[B-Greek] Mi verbs, some pedagogy and perspective
randallbuth at gmail.com
Sat Aug 4 09:47:47 EDT 2007
>My first year Greek teacher introduced -mi verbs near the beginning
of first semester, right after introducing prepositions. So we got
compound verbs, "-mi" verbs and "contraction" right off the bat. I
can't really say that I learned -mi verbs with that lesson. Perhpas
the strength of introducing them early is the power unleashed in
repetition. However, once "introduced" you need to supplement every
verb lesson with the -mi paradigm verbs if you really want to be
helpful. Throwing them in at the last like Mounce--"Oh, By the way,
there are these things called -mi verbs. They are squirly little
things that ocurr on every page of the New Testament, even though
there are so few of them."--is like quite faint. My Question would be,
do they ocur enough in his excercises for the extra early lesson and
lesson supplements to begin to take?
Sounds like a promising beginning.
a brief anecdote:
the first verb that our students heard this summer at the SXOLH was
ANASTHQI / ANASTHTE
followed by, you might partially guess,
KAQOU / KAQISATE
(stand up, s/p, sit down s/p)
(why KAQOU / KAQISATE, mixing aspects and stems? We wanted to be
inconsistent? We just think that's the closest to the way people used
the verbs in the first century.)
As we looked at where our students were during the last couple of
weeks of the SXOLH we realized that most of the verbs that we were
using were either -MI verbs or at least highly irregular.
You want to ask how someone is doing?
a: XAIRE, ERRWSAI?
b: NAI, ERRWMAI, EUXARISTW
More -MI verbs right at the beginning, and some on the list might not
even be able to parse them or find them in a dictionary without help.
But vital words, without which one cannot read the most basic papyri,
words and forms known by the most semi-of-literate ancients. The most
necessary item for a beginning is a comprehensible context. First
words should be used in contexts where students can guess correctly
(or closely) to what a word means.
A basic principle of SLA (second language acquistion) is to use
material that coheres around real communication/learning needs. Greek
is incredibly rich in irregular morphology, and any linguist knows
that irregular morphology needs to be very commonplace in language use
in order to be maintained within the language and language community.
Otherwise the language community will 'regularize' the forms,
something that was happening to Greek throughout the Hellenistic/Roman
period with many a MI verb. There is nothing like a large dose of body
part nouns and corresponding verbal collocations for getting things
going. NAI, it's mostly "irregular", but correct. Just where any kid
would have begun, though without being told that it was irregular.
A student or teacher cannot think or talk without MI verbs, SUNIHS?
A glimmer of hope for normalcy remains, though, for some regular
verbs. Of the three most common verbs in use in class, I would guess
them to be EINAI, POIHSAI, SXEIN, and at least SXEIN has a 'regular'
present indicative and POIHSAI has regular endings on aorists.
Randall Buth, PhD
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη
שלום לכם וברכות
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
randallbuth at gmail.com
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