Greek to Me

I spent quite a bit of time on some Greek the last couple of days. Hacking through the ANC Greek Berkeley program, the English-Greek option on the startup page, takes you to a page that launches a javascript program.  Downloading the source for that program, and clicking on a couple of hyperlinks there, gets me to a javascript page that has an entry containing a list of all of the diacritics.  Yeah!!!!

It is not ideal because I would rather compose the letters with a compose key like in Spanish, but I can save this into the Geanie editor, and copy and paste the letters when I need them without having to forage for specific greek letters containing the right accents in words.  I can now write anything in Greek (including capitals) by individually cutting and pasting the letters, albeit with more difficulty than I would like.  I suppose it is not as difficult as a stylus on clay, or papyrus or parchment from animal skin, and ink from bones or other sources.

I´ve writen 12 sentences in Greek, and made a hybrid French-Greek version of Write_words to see if it would work.  This was a HUGE milestone for me…  The interesting observation at this point is that although the Geanie editor can handle every possible variant of a used Greek letter (I can write any Greek sentences), the bash script using the Greek language option only uses a subset of the accents, and there is an occasional square displayed.  It isn´t yet optimized, and I am far from being able to get the keyboard to communicate the incredible diversity and detail of Greek language to the program i.e. one has to hand write the answers to the questions.  I´m batting 0/20 right now.  THIS IS REALLY HARD!!!  It is important to realize that in many European countries (not to mention Greece), they start learning Greek in late middle school.  I´m a few decades behind… but excited that I have been able to make some progress!

I’m relieved to discover that, although both Hebrew and Greek use alphabetic representation of numbers, in the Greek texts that I am using, a modern numbering system is used. (where does our number system come from?).  All of the diacritics are associated with the vowels, and there are 104 variants of the 7 or 10 (if you count the ones with the dot under them) vowels.  That’s 104 different ways of pronouncing a vowel. Although the list technically includes rho, I’m not sure why.  I don’t count it.  Define vowel.

Learning about languages and their logic is an exercise in abstract thinking, or algebra.  One should probably not attempt a logical analysis of a language until passing algebra, although an empirical learning of language precedes logic.  Some sounds are very difficult to learn at a later age.  Children raised by wild animals in the wild who later try to learn a language apparently have a very difficult time.  There is a window of opportunity for proficiency in certain gutteral sounds that probably occurs at a very early preschool age.

Back to Greek! I noted the passing of Warda, the Arabic singer who transcended national boundaries: .  I downloaded one of her songs Mawasem – and apart from the beauty of the sounds and music, I empirically note the syncopation and harmonics of the music.  To my untrained ear, the music (without language) could be Hebrew or Greek. I wish I could quantify what makes the music middle eastern.  There is a unique harmonic quality, whose difference is not unlike what makes Stevie Wonder´s music so unique.  (I watched the Billboard awards this weekend).  In the case of middle eastern music, the choice of notes is characteristic of the geographic location.  Back to Greek words…Working directly from the text, I note that the genitive in Greek seems to be expressed as:

the book of his

the garments of his

as opposed to contracted:

his book

his garments

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