[B-Greek] Narkinsky on obtaining fluency (was Decker on why to learn Greek)
lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 10 09:32:44 EDT 2010
<I would shout "Amen!" to every one of these seven points.
Some of them I have said in this forum "ad nauseam.">
Having received Carl's Benediction, it would be redundant and
also superfluous for me to pronounce the Johannine Double
AMHN over your Big Seven. One of my Ad Nauseams is that
my Ad Nauseams and Carl's Ad Nauseams occasionally
overlap. That would appear to be the case here. What you
have here is 70% of an excellent Top Ten list. I'll quickly
finish it up for you.
#8. Marry a Greek Professor who does not speak any English.
#9 Find a Worm Hole that will take you to Corinth circa 45 A.D.
And the number one Way to Obtain Fluency in Ancient Greek:
#1. Just spend 10 minutes a day on your Greek. Wait, I
forgot two zero's there. (1000 minutes a day would be about
17 hours per day, which would just about do it.)
<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.>
One of Carl's Ad Nauseams indeed this is. Top Five things
you should read outside the Greek NT. 1. Apostolic Fathers
2. Homer (not because it will help your NT Greek but because
he is the greatest writer in human history. 3. Plato (see #2 above.)
4. The Greek Old Testament. 5 After #4, all bets are off. There
are dozens, maybe hundreds of works that could make #5.
My vote as of today would be Chariton's Callirhoe. The Greek
is nothing special and it won't teach you anything important about
life. But what I like about it, is that it is pure Koine in the good
sense of that word. The syntax is super-simplified. There are
very few particles. Word order seems to be more natural
and less for effect. There is lots of conversational stuff.
Chariton's Greek strikes me as very similar to John's on a good day.
Somebody on B-Greek recommended Chariton to me a few years
ago, but I’m only getting to him now. I forget who is was, but thanks,
you were right, whoever you are.
The other question is, what should the ratio be? I have a simple
rule, what I call the Lightman Rule for the Ratio of Re-reading the
Greek NT versus Reading Outside of the Greek NT. The Ratio
is 1:1. There are 138,162 words in the Greek NT. In order to
master NT Greek, you have to read the Greek NT cover to cover
about ten times. Ten times 138,162 is roughly 1.4 million words.
So, your goal should be to read 1.4 million words of Greek outside
I have never counted the number of words of Greek that I have
read outside the Greek NT, but I'll tell you this: It's a heck of a
lot less than 1.4 million.
<I learned Koine from Mounce, and realized sometime
thereafter that after thoroughly covering Mounce, I literally
couldn't say "Goodbye" in Koine Greek!>
Did you notice that Mounce has a Third Edition just
out? One of the changes he could have made was to
add a short appendix where he gives you a few terms
of conversational Koine. CAIRE. PWS ECEIS? ERRWSO.
LALEIS hELLHNISTI? I'm not sure if he does this or not,
but if you go to his website you can see some of the changes
he did make. The Third Edition looks pretty good to me.
Does anyone have it?
You, Patrick, have made a distinction between "Analysis"
and "Fluency." I think you are on to something here.
"Fluency Precedes Analysis" may be one of Carl's
Ad Nauseams, but I'm not sure. One of my Ad Nauseams
is: "Analysis should not Precede Fluency but It May
Have To." If you chart Textbooks on an Analysis-Fluency
scale, with Machen being on one end and Buth being on
the other, where would you place Mounce? Somewhere in
the middle, I think, but closer to Analysis. Mounce does
have stuff on his website that inches the other way.
<I really like the approach taken by Funk.>
Carl likes it too. Haven't seen it. I need to check it out
<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.>
Paula Sapphire in an article that Louis S recently found says
that the key to Greek composition is to make it real, make
it creative, make it fun. The one thing that I have never done
and refuse to do is English to Greek Exercises. "The Greeks
bring to the good ships the evil ladies." Schole and Dialogos
are designed to put an end to this sort of stuff by giving you
the chance to write real Greek to real people. The reason why
Louis S. has developed some fluency is that he converts Rock
songs into Koine. This is not just reverse translating, but takes
creativity. It is fun, so he does a lot of it. That's another one
of my Ad Nauseams: Since we really don't know which methods
help you learn Greek, just do the ones that are fun. The problem
I have, is that I find almost all of it fun.
<Further deponent sayeth naught,
since I've never gotten the courage to try it>
Okay, there is a joke here, but I don't get it.
Explain, please. One of Carl's Ad Nauseam's
is "If the term "deponent" did not exist, it would
NOT be necessary to invent 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?>
You were doing so well, here, Patrick. One of my Ad Nauseams is that
Pronunciation is to Fluency what a potato is to Cleveland. One
has zero effect on the other.
I think I understand your question and your premise,
that Erasmianism is closer to the left end of the Analysis-Fluency
Spectrum than Modern. But before I respond to your question,
expand a little bit on what you mean by this. If anyone else
understands, agrees with or disagrees with what Patrick
is saying here about Erasmus=Analysis, feel free to jump in.
What strikes me about your seven points is that, in a way,
they are a lucid and well written summary of what most
of us have NOT been doing with our Greek for the last
century or so.
ερρωσο, ω φιλε μου.
ERRWSO W FILE MOU.
--- On Thu, 4/8/10, Patrick Narkinsky <patrick at narkinsky.com> wrote:
From: Patrick Narkinsky <patrick at narkinsky.com>
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Decker on why to learn Greek
To: "Mark Lightman" <lightmanmark at yahoo.com>
Cc: "James Spinti" <JSpinti at eisenbrauns.com>, "B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Thursday, April 8, 2010, 8:36 PM
On Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 6:25 PM, Mark Lightman <lightmanmark at yahoo.com> wrote:
Excellent post, Patrick.
I agree with your points #1 and #5 and everything in between.
<I really am much more interested in developing
fluency than in developing analytic skills.>
What do you think is the best way to develop fluency?
If you are a "little Greek," I say, less is more.
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 at narkinsky.com
"Let things true be preferred to things false, things eternal to things momentary, things useful to things agreeable."
Lucius Caelius Lactantius
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