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Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language (Routledge Grammars)

Title: Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language (Routledge Grammars)

Author: David Holton
Format: Paperback
List Price: $59.95
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Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language (Routledge Grammars)

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author
David Holton is lecturer in Modern Greek at the University of Cambridge and is a Fellow of Selwyn College. Peter Mackridge is Professor of Modern Greek at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St. Cross College. Irene Philippaki-Warburton is Professor of Linguistics at Reading University.

Product Description:
Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language is a complete reference guide to modern Greek grammar. It contains a comprehensive description of Greek grammar and offers an analysis of the complexities of the language. Written in a fresh and accessible style, this book focuses on the real patterns of use in modern Greek. The book is well organized and is filled with full, clear explanations of areas of confusion and difficulty. It also includes an extensive index, glossary of linguistic terms and numbered paragraphs designed to provide readers easy access to the information they require. An essential reference source for the learner and user of Greek, this book will be the standard work for years to come.

Product Details:
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 1, 1997)
  • ISBN: 041510002X
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds. 
  • Average Customer Review: based on 4 reviews.

Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Excellent, September 10, 2004

Reviewer: Dimitri C "Dimitri C" (USA)

Without question, this is the best Modern Greek grammar available in English. This is a grammar, and some technical grammar terms are used, but if you've learned basic English grammar, you won't find it intimidating. The authors have included a glossary of terms.

As other reviewers have indicated, the book is primarily descriptive, not prescriptive. However, in case where the prescriptive grammarians have a strong preference or dislike for a particular usage, the authors haven't been afraid to note it.

Being descriptive, the authors set out to describe common modern Greek (i neoelliniki koini), which, of course, is primarily based on traditional demotic but heavily influenced by the now-defunct katharevousa (puristic). Believe it or not, some of the old demoticists miss the language wars and still try to avoid katharevousa forms and words that have been accepted into the common language - in other words, they're trying to purify the language from the purists! Fortunately, this book is free of any such reverse-purism and sets forth katharevousa participles, prepositions, etc. that remain in use. If you've seen it in Kathimerini, you'll see it in here.

The grammar has a few quirks, two of which are particularly notable.

First, the word "participle" traditionally means a verb used as an adjective or adverb. In this book, however, the authors have chosen to use "participle" only to mean a verb used as an adjective, and to use "gerund" to mean a verb used as an adverb. This is a useful distinction; think of the active present, where, for an adverb, you will use the indeclinable form in -ontas (grafontas), but for an adjective, you have to use the declinable katharevousa form in -wn -ousa -on (e.g. grafwn). However, the choice of "gerund" to describe a verb used as an adverb is strange, given most English grammarians use "gerund" to describe a verb used as a noun (including Fowler), and most of us learned this traditional meaning of "gerund" in school. Be aware of this book's odd use of "gerund."

Second, the authors have renamed the traditional simple subjunctive forms as the "dependent". They argue that this form is now used for purposes other than the subjunctive (e.g. after "tha" for the future). Therefore, they prefer to reserve the word "subjunctive" for specific uses of this form, and to give the form itself a different name. This is a good idea. However, as with their choice of the word "gerund" (above), "dependent", by itself, is an unfortunate choice of name. They argue that this form can only be used in dependence on another word, e.g., "na", "tha", "as", etc. The problem is that the indicative form is often dependent on these words, too: Whether in the subjunctive or the future, the indicative form is used for the continuous aspect and the "dependent" form is used for the simple (aorist) aspect, in dependence on "na" or "tha", respectively. "Dependent" does not distinguish the form which they seek to distinguish. "Simple dependent" might have been a better substitute, or perhaps they could have found a different word altogether.

But this is nitpicking. The book is excellent.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

An intelligent work of Greek grammar, May 15, 2004

Reviewer: Aleko (Cancun, Quintana Roo Mexico)

I have been using his book for some time and I must agree with what the other reviewers have said. It is an excellent book based on sound principles of modern linguistics, which is to say that it is descriptive and not prescriptive. What I most like about it is that the authors have omitted or renamed some of the older grammatical categories so that the entire system makes more sense. Actually, this has to be considered a masterwork.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

Excellent Reference, December 19, 2002

Reviewer: Layne B. Merritt (APO, AE Greece)

This is the grammar book to buy if you are serious about learning and using Greek. It is well written, well organized, and well printed. It is very easy to read and use initially to learn the rules and to use as a reference later when you just need one piece of information. Our entire class at the Defense Language Institute replaced our text with this book.

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful:

An excellent grammar reference guide for Greek, August 17, 2000

Reviewer: Andrew Fox (Melbourne, Victoria Australia)

Anybody who desires to master the Greek language will benefit immensely by having this book as a resource. The language is broken down and explained with the aid of thousands of examples from everyday Greek. Well presented and easy to navigate, reference to this book will clear up any ambiguities you encounter while learning Greek. It is the reference guide I have been looking for.

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