[B-Greek] Try something (was Is this a good way to give students 'translation' lessons?

Nikolaos Adamou nikolaos.adamou at hotmail.com
Mon Jun 8 12:31:55 EDT 2009

Randal is right, as usual, BUT after the educational reforms in the early eighties the level of proficiency in Greek in Greece decrease incredibly.  Those left in their 60's to 80's are the last generation with general proficiency in Greek.  Errors and ignorance, illiteracy in general terms is the rule of the land.  Most of the youth even write Greek using the Latin characters.
Still, literacy of Greek in Universities Classical Departments is good, better of what I observed in America.
But, speaking in Koine is a problem.  I have not met anyone, or any group that speaks using Shakespearean English, except in performances and loud reading of Shakespeare.  The difference of current Greek to the Greek language at Shakespeare's time is almost none.
Speaking in Kathareuousa, or Attikizousa Archaizousa is still a mode in Constantinople at the patriarchate, and still fashionable among old people - my generation is the last one that can do it.
One that really wants to use biblical Greek can easily learn to recite large passages from the Bible, and this is feasible, practical and useful in many ways.It is not a sin to make mistakes, but the error is an error, and needs to be corrected.I know that from my own experiences using English or other languages outside of Greek.Making errors, is analogous of committing sins, a divination from the rule.It is practical learning experience as long as one knows the rule and is able to correct him/her self.It is helpful for humility as long as there is an improvement.
As far as the relationship of Modern Greek to Biblical Greek, and the extend that Greek was spoken in Galilee during Christ's period, I found chapters II & III of Greek Grammar extremely usufull and illuminating. I strongly suggest those of you who are interested to take a look of them.  
Blessed on Holy Spirit Day   

> Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 11:24:49 +0300
> From: randallbuth at gmail.com
> To: mitchlarramore at yahoo.com
> CC: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Try something (was Is this a good way to give	students 'translation' lessons?
> mitch egrapse
> > ... Yes, I think people can learn Spanish and subsequently "think" in Spanish as long as they are submerged in the culture or being taught by someone having been baptized in the culture. ...
> > What I should have said is that people can not think in a "dead" language, regardless of what modern nuances we assign to the ancient words that appear on a piece of paper. When submerged in a culture, you can taste, see, hear, experience, touch, smell, cry, love, hurt, be afraid, angry, etc. all the words and phrases particular to that culture, but you can't immerse yourself in Koine Greek, if you ask me. Reading volumes of works, no matter for how long, always keeps you at arm's distance from the culture and their words/phrases/etc. >
> This needs two questions in order to be put in perspective.
> Is it possible to learn a language, any language, in a classroom? and
> Is it possible to learn a language from a teacher who is a
> 'second-language user'?
> If the answer to these two questions is 'Yes', then it needs to be
> pointed out that inside of a classroom there is no difference between
> a 'dead' language and a 'living' language. All languages are equally
> dead inside a classroom. What works for one language inside a
> classroom can work for another.
> If the answer is 'no', then you need to let Middlebury, Dartmouth, the
> Monterrey Institute, Goethe Institute, Alliance Francaise, and a host
> of other institutions around the world, know that they may return to
> 'grammar-translation' and leave this 'living language' stuff for
> outside of the classroom. And/or they should fire any
> non-mother-tongue teacher. This "logic of pessimism" can even lead
> students away from learning a language at all. After all, they will
> only be 'second-language users', non-mother-tongue, no matter what
> language they attempt to learn as an adult.
> But I have met people who have become functionally fluent without ever
> visiting or living in a community where the target language was used.
> And Francois Gouin, the infamous Latin teacher that I've mentioned on
> list over the years has already argued the essential unity of all
> languages and the essential learnability of all languages in a
> controlled environment (classroom) provided that enough of a language
> is known or accessible. For ancient Greek we have enough attested
> language. (For Ugaritic and even First Temple Biblical Hebrew we don't
> have a full deck of cards and some kinds of supplementation must be
> worked out in order to reach a functionally useful fluency. We
> recommend modern Hebrew for filling out Hebrew fluency since its
> morphology transfers 100% to biblical, something not true for modern
> Greek, unfortunately.)
> Of course, I would argue that the answer to both questions in 'Yes'.
> When I say ANASTHQI, PERIPATEI, ALLOY, STHQI to a student I am not
> translating in English, or processing Greek grammar, and the student,
> probably from  within minutes of starting to learn Greek is thinking
> in Greek for these little pieces of communication. The teacher
> instantly sees that the student understands if the student They will
> learn how to parse the words later.
> >I spent a couple of years in Greece. >
> >Modern Greek students considered Ancient Greek to be a second language. It is very difficult for them to comprehend when they read ancient Greek.>
> Certainly at the beginning.
> > So much so, that they are not at an advantage over an English student studying the same ancient, "dead" language. >
> Then, you haven't seen what I've seen.
> > They thought, of course, in modern Greek, so they often were confused and couldn't get past "unlearning" their modern Greek words/constructs/etc. I didn't have that problem, making that another advantage as an English speaker.
> >I was amazed at how hard Ancient Greek was for these native Greek students. Many of the native Greek students dreaded having to take Ancient Greek. They had an easier time with Koine/Biblical Greek, but even there I was amazed at how poorly these students, not GUMNASIO level kids, but PANEPISTHMIO level, understood Koine grammar and syntax. It was rather hard for them to diagram basic Biblical passages. >
> First of all, a modern speaker does need several years of training
> before they are comfortable with ancient Greek. However, a full
> GYMNASIO and a Greek lit major at PANEPISTHMIO take them far beyond
> what our classics programs do. Although even in Greece, they do not
> try to learn to speak the ancient.
> On diagramming, why were they trying to diagram basic Biblical
> passages? It's not surprising that this was hard for them, even if
> they had studied ancient Greek, since the same exercise would be
> difficult for most English speakers of the English Bible. In any case,
> the skill being tested is analysis not language use. From a
> perspective of language pedagogy, something was probably lacking in
> whatever the program.
> > When talking with some of the professors of Biblical Greek, they often would say that they had a distinct advantage in understanding the fine nuances of Koine due to their having grown up in Greece. When I asked for some examples, they were not really able to produce any of interest, some of which they mentioned I had already read about in Advanced Greek Grammars. It reminded me just how much Greek had changed over a couple thousand years. >
> The same argument can be used about why someone doesn't need to learn
> Greek at all. You can ask a Greek prof to give examples of what they
> get in Greek that isn't in a translation, and anything that they say
> will be in that foreign language and can be said to therefore be
> communicable without Greek. But the original language allows someone
> to monitor every word and structural choice throughout. there is a
> 'texture', a spaghetti, that is part of the original, and not
> translatable by nature of being a different language. That is
> something every literature student wants to follow in any language,
> but it is difficult to summarize and discuss 'outside' the system.
> > Please don't take this as anything against your fine institution. >
> We are more a program, or programs, than an institution. (Biblical
> Language Center)
> >I think you are definitely going about the study of Koine the best way available for us today. And perhaps I'm just over-reacting against the native Greek students and their inability to grasp ancient Greek. I was really expecting them to run circles around me.>
> And those Greeks who would like to run those circles will be able to.
> It sounds like they may have been put into a temporary, unnatural
> mould.
> --
> Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicalulpan.org
> randallbuth at gmail.com
> Biblical Language Center
> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
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