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  1. Pingback: Recommended Blog Post – Greek Language and Linguistics

  2. I don’t understand why the classes are small either.

    It’s the highlight of my year. And this year was the best so far.

    Thank you, Seumas!

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  4. This is fascinating.

    You write, “The idealisation of what a native speaker of Latin might be like . . . continues to deeply plague a community that is at heart not dedicated to Latin language revitalisation.” To what, if anything, would you say the community IS committed?

    • Even talking about a unified spoken-latin community is probably a bit misleading. An array of subcommunities might be better. And to what degree there is a sense of unity around anything except ‘we’re people that cultivate spoken latin’ is something I’d love to see discussed.

      But on this particular question, and I’d be interested in your own thoughts too, the general attitude I encounter is (a) we speak Latin in order to acquire Latin better, and hence to engage with texts – classical, most often, but medieval and later too – as better readers. There is thus an orientation towards a linguistic standard that remains, for the most part, Ciceronian in idealisation, In terms of a ‘living’ community, I’d say the ideal is an ongoing, sustained ‘community’ of speakers, who can effectively inculcate new speakers as learned L2 speakers. e.g. the continuation of Latin’s former role as a learned language of discourse in Europe, though these days shorn (to some degree, if not entirely successfully), of some of the socio-cultural attendants of Latin’s former prestige-status

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    • Hmm, I don’t think there’s a singular answer to that. But it also plays into ‘what’s a star?’ and what they thought fit into the category of ἀστήρ which may also not map to our definition of ‘star’.
      But also I wasn’t planning to write ‘definitions that only fit an ancient understanding of the world’.

  9. What about Hesychius?

    βίος. ζωή. περιουσία

    Much shorter, but does a longer definition that already use the words ζῶντος and ζῴου really help more than simply listing ζωή as a synonym?

    • Sure, it works. I think there are multiple ways to ‘solve’ definition writing, and it depends partly on purpose. My purpose isn’t exactly to write definitions that are the simplest possible. That is, I’m not bothered by the definition having some degree of complexity.

  10. Ευ, ευ, ευγε, ευγε, ω φιλε Σεαμα! I’m glad you’re doing this. I’ve long felt such resources are helpful in learning. I’ve been reading Rouse’s edition of Lucian’s Dialogues, and found his Greek to Greek definitions of the vocabulary very helpful. Most of the time, I can follow them with no problem.

    Here’s a couple more possible resources you may have overlooked:

    Latin to Greek dictionary (Greek from Attic authors):

    Hederick, A. Benjamin, Gustav Pinzger, and Francisco Passovio, eds. Novum Lexicon Manuale Graeco-Latinum et Latino-Graecum. Editio Quinta. Tomus Posterior. Lexicon Latino-Graecum. A—Z. Leipzig, 1827. Adobe PDF edition, Google Books. Link:

    This set also has a Greek to Latin section. I believe I shared the set with you once upon a time via my Dropbox.

    Greek to Greek dictionary: Ancient to Modern Greek (Katharevousa), adapted from LSJ. Known as the LSK after its editor, Anestis Konstantinidis, who translated the LSJ into Modern Greek in 1904.

    4 vols. Link on archive.org for vols. 1 and 2:


    Vols. 3 and 4: (from a different site):


    Note: vols. 1 and 2 are in two separate pdf files; vols. 3 and 4 are in one big pdf file.

    Textkit discussion thread about the pros/cons of the LSK:


    I have used the Latin to Greek one. I have the LSK but haven’t used it yet. While I am not fluent in Modern Greek, I think I could use it. A while back I downloaded and browsed a grammar of ancient Greek written in Modern Greek. I was able to find my way around and at least get the gist of the discussions. Since I also have LSJ and use it frequently, I think it would be easy enough to use LSK.

  11. Pingback: So you want to learn spoken ancient-Greek (2020 edition) — The Patrologist | Talmidimblogging

  12. In Canada, I went through this immersive biblical greek course at Briercrest College and Seminary, with two professors (Dr. Wes Olmstead and Dr. David Miller) who have switched from traditional grammar translation method to a communicative method, inspired largely by Randall Buth and the Polis Institute. Fall 2019 was their first time teaching this course, and it was very effective. They will be doing it again in Fall 2021, and would be worth mentioning here I think.

  13. What an exciting chapter. I look forward to seeing if I can match up the Greek middles that I know, and the Latin media tantum verbs, with these categories. Also French and Spanish, with recasting verbs that I have always thought of as simply reflexive in form, as middles instead, matching up with these categories.

  14. Hi! Is there any way to sign me up for a notification of when you’ll open the next course? I’m really interested. Also, could it be possible to maybe cater more sociably accessible hours for other locations (I’m in GMT+3 atm)? Thanks in advance!

  15. Are you familiar with JACT’s Reading Greek? Any thoughts? I only ask because Athenaze seems similar in design.

    • I am familiar with it. I think JACT’s Reading Greek is not bad, but not as good. RG consists of a series of connected prose passages, which take you on a real tour of Greek literature, but it’s a very steep learning curve (most people find), and really depends upon heavy doses of grammar in each section. The main Greek-text portions of RG makes a great reader for someone who is already on their way, but I wouldn’t normally recommend it up front.

  16. This is fantastic! I’ve also thought of something like this (not nearly as detailed). A world where we go back to producing scholars and scholarship in Latin.

    One advantage of this mode of education is that it enables a truly international, multi-lingual community to come together via Latin and Greek as the “Linguae Francae”.

  17. Would you say then that in order to strengthen chunking, or the spidery neurological connections, that reading is a good means to this?

    • Absolutely. Any chance to meet words in relation to other words, in varying contexts. Reading, especially extensive, comprehensible reading, is a great way to do this.

  18. Shouldn’t μερὸς and μερὴ be μέρος and μέρη? (And on the subject, the Greek terms for the different types of accent placement might be a worthwhile addition to the chart)

    • oh yes, they definitely should be.

      I’ll add accentuation terms too.

  19. Seamas, you may already know about this site: Akropolis World News, http://www.akwn.net. Dr. Juan Coderch publishes an online newspaper with stories about current events in Neo-Attic. He also provides downloadable vocabularies for modern terms. He takes the same basic approach as you. I have found his materials helpful. He has also published a new grammar for ancient Greek and one for Latin.

    • Yes, I’m familiar with it, and sometimes refer to it for some vocabulary.

    • Thanks Mike, I think I had this sitting in my pile of things I haven’t quite yet read on the topic

  20. Pingback: » On Authentic Texts in language learning The Patrologist

  21. Great post, as always. A few points:

    1. In my experience at US universities, curricular restraints are a major factor in the rush to give students “authentic” texts (with “authentic,” as you say, being narrowly, not broadly, construed). We know that most students who take Latin at all will not go beyond the second year, and it’s considered unthinkable to let them “finish” the four-semester sequence without having spent substantial time “reading” “authentic” texts. As I hope my scare quotes suggest, this line of thought is full of problems, but it’s the dominant mindset. I can only imagine the incredulity which would meet any suggestion of substituting, say, the Vulgate for Cicero in second-year Latin. On one hand, yes, we should give up on the idea that most learners can go from zero knowledge of Latin/Greek in the first semester to any sort of meaningful competence in the fourth semester, if by meaningful competence we mean _reading_ something like Cicero rather than slowly decoding with dictionary and Bryn Mawr commentary. On the other hand, I think people at most US Classics departments take pride in claiming that our students “read” “real” Latin/Greek in the second year, and they believe — perhaps rightly — that this is a selling point for students, some of whom, at least, are content merely to decode the ancient languages because they don’t know anything better is possible.

    2. On a related note — especially as someone who read substantial amounts of Koine before ever turning to Attic — I have mixed feelings about the bias towards the “elite” or “canonical” varieties of authentic texts. On one hand, there is so much post-classical literature out there, and a lot of it is rather easier than the standard authentic texts usually offered to students. Using more post-classical texts would go a long way toward lowering the difficulty gradient, toward bridging the as-yet substantial gap between the end of elementary sequences and learners’ first encounters with authentic texts. And often those texts are not used for no better reason than snobbery. On the other hand, we should be aware that exposing learners to large amounts of non-classical vocabulary, syntax, and morphology will make it harder for them to eventually think of “Classical” Greek or “Classical” Latin as a linguistic norm, as a point of departure. Is that necessarily bad? Not at all. But I know from experience that reading lots of Koine (to be precise, Christian Koine without literary pretensions) before reading any Attic meant that for a long time I thought of οἴδασιν, ἐλεύσομαι, and ἠρχόμην as standard, when in fact that’s not really the case.

    3. I’m actually quite sympathetic to your reason (3). Some of the novellas out there are written by people who really need to get better at Latin before they produce (and sell) materials for consumption by learners. I do not mean to endorse the behaviorist notion that learners retain all the mistakes they ever hear and so the input offered them must be absolutely pristine — but we really should have high standards for learner-directed texts. It’s especially troubling that some writers of novellas don’t even want to hear negative feedback about their work, however politely offered. It’s easy to underestimate just how hard it is to produce quality text in one’s L2 that’s free, or even mostly free, of barbarisms and solecisms, and those of us who speak the ancient languages find our position undermined with those who don’t when they can easily find novellas that contain mistakes in the first few pages.

  22. Thanks Stephen, I appreciate your thoughts here.

    On 2, as someone who came to their Attic via Koine, I’ve had some of those same experiences. I do think there’s a case to be made for deliberately shaping learners’ reading experiences towards their target corpus/corpora. And perhaps that means being willing to adapt texts in various directions. One of the things I enjoyed in Schoder et al’s Homeric textbook was adaptations of New Testament texts in a Homeric direction. They remained simple enough to read, but transposed into a Homeric key.

    On 3, I’m also sympathetic, immo, supportive of your point here. I too have seen plenty of really problematic Latin in the novellas, which I would baulk at presenting to a learner. So, my point 3 above should be taken as “there’s no prima facie reason that composed learner directed content has worse Latinity”. There is, of course, the other extreme – advocates who I’ve heard basically suggest a position of “well, nothing but Ciceronian Latin will do”, ironically put forward in their own spoken Latin. And, as I (and you) well know, speaking or writing error-free Greek or Latin is no low bar. One reason I’m in favour of greater transparency in composition, feedback, and editing processes.

  23. This has me thinking about the differences between modern and ancient languages in this regard.

    At the college near me, 3rd semester Greek reads one of Plato’s dialogs, 4th semester Greek reads Homer, and you can’t take anything further in Greek until you’ve passed (or placed out of) the Homer course.

    In contrast, in Spanish there are so many prerequisites piled up for Don Quixote (6 semesters of Spanish language, or equivalent, and 2 semesters of modern Spanish literature) that it would be hard to take it before your 4th year. (Not that there isn’t plenty of difficult modern Spanish literature to be reading in the meantime.) And Don Quixote is completely optional.

    • I honestly think it’s weird to train people on Attic in order to read Homer. My own experience is that they really are different enough that if your goal is Homer, study Homeric. If your goal is Attic, study Attic. And if you want to do both, probably learn Attic then work with some transition materials to handle Homer. But to pretend you can go from a knowledge of Attic grammar and a smattering of Plato, to Homer, is considerably underrating the gap there.

      In any case, what you describe if fairly typical of most college programs!

  24. Hi Seamus,

    This is Kevin Grasso, the creator/co-founder of Biblingo. Thanks for the review of our software. We really appreciate you taking the time to look over what we have carefully.

    Just a couple clarifications and responses:

    1. You can find the practice exercises for the alphabet under our preset vocabulary decks section. This is also supposed to be typing practice for new users as well. But the fact that you didn’t seem to find it maybe shows that we should do a better job of pointing people to it.
    2. We are working on a way to give a placement test to allow users to skip ahead to later lessons. We hope this will be out in the next month or so.
    3. I agree on needing more comprehensible input. We have several new features for this in the pipeline within the app, but they are more long-term. The two are what we are calling fluency drills and easy reading passages based on your level. You can expect to see these start to come out in the next 4-6 months. We also plan to have some of this done outside of the app, which should be coming sooner.
    4. One feature coming out very soon (next few weeks) will be allowing users to bulk archive words on the Bible module by frequency. We hope this makes the module more useful to more advanced users like you in Greek.
    5. We are also working on building more flexibility into the flashcard module.

    All of that to say, we still have a lot of plans to improve the app (even besides those above), but we are hopeful that what we have now can be of use to people as is. We are also working on later lessons for the language learning, which could be of use to more advanced students if they could start from there with our placement test.

    Thank you again for your encouraging review, and we hope that we can continue to improve the product to give users a more fruitful experience in the app.


    • Thanks Kevin, I appreciate hearing your input on these points and look forward to seeing further developments in the future!

  25. I’ll be curious to hear how this goes for you. I’ve been using Anki for around 10 years, and used memrise for a few years before it. I’ve done 8,000+ phrases (I almost never input words devoid of context).

    For myself, I’ve found that learning any more than 5 a day is not sustainable long term. And SRS are all about the long term (recall).

    • Yes, I’ll be curious too. I already have a sizable working vocabulary in Gaelic, so I am sure that the true rate of learning will not be 30 words a day, but since I’ve never done sustained SRS work with Gaelic vocabulary, I’m very happy to be adding regular doses of words I already know pretty well, as my goal is not really 10,000 new words, but 10,000 words at least, overall.

    • I use Anki for modern Hebrew and have found that seven new words a day is sustainable for me without much effort. When I was doing more (maybe like 15), I kept up with it for a while, but the snow ball eventually overwhelmed me. I deleted everything and started using only words that I’m encountering in the wild.

      • I have heard that around 7 new words *per session* is ideal. But my 30 is really a misleading figure, because it will not be 30 new words a day, it will be 30 words *new to my list* a day, comprised of some words garnered from reading and listening, and at least half from words that I probably already know, but which are new on my list.

  26. Yes, do keep us posted on how it goes.

    For many years, I used Anki for Greek and Latin vocabulary primarily to prep for translation exams. One semester I took a seminar on the Anabasis — we read all of it in Greek — and made an Anki card for every word in the text I didn’t know (between 50 and 100 per book). Since Xenophon’s Greek is relatively simple, and since Anki ensured that I knew all the vocabulary that might show up on seen passages, I barely studied for the translation exams in that course. Crucially, though, the front of each card included not only the lexical item to be learned but also the sentence in which I found it. This worked extraordinarily well in terms of exam performance, but hardly any of those words (as far as I can tell) ever transferred to my active vocabulary.

    More recently, I’ve started monolingual Anki decks for Greek and Latin, adding 5 or fewer items per day. I’ve made cloze cards for troublesome principal parts or vowel quantities (e.g.: Ego cibum edō; tu {{c1::ēs}}.); cards with straightforward questions like “[Front] Quid facit is quī tempore nocturnō labōrat? [Back] lūcubrat”; and cards with pictures, where the front contains (e.g.) the question “Quāle solum est?” with a picture of a tile floor and the back gives “solum testāceum.” As you say for Gaelic, I make plenty of cards for which the content is not completely unknown but I think the repetition will be helpful.

    With these monolingual cards, the whole experience contributes to learning: making the card requires me to use the language, and reviewing the card requires me to think in the language in order to answer it. When I have 10 or 15 reviews in a monolingual deck, it becomes a sort of mini-immersion experience. They take more work to create, but I’ve found that the results are proportionately better.

    I’m still experimenting with Anki for morphology. I think cloze cards have potential, but it’s difficult to find sentences in the wild that unambiguously require one form to fill in the blank; writing one’s own sentences may well be the better option here.

    • Appreciate your insight here, as always. Especially on the experience of using monolingual cloze cards. I do have a monolingual dictionary at hand I could leverage for some of the vocabulary.

      Back when I first tackled my college Latin classes, the standard “we’ll read a text and you’ll be expected to translate and comment” type, I brute forced a lot of vocab with flashcards, and like you found this incredibly useful for exams.

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  28. Laurentius magister Seumas SPD.

    Hora secunda nocte (in Europa versor) scholam tuam, Seumas, audire non potero. Sed, quoniam dicis te ex scholis acroases facturum esse, cur non acroases postea vendere? Fortasse nonnulli sunt cuius studium excitetur.


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  32. Pingback: τοὔνομ’ μοί ἐστι “tecum sto” — The Patrologist – Talmidimblogging

  33. LS s.v. sto 3: “Stare, ab, cum, or pro aliquo, or aliquā re, or with adv. loci, to stand by, on the side of, adhere to a person or thing, take the part of.” Not exactly “agree,” but it’s easy to see how a proficient and well-informed speaker could mean “take the part of” and be interpreted by a less well-informed speaker to mean “agree with.”

    Also, I was puzzled to see Travis specifically mention Polis materials as a violator of the ὄνομα rule, since I had noticed the rule without having seen Lee’s paper largely because of Polis getting it right (since, as you mention, “What’s your name?” and “My name is X” are not very common in the corpus). And in fact when I look at the Polis book, I see Τί ὄνομά σοί ἐστιν; (p. 1), ὄνομά μοι Ἑμμανουήλ ἐστιν (p. 9), ὄνομά μοι Νικόλαος (p. 103), ὄνομα τῇ θυγατρὶ Μαρία (p. 108), ὄνομα αὐτῷ Φίλιππος (p. 108), τί ὄνομα σοί ἐστιν; (p. 141). But Travis may have had something else in mind.

    • My understanding is that Travis tagged major communicative-folks and materials-producers, not that he necessarily sought to indict anyone in particular.

  34. I’d be willing to help. I’m a retiree who’s a been studying Greek (and Latin) for years—intermediate skills, I’d say. I’d transcribe, proof, whatever.

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