Saturday, May 25, 2013


Onward.  My theology program will require me to have some familiarity with Greek in addition to Hebrew, so I started an audio modern Greek program that should last two months.  Sanskrit is next. Or maybe Aramaic so I can read the classical Jewish commentaries.

What I have learned so far about Greek is that there are many versions, starting with Homeric Greek.  Afterwards came classical Greek which a few varieties like Attic Greek of Athens and Ionian Greek of the areas of modern Turkey.  After Alexander the Great's conquest, the Greek language spread across the empire but had morphed into a Koine Greek that is used by the Bible and most of the other Greek writings over a few century period unless they were affecting a different style.  During the middle ages, Greek developed into a Byzantine Greek variety and supposedly modern Greek is quite similar to the Byzantine variety having undergone little change in the last thousand years.  That is what I have read, but in practice I know next to nothing.

With the audio lessons, I am learning that there are slight differences of pronunciation. For example, we learn that classical Greek β is beta and pronounced as an English "b" sound.  In modern Greek, however, the letter is read víta and pronounced as the letter "v".  If I want the English "b" sound, I need to take two consonants and smash them together with the combination μπ. The letter is unexpectedly pronounced as "th" in "then", rather than the "d" sound.

The three semester Greek sequence won't formally get going until December, but I hope to be fairly well along before the classes start.  Or maybe I will manage to bring my pronunciation to a point where it is beyond repair.


Delirious said...

Before my mission to Taiwan, I tried learning chinese on my own. My pronounciation was WAY off, but the little bit I studied actually did help me. I don't think any education is wasted. :)

Looney said...

I suppose 'way off' is more correctable than some of the alternatives. My instruction in Chinese was mostly one-to-one listen-pronounce at the University of Tennessee without any reading or writing. Learning Chinese wasn't popular in Tennessee in the late 70's! We didn't have a Chinese professor, but the University wanted to have a Chinese program for their Asian Studies Department regardless of the reasonableness. Thus, I ended up with another Taiwanese student as my private tutor for two years.