Classical Languages - Study Group

An area with study groups for various languages. Group members help each other, share resources and experience. Study groups are permanent but the members rotate and change.
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einzelne
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby einzelne » Tue Sep 14, 2021 12:47 pm

guyome wrote:to me the real game changer was discovering Medieval Latin.


Same to me, that's I quickly abandoned the idea of learning Greek (although who knows? I remember I told my friend: 'Life is to short to learn German' but several months later I was working on it again, and several years later, I think I have decent German for reading texts I'm interested in). With Latin, it's different. Way more learning sources and, just like you, I'm mainly interested in Medieval, Renaissance and New Latin works. That's why I dabble with Latin time and then in the hope that when I finally have enough free time, it would be easier for me to jumpstart it.

The Russian philologist Mikhail Gasparov writes somewhere about his experience with Latin and Greek: "I learnt quite early on to read Latin without a dictionary but I can read Greek only with a dictionary". So, even if a trained classicist struggles with Greek, we, pure mortals, should abandon all hopes (or set our goals accordingly).
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby RyanSmallwood » Tue Sep 14, 2021 1:36 pm

I think I've discussed technology and language learning recently, but I'll just add that its so much quicker to find Greek content, and look up words with a pop up dictionary or listening to audio with translations, or even just pull up modern greek lectures on ancient greek texts on my phone or computer, that I wouldn't be too discouraged by comments like these by past learners. No doubt its still a lot of time, but there's so many ways to remove a lot of past obstacles people had.

I'm not sure when I'll have time for Greek either, but even just dabbling I found I was able to get into interesting texts fairly early in the process, so as long as I maintain interest in greek texts and decide not to consistently prioritize other stuff, I think its definitely possible for hobbyists these days to get some usable level, and even staying at a level of assisted reading isn't so bad if you still get more out of the texts than you otherwise would have.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby einzelne » Tue Sep 14, 2021 3:50 pm

RyanSmallwood wrote:I think I've discussed technology and language learning recently, but I'll just add that its so much quicker to find Greek content, and look up words with a pop up dictionary or listening to audio with translations, or even just pull up modern greek lectures on ancient greek texts on my phone or computer, that I wouldn't be too discouraged by comments like these by past learners.


Yes, we've discussed it. I don't discourage people. Rather, I encourage to be realistic in expectations. Good running shoes make your runs comfortable but don't expect that Nike Vaporflys alone will allow you to ran a marathon if you only have time for 5k runs in your tight schedule.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby RyanSmallwood » Tue Sep 14, 2021 5:34 pm

einzelne wrote:
RyanSmallwood wrote:I think I've discussed technology and language learning recently, but I'll just add that its so much quicker to find Greek content, and look up words with a pop up dictionary or listening to audio with translations, or even just pull up modern greek lectures on ancient greek texts on my phone or computer, that I wouldn't be too discouraged by comments like these by past learners.


Yes, we've discussed it. I don't discourage people. Rather, I encourage to be realistic in expectations. Good running shoes make your runs comfortable but don't expect that Nike Vaporflys alone will allow you to ran a marathon if you only have time for 5k runs in your tight schedule.


Yeah, I think we've touched on this a few times already, so I'll try not to harp on it too much or repeat myself. I guess what I still don't understand about your perspective, is that it seems to me the modern tools make it so comfortable, that its worthwhile to start the marathon (to use your analogy) regardless of how much you end up completing and even if you never complete it. So for example with Greek for me, I don't know if there's enough texts and audiobooks that I'll end up completing the marathon, but there are some texts I'm interested in, and they're translated into English and my other L2s, and there's at least some audio recordings of Aristotle, Plato, Homer, and some various assorted shorter works, so I can at the very minimum read these texts in translation while listening to audio and pick up some Greek, regardless of if I end up putting in the thousands of hours to be able to read new texts unassisted, I know I can at least get familiar with texts I'm interested in and pick up some Greek as a beginner.

A case where I'd be more hesitant about the time I put in would be Sanskrit, because based on my current knowledge and interest, the stuff I'd really want to read is untranslated and doesn't have audio, so there'd be no way to "fake" my way through as a beginner, I'd need to put in the thousands of hours before I could start the stuff I'm really interested in reading and I wouldn't be sure if it was worth the time or not until I had already done it. Now this might change as I learn more about Sanskrit literature and the materials to study with it, and if I can find audio and translation for texts I want to re-read then I wouldn't worry about the time I'd put in since it would be worth it even if I don't end up completing it.

So in both cases I'm not sure how much time I'd have for either and big doubts about being able to "finish the marathon", but in Greek I've had much less hesitancy about starting.

Anyways sorry if I've gone on about this too long, obviously its a very personal decision where we want to put our limited time with language learning, and there's lots of rewarding and valuable places to spend time outside of language learning. I guess I still don't quite understand what factors are making you more pessimistic about Greek study assuming you're interested in some classic Greek texts, so just thought I would try to communicate my perspective a different way. But if I'm just repeating myself at this point I won't go on about it anymore.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Tue Sep 14, 2021 5:47 pm

My day also begins with reading Ancient Greek, and has done so for the last ten years at least. My mind also needs to be fresh for the effort.

Medieval Latin has a great attraction for me, but the total amount is so daunting that I never know where to start. Any hints would be appreciated.

Steadman, Evans and Nimis and others provide texts for intermediate learners of Ancient Greek, but the texts themselves are not intermediate. Steadman, for example, has an edition of Medea, but Greek tragedy is not on an intermediate level. Charles Douglas Chambers years ago wrote an intermediate text called The Greek War of Independence (1821-1829), which has some thirty pages of Ancient Greek, which I found both to my liking and my understanding without much recourse to external help.

Thanks for the reference to the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantiae and to Theodorus of Gaza's paraphrasis. I look forward to checking them out.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby einzelne » Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:01 pm

RyanSmallwood wrote:I guess what I still don't understand about your perspective.


My perspective comes from personal experience. In English and German, I tried to read demanding texts right after my textbook materials and miserably failed. I thought I would make a shortcut by plunging myself directly into Melville and Heidegger. But reading and deciphering their texts was slow and laborious. So I had to go back to easier texts and spend several years with them before I could tackle the classical works again. But I wasn’t wasting my time all these years because I was still reading intellectually rewarding texts (secondary literature or general non-fiction on intellectual history or science).

In Greek, I simply don’t have such an opportunity. Besides, my experience with German demonstrated to me that if you really want to get fluent in reading, you have to read at least several hours a day over a long period of time (it took me 6-10 months, when something suddenly clicked inside my head, not counting the years of studying and sporadic reading before that).

So, this is my problem with Greek. I know that I won’t have 2-3 hours a day for it in the forceable future. And lower-intermediate level is completely useless (no news to listen to, no podcasts, no easy non-fiction and secondary literature, no undemanding Krimis). So why bother? In case of Ancient Greek, there’s no 5k, 10k runs, only a marathon. In case of Latin (not to mention modern languages), you can still reap a lot of benefits. I still cannot read Faust in the original but I can skim through a literary study of it relatively easy. And I can always listen to podcasts (I mean real, not educational ones) on the variety of topics while walking my dog.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby RyanSmallwood » Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:49 pm

einzelne wrote:
RyanSmallwood wrote:I guess what I still don't understand about your perspective.


My perspective comes from personal experience. In English and German, I tried to read demanding texts right after my textbook materials and miserably failed. I thought I would make a shortcut by plunging myself directly into Melville and Heidegger. But reading and deciphering their texts was slow and laborious. So I had to go back to easier texts and spend several years with them before I could tackle the classical works again. But I wasn’t wasting my time all these years because I was still reading intellectually rewarding texts (secondary literature or general non-fiction on intellectual history or science).

In Greek, I simply don’t have such an opportunity. Besides, my experience with German demonstrated to me that if you really want to get fluent in reading, you have to read at least several hours a day over a long period of time (it took me 6-10 months, when something suddenly clicked inside my head, not counting the years of studying and sporadic reading before that).

So, this is my problem with Greek. I know that I won’t have 2-3 hours a day for it in the forceable future. And lower-intermediate level is completely useless (no news to listen to, no podcasts, no easy non-fiction and secondary literature, no undemanding Krimis). So why bother? In case of Ancient Greek, there’s no 5k, 10k runs, only a marathon. In case of Latin (not to mention modern languages), you can still reap a lot of benefits. I still cannot read Faust in the original but I can skim through a literary study of it relatively easy. And I can always listen to podcasts (I mean real, not educational ones) on the variety of topics while walking my dog.


Well just to share my experience with Modern and Ancient Greek, I did some work with beginner materials (not knowing all the audiobook resources available initially), primarily Assimil Ancient Greek (went through the whole thing, but maybe only understood well the stuff up through the first 30-50 lessons), and FSI Modern Greek (just listening to audio with pauses removed as input while looking at the text, up to the first 5-15 lessons), and then moved on to Listening-Reading with some Modern Greek books and some Ancient Greek. I don't know what level I would've been able to start with Aristotle, since I only found the free Julius Tomin recordings more recently, but as I mentioned before I think his language is simple and I think he's easier to learn from than the later Assimil lessons, because vocabulary is repeated a lot more and its easier to pick up, and also having read him in translation before so I don't have to worry as much about gaining the meaning. I've also been able to work with Homer even though he's way to difficult for my level, having read him a bit in translation, and using the Stephen Daitz recordings (although the performance hurts the experience a bit in this case) and a word for word interlinear translation, I'm relying heavily on my previous understanding, but I've at least gotten used to his frequently used terms and have some sense of how he sounds in the original, although probably not much appreciation of his specific word choices.

So again my Greek level is very low, I haven't put much more than maybe ~100 hours in total, and I'm not sure of many appealing options to advance my study, but I'm really interested in Aristotle and Plato, so anytime I want to re-read certain texts of theirs I can use a translation in any of my reading languages + the audio and I'll get more familiar with his work and get more Ancient Greek, and the same goes for any other Greek writer I have audio for, though I may not re-listen to them as often. And potentially if I get familiar enough with the sounds I could try reading some other texts in translation and then seeing if I can work through in the original text.

I'm not really sure where my Greek will reach eventually, because it depends how much I improve just reviewing a very limited number of audio recordings over the years, if more audio recordings get made, and if I run out of things I'm interested in reading in my other languages to the point it makes sense to invest more "study time" in Greek with materials I'm maybe less interested in. But I'm happy with the little I've been able to do with it so far.

So I don't know if this level of heavily assisted re-reading appeals to others, but I'd just say if you end up reading (or have already read) some greek texts in translation, I would try re-reading them with Greek audio if you can find some for texts your interested in and see how far you get with it and if you find it worthwhile. Some investment of using beginner materials might worthwhile, but again I think you can get into texts like Aristotle with audio and translation very early on.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby guyome » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:03 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:Thanks for the reference to the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantiae and to Theodorus of Gaza's paraphrasis. I look forward to checking them out.
My pleasure!
MorkTheFiddle wrote:Medieval Latin has a great attraction for me, but the total amount is so daunting that I never know where to start. Any hints would be appreciated.
The readers published by Sidwell or Beeson can help you there. Beeson is mostly just the texts (a lot of them stories) but Sidwell has introductions for each period and author, as well as many notes for difficult passages.

Also, here is a list of works I have read (some only partially) and have enjoyed. Maybe some of these will pique your interest. I haven't linked to a copy of the Latin text for all of these, let me know if help is needed to locate a copy.

History
Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum (5-6th c. Frankish affairs, full of sound and fury, the Latin is probably the least classical of all the authors listed here)
Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (British history up to the 730s. Very nice, gentle style)
Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum (especially the beginning with Germanic myths)
Liutprand of Cremona, Relatio (Liutprand's embassy to Constantinople told by himself. He is so full of himself and despises the Byzantines to such a degree that it's all very entertaining)
Gesta Francorum (the First Crusade narrated by a participant, simple style)
William of Tyre, Historia (history of the Middle East since Muhammad to the 1180s. William was bishop of Tyre and lived in the Crusader states)
William of Newburgh, Historia rerum Anglicarum (11-12th c. English affairs)

Stories
Jacques of Vitry, Exempla (moral anecdotes used to illustrate the point made in a sermon)
Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogus miraculorum (hundreds of miracle stories)
Petrus Alfonsus, Disciplina Clericalis (Arabic tales translated by a Spanish Jewish convert)
Alexander Romance (Latin version of a Greek fan fiction about Alexander the Great)

Autobiography
Abelard, Historia Calamitatum (12th c. foremost philosopher's take on his own life. Maybe mostly know nowadays for his love affair with Heloise and having undergone castration as a result)

Letters
Bernard of Clairvaux

Sermons
Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermones super Cantica Canticorum

Travel literature
Plan Carpin, Historia Mongalorum (a 13th c. account of an embassy to Mongolia)
Felix Fabri, Evagatorium (a veeery detailed and vivid account of the author's pilgrimage to the Holy land in the late 15th c. Online at Gutenberg thanks to a member of the Textkit forum)

Poetry
Carmina Burana (love/drinking/satirical poems)
Nigellus, Speculum stultorum (a donkey is on a quest to obtain a longer tail)
Waltharius (epic poem on a Visigothic hero)
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby einzelne » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:23 pm

RyanSmallwood wrote:Well just to share my experience with Modern and Ancient Greek


Thanks for sharing your experience, I really appreciate it! I'm basically interested in the same authors (+ Stoics and may be Plotinus) and I dabbled with Greek (including the Modern Greek) by using pretty much the same materials. But I have 3 other languages to maintain and improve, not to mention the fact that it would be wiser to read all key words in the translation first, so I decided to put my Greek on pause. (and there way more books in Latin I'm potentially interested in, so I dabble with Latin now.)

guyome wrote:Also, here is a list of works I have read (some only partially) and have enjoyed.


Fascinating! I added it to my to-read list.
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MorkTheFiddle
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Wed Sep 15, 2021 4:27 pm

guyome wrote:
MorkTheFiddle wrote:Thanks for the reference to the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantiae and to Theodorus of Gaza's paraphrasis. I look forward to checking them out.
My pleasure!
MorkTheFiddle wrote:Medieval Latin has a great attraction for me, but the total amount is so daunting that I never know where to start. Any hints would be appreciated.
The readers published by Sidwell or Beeson can help you there. Beeson is mostly just the texts (a lot of them stories) but Sidwell has introductions for each period and author, as well as many notes for difficult passages.

Also, here is a list of works I have read (some only partially) and have enjoyed. Maybe some of these will pique your interest. I haven't linked to a copy of the Latin text for all of these, let me know if help is needed to locate a copy.
Thank you for taking the trouble to compile this list. I will check them all out. :)
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