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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Josquin
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby Josquin » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:01 pm

Reading my post now, it might have been somewhat given to misunderstanding.

I was trying to say that I am in favour of learning to read while learning grammar. However, some courses like The Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit don't offer easy made-up texts for beginners, with which one could learn to read easy Sanskrit right from the beginning. Instead, it has isolated practice sentences for translation and very short readings taken from real Sanskrit literature as the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad-Gita.

My issue was that this kind of teaching leaves no room for gaining "natural" reading skills in context as you describe them. Instead, you translate isolated sentences (which, in the beginning, are easy enough) and you parse original literature (which is very difficult). That is very much the traditional approach. My question thus was how to deal with a language that has only got teaching materials like this one (Sanskrit is a notorious example for this) and my conclusion was that you have no choice but to learn grammar and translation first and start extensive reading later.

However, I'm not in favour of this method at all! I'd prefer it a lot, if the CIS course offered easy readings, so I could learn Sanskrit by reading rather than by the grammar-translation method. Your approach seems to be much better and is in fact similar to Professor Arguelles's approach of learning ancient languages. It may be frowned upon or even regarded as cheating by the professionals, but I don't see why you shouldn't learn Ancient Greek like a modern language, the "natural" way.

Once again, I'm very much in favour of extensive reading! Sorry if I didn't make that totally clear in my previous post. Writing in English sometimes makes me ramble more than expressing concisely what I mean to say.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby Steve » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:05 pm

Josquin wrote: Writing in English sometimes makes me ramble more than expressing concisely what I mean to say.


Writing in English does that to me as well. :)
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby IronMike » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:30 pm

aravinda wrote:...Teach Yourself has a series of books on Ancient Languages.
...
Babylonian*
Middle Egyptian
Old English (Anglo Saxon)* and
Old Norse (July 2018)
Aramaic (September 2019)
Gothic (July 2021)


I see some book purchases in my future...

These languages, and Middle Welsh, Old Irish and Nahuatl (does that count as classical?) are on my list. Should I start working on one of these this year I'll check back in. For now, I'll continue to lurk. ;)
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby vonPeterhof » Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:00 pm

IronMike wrote:Nahuatl (does that count as classical?)
I would imagine that at least Classical Nahuatl does :D
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indeclinable
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby indeclinable » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:37 pm

Salvete sodales! Sum magister linguae Latinae Graecaeque et velim maxime interesse in grege vestro. Si quis vestrum vult mecum Latine (aut Graece) loqui sive commercium litterarum habere, nolite haesitare! Aut si in difficultatibus estis ego libenter afferam vobis auxilium. Didici Latine loqui ratione quae dicitur viva (sive secundum rationem naturae) –i.e. sine exercitationibus grammaticis–. His diebus conor ediscere linguam Francogallicam et hac de causa nomen dedi in foro vestro, scil. ut exerceam facultatem legendi atque scribendi, sed cum hic iam sim et tempus vacet licet mihi nonnumquam apud vos versare et vobiscum loqui atque disputare.

εἰ βούλεσθε, δύναμαι εἰς λόγους ελθεῖν ἑλλενηστί ;)

_______________________________________________


Hi there! I'm a Greek & Latin teacher. I'm specialised in conversational Latin and I wish to join this study group... and make a couple of observations for starters.

Regarding your definition of dead languages...

Josquin wrote: The group is aimed at students of classical, that is "dead", and rarely studied languages that aren't spoken any more and can only be studied through their literature


Strictly speaking, a dead language is a language with no native speakers, it doesn't mean that it isn't spoken anymore nor that it can only be studied through its literature. This is very important, because then neither Latin, nor Ancient Greek, nor Biblical Hebrew could be the subject of study of this group.

There's a ton of people that speak Latin fluently and with elegance, though less numerous there are many that speak Ancient Greek (see here, here and here, for example) and a few that speak Biblical Hebrew.

I learned Greek and Latin in a full immersion school (that is, actively speaking) and use it as a "normal" language for communicating with friends, so I'd be happy to help you guys out however I can.

If anyone's interested there's a ton of (relatively cheap) summer schools of Living Latin and/or Greek around the world, here's a list of them. There are of course also regular schools were Latin & Greek are used as an everyday language (like Schola Nova) or even Universities (Like in Kentucky or Jerusalem) were "dead" languages are used as the normal language of communication in classes.

There's also a bunch of Circuli Latini (conversation circles) were Latin (and sometimes Greek) is actively spoken, as far as I know all of them are free.

If anyone's interested in the state of affairs of the community of Latin speakers, I recommend John Byron Kuhner's article Global Latinists, Prof. Rico's conference, or this interview of Prof. Tunberg.
Last edited by indeclinable on Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby galaxyrocker » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:54 am

indeclinable wrote:
If anyone's interested there's a ton of (relatively cheap) summer schools of Living Latin and/or Greek around the world, here's a list of them. There are of course also regular schools were Latin & Greek are used as an everyday language (like Schola Nova) or even Universities (Like in Kentucky or Jerusalem) were "dead" languages are used as the normal language of communication in classes.



So, kind of random since you mentioned Kentucky, but Andrew Byrd actually spoke a reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European (dead, for sure!) for Far Cry Primal. Below is an interview with him and another one with the creative team that showcases some of the language.




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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby Iversen » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:05 am

Thanks to Indeclinable I actually ended up listening to professor Tunberg on Youtube while working on my computer yesterday evening. I remember that we have had at least one lecture in Latin and another partly in Latin during the gatherings in Berlin, and I also said a few words about tardigrades in Latin during a 5 minutes talk because that animal illustrates the difficult conditions my own Latin has to live under.
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indeclinable
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby indeclinable » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:40 pm

So, I've seen a couple of Latin learners in the logs section. Since I don't see much movement around here, I decided to take the initiative and make a list of resources.

So first things first. We need to do a bit of history to understand the current state of affairs in Greek & Latin methodology.

Perhaps you have noticed that 90% of all the books, methods, primers and course-books that you'll find in the market (often recommended by some sacred cow with many titles in some prestigious University) are based on a "method" that's often called Grammar-Translation. Notable examples are Wheelock's Latin or Mastronarde's Introduction to Attic Greek. What is this method exactly? Richard & Rodger's Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (an excellent book that I recommend to anyone studying any language) defines it as follows:

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A more severe critic such a Günther Zuntz (On Greek Primers. Didaskalos 4.2 (1973) pp. 360-374) states as follows:

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Now, why would such a method become so staunchly fixed on the minds of the professionals? Specially if we take into account that until the 18th Century nobody learned Greek or Latin with such an approach but were by far and large living conversational languages (See here and here).

Well, for many reasons: 1) The rise of nationalism, which forced the end of lessons taught in Greek or Latin in favour of the national language. 2) Positivism and an overall view of Greek and Latin as in instrument of "logic" for exercising your Vernunft, not as a language, 3) The remnants of Romanticism, which despised anything "classical", 4) Industrialization and the social-movements that followed which caused the end of the "elite-only" schools were Greek and Latin where taught; now they had to a) accept lower-class students that did not have the privilege of a cultivated family, and b) provide professionals with mechanical skills rather than a liberal education 5) the death of Humanism. Although some others blame mainly the efforts of German/British philologists of "grammatizing" everything.

A very succinct summary of the history of Greek & Latin methodology you'll find in Miraglia's Nova via. Latine doceo. Guida per gl'insegnanti (ISBN: 9788895611396), chapter 3: L'insegnamento del latino nei secoli, pp. 9-31. The Spanish translation is free online. The bibliography there quoted maybe complemented by Musumeci's Breaking Tradition: An Exploration of the Historical Relationship Between Theory and Practice in Second Language Teaching.

The damage that the Grammar-Translation caused (and still causes) to Greek & Latin students maybe best illustrated by some testimonies: 1. The preface from a 19th Century book whose author saw with horror how his students were unable to speak and understand neither Latin nor Greek and how that hindered their overall academic performance. 2. A recent article that tries pinpoint the structural flaws of a Greek course and the biases of both students and teachers. 3. The distressed criticism of a professor that notes how Grammar Translation and its pedantic aura excludes minorities. And 4. The autobiography of a Spanish Latin teacher, in which he narrates how it took him, literally, an entire lifetime of failures, frustration and disappointments because of bad teaching methodology only to truly learn Latin at the end of his career. He's not the only one that confesses that his studies all the way to PhD were a complete failure because of the methodology.

Yet we must admit that there are some very few people with a very particular mindset that actually thrive in complex deciphering and abstract reasoning, people who like to learn rules and principles rather than through examples. Those people are probably better off with a Grammar-Translation approach. But what are we to do for the rest of us?

We are fortunate that somebody already took the trouble of searching for a more efficient (I'd say humane) method. A look at Miraglia's Come (non) s'insegna il latino (Spanish translation here) might give an insight of just how bad things were thirty years ago.

So what are the methods that I recommend? Here's a list of things:




Latin

Undoubtedly the best method for Latin (yes, specially for self-taught learners) is Ørberg's Lingua Latina per se illustrata (LLPSI). Here's a couple of YouTube reviews: 1, 2. There's even a YouTube review of the method along with a small biography of Ørberg in Latin.

I recommend to read Ørberg's own defence of his method (there's a Latin original version and partial translations in English and Spanish as well as an Italian introduction to the method). An excellent Spanish description of the course is available here.

The course consists of two main books:

Part 1. Familia romana (Free preview here)



Part 2. Roma Aeterna (Free preview here)



Strictly speaking you can teach yourself Latin with just these two books, everything you need is in there. This is important: This method does NOT require the use of any dictionary or vocabulary or additional grammar. Yes, some vocabularies have been written by foreign editors (see below) but you can perfectly follow the course without them. Nonetheless Ørberg also wrote some additional material.

For Familia romana he wrote:

  1. A Student's Manual, the Enchiridion discipulorum. There's an English version, a Spanish version, as well a French one made by Editorial Clovis (but it's out of print and almost impossible to find). A Czech version exists, a Danish one and a German one, only the Czech one is still in print. If anyone happens to stumble upon the German one I beg of you to let me know.
  2. A Book of Exercises, the Exercitia Latina. A free online version of these exercises has been published by the Wyoming Catholic College and by Didascalica. There's a paid version by Hackett and Addisco, there's also a CD-ROM version.
  3. A Book of Latin Dialogues, the Colloquia Personarum.
  4. An extremely slim "Grammar", the Grammatica Latina. It's not really a grammar, is a small collection of morphology tables. I would normally advise not to buy it because the Familia Romana already contains all the grammar that you need, but things get tricky. The Italian edition of this Grammar contains an excellent Appendix on Latin Syntax written by Miraglia & Bórri, it is the only edition that has it and it's worth every penny. The Spanish edition contains an appendix of Latin-Spanish vocabulary. The English edition contains nothing, so don't waste your money. The English editor sells the Latin-English vocabulary separately. The French-Latin vocabulary was also sold separately.


Now, there's the Italian edition of Latine disco, which contains in a single volume the Enchiridion discipulorum, the Exercitia Latina, the Colloquia Personarum, the Grammatica Latina, the Latin Syntax Appendix and the Latin-Italian vocabulary. Thus unless you absolutely want to have the student's manual (Enchiridion discipulorum) in English, Spanish or French I recommend that you only buy the Italian edition of Latine disco (I repeat, all the other editions of Latine disco contain ONLY the Enchiridion discipulorum).

Nota bene: None of the books mentioned thus far contains an answer key, only the online or CD-ROM versions have an answer key. So if you want the answers in a printed version you're going to have to buy them separately.

There's also an audio CD recorded by Ørberg using reconstructed pronunciation, another recording using Italian pronunciation (warning, recorded by Americans), the extra reading material Fabellae Latinae and some other small texts for reviewing in an Appendix in the Nova via. Latine doceo.

Ørberg also published small anthologies of ancient authors and some complementary readings.

Ørberg's successors have not remained idle and they have published more material for extra practice:

There's the Quaderno d'esercizi I (I-XIX) and Quaderno d'esercizi I (XX-XXXIV) (without answer key). And the Nova Exercitia Latina (the answer key only available on Kindle).

For the Roma Aeterna there's:

An Enchiridion discipulorum for which there's an English, a Spanish version and an out-of-print German one (If you stumble upon it or in the vocabularies, please let me know).

The Exercitia Latina II. And there's a CD-ROM version. (Printed answer key is present ONLY in the already mentioned separate edition)

And that's it with Ørberg.

The second best method for Latin is Forum. So far only the first volume has appeared, unlike Ørberg which is focused on reading, this method is focused on speaking, but it's nonetheless a great asset for self-taught learners.



Online you can find an innumerable quantity of high-quality material to help you out. Like other course-books, readers and anthologies, Latin Colloquies, Theatre plays, Composition exercices, material on Stilistics, Latin Phraseology books, Synonymic, Latin books with notes and commentaries in Latin and even magazines.

Here's a small list of resources.




Greek


I hate the whole pronunciation debate and won't dedicate much to it. If you're interested read the following three articles:

  1. Prof. McNeal, Richard A. (1975). Hellenist and Erasmian. Glotta, 53(1/2), 81-101.
  2. Prof. Dillon, Matthew. (2001). The Erasmian Pronunciation of Ancient Greek: A New Perspective. The Classical World, 94(4), 323-334. doi:10.2307/4352587
  3. Vernon Kooy. Thomas Jefferson’s Argument Concerning the Pronunciation of Ancient Greek.

I believe it more practical to use Modern Greek Pronunciation, as does this guy. If you agree I recommend the following YouTube Channel to learn it, or even this site with recordings of Kavafis' poems.

If you don't agree and you want to learn the restored pronunciation, the best examples to follow are Strataki's and Hagel's.



Now, unfortunately for Greek there's not an Ørberg equivalent, the closest thing we have is the following:

Athenaze



There's a another YouTube review of this course.

  1. Athenaze I, with its exercise books: Μελετήματα I, Quaderno d'esercizi I (I-VII) and Quaderno d'esercizi II. (No answer key)
  2. Athenaze II. With its Exercice book (No answer key).
  3. A couple of graded anthologies and a specially prepared reading book.

Nota bene: There's also the original English edition of Athenaze, it's very inferior in every aspect to the Italian version. The Workbooks (I and II) are valuable as supplementary exercises but I see no reason to buy the English course-book unless you are unwilling to "read" a few sentences of Italian.

Then there's the famous Polis. Excellent conversational method, only the first volume has appeared. You can watch a free demo of the first lessons on YouTube.

Another great method, is Peckett & Munday's Thrasymachus, though it's old and the book itself is very small and doesn't offer even a quarter of the reading material that the Italian Athenaze or Polis do, the story is super entertaining. (You can read a detailed review in Zuntz' article above).

I must include in this list the Reading Greek series of Cambridge because of the excellent quality of the Greek text presented, the story is terrific and fun, the images are beautiful and the selection and adaptation of original texts is second to none. I do disagree with the emphasis on grammar analysis and translation put in it, but the book is in no way comparable to, say, Mastronarde's Introduction to Attic Greek. Reading Greek is in no way tedious or depressing as Mastronarde's book, it can indeed bring about excellent results if used appropriately. Yes, the Greek text becomes very difficult very soon so I'd caution against learning solely from it.

The last method on the list is actually halfway between Grammmar-Translation and Modernity. Günther Zuntz's three volume Griechischer Lehrgang (I, II, III) was and remains probably the best method ever designed to teach someone to read Greek, its single greatest flaw is that it does not present a single, unified story, instead it presents a miscellanea of texts more or less grouped by subjects so it's not always possible to deduce meanings out of context. It allows the teacher (or the student) to choose between a GT approach or a living-conversational approach. It's sequenced, slow paced, based entirely on authentic Greek texts, selections are made from all types of Greek, from Homer to New Testament, including inscriptions and fragments, presented in such a way so as to highlight the unity and common traits of the Greek language throughout its vast history. Yes differences are mentioned but always in comparison to one another so that we may better understand the development of the language. There's an English translation but sadly out of print and impossible to find.

Recently three independent auxiliary books have appeared, they are very good designed (though they do have some typos here and there), although they are printed in Spain their content in completely in Greek. They may be used in conjunction with any method. Joannides' Sprechen Sie Attisch? and Blackie's Dialogues may also be used freely with any method as auxiliary material.

Now, the one detail that none of the methods above mentioned dedicate enough attention to is the particles. You can supplement that by consulting the special appendix of Menge's Repetitorium der griechischen syntax.

All of the methods above deal with the essential vocabulary needed to read any Greek author (Specially Zuntz). If however you want to prepare to read a specific text or you simply want to review your vocabulary I recommend above all Meyer & Steinthal's Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Griechisch (there's a Spanish translation) or any of the following resources for Greek vocabulary.

Lastly, if the anthologies and reading books of the Athenaze package are not enough to make you feel sure about your command of reading Greek and you want a last preparation session before going all out on your own, there are two excellent editions of Plato's Apology you can practice with to your heart's content. Helm's and Weber's. The first one is more heavily annotated and underlines even obvious things of Greek usage, the second focuses on "philosophical" and factual interpretation.




Grammars

Now, I don't like the Grammar-Translation method and I think that it has been proven many times already that it's not an effective methodology (sometimes even counter-productive), but that doesn't mean that grammar in itself is not necessary. I repeat that all the mentioned methods already include a grammar (Zuntz' third volume is in fact one of the best Greek Grammars around). If you still want to have a pocket grammar at your side just in case, the following are recommended (and before you ask: Yes, there are some English Grammars around, but no, none of them are simultaneously light and good enough to compare with the German Grammars, think of Smyth's Grammar for example, is excellent but it's so big that it's impractical in every way for a beginner):

Latin


Greek





Dictionaries

Even though none of the methods above mentioned requires a dictionary, there are some excellent dictionaries around that can be useful later on.





Other online resources

There's a ton of podcasts (Sermones Raedarii, Quomodo dicitur?, In Foro Romano, Satura Lanx, Legio XIII) and YouTube Channels (ScorpioMartianus, Latinitium, Divus Magister Craft, Collegium Latinitatis, Schola humanistica, Classics at home, Cultura Clásica, Schola Latina). There's dozens of conferences in Latin that you can watch. A renowned University professor has recorded his lectures (in Latin) and published them online.

Around the world there are many Conversation clubs that you can attend to (a list here and here).

There are even Summer Schools where you can meet other Latin & Greek Speakers.

There's a Discord channel and several groups that meet regularly at Google Hangouts.
Last edited by indeclinable on Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby renaissancemedici » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:12 am

I hate the whole pronunciation debate and won't dedicate much to it. If you're interested read the following three articles:

Prof. McNeal, Richard A. (1975). Hellenist and Erasmian. Glotta, 53(1/2), 81-101.
Prof. Dillon, Matthew. (2001). The Erasmian Pronunciation of Ancient Greek: A New Perspective. The Classical World, 94(4), 323-334. doi:10.2307/4352587
Vernon Kooy. Thomas Jefferson’s Argument Concerning the Pronunciation of Ancient Greek.

I believe it more practical to use Modern Greek Pronunciation, as does this guy. If you agree I recommend the following YouTube Channel to learn it, or even this site with recordings of Kavafis' poems.

If you don't agree and you want to learn the restored pronunciation, the best examples to follow are Strataki's and Hagel's.


I am on the same page with you on this one. I think we should all know how things used to be pronounced, most definitely, but modern pronunciation will give you very natural listening and speaking skills. Besides, the people who are so aggressive about ancient pronunciation, and suggest that it is historically correct to use ONLY it, conveniently forget that after a certain period of time the accent has already changed towards modern. Which means that no, it's not historically correct for all texts.

We should all learn both, now that I think about it, both Greeks and non native speakers. But that's just my idea.

I really don't mind it eighter way, it's just you wouldn't believe how angry, aggressive and mean some people get over such a thing...
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby Steve » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:40 pm

My personal preference is for listening to Modern Greek pronunciation as well. Most of the reconstructed pronunciations I've heard are too much like computer-generated speech for my tastes. The absence of prosody just feels "not right" when I'm listening.

For better or worse, as a matter of practice, I've sort of adopted my own pronunciation when reading aloud. I use mostly modern for consonants and some variety of ancient for vowels. I've also adopted some amount of tonal variation along with lengthening/shortening of duration of various vowels in some words combined with modern prosody. I've also started eliding and slurring many words together as complete phrases and units. I find that it simply feels like I'm reading something real when I do that.

On a related note, I find that it is much easier to understand actual manuscripts (at least uncials) now that I've been reading Greek aloud. We often forget that the nicely edited, formatted, and printed texts we can access today are a far cry from what Homer, Plato, or the NT might have looked like in physical form a millennia or more ago.

As an interesting resource, http://www.csntm.org (center for studies of NT manuscripts) has a nice series of high quality images of various surviving NT manuscripts from across the centuries. For those with any interest of what any ancient Greek texts would have looked like, this is a good resource for seeing many examples of physical texts of various types along with various types of writing styles.
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