How much daily reading? a bigger question, 3

jerker karlsson jerker_k at
Tue Jan 8 23:10:49 EST 2002

To Randall Buth.

You summed up my objections in two paragraphs:

>1. Yes, we have knowledge of ancient Greek based on careful studying
>of the 'sedimentations'. 2. But we don't need to teach the language that 

Concerning the first paragraph you have understood my point quit well, but 
in the next that is not the case. I do think that we aught to study the 
sedimentations, but nothing else. My conviction is that there is nothing 
else to study or learn from than just the remains of an once living and 
thriving lingual environment. My objection to your method is that it 
bypasses the fact that ancient greek has since long lost it’s 
spatio-temporal existence as a linguistic environment in which one can be a 

The texts which we posses do not represent more than a fraction of the 
contemporary ancient greek language at any given point of time. Further it’s 
quite a difference between the written records which we learn from and the 
spoken language at the same time, the phenomenon of diaglossia is not to 
overlooked in the learning process.

In my opinion any attempt to relive a language that once has died out is, 
from a scientific point of view, the same as to begin to plow a field, 
filled with hidden agricultural artifacts in the hope of that they’ll all 
come to live and reveal to us their hidden mysteries. One the contrary such 
an attempt will result in that, the things that once was preserved in the 
earth, becomes exposed to oxygen and starts to wither away.

The point of the metaphor is of cause that if you start to relive that, 
which once has been conserved you’ll inevitably  mix it to the modern way of 
thinking and so lose the genuine information careful scholarship could have 
been able to excavate.

And finally, (if it were possible) what is really the point of starting to 
write and speak in the hH GLOSSA TWN ARXAIWN hELLHNIKWN?  To be an 
hELLHNISTI today, doesn’t it signify the ability to excavate the rich 
treasures of the language rather than to simply speak it? But don’t take me 
wrong! I’m genuinely interested in the progress and development of all 
methods that can make the often long and tiresome process of learning to 
access the language a bit easier.


Jerker Karlsson
Lund, Sweden

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