In preparation for my upcoming trip to Greece, and also because I kind of stalled in Spanish and want to move on, I decided to learn Greek. Americans say “This is all Greek to me”, for something that is complicated to understand. We do not say that, of course, being Turkish and Greece being our neighbor the Greek language is not exotic enough. (We do sometimes say something is as complicated as Chinese) I am a mathematician by training and I thought I would have an advantage at the beginning, knowing the alphabet and all. Well, I was wrong. Knowing the letters one by one and trying to read something written in the Greek alphabet are not the same. Listening part is much easier. Having spent many holidays by the Aegean listening to Greek radio because the reception for Turkish radio was very weak, I am accustomed to the sound of the language.
I am mainly using Rosetta Stone, which I get free as an alumna of Brown University. It progresses slowly, mainly based on listening, but there is some writing practice as well. Grammar is unstructured and there is a lot of guesswork. It is supposed to be the natural way humans learn language. But most humans who are naturally learning a new language are much younger than me. I do no not have a child’s brain to absorb that much naturally. Rosetta Stone has many other languages. The other day I tested my daughter’s Turkish. Her father constantly complains that the children are forgetting their mother tounge, and he is blaming me, the mother, for that. She passed Turkish Level 3, easily 🙂 My son refused to be tested 🙂 🙂
I also bought some books. Not easy to find! With Spanish there was no shortage of resources. However, Greek is not as popular. There are actually more books on ancient Greek, a dead language, than in modern Greek. Too many religious people wanting to read the bible in its original language, because they do not trust the translation? They should instead get out and travel more. First, I got Living Language Greek, a set of three books and CDs. But, I wanted a grammar book – being a scholar, I wanted to learn the language the hard way. So I also got A manual of Modern Greek I , for University Students. This one was difficult, well deserving its name. Thinking about my students at the University of Washington, I do not they would like this book at all! You can compare the first pages of the first chapters of the two books and see for yourself:
Also, I could not find its exercise book as it was out of print. The university library said they would not get it for me because it was not in my research field. I asked my local library, and they had a copy brought to me from Cleveland, Ohio. I scanned the pages – there was no way I could get through the book in the two week borrowing period. So, with a combination of Rosetta Stone, Living Language Greek, A Manual of Modern Greek, Anna Vissi and Haris Alexiou, I am very slowly progressing. I will be in Crete in two weeks to embarrass myself! I can even make another trip to Greece for more language experience. I will probably drive to the northern part and maybe even see some remains of the Turkish rule.