Re: thinking Greek

From: Kimmo Huovila (
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 09:25:17 EDT

I guess a good grasp of modern Greek would help, but I wonder if modern
and KOINH Greek are not better seen as two related languages than as two
dialects of the same language. A native Greek speaker once told me that
he can understand about 70% of the NT in the original (I showed him the
letter of Eusebius at the beginning of NA and he was completely at loss
with that text. The NT is stylistically much simpler). That means that
there is a significant problem in communication between these two
languages (and this has nothing to do with phonology). I have studied
both Classical and KOINH Greek (and even the very first basics of modern
Greek), but I still have great problems understanding (even written)
dimotiki. Syntax and morphology have changed (in my estimate) to such a
degree that a restudy would be needed, if one is fluent in KOINH or
modern Greek and wants to learn the other. This is not to say that the
study of the other may help in understanding the other.


Mark Beatty wrote:

> First let me state that I have concluded that the differences are linguistically
> (though not communicatively) rather minor. For example as for phonology the stops B,
> D, G are pronounced as fricatives [f, th, gh/y]. In certain contexts the U is
> pronounced as an [f]. A bunch of the vowels and diphthongs are pronounced as [i].
> As to morphology, there is no more dative, the infinitive is inflected for person and
> number, and there is a whole set of "auxiliary verbs" to mark for infinitive,
> subjective, etc.
> Yes, there are differences in some word meanings, but during a recent stay in Athens I
> was asked "POU MEVETE?" which is the same thing the disciples asked Jesus in John 1:28
> (except our friend used the plural since she was addressing my wife and I). And when
> you answer the phone you use NAI just like Peter answered Jesus in John 21:15.
> As for what I call syntax, I think the differences are almost non existent.
> So, having stated my opinion that the differences between Koine and Modern are
> linguistically trivial, does anyone know of any research being done that uses the
> insights of Modern Greek to understand Koine?

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