Wednesday, August 17, 2011

At home with the classical scholar

Michael was feeling a bit second-rate yesterday, so I stayed home with him today. I also have what gastroenterologists call a "funny tummy", so I was happy to be here.

Michael is very interested in foreign alphabets. As Elf's parents are both lovers of Ancient Greek we have tried to steer him in that direction, and it seems to be taking off. Bill recently sent him a couple of books on learning Greek, and they have been well received.

Michael sometimes sits with a book for an hour or more, and just absorbs knowledge through his face. He has done this with Scorpions, Flags, Egypt, Space, Disasters, Maps and Basic Science and now it seems he is doing it with Bill's books.

This morning when we got home from dropping off Elf and Marcus, the TV went on. SBS shows various foreign newses in the morning, and we struck the news in Greek, just as they were going into the sports rundown. Michael called me over - "Dad - there is soccer on TV and everything is in Greek!" So while I enjoyed the soccer highlights, Michael enjoyed the graphics.

"That word ends in kos! Something-iakos! Thessa-something! Dad, Dad, did you know what was different about an ancient lambda to what it looks like now? It had a little hangy bit."

This evening I told him the names of some Greek soccer teams and cities I know of, spelled out in our Roman alphabet. He sat there, talking to himself, and transliterated them into Greek letters. "Olympiakos - is that a short O or a long O?" And do you know what? I checked his Thessaloniki against a bilingual map I've got, and he got it right apart from the last letter, which I am putting down to an Ancient Greek/Modern Greek difference.

So. Next I will give him Genesis and we'll work our way through the Old Testament.

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