So, I am sometimes in a position where I want to add a bit of one language or another to my repertoire. Having already gone through the process of learning a few languages fairly satisfactorily (for my own purposes), I can usually just pick up a grammar book and start assimilation. I guess a lot of linguists are probably in this situation.

The book needs to have certain features, though. So, content being, a language, a certain approach seen in other grammars, may I ask such a question?

I have heard that questions which lead to lists of answers are not on topic, but this is no such question. At most, it could have one valid answer, as I only plan to study one text.

Specifically, I'm looking for an ancient greek grammar that has certain features: 1) heavy focus on actual texts 2) some attempts at reconstructing pronounciation 3) broken down into short chapters 4) fairly complete treatment (self-contained, not introductory)

It's single-language, but where else to ask it?

2 Answers 2


I think that a request for a grammar book for the purposes of learning the language would be off-topic.

This is not because it is a single-language question, nor because it could lead to a list of answers (although I do think that asking such a question could prompt a list of subjective responses, because even given your specific criteria, people are still going to have individual tastes in textbook-type materials).

It's because the question is less aligned with the discipline of linguistics, and more aligned with the related but separate discipline of applied linguistics, which is concerned with language teaching and learning rather than the initial linguistic description and analysis. The study of Ancient Greek also often falls under historical/classical studies, as many universities combine it with these sorts of courses, so people in these fields would probably also have good recommendations.

A grammar for teaching/learning a language can be quite a different thing to the types of linguistic descriptions of a language that are also called grammars. For anyone who has ever looked at most of the books on English grammar, it is clear that these sorts of books are sometimes not informed by a linguistic analysis of a language's grammar (and, in the case of English at least, many of these sorts of books include things that are completely at odds with current linguistic description and instead based on arbitrary preferences of the author). While I doubt that such a separation is true for Ancient Greek, my point is that linguists are more likely to be familiar with grammatical materials that are not designed for language teaching/learning (except through their personal interest in such a thing, but this site is about professional rather than personal insights).

If the question were something more like "Is there a comprehensive grammatical description of Language A that covers features such as X, Y and Z that I can use for a typological comparison with Language B?", I would consider the question on-topic, because it clearly seeks a linguistically-informed description for the purposes of linguistic research (and some old grammars of languages can certainly be difficult to track down or find any records of).

There are lots of other places you can ask for a recommendation for materials to help you learn Ancient Greek, and which fit your criteria (places where people may be able to help you better anyway, if the shared interest is more about materials that are useful for teaching/learning rather than linguistic analysis). You could try contacting the people at this blog about (Ancient) Greek language and linguistics, which also has a page about Greek grammars. Ancient Greek is still a reasonably widely-studied language, so a Google search also gives you a lot of different forums and reference pages, and Amazon etc. overviews can often give you a good idea of the contents of any books.

  • 1
    Just for the record: Applied Linguistics is on topic on this site. Still, I agree with you when you say that asking for a grammar book to teach or self-teach a language is not our purpose (if I understood right what you said).
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 11:21

The problem is: "I can usually just pick up a grammar book and start assimilation. I guess a lot of linguists are probably in this situation." False, as linguists engaged in the scientific study of human language are very often not second language learners in the way you describe. Linguists describe/explain linguistic capacity, not "assimilate" it. Requesting from such specialists the best book to do the assimilating is off-topic.

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