SCHOOL OF ANCIENT LANGUAGES AND LANGUAGE HISTORY

Courses in Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, other ancient languages, the origins of language, Indo-European studies and the history of English

THREE OF OUR COURSES ARE NOW AVAILABLE AS ONLINE SELF-STUDY COURSES

  • The Origins of Language
  • Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans
  • The History Of English: An Introduction

Why learn ancient languages?

  • Dead languages are taught to be read, not spoken, and are taught through grammatical rules, so you gain a particularly good understanding of the mechanics and structure of language. This makes it easier for you to learn modern languages.
  • You gain a deeper insight into the meaning of modern European words and their evolution, as their etymology and related words become transparent to you.
  • Study of ancient languages and literature gives insight into different world views of societies from different eras of history, providing a new perspective on modern society and a rich interior world for the imagination.

My aim in the seven courses I offer goes beyond simply teaching these languages: it is to provide the broadest picture possible of the evolution of language from its first origins, supposedly in Africa, right up to modern English. The courses follow a certain chronological sequence but don’t have to be done in that order. They place the ancient languages as well as English in a much wider context. Also the more ancient European languages you learn, the more connections you can make in putting together the pieces of the giant jigsaw puzzle that is Indo-European, the European proto-language.

Courses are available locally in Auckland, New Zealand as soon as enough people commit themselves to any one course.

Private tuition in Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit and other ancient languages is also available both locally and online (via one-on-one Skype tuition).

 

See descriptions of all nine courses below…

The Origins of Language

Did language begin on the African savannah 2 millions years ago, or much later when man began to express himself symbolically 50,000 years ago? During this course you will first examine current theories of the origin of spoken language and move on to Nostratic, spoken 15,000 years ago, according to some.

8 weekly evening classes, 2 hours per class.

This course is taught in Auckland, New Zealand, and is also available as an online self-study course.

Online Course Available for Self-Study

Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans

Did you know that virtually all European languages come from the same source language called Proto-Indo-European? We will look at attempts to reconstruct it as well as the development and spread of the languages derived from it in Europe (which include English) and elsewhere, from both and linguistic and an historical / anthropological perspective. This course is taught in Auckland, New Zealand, and is also available as an online self-study course.

Online Course Available for Self-Study

A Treasure Trove of Ancient European Languages

We have all heard of Ancient Greek and Latin. But did you know that there are numerous other ancient European languages with their own fascinating histories and often extensive literatures? From Norse sagas to the stories of Cyril and Methodius and the conversion of the Armenian king around 300AD, this course will give you a rare taste of what is out there from both a linguistic and literary perspective. It is a chance for some to connect with their own particular European heritage.

Sanskrit: An Introduction

“The language of the gods” is unique in its lexical and grammatical richness and almost mathematical precision. It is the language of the Vedas, great epics, poetry, drama, science and philosophy, as well as fairy tales and animal fables. It is a fascinating world to delve into.

Ancient Greek: An Introduction

This is the language of the first flowering of European literature: Homer’s epics, the lyrical poetry of Sappho and Pindar, the tragedies of Euripides, the comedies of Aristophanes, the histories of Herodotos and Xenophon, the philosophy of Socrates and Plato and the New Testament. You will learn to read short passages of Attic, the Greek of 4th and 5th century Athens in which much of this literature is written. We will also look at aspects of the life and culture of ancient Athens and you will come to understand the origins of countless English words derived from Greek.

An Introduction to Latin

Knowledge of Latin and Roman culture gives new insight into the linguistic and cultural heritage of Europe. The course will provide a firm basis of grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary which will enable beginning students to read adapted passages from Roman literature such as Plautus’ comedies, Caesar’s histories and Cicero’s speeches.

The History Of English: An Introduction

Why is there such a striking difference between English spelling and pronunciation? How did our seemingly simple grammar rules develop? What are the origins of regional dialect, literary language and everyday speech? Through a wide range of original texts we will examine the changes the language has undergone chronologically from Germanic and Old English to Modern English, all the while looking at relevant social and political developments. Specific grammar topics such as the past tense origin of ‘can’ and ‘must’ and the origin of present tense –s, as well as vocabulary issues, such as the unique nature of the core Germanic wordstock and the Irish origin of many slang words will also be covered. This course is taught in Auckland, New Zealand, and is also available as an online self-study course.

Online Course Available for Self-Study

Sumerian: An Introduction

Sumerian is perhaps the oldest language that has come down to us from antiquity, with clay tablets dating back as early as 3200BC. It is written in cuneiform, a script composed of wedge shaped signs produced with a reed stylus on moist clay. There is a wide range of texts, both practical and literary, which document this most ancient civilisation of city states.

Ancient Egyptian: An Introduction

The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic script is beautiful and intriguing. This course will help you begin to learn how to read hieroglyphs and learn about the language behind them, opening the door to a culture that has fascinated scholars and lay folk alike for centuries.