Thursday, January 11, 2007

Verbal Abuse

When I was younger I had a theory that you can't really learn a foreign language past the age of ten. Then one of my cousins learned a foreign language to prove me wrong. Now I've revised my theory to I can't learn a foreign language past the age of ten.

As you may know, I'm trying to teach myself Koine Greek. I was doing well until summer vacation, which set me back nearly to where I started. I made another go at it and was back on track until Christmas vacation tripped me up again, though not as bad as summer.

Now picking it up again, I've discovered why Bill Mounce puts verbs off until chapter 18 of his book. If he had started with verbs, I would have given up right away! Different roots in different tenses, key letters dropping out between vowels, rules getting treated more like guidelines.... Whose idea was this stuff anyway?

I'm sure if I had grown up speaking Koine Greek this would all make sense, like the irregularities in English do. As it is, it's making me nuts.


P.S. (an after-thought) said...

I think that what I've read is that you can't learn to speak as a native speaker if you don't start till you are 12 because of changes in the brain. So when you learn Greek, go find a "native" speaker of this type of Greek and see what he thinks.

My children, who have been to the Sem said that the older students had the most problems with the languages compared to the younger students.

Christopher said...

I'm going to start formally doing Greek this coming term, basicly sitting in on classes and being tutored by the Tyndale House folk... at least that's the plan, but I'm also trying to keep up with my Hebrew, so we'll see how that goes.

toujoursdan said...

You have my sympathy. When I moved back to Ottawa, Canada a year ago, I had made a point to learn French, which is a much easier language for English speakers (You already know 15,000 French words.) I also have the advantage of having 50 French channels available on TV, newpapers, books, magazines and neighbours to bounce off of. I keep telling myself I may be fluent in another 5 years, but I will never sound native.

I took 4 years of German in high school and university and have a couple German speaking acquaintances. I am amazed how much vocabulary I retained while forgetting the grammar completely.

I also believe that some people have an easier time learning languages than others. They have never come easily for me.

toujoursdan said...

Coincidently, one of our TV networks has a news story that says bilingualism delays the onset of dementia. So there is another incentive!


Andy said...

The advantage of Biblical Greek is that you really only need to learn about 2000 words. Plus, I'm sure French would be easy if they said the same thing to you every time you talked. :-)

I once heard a joke: people who speak three languages are tri-lingual, people who speak two languages are bi-lingual, people who speak one language are American.