Its all Greek to me

It seemed quite natural after revising my dormant Latin to have ago at reviving my Greek. Whereas I came back to Latin after a 33 year break, with Greek it was more like 36 years. I only did Greek for 3 years at school to O level, whereas I studied Latin for 6 years to A level. I had toyed with modern Greek a few times in the intervening period and was delighted that I remembered some basic grammar but dismayed at the double stem verbs that seemed more like Russian than the Greek I remembered.

When I first revisited my Latin it flooded back, although my biggest problem was vocabulary. It was like finding an old photograph album in the attic and recognising all the faces but not remembering their names. With Greek, after the initial exitement of remembering λυω and ὁ, ἡ, τὀ etc. I found it increasingly difficult. I was, and still am, using “Reading Greek” which is very good but I couldn’t relate it to the Greek I learned at school. Aspect came up quite early and I did not remember this from school. I started learning Russian straight after finishing my Greek O level and I couldn’t understand why aspect had come as a total novelty to me, if I had already met it in Greek. At times I thought I must have been absent from lessons, but this couldn’t be, because firstly I rarely had a day off school, and secondly I passed my O level without any problem. I had to conclude that it hadn’t been taught and that perhaps it had just been given as  a vocabularly item. Then , in February this year, I went to Madingley Hall, near Cambridge, for a weekend course on reading Greek, where  my new freinds introduced me to another book called “Greek to GCSE” by John Taylor. I read part I in a week. Suddenly everything fell into place. Firstly this book is far simpler than Reading Greek and introduces far less new vocabularly, which makes it easier for older people like me. I find that my ability to memorise word lists and grammar is not what it was. I have an excellent short term memory and can learn things quickly but unless I use them again and again I quickly forget them, so I prefer to have lots of repetition. Secondly, and more importantly, it seems to follow a similar order to the way I learned Greek and thus I felt more comfortable with it and it seemed more like revision. It seems as if the memory works better if relearning follows the same paths as the original learning. It works for me anyway.

I am now nearly at the end of chapter 8 in part II and I feel sure that this will put me in good stead for when I go back to Reading Greek or move on to real Greek later this year.


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