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Aster Thrax Eupator View Drop Down
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: A question...
    Posted: 17-May-2007 at 13:50
I'm a little vexed about something - I really want to do history (mainly classics or ancient near eastern, in any case, something about the ancient mediterranian) in University, but am appalling at languages? Will this seriously hamper me? I mean, could I go far in history without good languages?
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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-May-2007 at 14:14
Not too far specially considering your type of research fields.

Not only you will have to learn to master several antic languages but most likely German and Italian or French as many secondary sources are in these languages. Even worse: you may have to lear Arabic and Turkish just to be able to communicate with people around you when on the field.

It means that you will have to learn anything between 3 and 10 languages in the next ten years. But don't be afraid. It is not that difficult, what if I tell you that five three years ago I wasn't able to speak ten words in English and now I am a mod here!

Besides, learning languages for a specific job (historian in this case) is way easier because it is purposeful and often you are just in a place where every body speaks that language.

Not only that but please believe me don't go to a uni where they tell you you don't have to learn languages. Most likely they are not very professional and even more important you have to think ahead: what if you finally deciede not to go on in history? If you stop with no language skills you'll have no asset to reallocate to attract employers. On the other hand if you speak Arabic, Frenc and German, can't go too wrong.

So:
- Learning languages is complulsory for historians
- Learning languages can be way easier than what you've experienced in school
- Learning languages is a very important asset in life (what if you want to pool this very good looking Turkish girl near the place you're working in lower Anatolia?)

Best of luck
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-May-2007 at 17:33
Right, thanks for that Maharbbal - what I really want to learn is Latin- apparently it's quite easy compared to most other languages- is this true?
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  Quote kurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 04:24
well, while we're on the topic, i thought i would make an enquiry of my own. i am going to start university next year, and i want this university to be an american one.
which american universities have prestige in the field of history? which one should i go to if i want to add prestige to my name?
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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 04:34
depends on your money depends on the type of history you are interested in.
But going to Berkeley/UCLA/Columbia, Princeton can't go wrong in post grad. In under grad: Brown, UCSB, Cornell, John Hopkins give good quality for your money. But in my opinion European ans some Asian unis are at least as good as the Americans, much cheaper, give you an opportunity to learn a new language, win-win situation
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 04:38
Earl Aster. I don't know about other countries, but over here, languages are a bonus, not a requirement. I am about to finish my studies knowing only Dutch, English, bad German and very very rudimentary Latin. A lot of the more important stuff has been translated. Latin can be real useful, but that you can generally learn in uni. Other languages too. Depending on what type of history you want to study, being able to read the languages of the area you sturdy can be useful. For Ancient Rome in Europe, German is a must. I imagine for the Mediterranian, Arab could be useful, but I imagine that most relevant information will have been translated to either English or French.
 
@Marhabbal: My uni is the best on Medieval Studies in the country, and yet I do not have to learn any languages exept English (which you have to be able to read to even get into uni). Anything else is optional. I do not see how not being forced to learn 5 languages at my uni makes them unprofessional? Yes, it is very useful, I agree, but to judge a whole uni by that is really a bit crass.

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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 07:20
@Aelfgifu: no offense to your uni nor indeed to any other as very few have a harsh language requirement. But lets face it if you want to do something else than English history or your national history, you need to speak another language if anything to be able to read the sources.

I personally consider it almost a waste of time and money to  take history classes if it is not to become an historian (history has no marketable value). Without languages your reduce the options for you to actually get a tenancy hence increase the risk of studing for years for nothing.

My view.
(PS how can you write a dissertation on medieval history without using latin sources?)
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 08:17

(PS how can you write a dissertation on medieval history without using latin sources?)
Everything relevant has been translated ten times over, I just take my pick... If I would only work with originals, I would have to know Latin, Old English, Old Norse and Old French. Seems a lot of trouble to learn all of that only to find out that someone who knows the language better has made a better translation than I ever can. Wink (oh, and I have smart friends, one who can read Latin, one who can read Old English and one who can read Old French... and who are glad to help me out where translations do not work. Big%20smile)

Languages are dead useful, true. But your studies only last a couple of years. Better spend that time on learning history... After that you can spend a lifetime leanrning new languages... I never planned on becoming a historian, chances are minimal anyway. There are plenty of other jobs one can get with a MA, no matter what direction you studied. I study history because I rather spend my time doing something I like than doing something that might earn me a lot of money later on. But I am planning on learning anguages, after I finish my study... Smile I need to improve my German and I'd like to have enough of French and Italian, and perhaps Swedish, to be able to communicate in them. As yet I can only dechipher the easiest of sentences.
 
I do not want to argue against learning languages. I just do not think that languages should influence anyones decision on studying History or not, as it is a relatively small and very solveable problem. And, once more, it does depend a lot on what speciality you would want to study... I chose one that does not require much language skills, but Middle Eastern studies probably do. I'd say go for it Earl Aster, do not let language skills deter you from it! Big%20smile


Edited by Aelfgifu - 18-May-2007 at 08:49

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  Quote kurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 08:31

which one is the most prestigious?

i study in australia, so what sort of exam do i have to sit to get inyo a university such as berkeley? is it the SAT? what sort of marks do i have to get?
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 10:42
Thanks very much- I thought that I was completely ruled out from learning history without good language skills. I was quite irritated about it for a while, because history is really all i've wanted to do. But I reckon that you're right - anyway, for Roman Republican history, much stuff can be and probably has been translated, but I'll have a serious Crack at some Latin anyway!
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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 12:30
Originally posted by kurt

which one is the most prestigious?

i study in australia, so what sort of exam do i have to sit to get inyo a university such as berkeley? is it the SAT? what sort of marks do i have to get?


I guess none as you are a native English speaker, they'll just consider your file.

Once more be careful young Padayan. Berkeley sounds like a good name to have on your CV but it is expensive highly competitive and ultimately maybe gives you less value for money then other smaller unis at an undergrad level.

If you were my kid brother I'd tell to avoid big machines like Berkeley as long as you can. Job wise, in history where you've studied matters less than what you've studied and with who.

The things you got to know before hand is:
- What period do you want to study?
- Do you want to focus on cultural, political or economic matters?
- What do you want to do later?

Ultimately I might be talking for nothing as the overseas registration are probably closed by now

Hear me pick Europe or Asia. If you are affraid by the language gap pick England, Ireland or any English speaking uni round the world. History is not law, you don't have to be in the est school from the very beggining. Do not concentrate on the gliterring US colleges, go somewhere where you'll learn the most and I bet it is not in the US.
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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 17:41
What unis would you recommend for Roman republican
studies and classical studies (historical and political)?
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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2007 at 19:05
Oxbridge's the very best. It may be the only case where I'd personally advise one to go all the way in one top uni. All the others are spearable
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  Quote kurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-May-2007 at 03:12
Originally posted by Maharbbal

The things you got to know before hand is:
- What period do you want to study?
- Do you want to focus on cultural, political or economic matters?
- What do you want to do later?
 
i want to specialise in the entire history of anatolia, from the hittites to the republic of turkey.
 
i am concerned with all three matters.
 
while studying history i want to simultaneously study philosophy. once i've got diplomas for both history and philosophy i want to study anthropology and political science in turkey. after that, i want to become a professor of history, and give lectures at universities in turkey and participate in discussions and arguments including topics like the armenian "genocide".
 
is that unrealistic planning? should i alter my plans? and in light of the information i have just provided you which universities would you recommend, assuming that my finances could afford them?


Edited by kurt - 19-May-2007 at 03:21
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-May-2007 at 08:21
In my day (a long time ago) the scholarship exam for Cambridge required you to do translations in two languages out of a considerable number. Latin was one, but not required[1]. Though I had Latin, on the day I did the German and French translations because they looked easier.
 
But that was to study the subject at undergraduate level, when as Aelgifu says pretty well everything has been translated already. What hasn't however is probably available in French, German or Spanish (even if it is not concerned with those specific countries).
 
If you want to get into postgraduate work and research then what Maharbbal says becomes more important. In fact he seemed to me to have that in mind. If it means reading original documents, it can mean effectively learning a foreign language even in order to study the history of your own country (consider an Englishman studying the Anglo-Saxon period).
 
[1] In that paper. You had to have pre-qualified in Latin to get into Oxbridge in those days to read any subject, including the sciences.
 


Edited by gcle2003 - 19-May-2007 at 08:22
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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-May-2007 at 18:14
i want to specialise in the entire history of anatolia, from the hittites to the republic of turkey.
then I'd advise you to go to places where they have good middle eastern studies coupled with good history and political sciences studies. A natural pick would be Princeton but first I'd advise you to integrate a good turkish uni such as Bosphorus uni or the Middle East Institute in Ankara.
 
i am concerned with all three matters.
Well many unis are specialiased in one or the  other it is always useful to know a lot about theory in one of the three.
 
while studying history i want to simultaneously study philosophy. once i've got diplomas for both history and philosophy i want to study anthropology and political science in turkey. after that, i want to become a professor of history, and give lectures at universities in turkey and participate in discussions and arguments including topics like the armenian "genocide".
I must say I'm not mad about studying philosophy and I'd advise you to pick a social science instead (eco, socio, anthropo). Political sciences and anthropology are interesting by themselves but I'm not convinced of the interest to study them formally if you have a good degree in history and economics for instance.
 
is that unrealistic planning?
not at all

should i alter my plans?
you will at one point (if you are interested in Anatolian history it is always useful to go and study in say Greece, Armenia, whereever else it gives you more assets and a lifesaving different perspective).

and in light of the information i have just provided you which universities would you recommend, assuming that my finances could afford them?
One of the top Turkish universities, Institut des Langues Orientales (Paris), I guess you should ask to our German friend there must be good places to study there, UCL (London), Princeton (but later on).
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  Quote kurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2007 at 06:49
thanks, i really appreciate this. one last question: once i've got my diploma in history, how do i then go on and become a professor of history? what is necessary to acquire that rank?
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