Traveling to Greece

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Gunnar
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Gunnar »

Chap wrote:
Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:57 pm
Pending a reply from someone better informed - modern Greek as written is certainly closer to ancient Greek than Italian is to Latin. But:

(a) Basic vocabulary has changed significantly: for instance, the words for 'bread', 'water' and 'wine' are quite different from those used in antiquity.

(b) The sounds attributed to letters have also changed greatly. Thus in antiquity, the noise made by sheep was written βῆ βῆ to represent our 'Beeh, beeh', almost rhyming with 'air'. The same letters today would make the sound 'Vee, vee', rhyming with 'see'.

(c) Grammar has been much simplified. The particles which gave a lot of the dynamic to Greek sentences have vanished. The future tense is managed quite differently to how it used to be done. And so on.

There is a story that during the Greek war of independence (1821-29), an English politician visited some Greek troops and made a rousing speech in the classical Greek he had learned at school. Nobody understood a word; but the soldiers said they had not realised that English was really quite like Greek ...

But ... modern Greek is still Greek! Try the Rosetta Stone course if you want an easy start. It's easy to start speaking, and all the Greeks you meet will be delighted by your efforts.
Thanks, Chap! You answered the very questions I was most curious about. What you said was consistent with what I expected to be true. I imagine a typical modern Greek's difficulty in understanding Greek would probably be similar to what modern English speaker would have with the middle English from Chaucer's time.

I already had the impression that there was considerably more difference between modern Italian and Latin than between modern Greek and classical Greek. Thanks for confirming that!
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Chap »

Gunnar wrote:
Thu Jun 23, 2022 8:53 pm
a typical modern Greek's difficulty in understanding Greek would probably be similar to what modern English speaker would have with the middle English from Chaucer's time.
In Captain Corelli's Mandolin, during WWII, during the German occupation, a Greek doctor is surprised to find a strange man at his door in the middle of the night, dressed in the traditional skirt-like fustanella, who is represented as saying to him (I quote from memory) "Sir, I would spake to yow in privity of certayn thinge". The man turns out to be a British intelligence agent who has landed by parachute, and is doing his best to communicate in the ancient Greek he learned at school.

So you are not the first to think of that analogy.
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Kishkumen »

Jersey Girl wrote:
Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:31 pm
Kish did you fly across the ocean or around it?
I flew across! Nothing bad happened, fortunately!
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Kishkumen »

Physics Guy wrote:
Wed Jun 22, 2022 11:23 am
If the heat wave reaches Greece, you can subsist on frappés. The fact that blended instant coffee powder and ice makes a surprisingly good frothy beverage seems to be a modern Greek discovery.
This far I have had three frappés. Tasty stuff!
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Kishkumen
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Kishkumen »

Pending a reply from someone better informed - modern Greek as written is certainly closer to ancient Greek than Italian is to Latin. But:

(a) Basic vocabulary has changed significantly: for instance, the words for 'bread', 'water' and 'wine' are quite different from those used in antiquity.

(b) The sounds attributed to letters have also changed greatly. Thus in antiquity, the noise made by sheep was written βῆ βῆ to represent our 'Beeh, beeh', almost rhyming with 'air'. The same letters today would make the sound 'Vee, vee', rhyming with 'see'.

(c) Grammar has been much simplified. The particles which gave a lot of the dynamic to Greek sentences have vanished. The future tense is managed quite differently to how it used to be done. And so on.

There is a story that during the Greek war of independence (1821-29), an English politician visited some Greek troops and made a rousing speech in the classical Greek he had learned at school. Nobody understood a word; but the soldiers said they had not realised that English was really quite like Greek ...

But ... modern Greek is still Greek! Try the Rosetta Stone course if you want an easy start. It's easy to start speaking, and all the Greeks you meet will be delighted by your efforts.
This is all accurate according to my limited knowledge and experience of Modern Greek. I am having fun applying and expanding my limited knowledge during this trip!
“Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture.” ~ Cornel West
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Jersey Girl
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Jersey Girl »

Kishkumen wrote:
Fri Jun 24, 2022 4:30 am
Jersey Girl wrote:
Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:31 pm
Kish did you fly across the ocean or around it?
I flew across! Nothing bad happened, fortunately!
:o
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Philo Sofee »

Moksha wrote:
Wed Jun 22, 2022 11:43 am
Physics Guy wrote:
Wed Jun 22, 2022 11:23 am
The fact that blended instant coffee powder and ice makes a surprisingly good frothy beverage seems to be a modern Greek discovery.
Wait, are you saying this was not a secret passed from the Freemasons to McDonalds?
No, the secret was passed to Pizza Hut, silly...
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Physics Guy
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Physics Guy »

Changing sounds from "b" to "v" seems bizarre until you pay attention to just how you hold your lips and tongue when you say those two sounds. The difference is literally just a puff of air when you fully close your lips for an instant. So it's actually just exactly the kind of thing that can easily change, either within one generation as a suddenly-cool deliberate affectation or gradually over several generations without anyone really noticing.

This insight comes courtesy of the linguist in my family. I merely pass it on.
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Chap »

Physics Guy wrote:
Sat Jun 25, 2022 11:16 pm
Changing sounds from "b" to "v" seems bizarre until you pay attention to just how you hold your lips and tongue when you say those two sounds. The difference is literally just a puff of air when you fully close your lips for an instant. So it's actually just exactly the kind of thing that can easily change, either within one generation as a suddenly-cool deliberate affectation or gradually over several generations without anyone really noticing.

This insight comes courtesy of the linguist in my family. I merely pass it on.
Yup, that's certainly the case. But modern Greeks do know about 'b'-sounds from other languages, and so since their letter 'b' (β) has effectively turned into a 'v', they had to find a way to represent that sound so they could write borrowed words like 'bar' - which they do by in effect writing 'mpar', in Greek letters μπαρ.

And so on.
Maksutov:
That's the problem with this supernatural stuff, it doesn't really solve anything. It's a placeholder for ignorance.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Traveling to Greece

Post by Kishkumen »

Today we cleared the backfill from the cloths laid down to protect the excavation. The last time they were able to come dig here was 2018, so there was a fair amount of dirt to remove. The day started with the crew and directors meeting with an inspector from the Ephoreia, the Greek governmental authority overseeing archaeology, at the apothiki, which is where finds are identified, catalogued, photographed, and conserved. Then we all went to the site, where the inspector observed us digging the backfill out. The Greek inspector left around noon, satisfied that it is a legit operation run by experts.

The site is a small Mycenaean citadel, a kind of local center with a large palace, fortifications, workshops, and storehouses. We have walked the site a couple of times before today, and the American director is getting a sense of the place, trying to figure out where everything was. He tells me that all such centers followed a fairly predictable pattern, facilitating the process of identifying good places to excavate, despite the fact that over the millennia the site has been disturbed many times. Most recently farming occurred there, and judging by the number of onions in the soil, they must have been farming onions.

During our walks through the site, I see literally scores of pottery fragments on the ground. The most interesting pieces are handles, where sometimes one can see the spot the potter pressed down to attach the handle to the main body of the vessel. We have also seen many pieces of paving stone, and places where there were wide streets and gates providing access to the citadel. All these things are over three thousand years old! Done neatly 3500 years old!

These are the Mycenaeans, the first Greeks we can identify through Linear B, the syllabic script they used to keep records. The language it documents is Greek, hence our ability to identify the Mycenaeans as such. From the Linear B we can see they worship the familiar Greek gods, including Athena, Dionysus, and others. The Mycenaeans endured the Late Bronze Age civilizational collapse, which may have had ecological and mass migration/warfare causes. The economy declined precipitously, many sites were burned, and the Iron Age culture that replaced it is quite different. For a while, there is no evidence of Greek language. This does not mean Greek left. It means that Linear B was no longer used, probably because the knowledge was lost.

This site way have held on a little longer than others because it was smaller and isolated. That is part of its value to archaeologists today.

So what am I doing here? The American director is a friend from graduate school. Right before COVID I asked him about his summer plans with the motive of asking to go along. He was thrilled to oblige me, but COVID put it off until now. This year we are getting the operation up and running again, and next year new sites at the citadel will be excavated. I am hoping to be able to return for future seasons.
“Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture.” ~ Cornel West
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