[B-Greek] Koine Greek fluency

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at ioa.com
Fri Jul 22 11:27:29 EDT 2005

On Jul 22, 2005, at 9:28 AM, N.E. Barry Hofstetter wrote:

>> From: Mike Sangrey <MSangrey at BlueFeltHat.org>
>> Date: Fri Jul 22 08:05:02 CDT 2005
>> To: Biblical Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
>> Subject: [B-Greek] Koine Greek fluency
>> What is a good definition of Koine Greek fluency?
>> I would love to see some discussion around this topic.  What does  
>> Koine
>> Greek fluency look like?  How do I know (or how does a student know)
>> when they are fluent?
>> FWIW:  Part of where I'm coming from has to do with Bible  
>> translation.
>> I put translations into two categories:  analytic and synthetic.  The
>> analytic translation enables an exegete to analyze the text.  A
>> synthetic translation enables a person of normal heart language  
>> ability
>> to read the text.  The former type of translation is needed, but  
>> might I
>> suggest that a fluent Koine Greek Bible student is one who can  
>> word the
>> text in clear, accurate and natural English (or whatever their heart
>> language is) with a minimum of analysis.  In other words, if you can
>> read the Greek and then say in English what it says in Greek and  
>> do so
>> in a way that a normal English speaker (a person in the KMart parking
>> lot) can understand, then you're Koine Greek fluent.
>> So, how do you define Koine Greek fluency?
> I think this is good.  I would add that somebody with full reading  
> fluency does not have to resort constantly to parsing guides,  
> grammars, or lexicons to do this.  When I started my graduate  
> Classics program at OSU, I remember one of the second year grad  
> students mocking me for still making vocab lists while reading  
> Sophocles -- I was so shamed that I immediately made sure that no  
> one saw my vocab lists any more!

The question as put by Mike calls for a fuller answer for which I  
don't have time at the moment. I do think that instantaneous  
recognition of morphoparadigms and their meanings is essential; I'd  
say that one should need to refer to lexicons to the same extent that  
a native-speaker of any language needs to resort to dictionaries to  
fine-tune a sense of usage. What is needed -- and what Randall's  
pedagogy aims at, I think -- is THINKING IN GREEK as opposed to  
translating. And this is what one who learns Greek in order to READ  
Greek texts should, I think, aim at.

Translating involves quite another, or additional, set of skills and  
competence, not the least is a degree of intimate competence in the  
language into which one is translating that is tuned at least as fine  
as the ear of the very best popular comedians and orators who make a  
living at communicating.
But this is a bigger question and has several dimensions. Not  
everyone who is a truly successful LEARNER of ancient Greek should  
aspire to be a successful TRANSLATOR of ancient Greek.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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