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Opinions about the FSI course? (spelling differences, etc.)
by Szabolcs Horvát - Monday, 21 December 2009, 05:59 AM
  Has anyone tried using the (free) FSI Greek course, as a complement to LGO? The date on the FSI books' covers says 1967, so it's from about the same period as the LGO lessons. However, it uses (of course) the old spelling system, and I am a little bit concerned about that.

Do you think it would cause too much confusion? How great are the differences between the old and new spellings? Is it possible to get the new spelling from the old one by simply changing the diacritics, in every case? If so, then it shouldn't cause any problems.
Picture of Greg Brush
Re: Opinions about the FSI course? (spelling differences, etc.)
by Greg Brush - Monday, 21 December 2009, 09:48 AM
  It's much easier going from the old spellings to the new, rather than from the new to the old. Why? Because if going from old to new, the two breathing marks are irrelevant and thus omitted, and the three kinds of accent marks in polytonic simplify to the one accent mark in monotonic. Furthermore, only words of more than one syllable now get an accent mark.

Conversely, if going from new to old, you have to learn which ancient words had a "rough breathing" mark (i.e., initial aspiration). In addition, while there are a few simple rules governing stress change and thus which accent mark is required, in a lot of instances you simply have to learn by rote whether the nominative form used a circumflex accent (ˆ) or an acute (´).

As if that weren't enough, some (but not all) instances of doubled consonants were simplified to single consonants in the spelling reform of about 25 years ago.

The polytonic system, invented about 2200 years ago to teach foreigners of that time how to speak and pronounce the Greek of that era, was difficult for modern Greek kids to learn, because, other than indicating the stressed syllable, it had nothing in common any longer with how people actually pronounced the words.

Nevertheless, it's probably worth your while at some point to become familiar with the polytonic system. Why? Every Greek publication dating from 30 years ago or more used it, and of course all classical Greek texts are written with it.

Hope this helps,
Greg Brush
Picture of Szabolcs Horvát
Re: Opinions about the FSI course? (spelling differences, etc.)
by Szabolcs Horvát - Tuesday, 22 December 2009, 04:53 PM
  Yes, it does help. Though I don't intend to learn (to write using) polytonic spelling at the moment, at least not before at least attaining some reading fluency in the language, which is still a long, long time away with my current pace. There are much higher priorities at the moment.

I was just looking for alternative online courses, to use after finishing LGO (and to start using them even before finishing it). I got the impression that LGO doesn't go through all the important parts of grammar, so it would be useful to keep following a formal course after finishing it. I would like to say, however, that this website, the transcripts, and especially your FYI explanations and replies do make a big difference! Thank you for them!

FSI seems to be the only other serious online course (Filoglossia doesn't go as far as LGO), and I was simply wondering if the spelling differences would cause any serious trouble for a student learning the contemporary language. But, as you said, they don't seem to be a problem. I glanced through the book, and apart from the the occasional double consonant (e.g. κρεββάτι), there are a few words that seemed to be alternates to words we have learnt here, e.g. υιός - γιος, εορτάζω - γιορτάζω. However, these are all in the in.gr dictionary, so I guess they're not old spellings, just simply alternates. Another difference I noticed was the use of είσθε in place of είστε. Apart from these few differences, everything seemed to be the same.

On a related note, how is υιός pronounced (and what is its syllable structure)?
Is it [i.os]? Or [ji.os]? Or just [ʝos]?
Picture of Greg Brush
Re: Opinions about the FSI course? (spelling differences, etc.)
by Greg Brush - Wednesday, 23 December 2009, 01:20 AM
  The reality is that the vast majority of spellings are the same, although, of course, the written accents vary between the polytonic system (3 types of accents) and the monotonic system (one type of accent).

υιός and εορτάζω are "older" spellings, which means that they are in fact the ancient/classical/katharevousa forms of these words: υιός is the ancient/classical version of demotic γιος (/jos/, L18) and is pronounced /iós/ (which, by the way, rhymes with ιός, "virus"), while εορτάζω (/eortázo/) is the ancient/classical version of demotic γιορτάζω (/jortázo/, L77).

Greg Brush