[B-Greek] Iterative, Customary, Gnomic, Conative, etc.
jfs at jfsanders.com
Thu Mar 29 08:42:38 EDT 2007
The problem is not the capacity of an individual to learn both, but the
efficiency of learning the language. It appears that linguists are
attempting to piggy-back on the teaching of Greek by also teaching
linguistics, two for one with no added effort. One wonders then why
Universities do not teach one course instructing calculus, physics and
chemistry, easing the work load of science students; or one course for
political science, social science, world history and world geography. It is
not the inability of an individual to learn all these different subjects,
that they can do, but a "unified field theory" type couse is more
efficienctly taught after one has acquired the rudiments of each basic
In addition, although both linguisitics and language learning have a common
material to work with, they each have different agenda. Language learning
is developing a skill in commerce with other human beings. It is an
amazing thrill to get into a taxi cab and tell the cabby where you intend to
go and how to get there in a different language than your own native tongue,
and he (or she) understands and goes there and even starts having a
conversation with you, talking about traffic, or the weather, or even
politics or religion, whichever is their bent. Or, for Koine Greek, to open
the GNT and start reading a passage and actually comprehending it withour
resorting to English (or whatever your own native tongue is).
A kind individual sent the following from the preface from Funk's grammar:
". . . It is the language itself and not a grammar about that language that
the student who wishes to learn to read Greek needs to confront. For that
reason, the grammar itself is suppressed wherever possible. And, if modern
linguistics is correct in its fundamental affirmations, the one needful
thing in learning a new language is familiarity with its grammatical
structure. Such familiarity need not be explicit; the learner needs to
"know" the structure and structure signals only in the sense that he is
able, immediately and without deliberation, to respond to them.". . .
traditional grammar might be something apart from the ability to read Greek,
in fact, might be an impediment to such ability."
My wife has started to study Chinese herself. She actually keeps a diary in
Chinese. How many students attempt to keep a diary in Greek, or write their
shopping lists in Greek, or write doggerel (spelling?) to a boyfriend or
girlfriend. Instead, I suspect they are putting out meaningless jibberish
about overlapping domains of imperfectives with perfectives while the
aktionsart of the stative is modifying the lexeme of the following
I have not seen the impact of linguistics on language instruction in
Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese as I have seen it in Biblical Greek. I
conjecture it all began with Erasmus. When he attempted to reconstruct a
"correct pronunciation" of Greek for the classical period, he set in motion
a consequence not predictable at the time (or so I think). What he did was
remove Greek (and Latin) from a language spoken by other human beings to one
that could be "intellectualized". In other words, it is not related to
actual human commerce, but one that can be treated as if it were caballa (or
kaballa, spelling?) and bring in all this gnostic reasoning and get to the
real meat behind the GNT (all without having to have real human
communication restraining our thinking).
At least that is how it looks to me.
>From: James Tauber <jtauber at jtauber.com>
>To: John Sanders <jfs at jfsanders.com>
>CC: B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
>Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Iterative, Customary, Gnomic, Conative, etc.
>Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 09:11:48 +0800
>On 28/03/2007, at 1:33 PM, John Sanders wrote:
>>In other words, I think you can sit down and read the GNT in Greek
>>knowing any of this linguistic theory.
>Yes, but if you truly believe in a distinction between "talking a
>language" and "talking about a language" then you'd have to agree that you
>can't adequately talk *about* Greek without knowing the metalanguage.
>In other words, while I agree that being able to talk about a language
>doesn't mean you can talk the language, the converse is also true: just
>because you can talk the language doesn't mean you are able to talk about
>it in a clear way.
>>I think each of you need to make a decision about why you are learning
>>Greek, do you want to learn to talk about the Greek, or do you want to
>It's an important distinction (albeit hardly a new one). But anyone who
>has studied linguistics is proof that you can learn both. You just learn
>James Tauber http://jtauber.com/
>journeyman of some http://jtauber.com/blog/
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