Christophe Rico on the resurrection of ancient languages

I know there are some fans of Christophe Rico here on LingQ, so I thought I’d share this video that was just released. I’m watching it now. I forget how much I like the guy. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’m not able to travel at the moment. If my circumstances were different, I would love to attend one of Prof Rico’s courses in Jerusalem. I would literally be on a plane next week, in fact.

Seriously, imagine being able to spend a year in Jerusalem learning Ancient Hebrew or Greek! A sweet thought!

I just watched the first part of this video. Christopher Rico has a very entertaining way of speaking and what he tells is very interesting. I’ll watch the second half of the video tomorrow. But if I understand him well, the idea is to learn to speak a reconstructed version of ancient Greek in order to be able to read the ancient texts without difficulty, the way we read texts in modern languages. And there I have my doubts: to speak ancient Greek in the world of the 21st century, it is necessary to find expressions for all kinds of things that did not exist in the ancient world. So our memory will be burdened with a lot of words that we need to speak, but that we will not find in the ancient texts. I read texts in ancient Greek from time to time, and I am happy that I have the help of dictionaries and translations, but I don’t see myself learning the equivalent in ancient Greek for words like computer, selfie, whatsapp, video, cinema etc. I think that speaking ancient Greek in the modern world is an anachronism. Apart from my doubt i look forward to reading the translation into ancient Greek of Le petit prince, that Christopher Rico is preparing

That’s funny, most of the second half of the video is his description of how he went about finding words for things like “banana” in papyrus texts, and how he would invent new words from old words. Greek is pretty flexible in its word formations, much like German, so I’d assume they could find words for most everything we use today. Whether that’s really “useful” in a properly utilitarian (and somewhat boring) sense is a different question. :slight_smile:

I would agree that it’s a little…well…‘eccentric’ to treat Koine Greek as a living language - even to the extent of coining words for things like “tram” or “iPad”, etc! I guess the ultimate object of the exercise is always to train people to read the ancient texts? But then we have to ask ourselves whether it makes a whole lot of sense to waste time learning words that one is never going to encounter in reading…?

In the case of Hebrew, it’s a whole other kettle of fish - because there we do, of course, have a modern living form of the language. Naturally we have Modern Greek too, but (from what I’ve heard?) the difference between Modern Greek and Koine Greek is considerably greater than the difference between Modern and Ancient Hebrew. Some people say that someone with an expert knowledge of Modern Hebrew is already within touching distance of being able to read Ancient Hebrew. That would not, I think, be true vis-à-vis Greek (although knowledge of Modern Greek would no doubt still give somebody a head start in the older form.)