[B-Greek] Decker on why to learn Greek

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Fri Apr 9 05:30:45 EDT 2010

I would shout "Amen!" to every one of these seven points. Some of them I have
said in this forum "ad nauseam."

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

On Apr 8, 2010, at 10:36 PM, Patrick Narkinsky wrote:
> I can say less about what does work (for me) than what does not work (for
> me.)  A few things that I know don't work:
> First, focusing on the New Testament to the exclusion of the larger world of
> Koine doesn't work for me. I think that to develop fluency you've got to
> develop a feel for the contextual meaning of words, and the New Testament
> just isn't big enough for that to happen, especially when so many of the
> most significant words are of less frequency.
> Second, and on a related note, I think that the emphasis on reading the NT
> is an obstacle in the materials available.  I learned Koine from Mounce, and
> realized sometime thereafter that after thoroughly covering Mounce, I
> literally couldn't say "Goodbye" in Koine Greek!  Nor could I count to ten!
> I guess the information was in there, but it wasn't emphasized and I didn't
> get it.  When such basic information is missing, (albeit because it's not a
> big part of the New Testament) there's never a chance of learning to "think"
> in the language, even to a small degree.
> Third, I think that memorizing paradigms and "rules" is of ... well, less
> value.  So far, I really like the approach taken by Funk, so far as I
> understand it.  It makes more sense to me to say that a final ω (W) means "I
> do X" than to put it in the context of a paradigm.  I realize this is a fine
> distinction, but I think it's a vital one: in paradigm's, the emphasis is on
> the paradigm; here, the emphasis is on the words.
> Fourth, I think there need to be more examples.  Right now, most workbooks
> include only a few examples of a new form or vocabular word.  I think the
> number needs to be more like 10. I'm actually working in my "spare" time
> (i.e. 5 minutes a week) on some software to ease the generation of examples,
> in an automated fashion.
> Fifth, I really wonder whether the deemphasizing of composition isn't a big
> mistake.  Further deponent sayeth naught, since I've never gotten the
> courage to try it.
> Sixth, I'm just going to say that ever since I learned the modern
> pronunciation, I can't abide the Erasmian pronunciation.  It seems to me to
> destroy euphony. If the goal is fluency, why would you use a pronunciation
> that is designed for analysis?
> Seventh, and finally, read, read, read.  I think that the biggest mistake
> most who have studied Greek make (and therefore lose their Greek) is not
> using their Greek *every day*.
> Thanks for the kind comments Mark, and I hope I rolled sixes again.
> Patrick

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