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Essential Modern Greek Grammar
By Douglas Q. Adams
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1987 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Essential Modern Greek Grammar assumes that you have a limited amount of time at your disposal to study Modern Greek and that your objective is simple everyday communication, both spoken and written. This book, therefore, does not attempt to offer a complete outline of all aspects of Modern Greek grammar, even in a highly condensed version. It does, however, offer a series of aids to help you use more effectively phrases and words that you have already learned. The book will introduce you to the most common structures and forms of Modern Greek and a selected number of the most useful rules.
How to Study Essential Modern Greek Grammar
If you have already studied Modern Greek in a conventional manner, this book will serve as a review, and you can use it by glancing through all of it quickly and then selecting those areas on which you wish to concentrate.
If, however, this is your first acquaintance with Modern Greek grammar, the following suggestions may be of help:
1. Before beginning to work your way through this book, master several hundred useful phrases and expressions such as you will find in any good phrase book or in the Listen & Learn Modern Greek course. The material in this book will be much more easily understood after you have achieved some simple working knowledge of the language. This book's purpose is to enable you to gain greater fluency once you have learned phrases and expressions, not to teach you to construct sentences from rules and vocabulary.
2. Read through Essential Modern Greek Grammar at least once in its entirety. Do not be concerned if some of the material is not immediately clear; what appears to be discouragingly complex on first reading will become much simpler as you progress in your study. The first reading is necessary to acquaint you with terms and concepts used from the beginning. Learning these will help you improve your comprehension of Modern Greek and use more freely the expressions and words you already know. As you use Modern Greek and hear it spoken, many of its grammatical patterns will become familiar to you. Essential Modern Greek Grammar helps you discover these patterns, and it will be helpful to you as you develop your vocabulary and improve your comprehension.
3. Go back to this book periodically. Sections that at first seem difficult or of doubtful benefit may prove extremely helpful as you progress further.
4. For the most part, Essential Modern Greek Grammar follows a logical order, taking up the major divisions of grammar in sequence. You will do best to follow this order. However, you may be one of those who learn best when they study to answer an immediate question or need (e.g., how to form the comparative of adjectives; how to conjugate "to be," etc.). If you are such a student, turn to the section that interests you at the moment, but read through the entire section and not just an isolated part. Individual remarks, taken out of context, are easily misunderstood and may seriously mislead you.
5. Examples are given for every rule. It will be helpful if you memorize them. If you learn all of the examples in Essential Modern Greek Grammar, you will have encountered the basic difficulties of Modern Greek and studied models for their solution.
6. You cannot study Modern Greek or any other language systematically without an understanding of grammar, and the use and understanding of grammatical terms is as essential as a knowledge of certain mechanical terms when you learn to drive a car. If your knowledge of grammatical terms is a little hazy, read the Glossary of Grammatical Terms (p. 78) and refer to it whenever necessary.
In Modern Greek, as in any language, there are potentially many ways to express a single idea. Some involve simple constructions, others more difficult ones. Some of the more difficult constructions may well be more sophisticated ways of conveying the thought and ones that you will ultimately wish to master, but during your first experiments in communication in Modern Greek, you can achieve your aim by using a simple construction. Be satisfied at first with the simplest.
You should not, however, be afraid of making mistakes. The purpose of this book is not to teach you to speak like a native but to allow you to communicate and be understood. If you pay attention to what you're doing, you will find that eventually you make fewer and fewer errors. Sooner or later you'll be able to review Essential Modern Greek Grammar or a more detailed book at a time that is appropriate for polishing your speech.
As you begin to speak Modern Greek, you will be your own best judge of those areas where you need most help. If there is no one with you, you can practice by speaking mentally to yourself. In the course of the day see how many simple thoughts that you have expressed in English you are able to turn into Modern Greek. This kind of experimental self-testing will give direction to your study of Modern Greek. Remember that your purpose in studying this course in Modern Greek is not to pass an examination or receive a certificate, but to communicate with others on a simple but useful level. Essential Modern Greek Grammar should not be thought of as the equivalent of a formal course of study at a university. Although it could serve as a useful supplement to such a course, its primary aim is to help adults study on their own. Of course, no self-study or academic course, or even series of courses, will ever be ideally suited to all students. You must rely on and be guided by your own rate of learning and your own requirements and interests.
A Word About Katharevusa
Finally a word must be said about the two different varieties of standard Modern Greek that you may run across. The more formal variety, used in official government publications, the editorial page of newspapers and in formal speeches, is called Katharevusa ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The less formal variety is used in all literature, in such parts of the newspaper as the sports page and in the normal conversation of educated Greeks. This variety is called Dhimotiki ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and is the variety of Greek described in this book. There are, however, words and expressions in one variety that have no equivalent in the other, so there is occasionally the need to mention structures or forms normally found only in Katharevusa even in a book devoted to Dhimotiki. In Essential Modern Greek Grammar mention of such structures is kept to a minimum, but you should be aware that many things you will see in certain kinds of formal Greek will not be discussed in this book because they are restricted to Katharevusa. Fortunately, the knowledge you will gain of Dhimotiki should allow you to understand most of what you may read in Katharevusa even if the forms look somewhat strange to you.
Excerpted from Essential Modern Greek Grammar by Douglas Q. Adams. Copyright © 1987 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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