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Dialect questions
by Guest User - Wednesday, 3 March 2010, 10:28 AM
  Giea sas!

I am recent learner of Greek, I love this site! At home I have been using both Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone (i like Pimsleur better for the record). I have noticed they use different words for somethings. For example, Pimsleur says nafau,nafate for eating. Rosetta says troi, trone for he, they eat. Are one of these katharevousa? I am sure I will come across these situations more and more as I go further, it would help to know if one is a certain style I should be aware of.


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Re: Dialect questions
by Szabolcs Horvát - Wednesday, 3 March 2010, 07:58 PM
  Well, I wrote up a very long an detailed answer, and lost it all because of a connection problem ...

It's late at night, so just in a few words:

I also started learning with Pimsleur, because the first Pimsleur lesson was more appealing than the first LGO lesson. But Pimsleur turned out to be nothing more than a convenient way to memorize a phrasebook ... which is not the same as learning to speak/understand a language. So I suggest that you start working with the lessons on this site instead, and only use Pimsleur as complement.

φάω and τρώω are two grammatical forms of the very same verb. It's an unusual irregular verb, hence the different sounding words (think English go & went).

Read about the two forms here.

The technical terms for the two forms are perfective (φάω) and imperfective (τρώω) aspects, if you want to look them up in grammar books. There's an explanation on LGO here.

What you'll need to know as a beginner is that the present tense indicative mood forms are always derived from the imperfective. The simple past/future & the non-continuous subjunctive are derived from the perfective forms. (The imperfective form can be used too, but it changes the meaning. This form/meaning is usually only introduced later in lessons.)

A few examples:

I ate (simple past) = έφαγα (introduced at the very end of Pimsleur)
I eat (present) = τρώω (never introduced in Pimsleur)
I would like to eat = Θα ήθελα να φάω (used all the time in Pimselur; since να φάω is a subjunctive, it's derived from the perfective form. As I understand, "Θα ήθελα να τρώω." means something similar to "I would like to be eating.", but I'm just a beginner too...)

This is where the complete lack of any grammar explanations in Pimsleur hits back. Although it never says this explicitly, Pimsleur creates the impression that "I eat" (present indicative) is "φάω" in Greek, which is not correct. The Pimsleur lessons don't even explain basic points such as conjugating verbs in all persons/numbers. Their strong points though are that they teach the correct pronunciations well, and that they are able to create a sense of accomplishment (thus motivating students).

The excellent LGO lessons are light on grammar too (perhaps too light...), but they teach the language, not just phrases. They require only a little more attention & time per lesson (the lessons being more concentrated), but they'll take you so much further than either Pimsleur or Rosetta ever could!
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Re: Dialect questions
by Guest User - Thursday, 4 March 2010, 09:03 AM
  Wow! Excellent grammar explanation! Thank you! Makes perfect sense. I am only in month 3 now of learning Greek. I agree with you completely about the lack of grammar Pimsleur and RS provide. I do like the method for learning vocab though, helpful when you work 12 hour days.. Which grammar book do you find to be the most sufficient?
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Re: Dialect questions
by Szabolcs Horvát - Thursday, 4 March 2010, 10:05 AM
  Hello Katerina,

Unfortunately I was without a grammar book for a long time too, but recently I managed to order "Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language" through my university's library. You can access parts of it through Google Books, but unfortunately access gets restricted after viewing a number of pages. This book is a reference work though, so while it's useful for checking declension tables etc., one cannot learn the grammar easily from it.

There's a nice grammar site here, which is more useful for a beginner in my opinion (at least it was more useful for me.)

This is a compilation of various resources available for free on the internet. It has a section on grammar.

The way the LGO lessons introduce grammar points gradually is quite nice in my opinion, and a good way to learn. Grammar books tend to be quite overwhelming at times smile
Picture of Greg Brush
Re: Dialect questions
by Greg Brush - Thursday, 4 March 2010, 12:33 PM
  There is also a less expensive version of this reference titled "Greek - An Essential Grammar of the Modern Language" written by the same authors (Holton, Mackridge, Philippaki-Warburton). Although it has less detail than its bigger "Comprehensive" brother, it's quite satisfactory as a companion to the LGO audio dialogues and transcripts. It will fill in a lot of the gaps in the Audio Lesson explanations, and answer most questions about spelling, grammatical forms, and usage.

I have both versions, but the "Essential" is the one I normally use as a quick reference. I tend to use the very detailed "Comprehensive" only for specific info about some unusual question of form or syntax which is not covered in the "Essential". Both versions are available for order from online sources such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

For a little more about these two versions of the reference, see "Grammar Text" in Discussion Forum 18.

Greg Brush