Friday, 30 November 2012

The Greeks Invented Grammar

The Greeks Invented Grammar!

Grammar itself is a Greek word. Well derived from Greek Grammata.

Seriously though many common grammar and linguistics terms derive from Greek or are translations into Latin from Greek that were then translation into English.

Here's some words used to describe and analyse language that come from Greek.

Syntax Morph Lexicon Periphrasis Theory

Paradigm Synonym Philology  Dialect Phonetics

Logic  Semantics Analysis Etymology Topic

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Gray in Greek

Words for Gray in Classical Greek

Perhaps the best known word is γλαυκός blue gray the color γλαυκῶπις of the goddess Athena's eyes but also the pale gray green or bluish green of leaves and plants, a changeable shifting gray.

Γραῖος is sometimes translated as gray but it is the gray of aging fading things and beings believed by scholars to be a contraction of γεραίος

Ashen white gray is μέλινος.

Ὄρφνινος is the color of darkness a gloomy night Ὄρφνᾱ in Doric and Ὄρφνη in Attic.

Πολιός is gray too and probably cognate to the word for dove πελεια and πελλός.

Φαιός is a deep dark dun gray but ψᾱρός is the speckled gray of a starling.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

WHITE words for white in classica lGreek

Words for White in classical Greek

There are more words for gray and pale than white in Greek.

The two main words from which a variety of adjectives and nouns derive are

λευκός pale white and  ργής shiny white like silver ἀργυρός

White objects were also often compared to

Snow νιφος or stone λυγδος or marble μαρμαρος.

The Greeks seem to have associated the quality of whiteness with shine and gleam and brightness.

Color names begun as names. Color as an abstract concept developed later.

The ancients had to write about color by comparing it to objects.

More examples of this soon.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Welcome to the third declension

Welcome to the Third Declension!

There are many nouns of masculine feminine and neuter gender that have this pattern.

Nominative a contracted form in the singular
A Plural – as ending

Accusative stem + α Plural – ας

Genitive + ος Plural ων

Dative + ι Plural σι(ν)

Nouns that end in – μα like Charisma Drama Dogma and Gramma are declined as

γραμμα γραμματα γραμματος γραμματων γραμματι γραμμασι

More Third Declension Examples soon.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Which Plato dialogue to read first?

Which Plato dialogue to read first?

Some tips and ideas.

Are you reading Plato in Greek to learn about style or in Greek or English or your own language to learn about philosophy, literature, or ancient culture and history.

If you're lucky your library has a full set of the Loeb classics or several of the Penguin translations perhaps? Or you've had the time to download some of the older translations available on line. You might want to google downloadable Loebs and you can can e-texts and pdfs of older translations from several sites.

I'm fortunate enuff to have a small but good collection that includes Greek originals and Penguin and other translations however I acquired these new and second hand over three decades.

What would I suggest?

Start off with the Phaedrus or  Symposium and the Apology.

Do read the Republic.

Do not fixate on one favorite dialogue.

Read Several!

Read both the major and minor dialogues.

Do not just read one translation.

Different translations may have differing notes or commentaries or introductory essays that can add to your own insights and analysis.

Do not presume Plato is always being serious!

Be aware of the history and politics of Socrates's age.

Even if you are only interested in the philosophical concepts you still need to know about the politics of Athens and Sparta.

Finally whatever your reasons for reading Plato do it with joy and pleasure!

Now go and read some Plato!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Hellenic Heirs

This is an illustration from a 10th century AD Byzantine book.

Notice the use of classical art motifs. A shepherd. Goats Sheep. A rural setting.

I suspect the artist was modelling his style on Greek and Roman frescos.

The naturalism of Classical art didn't just appear overhead into the formal stylizations of Early Christian and Byzantine.

Don't disparage Byzantine culture cos its Christian Greek.

Hellenic culture from the Helladic up to modern times is a continuum or perhaps a river that changes shape and color as tributaries enter it during its journey?