological college. I found the whole rote learning thing very hard, not so much with vocabulary as with the verbs etc. But i still use what i learned, i would like to study it further and become more proficient. I believe it repays the effort.
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