A Mind for Language

Feb 21, 2020

Funny story to help remember Greek 3rd declension endings

I wrote this a while back as a funny mnemonic to help remember Greek 3rd (or consonant) declension endings. Enjoy.


Once there was a man named Sydney (ς) who was very fond of Women and felt threatened by other men so that he had his poor dog Neutered so there was No Chance (-) of the dog getting in his way. Sydney and his dog were very fond of devices with Apple OS (-ος, -ος) such that his dog had his own iPhone. They would set together on their iPhones (-ι) watching ET (-ι). One day Sydney had an AHA (-α) moment and realized his life was going Nowhere (-).

So he went to Express (-ες) and bought some new clothes to make himself very Attractive (-α). Now that he Owned (-ων) new clothes he thought it was a Sin (-σιν) to go out in the old ones so he gave them to his neighbor who was an Attractive (-α) Astrologer (-ας).

Jan 17, 2020

Translators' work -- a poem

I've been reading Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson and it's got me thinking about poetry. I started reading some and now I've written some. I wrote it in Greek first and then wrote the English version. My profoundest apologies to Homer and the Greek greats for abusing their language :-).

ἔργον τῶν ἑμηνευόντων

σπέρματα μετατίθημι μεγάλα
ἀπ' ἀγρου εἰς ἄγραν.
φύτα αὑξήσουσιν.
ταχέως;
βραδέως;
οὑδέποτε ἴσως βλέψω;
βλέψουσιν ἴσως τὰ τέκνα σου;

Translators' work

I move seeds, big ones,
from one field to another.
Plants will grow.
Quickly?
Slowly?
Maybe I'll never see them?
Your kids, maybe they'll see?

Dec 13, 2018

Greek vowel contraction rules (part 1)

Ancient and Koine Greek vowels contract in ways that are simply maddening. Sometimes you are looking at a word and wondering what on earth it means. Then it turns out that you know this word quite well, but couldn't tell what the root was because half of the letters were missing. They had contracted with various prefixes and suffixes leaving us scratching our heads.

Knowing the vowel contraction rules makes life much easier. This is the first post in a comic series to help make learning these rules easier and more fun.

When an ε gets added before an α they contract and form η. We can symbolize this as:

  • ε + a → η

But who wants to memorize boring rules! It's much better as a story! Since ε and η are considered each other's short and long variant, let's consider them to be brothers.

Once upon a time in Greekland

One day ε is playing on the playground and α comes up and starts teasing him. So ε calls his big brother.

Big brother η shows up and promptly pounds α while ε flees to safety leaving η to stand victoriously

The end.