[B-Greek] Teaching languages alive in the classroom (was:reading for translation or understanding?)
randallbuth at gmail.com
Tue Feb 5 10:34:24 EST 2008
Thank you for this. You are right, of course, that translations tend
to homogenize the styles of the GNT.
Frankly, I wouldn't aim at, say, a style like the gospel of John, but
I would be absoluted delighted to be able to open my mouth and start
describing 'whatever' at a smoothness that one sees even in John. In
fact, I think of him as a polished, second language user, rightly or
Again, one must remember that we are speaking about 'second-language
users', not creating native speakers. The
comparison might be something like the neutral speech of an educated
foreigner in a modern language. Obviously
foreign to a native speaker, but definitely able to better appreciate
whatever they are reading than someone who is
running to a dictionary in every sentence or going so slow that a
newspaper column would take them all night to read.
On Feb 5, 2008 5:07 PM, Eric Inman <eric.inman at wescorpflex.com> wrote:
> I intended my previous message to go to the list as well.
> I don't think your rephrasing of the question is equivalent, since I feel that the range of usages and styles in a translation such as the NIV is much narrower than that found in the GNT. I think generally you have a translation from multiple varieties of Greek into a single variety of English, but of course some variations do survive the translation process.
> I imagine the man in the street typically can read and understand a very wide range of varieties, but the range of what he speaks and thinks in would tend to be very narrow, depending on which communities of speakers he interacts with and what he happens to be reading lately.
> For these and other reasons I don't see how one could reestablish the dynamics of any version of first century Greek to the point where we could think in it now in a manner at all approximating the way people thought in it back then. I think it would tend to be very artificial. What is found in books represents a very small portion of how a language is actually used during a given day. I think it might be better to learn to think in Modern Greek, which we know we can do authentically, and then do a lot of reading from the first century literature and other periods as well.
> Eric Inman
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Randall Buth [mailto:randallbuth at gmail.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2008 8:06 AM
> To: Eric Inman
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Teaching languages alive in the classroom (was:reading for translation or understanding?)
> Let me rephrase the question for a hypothetical English student:
> "Which variety of NIV NT English would you teach people to think in?"
> The answer, of course, goes beyond everything found in the NT.
> We aim at standard vocabulary and structures that would be expected of
> any 'man in the street' in the first century.
> Our Greek materials for beginners have texts from gospel parables,
> Apostolic Fathers, Aesop, papyri, some inscriptions from the Land,
> selections from the LXX, Paul, Acts, Epiktetos, and Josephus.
> On Feb 5, 2008 3:05 PM, Eric Inman <eric.inman at wescorpflex.com> wrote:
> One question I have, and this isn't necessarily to challenge what you are saying, but which variety of Biblical Greek to you teach people to use or think in? I see several varieties represented in the GNT. A living language can make several changes in daily usage per year, especially in younger crowds, and communities of speakers tend to stay in sync with each other with respect to these evolving nuances of a language.
> Eric Inman
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Randall Buth
> > Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2008 5:48 AM
> > To: Bryant J. Williams III
> > Cc: B-Greek
> > Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Teaching languages alive in the classroom (was:reading for translation or understanding?)
> > Bryant raised an observation that deserves a separate thread, especially after
> > many responses have already transpired on the original thread.
> > On Feb 4, 2008 2:48 AM, Bryant J. Williams III <bjwvmw at com-pair.net> wrote:
> > > Dear Randall, Barry, Eric, et al,
> > >
> > > I think that what is happening is that there is a clear distinction between
> > > learning, reading and speaking a language that is NOT DEAD and learning, reading
> > > and speaking a language that IS DEAD.
> > This is a commonly heard idea that is used to justify an ancient language
> > program that does not produce an ability to fluently think in a
> > language. Things
> > are so far out of sync with reality that many practioners do not even recognize
> > the situation.
> > (solution for recognizing the problem: take a NEW text of reasonable clarity or
> > difficulty, have it recorded in any pronunciation you like at a reasonable
> > conversational speed, and listen to it. If you can follow the text at
> > that speed,
> > then you can think in that language, at least at some minimal level.
> > If not, that you are still on a major, uphill, learning track, and
> > will have the
> > delightful experience of many a surprise catching up on you.)
> > Somewhat over a decade ago I made an observation that changed the way
> > in which I thought about this "dead language" question.
> > Inside of a language classroom,
> > all languages are equally 'dead',
> > in the sense that the audience does not speak the target language.
> > In too many cases, even the teachers do not speak the target language,
> > and I'm taking about modern languages here. (You will find that not every
> > high school or elementary school language teacher can speak the
> > language, and in most cases the teachers are not mother-tongue speakers of
> > the language.)
> > > Let's think about Spanish, French, English, etc., all living languages.
> > > Ancient Hebrew, Koine Greek, Classical Greek, Latin, etc., are all dead
> > > languages. It is much easier to learn, read and speak a LIVING language. That is
> > > what "immersion" is all about. That is NOT to say that the attempt to
> > > "immersion" cannot be done [as you are attempting to do (you can thank me for
> > > the free plug for your classes later)], but classes in Greek, Hebrew and Latin
> > > can only approximate the process.
> > (for the plug, see the website below.)
> > Yes, let's think about Spanish, French, and English.
> > The first question to ask, is
> > "Can they be learned in a classroom?"
> > This is not a trivial question and the question has been raised in second
> > language acquisition literature on more than one occasion.
> > "Can a language be learned in a classroom?"
> > The answer is not a resounding 'yes', but more of a whimpering 'yes'.
> > It is possible, IF..., IF..., IF....
> > A second question to ask is "Can a language be learned from second-language
> > users, non-mother-tongue speakers?" Again, while everyone agrees that
> > exposure to mother-tongue speakers is a definite plus, the answer is that
> > second-language users can teach effective language acquisition programs.
> > A third question then becomes,
> > "Can an ancient language be learned in a classroom?"
> > Again the answer becomes, Yes, IF ..., IF ...., lF ... .
> > A fourth question then becomes, "Why don't programs promote or do
> > this very thing?" Here the answers are too painful to put in words. At the end
> > of the day the result is that the 'dead language issue' is simply an excuse to
> > perpetrate the status quo. For languages with less than an attested 10,000 --
> > 15,000 word vocabulary a person might make a legitimate case that the task
> > is not practically possible. But Greek is not such a language.
> > (Nor is Hebrew such a language if Qumran and the Mishnah are included.
> > But Hebrew raises special considerations tangential to this discussion.)
> > A fifth question, unrelated to the 'dead language issue', is the appropriate
> > training for persons with limited goals of 1 or two years of study. I
> > might argue
> > that the training should be the most efficient possible, one that allows the
> > student to meet their limited goals, and preferably, one that would allow
> > unhindered progress to more complete goals for those who want to go on.
> > 6. My thesis, then, is that the 'dead language issue' is a dead question, a
> > non-issue in terms of theory. Stated as a positive:
> > All languages may become ALIVE in a properly run classroom.
> > 7. (PS, an aside: non-mother-tongue speakers WILL make mistakes in
> > production, even mother-tongue speakers make mistakes, (though fewer
> > and often corrected correctly). Somehow, the human race survives.
> > There are occasionally people who claim that not learning a language
> > to a fluent level is preferable in order to never hear a mistake made.
> > Such an attitude will probably hinder any language learning and
> > invariably leads to 'unreal' language imaginings. I see this a lot in the
> > field of biblical Hebrew where professors 'generate' what they claim is
> > 'pure' biblical Hebrew, untainted by fluent use of any Hebrew dialect,
> > and they are chagrined to find out that their 'tower of Pisa' is leaning.
> > They produce "grammatically correct" utterances of common material
> > but their production doesn't occur in the Hebrew Bible or match what is
> > there. They are happily operating within a system that no ancient speaker
> > followed. Poor Samuel and Isaiah, who hadn't had the benefit of
> > Gesenius [a famous 19th century grammarian].
> > > Most seminaries are trying to get their students to learn the original languages
> > > for the purposes of understanding the Biblical text for sermon preparation,
> > > theological understanding, etc. This is being "poorly done."
> > NAI, Yes, it is.
> > ERRWSQE
> > IWANHS
> > --
> > Randall Buth, PhD
> > www.biblicalulpan.org
> > χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη
> > שלום לכם וברכות
> > randallbuth at gmail.com
> > ---
> > B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
> > B-Greek mailing list
> > B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek
> Randall Buth, PhD
> χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη
> שלום לכם וברכות
> randallbuth at gmail.com
Randall Buth, PhD
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη
שלום לכם וברכות
randallbuth at gmail.com
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