Classical Latin vs. Classical Greek

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Xev, Dec 19, 2004.

  1. Xev Registered Senior Member


    I'm trying to learn Latin as a side project (read: doing my part to decrease worker productivity).

    My boss occasionally checks my exercises and helps me with the fine points of grammer. Besides the Latin, he knows classical Greek and a couple other languages, so we started talking about the benefits of knowing Latin (*snigger*) vs. other languages. I think we settled on Spanish and Chinese and Japanese as most economically profitable.

    But in terms of mastering English, what languages are most profitable? He suggested classical Greek, as the difference in grammer helps one better understand English grammer.

    Any-one here who knows the language, who can confirm or deny?

    And beyond that, what languages are best to learn?
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  3. Roman Banned Banned

    Knowing Arabic would be really helpful, as Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries have lots of oil and hence lots of money to buy Western ideas with.

    Arabic+engineering would be real money.
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  5. -Bob- Insipid Fool Registered Senior Member

    My buddy learned Latin in the same way as you Xev...

    Why must you 'master' English? You seem to be good enough at it already...

    Latin is generally more useful, I think. Ancient Greek is interesting, but more of a mindbender. Ancient Greek is good for philosophy (and nothing else, possibly), latin is for learning other latin-based languages and reading classic literature.
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  7. Xev Registered Senior Member

    My hangup is grammer. Never learned English in a classroom environment, so I don't fully understand English grammer.
    I have a pretty high boredom threshold, but memorizing the endless permutations of declension and case and gender and number tires me after a few hours.

    Because I'm really nerdy and masochistic and I like doing things like tracking word-usage back to its Latin root and first use in 1588 on Saturday night when I should just take an Ambien and sleep since I have to be at work in....nine hours.

    Above all else - "good enough" is not good enough!

    Basically. And then, people have been translating the ancient Greek texts into English and French since the late Middle Ages. So why should I read the originals?
  8. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    I've grown up a native English speaker in a community with a relatively small population of Spanish speakers. I started learning German almost two-and-a-half years ago and have lately tried (impulsively) to learn basic Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian, and Latin.

    If mastering English is yer goal, the best language to learn depends on exactly what ya wanna master. Here are my opinions based on my linguistic experience.

    Latin is helpful for understanding at a glance words in the English language that have been borrowed from Latin (which are many). It's also helpful for understanding the meaning of the various Latin phrases we often use, such as et cetera and ad hominem. This really comes in handy when ya run into Latin phrases ye'r not familiar with, such as post hoc, ergo prompter hoc ([it happened] before this, therefore [it happened] because of this). Furthermore, both Latin and Greek give the English language many, many root words.

    If ya wanna sharpen yer understanding of grammar, really any language is a good choice, but both Latin and German are among the best choices. Their free yet largely unambiguous word orders offer the challenge to get yer grammar straight. I have no experience with Greek, but I assume that it's just as helpful. Since learning noun declension bores ya, however, German is a better choice. Ya still hafta learn the case and gender, however, if ya wanna be fluent (or at least have a decent conversation) in the language.

    Although, in general, both Latin and Greek are good choices for mastering English. Latin would be easier, for ya don't hafta learn another alphabet.
  9. Godless Objectivist Mind Registered Senior Member

    If I had the choice, I would choose to learn latin.

    Latin is the root to some english, spanish, french, italian, portuquese, and probably more.

  10. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

    Many words in English stem from Latin, but we all know that already. Well, some languages have adopted English and French words as well, and German.... As a well-functioning bilingual, I can tell you that comparing grammar (sentence structure) may not be successful. I don't see how you could do a compare+contrast without knowing both sides really well. I'm much like you, I never learned sentence structure in English. I learned sentence structure in my native tongue, but have almost forgotten the lessons, sinse my sentence structure comes from reading and communication experience. All I've noticed is that Americans like commas less than Russians and that Russians like their sentences longer. Well, comparison between words in Greek, Latin, and other languages may be interesting to trace cultural similarities and other things that can be learned with a hobby in linguistics.

    Why not learn both, especially if you plan to learn to the extent where you'd be able to read untranslated Greek and Roman literature? For me, that's the main reason for learning any language.
  11. blackmonkeystatue Unregistered User Registered Senior Member

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  12. Xev Registered Senior Member

    I have a good two semesters of German and a half year of sporadic self-study.

    Learning both isn't an option due to time constraints - Latin has far more utility than Greek, and I don't want to waste time on something that isn't very helpful. Really I'd rather stick to untranslated French and German, and possibly Old English texts. After the decline of the Classical period, there wasn't anything worth reading in Greek.
    Well maybe Neo-Platonic Tom Clancy novels.

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  13. Joeman Eviiiiiiiil Clown Registered Senior Member

    I am taking Koine Greek right now. It is an extremely difficult language. You have to memorize paradigms after paradigms. You not only have to memorize the lexicons but the endings for all 5 cases.
  14. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    Either this is some crude inside joke -- or you are really having hangups with grammer ...


    In terms of mastering language X, language X itself is the most profitable.

    This totally depends on what you want.
    Do you want to learn a certain language because you are planning on living in the country where it is spoken, for example, or do you want something to make your head spin?

    What exactly seems to be the problem with your understanding of English grammar?

    What don't you fully understand -- the grammar theory or the actual English practice?

    If your hangup is not fully understanding what an adverb or what subjunctive mood is -- then specific grammar theory books can help you. Or just a good scientific book with the title "English grammar".

    Otherwise, like all foreigners, you'll have to take those fancy "First Certificate Practice Tests" and all that stuff to sprouce up your English...

    In that case, etymological dictionaries should be of help to you.
  15. -Bob- Insipid Fool Registered Senior Member

    but latin is probably even worse for declensions. It would probably be a lot easier and more efficient to memorize the English ones better.

    spellcheck is advanced by leaps and bounds these days, you know.

    If you succeed in learning Ancient Greek (so that you can read ancient texts) then you deserve credits for being masochistic. Personally, I prefer knocking my head against a wall and drinking large quantities of beer.

    I imagine nothing would be good enough for you, in that case. I recommed learning Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Japanese all at once.

    It helps, I imagine. Translated texts always lack something of the original, especially with an alien language like Ancient Greek, which has a bunch of weird ambiguities and multiple words for something that might only have one word in english. At least that's what them fancy philosophers do. Only in the case that you are really going to study ancient texts well and be a professor or philosopher.
  16. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

    Translations may distort style and, sometimes, meaning. Bible is a good example. I bet there are other good ones. Like Shakespear in Russian. Picture Shakespear in Greek 8)
  17. Xev Registered Senior Member

    No, that would be spelling.
    The last refuge of the pedant.

    I believe it is "spruce".
    Oh, the irony.

    I fail to see your reasoning.
    I know English declension. I don't think it would help more with Latin.

    Have at it!

    Nup, have to be yelled at by welfare mothers:
    "He names Tynkwyna Ny'Cinque Shoshatana Jackson, you say it wrong on purpose!"
    "Get me yo supavisa!"
  18. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    Then nothing. I asked what your problem with English was -- and you accuse me of being a pedant, but refuse to see I was joking. Bah, you have changed, drastically. Suit yourself.

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