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December 2018 M T W T F S S « Jan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Why have you learned Latin, Ancient Greek or Sanskrit? What aspects of those languages are you fascinated by?
Latin: Opportunity. My uncle’s and aunt’s old Latin textbooks were in my grandfather’s storehouse, and I discovered them when I was 10 (1981). Thinking back, that’s where my love of language started. I read through the grammar, and then went to work translating Cornelius Nepos.
I loved the intricacies of the grammar, I guess, but I loved the monumental style even more. There is a solemnity there.
Ancient Greek, on the other hand, I was allergic to, because I’d soaked up the language controversy around me. Demotic had just won the dispute a few years before, and Puristic Greek was still the target of derision and partisan suspicion; the new socialist government was elevating folksiness to the political mainstream; and it was a decade before the backlash that let all the genitive direct objects and reduplicated participles back in.
I’ve only made any kind of peace with Ancient Greek in the past decade or so. The grammar is cool, but it’s tracking the changes that led up to Modern Greek that keeps me interested.