Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's Greek to me...

As some readers of this blog might know, my wife and I homeschool our two children (10-year old boy & girl fraternal twins).

I recently decided to teach them the Greek alphabet.  I don't remember how it came up, but I explained to one of them what a Greek letter was we saw somewhere.  Then I thought it would be fun to teach them some basic Greek (yes, that's what geeks like me think of as "fun").  It's a good review for me - I taught myself some basic Koine Greek years ago (Koine or Biblical Greek instead of Classical Greek since most of the self-teaching resources are for that purpose). Anyway, the kids seem to enjoy it so far.

Each night, at the dinner table, I've been introducing two new Greek letters and reviewing the ones we've learned to date.  Even mom has joined in.  Then we practice writing them on lined paper.  That's a lot of what homeschooling is at our house.  We of course do the basics in English and math, but we also pursue what we're interested in at the time.  Greek is certainly not part of the NYS curriculum for 5th grade.  It's not anything they would learn in public school.  But it's fun to do.

Is it useful?  I think it's nice to recognize Greek letters used as symbols in science and math.  I think I'll also teach them some useful root words in Greek that crop up in many English words (especially in science).  Words like liqoV (lithos, meaning "stone") which crop up in geology in words like lithosphere, lithification, lithology, etc.  Words you can figure out the meaning of if you knew lithos meant stone.  What's "orographic lifting of clouds" in meteorology?  Well, if you knew the Greek word for mountain was oroV (oros), you could probably figure it out.

We can also have discussions on where the word alphabet came from (alpha-beta - yes, I know, which in turn derived from earlier Middle Eastern language roots).  What the term "alpha dog" means.  What the Biblical phrase τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω in Revelation 22:13 means.  What I mean if I told them I wasn't going to change something by "one iota".  Trivia perhaps, but isn't that the mark of what we consider to be an educated adult?

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating, its wonderful to hear of such enthusiasm, I was looking at Biblical Hebrew a few weeks ago, and see the source of 'aleph - bet' from pre Christian times.

    The reason i posted is that with my own mandarin learning I use word association (both phonetic and visually related) and 'connected groups' that so far no Chinese source has ever employed, most useful. I should this moment patent the idea !

    All this non-usual knowledge makes for an interesting and interested individual, i hardly speak to ppl .. they haven't a clue what I'm talking about! My dad got me half a set of encyclopedias when I was ten ... i know everything to 'G'......