The first edition of Cortina “Conversational Modern Greek in 20 Lessons” co-authored by George C. Pappageotes and Philip D. Emmanuel, was published in 1959. The contents of all subsequent editions/revisions/reprints are identical to those of the original course book.
Customary Cortina Method
The Cortina Modern Greek course which, at 288 pages, was somewhat slimmer than the average course in the series, followed the customary Cortina Method of instruction (dialogues, phonetic transcriptions, translations in columnar form).
Language Variant: Katharevousa
It is important to note that the language variant taught in the Cortina Modern Greek course is Katharevousa which has been largely supplanted by Demotic.
Putting aside comments on the HTLAL and LLORG confirming that the language variant is Katharevousa, there has been very little discussion of the Cortina Modern Greek course. Given the overall sound reputation of the Cortina courses, while a few Amazon Customer Reviews are favourable, a surprisingly-high number were rather negative. Many reviewers felt that the Cortina Modern Greek was too difficult for beginners. Could this be due to the difficulty of the language itself? I suspect that some of the students were novices whose expectations might have been unrealistic. In any event, it is a shame that they were most evidently unaware of the existence of the HTLAL and the LLORG!
Sidscott94 on Amazon in 2013 wrote: I liked this book and it helped me learn a lot of the things that one would need to learn quickly if they were looking to actually travel to Greece
Douglas P. Murphy on Amazon in 2010 wrote:I got this book after reading a basic, introductory book and I think that this one fills that role quite well. It doesn't make a great first book but is an excellent second one. The early chapters explain issues such as pronunciation. Then there are twenty chapters that have around two pages of vocabulary and a series of sentences with a pronunciation guide and translations. Thus through these sentences one can improve one's vocabulary and reading skills. At the end of the book are chapters on grammar and a dictionary. I like the format and this is a good stepping stone to reading books and articles
Hmm, apparently Dr. Graham did not reader the instructions for use and did not notice the very serviceable grammar (including the Study Plan for its use) located in the index!Dr Jeffry Graham wrote: This book is better suited to review or conversational practice. The lessons don't include any grammatical explanations. You're pretty much left to figure it out for yourself using the minimal footnotes, and comparing the words with the inflexion charts in the reference grammar in the back. I used this book in my first (unsuccessful) attempt to learn Modern Greek.
Hunyadi on Amazon in 2014 wrote: This was a difficult language for me to attempt to learn. If you are a audial/visual learner this course is not for you. I did not like the layout of the book and I did not like presented material.
John Yacalis on Amazon in 2019 wrote: This text is good if you have no other source of learning, or if you are a monk in a cell with nothing to do but memorize and create practice drills by yourself. The transliteration from the Greek into English letters is actually quite good, but unless you have the tapes or CDs, you won't really know the correct pronunciation. The Greek in this book is older and quite formal, as is some of the writing and spelling, most probably because it was created in the 1950s by people who learned Greek 30 years earlier, from teachers that had learned Greek in the early 1900s. Older Greeks would understand what you are saying and younger Greeks could easily figure it out, as most of the words are still very much the same as spoken Greek today. Even modern Greek keeps the spelling and usage of older words, including many ancient Greek words, but this text does not teach the most modern usage. For example, to say "I came here", younger Greeks would say "Ertha etho" and older Greeks would say either the same "Ertha etho", or the older form of "iltha etho." Younger Greeks still would understand when an older Greek uses the older form "iltha etho." This book teaches the older form "iltha etho," but does NOT teach the modern form of "Ertha etho," which is being used more and more often these days. But this does not mean learning from this book will keep modern Greeks from understanding you. You will still be able to find all the words in this text in a modern Greek dictionary, and most of the phrases are correct and still used all the time, although some , and only some, may be a bit stilted or formal. But that's Greek for you! They say that modern Greeks can grasp the meaning of 50% of ancient Greek texts, and that the Greek language is very flexible. That is probably why it is the oldest still-spoken language in the world. And if you go on YouTube and try to find Greek lessons, you will see that the courses there also use both the older and the modern Greek.
The issue with this text is that it requires a lot of self study and outside study, and if you are not into plowing through pages of grammar explanations at the end of the book to see how to use the dialogues in the front of the book, then learning from this text will not be for you.
If you have a basic knowledge of Greek and a decent understanding that Greeks use various spellings for a word, then this is a decent 2nd level book and has a better than usual selection of reading material at the back.
A C Shrouf on Amazon in 2005 wrote: This was the first book I bought to help me learn Greek. I was very frustrated with it from the start, and bought other books to use instead. My husband speaks Greek fluently, so between him and the other books I bought I started to get a good understanding for the basics. I decided to give this book another try, and found it easier to use the second time around, but only because I was already able to speak and read a little Greek. The main problem with the book is that it uses vocabulary from the 1950, and since in the late 70's early '80's the Greek goverment decided to stop using all but one accent the words you learn from this book and the words you would actually see in Greece do not look the same. It is also entirely too formal. I would tell my husband a new sentence I learned from the book, and he would always say that, while technically correct, no one would actually speak that way. I noticed this problem alot while in Greece this year. I could not understand questions that I had learned because people don't say them the same way over there as it is printed in the book
Cortina Modern Greek Reader
Some members might be encouraged by the fact that the R. D. Cortina Company, or the Institute for Language Study, published a 64-page dual language reader under the title “Modern Greek Literary Gems” of Greek poetry and short essays. This hard-covered booklet, which was available for separate purchase, was included in the publisher’s “Master Linguish for Modern Greek” packages. One Amazon Customer Reviewer characterized the reader as “Truly fantastic!”
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