Ancient Greek (and/or Latin?)

I’m new to LingQ, and so far I’m loving the language learning style here. I’m currently working through some of the German beginner programs to become more familiar with the site.

I was listening to the Linguist podcast on Esperanto and French immersion, and he mentioned the importance of interesting, meaningful content when learning a language. In doing so he brought up the possibility of Ancient Greek and/or Latin being available through LingQ at some point in the future. Now, I’m a philosophy student who is interested in getting some of my Ancient Greek texts available through these kinds of tools (Perseus Digital Library has a “similar” system for greek/latin/arabic, but it’s much more complicated and their site can be slow). My knowledge/“fluency” in Ancient Greek is relatively advanced – I can get through Aristotle, Plato, the New Testament, etc., with limited aid from a Lexicon. The texts themselves (Plato, etc.) are more or less entirely available online for free – as obviously there are no copyrights for 2,500 year old texts. . .

I haven’t looked into how to add content to the site, but if an Ancient Greek section were to be opened up in the future I would be willing to help out. The obvious “problem” with Ancient Greek is that there’s literally no such thing as a “native speaker”. The best we can do is extrapolate from modern Greek pronunciation and what was transcribed into Latin after the rise of Rome. As such, audio recordings would be difficult. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that Ancient Greek’s grammatical structure is sufficiently complicated that – for a complete beginner – some level of grammar instruction is almost necessary (I’m sure some would disagree). Specially given that there are no native speakers of the language and “easy” conversations – i.e., "Hello, what is your name? – don’t exist. The New Testament is the “easiest” Greek to read; and the closest you get to conversation are the Platonic Dialogues, which are more like Shakespearean plays than actual spoken word.

All that said. . . Latin would be a lot easier in that regard, since it is still spoken (in the Vatican, etc.,) and as such there are pronunciation guidelines and “native speakers”. However, my knowledge of Latin is, at the moment, very limited so I couldn’t help in that area. Though I imagine there are plenty of others who can.

One day for sure.

Ancient Greek would be fantastic! And thanks for that link to perseus ocius!

We will probably add Greek in the near future. I am curious if we can use one Greek slot for both Modern and Ancient Greek. I guess we will find out. Any thoughts?

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No, Modern and Ancient Greek should not be put in the same slot. You COULD do it, but you might as well have a single slot for every language on the website if that were the approach. The two languages have quite a lot of difference in grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. It would be like putting Latin and Italian in the same slot.

I think you could/should add both Greeks at the same time, as it was suggested either here or on Facebook. However, it would be better to have two slots, because the Accent field should be used to sort the lessons by dialect/variety.
Ancient Greek should have the following “accents”: Doric, Aeolic, Ionic, Attic.
Modern Greek should have (at least) Demotic (“popular” Greek) and Katharevousa (from Wikipedia: “a semi-artificial sociolect promoted in the 19th century at the foundation of the modern Greek state, as a compromise between Classical Greek and modern Demotic. It was the official language of modern Greece until 1976”). Native speakers may be able to suggest further “accents”.
What about changing the “Accent” label into “Variety”? Would it be possible? I think it would suit to all the languages (while “Accent” doesn’t suit to Latin, Finnish, Norwegian…).

I agree with Mike. We could surely adopt roughly the same approach as we use for Arabic? (Both MSA and spoken dialects in the same slot.)

Even if we did only add “Modern Greek”, we’d still have to distinguish between Demotic and Katherevousa - so IMO it would make very good sense to add some ancient dialects such as Koine and Attic as well.

There may actually be greater demand for Ancient Greek than for Modern. (There’s certainly a much bigger market in textbooks, dictionaries, etc at Amazon - especially for Koine/Biblical Greek.)

BTW I’ve found an excellent course in Koine Greek. See:

Steve: such an offer of help with materials won’t come again soon for ancient Greek. Could you consider it a BIG vote for the language? And you could count another vote from me (as I’m not on facebook).

ocius: (just call me “lentius,” as I’m getting old) There is already Latin on LingQ, as a test language.

As to Greek: FWIW, I agree w/ others that ancient and modern Greek should be separate on LIngQ, so as to keep distinct the very different vocabulary, spelling and accentuation, grammar, and pronunciation (for almost everyone but modern Greeks).

“easy” conversations – i.e., "Hello, what is your name? – don’t exist.

None of these have I examined, except online, as I am not studying ancient Greek right now but there is:

a) a KOINE “conversational” method; it is nominally in French and Greek, but the French amounts to little more than grammatical terms in the apparatus at the back of the book, as it is an “inductive” method, somewhat like the well-known “Lingua Latina” by Ørberg, for Latin. and

b) an Attic Assimil (progressive “conversational” course) in French and Greek, with Greek recordings; this one has ½ of the text in French, but if you’re really interested I could help out with that if you need it , as I’d be delighted to buy this course and try it out.

c) a rewrite of the English-language primer Athenaze to make it more “inductive,” more like “Lingua Latina” mentioned above, the “re-writer’s” language is Italian

For oral Greek there is also and for conversational as well as a sort of Ollendorff (like Berlitz) method: look under Ollendorff Greek in Google books, and another on Google books that I cannot locate at the moment.

Here are loads of Greek and Latin texts, primers, &c, available to download, listed here - Great Books on G'Oogle and Internet Pharrchive .

Also, easier to use than Perseus/Hopper is, for Latin and Greek, , once you have it downloaded and installed.

That’s more than enough infodump, I bet. There are quite a few more interesting links to Ancient Greek and Latin materials I have on another computer, which I could probably dredge up if this discussion continues.

About 15-20 years ago I read KOINE quite fluently, but I let it lapse, and I would very much like to learn to read Attic Greek well. If I ever get so my active Russian is worth anything, I’ll take up ancient Greek again.

An example of the “Poliskoine” course in action: Polis - Koine Greek Class - YouTube

More info about the German edition:

(Unfortunately I don’t think there is an English edition yet…)

I’m afraid scripts for Ancient Greek will pose the same problem that scripts for Hindi pose. I imported a bit of Ancient Greek text a few months ago, but I seem to remember that every letter with a diacritical mark showed up as a separate word.
As far as putting Ancient and Modern Greek in the same slot, I agree with Imyirtseshem, it would be like putting Latin and Italian in the same slot.

@Donhamiltontx: “…I’m afraid scripts for Ancient Greek will pose the same problem that scripts for Hindi pose. I imported a bit of Ancient Greek text a few months ago, but I seem to remember that every letter with a diacritical mark showed up as a separate word.”

That would be easy enough to solve - one could just import the Ancient Greek texts without diacritical marks!

The original authors didn’t use them, did they? (I read somewhere that they were invented by scholars in the Middle Ages…)

Jay, it would be awkward to study Ancient Greek without diacritical signs. Even if they weren’t originally used, Greek learners are used to them now. I would never study a simplified version of Ancient Greek. Not to mention that one should spend a lot of time editing texts before importing them. So, I’d rather not have it at all rather than having a weird version of it.

I understand your point of view, Mike. But if Ancient Greek without diacritical marks is “weird”, then quite a few of the more modern textbooks are also weird! (Not to mention the original manuscripts…)

Personally I would keep the rough breathing mark, because this has a useful function. But the other marks are kind of pointless IMO. (Surely it must be a waste of time to speculate about the complex intonation of Ancient Greek? The fact is, we can never know exactly what it sounded like!)

BTW Before having this debate, let’s just hope that we actually get Ancient Greek! :wink:

I have imported a text with diacritical signs into the Japanese slot and the words weren’t recognized as LingQs (the first or last letter with a sign is not included. Then, I imported it into the Dutch slot. Now, LingQs are displayed correctly, even if the whole text (3-4 normal lines) is displayed on one line. I don’t know if this is due to my being on my iPod touch. I’ll test it on my PC tomorrow.

I don’t want to keep the signs for the information they provide about intonation, but because that’s how Ancient Greek has been written for centuries and that’s the form most students are used to see it written in.

Good job, Mikebond.
If memory serves, I used the Japanese slot for my test, too. But you’re quite right, the Dutch slot works.
I dropped the first paragraph of the Histories of Herodotos and the first 7 lines of Homer’s Iliad from Perseus into 2 separate “Dutch” lessons.
I also extracted a Word .doc containing The Agamemnon from a Zip file on The Little Sailing website
(The Little Sailing: Ancient Greek Texts)
into a third lesson.
But before importing these selections, I filtered them in Notepad++.

After the import, all the formatting of all three passages was kept intact and correct in LingQ.
Individual words remained as individual words.
LingQing worked, Flash Cards, Cloze Tests and Multiple Choice tests also worked.

If your tests and mine hold up, the next steps are

  1. Finding adequate audio
  2. Finding a linkable dictionary.

But I’m happy to be able to import and read and LingQ Ancient Greek texts, even without audio or a dictionary.

Mike, if we can upload texts with diacritical marks without any technical difficulties, then of course that’s fine for everyone! :wink:

What I meant to say was: if there WERE a problem, then we could (maybe?) consider texts without diacritical marks…

You’re right - this is the way Greek has been written for many centuries - including Modern Greek before the 1970s! (But nevertheless, as I pointed out in my earlier posts, it’s not the way that ancient texts were originally written, so…)

I see that the guy from The University of Jerusalem who runs courses in conversational Koine Greek, is going to be doing another immersion course this coming summer in Rome. If the time/money were cool for me right now, I would definitely take part in that!

I already posted the link above, but you can see the guy in action here:

(It so reminds me of language classes I attended as a student!)