I'm currently reading Plato, Homer, and others in their English translations. I also currently am learning how to speak modern conversational Greek. I also want to learn Attic Greek in order to better read and understand Plato, Homer, etc. in their original editions so to say. Is this a good idea? Would I get confused or would this have the opposite effect of accelerating both processes of learning?

Thanks in advance.

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    The question, as is, is quite broad, since any language with a literal tradition would fit. Can you be more specific about your goals and interests? – Tommi Brander Nov 20 '18 at 8:16
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    Hope I made it more specific! If not, please suggest in some ways I could make this a better question. – phil-al-sophy Nov 20 '18 at 15:39
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    The question is better now, but might still be put on hold. Let us see. Are you looking to readthe mentioned authors in their native languages? That would allow a response based on literal traditions in various languages and quality of translations to English. The part about "tips for that language" is, I feel, too unspecific. Also, one question at a time is better suited for the website. Maybe ask a separate question about how to best learn to read a language at the level of classical literature? Better yet if it is a specific language, but you could also try a general question about that. – Tommi Brander Nov 20 '18 at 15:44
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    Alright! I'll change it to a question about learning Attic Greek. Thanks! – phil-al-sophy Nov 20 '18 at 15:54
  • The question currently has a few close votes because it is perceived as "primarily opinion-based" and/ or "unclear what you're asking". I suggest that you rephrase both title and question body to ask whether Attic Greek and modern Greek at the same time would cause interference (or something similar that can be answered objectively). – Christophe Strobbe Nov 22 '18 at 16:27

I'll start from the perspective of English. Even though I am a native speaker, my understanding of the language itself, its structure, and its vocabulary have increased significantly by studying Middle English and Old English. One interesting thing this helps with is dialects - many expressions which at first appear to originate in a regional dialect of Modern English are, in fact, holdovers from OE or ME (e.g. "gotten", "ax a question", "a-fixin' to" and "I guess so"), and just died out everywhere else.

As it pertains to my study of Hebrew: I think there is also a significant cross-training element to studying a "conversational" language as well as a primarily written, read-only language. To get a feel for how a language "sounds", for how people might have spoken casually, to treat the language as living, rather than a dead tree, is worth more than just some dry words on a page. See this question on Hebrew, which has been particularly helpful for me in choosing to concentrate on learning Modern Hebrew, even though I am interested in and building a basis in Biblical Hebrew as well: Modern Hebrew before Biblical Hebrew?


As native speaker of Greek, I would suggest you focused on Modern Greek first as it is much simpler than Attic Greek. Then, once you have a solid foundation of Modern Greek, you can perhaps pick a few textbooks on Attic Greek, learn about its unique features and finally study Plato, Homer etc. In this way I think your transition to Attic Greek will be smoother. Hope this helps!

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