[B-Greek] Polis: Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Wed Jun 24 08:00:02 EDT 2009

I marvel at your adventurous spirit that explores and exploits every  
venue and avenue that offers access to the treasures of ancient Greek  
literature, from Machen to Mascarpone (er, Mastronarde -- you HAVE  
tried Mastronarde, haven't you?), from Homeric hERKOS ODONTWN to  
Franco-Hellenistic encounters with Antiochus to Neohellenic NT, and  
all manners of speaking from Erasmian to Neohellenic to Buthian KTL.  
Others choose their weapon and fight manfully (or womanfully) onwards  
to master one method; Mark Lightman probes them all, PANTACOU  

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

On Jun 23, 2009, at 9:15 PM, Mark Lightman wrote:

> I just finished the book.  Randall's comments below are all very  
> accurate.
> I would just add:
> Though the book is designed for beginners, as an intermediate Greek  
> learner
> I found it very helpful as a review.  The exercises test your active  
> learning
> abilities.  You spend more time listening to Greek and writing in  
> Greek than
> you do reading, and everything you read is in Greek, including the  
> chapter
> headings, the grammatical  explanations, and the directions for the  
> exercises.
> If your Greek is pretty good, you can skip the French even if you  
> know it,
>  and it is a strange and pleasant experience to spend about 10 hours
> reviewing the basics of Greek without ever
> encountering any English.  The graphics of the book are great, with  
> large,
> multicolored fonts.  Many of the passages are based on the NT.
> The c.d. is wonderful, giving you a chance to listen
> to unfamiliar Greek that is at times very dramatic and funny.  The  
> book covers
> about 40% of the grammar and then ends.  I'm looking forward to  
> future volumes.  If you
> are brand new to Greek, you probably either need to know French or  
> should
> wait for the English version, but again I think on one level, the  
> better your
> Greek is, the more you will enjoy this book.   Whatever
> you think of living language methods, I would imagine anybody of the  
> list would
> find this book interesting and lots of fun.   Where else will you  
> find a book that
> has Antiochus Epiphanes sounding like a Greek teacher?  Rico has him  
> say to the
> Mark L.
> --- On Sun, 5/31/09, Louis Sorenson <llsorenson at hotmail.com> wrote:
> From: Louis Sorenson <llsorenson at hotmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Polis: Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living  
> Language PS
> To: "B-Greek List mail to all" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Date: Sunday, May 31, 2009, 4:01 PM
> The title of the work is
> Polis : parler le grec ancien comme une langue vivante by Christophe  
> Rico
> ISBN 2204087572
> The
> book is alas in French and will have less of an impact than it could
> have were there a parallel version in English (which would increase
> sales tenfold).  I'm sure it still has value for English (non-French)
> readers. BTW, I've noticed there are certain areas where the French
> seem to have a stronger presence in certain subject matters. Epictetus
> and the Septuagint are two).
> Are the language learning
> methods in Europe for classical languages the same as in the English
> world?  Dr. Buth and Rico are both in Israel, where multilingual
> environs exist. It's most likely that there is where innovation and
> ingenuity by those using living language methods to teach Hebrew.
> Porting those successful experiences from Hebrew to Greek only makes
> common sense.
> Louis Sorenson
> Date: Mon, 1 Jun 2009 00:20:13 +0300
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Polis: Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living  
> Language PS
> From: randallbuth at gmail.com
> To: cwconrad2 at mac.com
> CC: llsorenson at hotmail.com; b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> PS:
> besides all of my typos in the email I just sent,
> I also found that the skits and dialogues in Christophe's
> book have French translations provided
> and the exercises have answers provided
> between the grammar tables and the lexicon. This
> will certainly help the student outside of class.
> blessings
> Randall
> On Sun, May 31, 2009 at 11:59 PM, Randall Buth  
> <randallbuth at gmail.com> wrote:
> shalom XAIROITE
> It is good to see people aware of Polis by Christophe Rico.
> I think that is a book that can encourage many Greek teachers
> in doing a 'living language' approach to teaching Greek. The
> website has quite a few notes and articles. This is a happy day
> for Greek studies because it is another voice about the direction
> that the future must take.
> Throughout the book there are little skits of daily situations where
> students interact in Greek about their lives, first about Greek
> class and then in the larger world. I think this is especially useful
> for people to see how a language can be used for meaningful
> communication even in early stages. There are some NT texts
> woven into these chapters and some cute little drawings often
> illustrate a feature of the skit or story.
> One feature that I appreciate is that Christophe is not afraid to step
> out of the bounds of antiquity. He has coined τηλεφωνον
> THLEFWNON for telephone and applied Homer's ωκυπορος
> WKYPOROS 'swiftboat'
> to a train, similarly to Wilson's application of ωκυπορος
> υογοητικη WKYPOROS YOGOHTIKH to the Hogwart's Express
> in his ancient greek Harry Potter. Wilson, though used
> αμαξοστοιχεια AMAKSOSTOITEIA 'carriage line' for train.  
> whether
> done in class for fun and comic relief or outside of class, items
> like this are inevitiable when a language is transported into a
> new culture. (It still happens today when an Amazonian or
> Phillipine tribal language 'comes out of the jungle'.
> So how does one use the book? For that I am not the best person
> to ask since I haven't used it or seen it in use. My impression is
> that is is not for self-teaching but is limited for use with a  
> teacher.
> throughout the lessons in the book, the material is listed in Greek
> without translation and much vocabulary is obviously intended to
> be introduced in class by the teacher. there are many written
> exercises that may help a student absorb/practice a grammar
> point introduced in the lesson. A lexicon is given in the back
> of the book with an estimated 600 entries. these are not defined by
> have an example sentence provided in Greek with a French
> translation. A second caveat is that this book is not considered to
> be complete. Christophe intends to produce more materials.
> Of course, it becomes easier and easier to stay in Greek the
> farther along a student gets. while a student will need help getting
> started, by the end of the book a student should have become
> accustomed to working in Greek. The grammar terms are in
> Greek, though these have a lexicon in an appendix with french
> translation. They are mostly identical to what I use and we have
> discussed the advantage of getting together and trying to unify
> usage where we can. E.g., we both have GENIKH DOTIKH and
> AITIATIKH, though Christophe uses EYQEIA where I use ORQH.
> And neither of us chose the other option ONOMASTIKH for
> nominative, even though the last term was chosen by Western
> Europe for the Latin to French/English trajectory. Christophe
> does not have a term for 'aspect', where I stick my neck out and
> Greek values for what was somewhat an underdefined category
> in antiquity.) When we get a chance we can also discuss word
> choices like Rico's SIKERA as 'cidre' (from MHLWN apples).
> SIKERA is a transliteration of Hebrew shexar, which was most
> probably good ol barley juice beverage (beer). SIKERA is in the
> NT (often mistranslated), though the common Greek word for
> beer was ZYQOS ζυθος. These are words students need to know if
> they are going to use the language.
> The book does come with a nice CD and about an hour of
> recordings. These will be very helpful to a student but the
> limited length also shows the need of having a class for
> implementing the book. There are several student voices
> acting out the scripts with engaging voices along with
> Christophe in the role of the teacher's voice. Pronunciation is
> Erasmian. Christophe defends this decision in print as allowing
> the pronunciation to follow a more fully differentiated spelling.
> Historically, it can be justified from the time of Alexander and
> the beginning of the Koine (3cBCE). Privately, he admits that
> 'Living Koine' is a much closer fit to the first century but with so
> many years with one pronunciation he is not considering
> changing. And Christophe cannot use his pronunciation in
> Greece.
> For those interested, we can speak to each other in Greek
> and understand the different pronunciations. Learning to
> speak is more important that dialect. However, one should
> note that the pronunciation chosen will likely end up staying
> with the student if practiced for years. Christophe has also
> acknowledged the 1st century Koine pronunciation by having
> Jordash, one of BLC's Greek teachers read John 1:1-5 for
> a sample on the CD.
> It is wonderful finally seeing this in print and Lord willing it will
> be followed by more volumes.
> I would recommend this book highly for anyone on the list
> teaching Greek.
> And of course, the subliminal message is that we need to
> set the bar where student and teacher and communicate in
> the language. that wasn't very subtle, was it?
> On Sun, May 31, 2009 at 1:09 PM, Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com>  
> wrote:
> On May 30, 2009, at 9:43 PM, Louis Sorenson wrote:
> Does anyone have an in on the forthcoming book (September 2009),  
> Polis,
> Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language. ? What language leaning
> methods does this book use? (-- I have not had time to fully evaluate
> the site's 'THE POLIS METHOD').  The method is described on the web
> page.  How does this differ from Dr. Buth's method?  Is this the
> beginning of more than one text using living language methods?
> In fact there's quite a bit of information available at the web- 
> site: http://poliskoine.com/site/
> Evidently it's a method developed by Christopher Rico at the École
> Biblique in Jerusalem and being taught at the University of Santa  
> Croce
> in Rome. Randall must surely know something about this -- and I wonder
> whether Bill Mounce hasn't had some awareness of it.
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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