Got a new book in the mail today. Stumbled upon these words, and I started speculating a bit.
The Koine Greek words for consciousness and perception appear to me to be related, συνείδησις and συναίσθησις, respectively. With a modern pronunciation they’re nearly homophones as well, being one vowel sound and one consonant apart.
That’s really interesting. I get the feeling there’s some important truth lurking about, there.
So for the last six weeks I’ve been studying Koine Greek, with a goal of being able to read the Stoic texts for myself without the help of a translator.
There are two main pronunciation schemes for Koine, the Erasmian (an academic teaching pronunciation) and the pronunciation scheme of modern Greek. My instructor uses the latter.
Until Gregory Wasson, most of the resources Koine learners have available is within the context of the Christian New Testament. However, you’ll find many of the words of the Stoic lexicon there.
If you’re interested in what Koine sounds like with a modern Greek pronunciation from a native speaker of Greek, this YouTube channel is a treasure trove.
I’ve been using it to aid in my own pronunciation and listening exercises.
You’ll hear words like ‘pneuma’ /ˈpnɛv.ma/), and other terms like it.
I’m not sure if this fellow has gotten to Romans, as Pauline Ethics are full of Stoic terms, that would be very close to our interests. (EDIT: he has)
This weekend I had my second session for studying Koine. My tutor is very personable and we get along well. Although my background is linguistics (specifically syntax and phonology), this tutor’s teaching style is less “here’s a chart of declensions to learn” and more “let’s talk in Greek about your family.”
We’re using the pronunciation values for modern Greek, which is closer to how Koine would have sounded than the ecclesiastical or Erasmian pronunciation schemes.
So far, I’m enjoying it. I haven’t had a serious language project in some time, which is something I have missed.
At these early days, there are two immediate issues.
1) I cannot predict Greek stress. Like, not all.
2) The Greek question mark is ” ; ” and not ” ? ” .
I’m used to having very good intuition for Slavic languages about stress, which is not helping and is in fact hurting my acquisition of Koine Greek. Luckily, in most of the texts I have available, the stress is overtly marker with an acute accent mark.
For some reason the Greek question mark throws me for a loop. I’ll get used to it in time, but as of know it interfers with the smoothness of my reading and writing.
I’m really looking forward to being able to read our classic Stoics in the primary language. I’ll keep you updated on my progress!
This weekend I started out with a tutor to learn Koine Greek. Hopefully this time next year I can read the classical sources for myself. I think my studies are at the point where being able to read the works in their native language would be helpful. Working in translation is not bad, it got me here.
But this way, at least when I’m working with a translation I’ll then have two opinions on the definitions: theirs and mine. As of now, I rely on a “priestly class” of translators to make philosophy accessible to me.
Just trying to cut out the middle man.
There’s a long way to go to get there, though.