Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To Learn, Or Not To Learn... I'm circling this one for a while.

I've mentioned that the service at Holy Trinity is a mix of English and Greek, and everyone there speaks English, though many are also bilingual. But the point there is that I have no trouble communicating with anyone else I might need to speak to.

The thought, though, does occur that I might like to understand Greek. I have the little Divine Liturgy book, so I know what is being said when it is in Greek, and for the readings, where are indicated in the book, but the text not included, they have a print out every Sunday with the readings in Greek and English as well. So I'm not missing out on anything. And, I'm actually enjoying just listening to the words, without understanding them. It's less about making sure I'm in the right part of the Liturgy, or doing the right thing, and more about just being there, and listening, and letting it all wash around me. And the Creed is said twice, once in Greek and once in English, so I just listen to the Greek and recite the English with everyone else (though, of course, they all say it in Greek as well. After a while I suppose I'd be able to do it too...).

Anyway. I just...I don't know. If I do decide to become Orthodox, this will be the church I attend. And...I keep thinking that it might be a good idea to learn Greek.

I know caraboska's recommended a book that she used to learn New Testament Greek, and I keep thinking about it, but I don't know...I think my problem is that it just seems like such a daunting idea to learn a new language, and Greek looks very 'alien' when compared to English. There are words that I can figure out, when they're spoken, but then you look at the written, and the alphabet is so different!

Maybe I'm just being lazy? I know that the church actually does have Greek classes, during season, but I likely wouldn't be able to attend them because of my gym schedule, which is non-negotiable at this point. I have to go to the gym every day. So. Learn it myself? Wait? Stop worrying about it because it makes no difference right now?


  1. I think it could be nice and useful for you to know Greek, but not the most important. I have not started learning Arabic and you know how important of a language that is in Islam! But I'm taking it at my own pace - little by little! I'd suggest the same, especially since it sounds like it would be tough to really set it up in your schedule to *really* learn. Just being able to pronounce the Creed with the rest might be good as a more short-term goal!

  2. Wow, what a neat idea! I think taking the classes would be a fun way to learn. Too bad it conflicts with gym time. I hear ya on the letters looking alien. For a time I thought I'd try to learn Arabic. I did learn the alphabet..even the ways the letters change shape in order to connect, but reading words? Ack! I could write names, but eh...I just can't read everyone's writing when I don't even know the letters *that* well. Plus when it's written on the computer, the script is just too small for a beginner. At least this one.

    So, that said, I would greatly admire someone who learned another language especially when it wasn't "necessary." :)

  3. Sounds fun! And yes after hearing it over and over you will learn to recite it in Greek. That is how I memorized the Islamic 5 daily prayers. It will start to sound less foreign too

  4. If you can save up the coinage for it, something like Rosetta Stone is a nice investment. It's software based and very intuitive learning. The way a child learns a language. I'd recommend modern Greek for learning, as opposed to the koine Greek.

    And I'm sure the Ya-Ya's are all already secretly plotting about who they can marry you off to...

  5. I mentioned koine because it might be useful in a liturgical context, and then it just happens I found a quite painless way to learn it. But Rosetta is probably a good bet for the Modern Greek. If you are interested in learning to read New Testament, since you haven't really learned the alphabet yet, it occurs to me you could find an interlinear with a transliteration marked in. Might even be able to find one for free online. That would pretty much obviate your problem and the letters would just sort of osmose into your brain. Although then again, the pronunciation is a little different from Modern. And you can try out Rosetta Stone online - they have a free demo on their web site.

  6. Candice,

    *nods* Good advice. I'm going to check out the language section at the book store the next time I go and see if I can find a Greek language text book for, maybe, 5 year olds. That seems about my speed! :)

  7. Susanne,

    Yeah, I'd like to take the classes, but I really doubt it'll work out. Not for a few years at least.

    Arabic makes *no sense* to me. The letters change when you connect them? So it's like more letters! Ugh. And I even managed to learn a little Japanese, though I've forgotten most of it by now...

  8. LK,

    The sound doesn't seem foreign to me, really. Which is kind of weird, I grant. When I'm sitting there listening, I think, 'I could learn this!' and then I go home and look at Greek text, and *pop* goes that bubble! Meh. I think I'm going to concentrate on listening to the Creed, for the moment, and being able to pronounce it correctly in Greek.

  9. Alana,

    *checks out Rosetta* Wow. Yeah... it'd be a while before I could save up for that. I'm going to explore some and see if I can find something I can afford more immediately. At least I can maybe learn to read Greek...

    'And I'm sure the Ya-Ya's are all already secretly plotting about who they can marry you off to...'

    Heh. I don't think so...they don't seem the type to be doing match making...

  10. caraboska,

    No doubt it would be. And I think it'd be nice to be able to read parts of the Bible in the original languages. I'm just dithering about whether or not I'm willing to put in the effort to learn a new language.

    I'd like to be able to just put a Greek grammar/alphabet book under my pillow and let it absorb straight into my brain. But somehow I don't think that'll work... ;)

  11. Amber,

    I thought it would be painful too, or I would have taken the plunge at least 5 years earlier. But then it turned out to be nearly effortless. Skimming the grammar book in one day, just to figure out the logic. Maybe it helps that I chose a little paperback and not some huge tome. Then one chapter a day with an interlinear. Quick, easy, took about half an hour. Started all this at the beginning of January, finished in August.

  12. Amber, Just to give another idea. Back when we homeschooled I looked at a Greek Primer for kids called, "Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!" IT is a comprehensive biblical Greek learning program for kids. If you want to give it a look it is at

    (We went with Latin and used "Latin's Not so Tough!" for a while.)

  13. mamajuliana,

    Oooh...thank you! I'll check that out when I get a chance. :)


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