[B-Greek] When Dead Tongues Speak

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 11 09:33:46 EDT 2010


Nichael asked:
 
<This is a bit off-topic, but this thread touches on a fantasy I've 
had for some time.

In short, I'm on a journey somewhere far away and I find myself with a stranger
(say, as a seat partner on a long flight).  However we soon discover 
that I know
none of the half-dozen languages that my new companion speaks (fluently), nor
does s/he know the single language (English) which I speak.

However, we then discover, somewhat to our surprise, that we both know
NT greek (or at least "enough") and are able to carry on a, albeit 
somewhat stilted,
conversation.

Has anyone ever had an experience like this?>
 
Hi, Nichael,
 
Yes, I've had just that experience, just the other day.
 
Over on Schole, which is essentially a type of "Facebook" in Ancient
Greek, there is a guy from Poland.  We have written to each other in
Koine.  I told him my grandparents are from Poland.  He told me
what Greek books he likes to read.  Stuff like that.  To this day, I
don't know if he speaks any English.  I certainly don't speak any Polish.
I made a Koine audio for him on Schole, and he is making me one in return.
 
You can go to Schole yourself and check all this out.
 
http://schole.ning.com/
 
 
 The guy’s name is Slawomir.
 
 <...I could never, for example, speak about "the color of my aunt's velo"
or ask for fries with my hamburger.>
 
You hear this all the time.  I used to believe it, but I don't think it is
true.  What is true is that anything that can be said in one language
can be said in any other language.  "Oedipus, Schoedipus, as long
as a boy loves his mother!"  You can say that in Koine.
 
Louis Sorensen recently rendered the Carli Simon song
"You're so vain" into Koine.  He figured out a way to say
"your scarf,  it was apricot."  If you can say "your scarf,
it was apricot" in Koine, you can say anything in Koine.
 
The fact is, there are a million ways to say "hamburger
and fries" in Koine.  Modern Greek is of course a huge help,
for which we all thank God.  But even without Modern Greek,
the problem is, more often than not, there are TOO MANY
ways to say something in Koine, and you have to choose one.
 
In short, Ancient Greek is exactly as dead as one wants it to 
be.
 
p.s.  As a practical matter, if there is something that you REALLY
cannot say in Koine, you just say something else.
 
ERRWSO, FILE.
 

Mark L


FWSFOROS MARKOS

--- On Sun, 4/11/10, Nichael Cramer <nichael at sover.net> wrote:


From: Nichael Cramer <nichael at sover.net>
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] When Dead Tongues Speak
To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Date: Sunday, April 11, 2010, 6:37 AM


This is a bit off-topic, but this thread touches on a fantasy I've 
had for some time.

In short, I'm on a journey somewhere far away and I find myself with a stranger
(say, as a seat partner on a long flight).  However we soon discover 
that I know
none of the half-dozen languages that my new companion speaks (fluently), nor
does s/he know the single language (English) which I speak.

However, we then discover, somewhat to our surprise, that we both know
NT greek (or at least "enough") and are able to carry on a, albeit 
somewhat stilted,
conversation.

Has anyone ever had an experience like this?

Nichael

[P.S. One obvious problem with my daydream is that it skips over the
issue of vocabulary.   I've often told friends who had studied a 
modern language
that a major difference is that I never learned all of the standard phrases
that one learns in, say, freshman French.   While I could form, in Koine,
a perfectly good sentence about the forgiveness of sin through the 
sanctification
by grace, I could never, for example, speak about "the color of my aunt's velo"
or ask for fries with my hamburger.  Similarly a once friend 
described an experience
during which, while completing the requirements for a master's degree in
medieval languages, he had to write a 2000 word theme in Anglo-Saxon.
His theme --like most of his classmates'-- involved slaughtering a thousand
warriors in a mead hall, simply because that was all the vocabulary that
they had available to him.]
--
Nichael Cramer
Guilford VT
nichael at sover.net
http://www.sover.net/~nichael/ 

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