Life as a(n Aspiring) Linguist

20 04 2007

Semester recommences on Monday morning and, as it turns out, I have both a Latin and a Greek assignment due. Funny how I only ever seem to realise this at the very last minute. This weekend is liable to be spent refamiliarising myself with vocab and paradigms, but I welcome the exercise. Latin is such a structured language that I am finding the systematic translation of passages to be almost an exercise in meditation. Surrendering myself to the rules of the system provides a certain degree of psychological relief and, as of yet, we have not encountered anything ambiguous in meaning. Greek, on the other hand, continues to stump me. I do not know why this is the case, considering the fact that it seems to be so syntactically similar (so far) to its Roman counterpart; nonetheless, I am finding the process of memorising tables in Greek to be of some difficulty, and I continue to make silly mistakes when doing so.

I think that I must have dropped Ugaritic, for I’ve not been to a class now in a month. This was not a conscious decision of mine, merely the result of simply having too many different things to do. The languages to be suffering the most at the moment are Greek, Ge’ez and Syriac, and I am worried that if I do not devote myself again to Hebrew and Aramaic in the near future then they will begin to suffer as well. I decided a short while ago to write up some Hebrew paradigms and was dismayed at how long it took me to remember what they look like. Considering the fact that I am apparantly doing a PhD at the moment in Classical Hebrew, this may be a problem.

In any case, I recently saw 300, and I mention this because my secondary motive (alongside the primary desire to simply gape at two hours of colourful “eye candy”) was to inspire myself to study harder at Greek. Moved by the story of the battle at Thermopylae (I have been reading a book about this particular war of late), I decided that I should like to read the account of Herodotus in his original language. This is, perhaps, something of a pipe dream but it is one that is beginning to motivate me nonetheless. I am excited at the world that promises to open with the acquisition of such important languages as Greek and Latin.

Then, of course, there is Coptic. The practical use of this language is small for me, but I hope one day to exercise my Greek in a closer analysis of the Septuagint. Should that day come, then Coptic will prove of inestimable value in a text-critical analysis of the Greek text. In the meantime, however, I have an organised and spirited teacher, and a good online network of Coptic students with whom to discuss the grammar. Things, so far, are going well and, with the Australian government giving me money every fortnight to pursue my passion, I consider myself one of the lucky few. If I have any complaints, I will be sure to let you all know them.

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One response

25 04 2007
Conrad

I don’t know about the passages you’re reading; but I find that Greek is superficially more chaotic–lots of relatively meaningless particles floating about to distract you. However, it flows more naturally than Latin, and the presence of articles and more richly developed pronouns make it in some ways easier to navigate the syntax. The paradigms are a bugger though, especially when you start differentiating middles, duals and second aorists.

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