[B-Greek] Metalanguage Shmetalanguage (was "Shine: Can this song be translated into Greek?")

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Fri Apr 30 09:23:28 EDT 2010


Let's see if I can condense Lightman's heavy-handed and lengthy response to Sorenson's query.

I do not love thee, Metalanguage!
The reason lies in Shmetalanguage.
Don't make it clear in fancy language --
I much prefer my ambiguanguage.
So don't give me your Shmetalanguage;
I do not love thee, Metalanguage.

My simple proposition is: 

The existentialists say: Existence precedes essence.
Insofar as communication through language is concerned, Understanding precedes analysis.

It is quite clear from these recent exchanges that there are some who don't care at all for analysis and would prefer simply to read, write, talk and listen to Koine Greek. That's all very fine, and we do spend some time talking about that on B-Greek. But the fact remains, as I think most of us would agree, the B-Greek forum exists for discussion of the Biblical Greek language and Biblical Greek texts. And I think the fact remains that we cannot talk about Biblical Greek language and Biblical Greek texts without using a metalanguage to refer to and describe and -- yes -- analyze the elements about which we are dialoging.  Most of us will continue to use the metalanguage of the "dead grammarians" while some will want to bring in less or more of the insights and theories of the academic linguists who have focused on HOW Biblical Greek works. Simply declaring a powerful distaste for analysis will not counteract the desire to understand the language and the text that has attracted the list-membership of this forum.

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

On Apr 29, 2010, at 9:46 PM, Mark Lightman wrote:
> Hi, Louis,
> 
> Louis egrapse:
> 
> <So my focus has changed from deconstructing the Greek language, to
> understanding what I read.
> Read, read, read. But how do you internalize
> a dead language?....Write, write, write.
> (Has anyone mentioned schole.ning.com(http://schole.ning.com)?>
> 
> When you use Koine as a real language, even if just a little and even if not very well, your focus changes.
> It does not mean other people cannot focus on other things.
> 
> <I am right along with those who wish to deconstruct any given foreign
> language into an understandable,
> disseminable, parsible format
> (analysis, analysis, analysis - yes, that is what is needed).
> But those
> who go down this road really need to ask themselves if the end
> justifies the means.>
> 
> I've asked myself this question, and I have concluded that nothing can ever justify classifying
> a Greek word as  pre or post-nuclear.   But others will find different answers.
> 
> <Would those on the list have preferred Polycarp, John Chrysostom,
> Eusebius, Ireneus
> and all the other NT fathers to use their (modern
> 20th century linguistic)  terminology
> when discussing the NT texts? I
> guess those writers did "not have the tools" to properly
> discuss the
> texts which they understood better than all of us. If only they
> understood Greek Verbal Aspect....>
> 
> I for one would not, no.  I have come to prefer ambiguity over destroying (ANALUEIN) a Greek sentence in order to save it.
> Kevin Riley recently said that God chose not to reveal Himself in a Metalanguage because ambiguity is good for
> us.  I suppose if Ignatius wrote in a Metalanguage, I would understand him better.  But I am not sure if I would have
> any reason to read him in the first place. 
> 
> <Randall Buth's and Christophe Rico's works have helped my greatly. When
> has anyone but them said,
> "Listen to the NT being read". "Hear what
> they are saying". When you go to sleep, do you hear their GREEK words
> in your head?">
> 
> Check out #7f of Buth's Reasons to Listen to Greek:
> 
> 
> <7f. Listening also helps a student distinguish language skills that are
> natural from skills that are artificial, analytical and secondary.
> There is no time in real language communication to do many of the
> things that students are asked to do with a language ("What kind of
> genitive was that?"). This does not mean that a student should not
> learn how to analyze a language, but that analytical skills are
> another kind of skill from language fluency. Both are good, but they
> shouldn't be confused.>
> 
> Sounds like an Ad Nauseam to me.
> I actually HAVE fallen asleep listening to Greek.  I have these Athenaze sound
> files that I found on this site
> 
> http://spiphanies.blogspot.com/2009/03/audio-resources-for-ancient-greek.html
> 
> and sometimes when I am too tired to read any more Greek I will listen to them and fall asleep.
> For me, internalization takes place right at the point where consciousness ceases, which I think is
> another way of saying what I'm saying that Buth is saying that you are saying.
> 
> <Over the last year I have been translating about 40-50 modern praise
> hymns/songs into Greek.
> (I've also been teaching some High school
> students biblical Greek using a spoken teaching methodology).
> I've also
> translated a number of classic rock songs (the 60's-70's songs had
> melody, harmony, prosody
> story, rhythm; most modern songs lack this).
> Translating these songs has really helped me learn and
> understand
> Greek. (You can find many, not all, of them at http://www.letsreadgreek.com/songs/.)>
> 
> I've listened to every one of your songs.  Many of them are on my MP-3 Player and I have taught some
> to my kids.  TON KOSMON hOLON ECEI EN CERSIN AUTOU. I know that writing this helped you internalize
> and see Koine differently, but listening to it being sung by my son has helped me just as much.
> A thing cannot be sung and be dead at the same time. 
> 
> Do you know the sum total of my French?  "Voulez-vous couchez avec moi, ce soir."
> I know that because this song
> 
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuyRW31u4Zs
> 
> was on the radio all the time when I was a kid.  We would ask our parents what it
> meant.  They would smile and they would not tell us, but we figured it out.  
> These words may not even be real French.  Maybe the accent is wrong, and I seem
> to recall reading years later that there is something wrong with the grammar.
> But I know what these words mean. I know  EXACTLY what they mean, which is to say
> that I don't know exactly what they mean, and that is just fine.
> They are in my soul, these words.   I want Greek to be like that.
> Your songs help. Your UNO game in Greek helps.  You-Tube Koine videos help.
> Analysis does not seem to help much anymore, but different people are helped by
> different things. 
> 
> <What is the framework of this Song?>
> 
> That's it, isn't it?  MHNIN AEIDE QEA. I don't think Homer COULD have used a 
> Metalanguage because he loved Achilles and Hector too much.  You are in love with 
> Greek, Louis.  It shows all over your post.  I'm not saying a Linguist cannot
> also be in love with what s/he studies.  Different people show love
> in different ways.
> 
> I wonder if in the final analysis it is not so much your focus that has changed,
> but your ATTITUDE.  Raymondo Panikkar talks about this.  He says that for
> millennia, it never occurred to anyone to dissect a human body.  Even the dead,
> especially the dead, were considered sacred in some sense, and no knowledge that could be
> gained from cutting up a body would be worth it. The ends do NOT, as you
> put it, justify the means.   This is really the point
> behind the Iliad.  Achilles changes from being an Analyzer who wants to dissect
> Hector's corpse to a lover of his enemy's father.  You have come to
> see Paul as a song, a FILOS, not somebody to strap to the back of
> a chariot or bury in a Lexicon.  You cannot do to
> him what the Linguist does to dead words on a page.  You love,
> as Othello said about himself, "not wisely, but too well."
> 
> It's good that we have Linguists that are dispassionate enough
> so that they can dissect Greek the way one dissects a frog.
> We should all be made of sterner stuff.  I know that my reaction
> to this Linguistic Analysis is an over-reaction, and that I should
> not take it personally, but I do.  These are not just words that
> are being parsed and hacked up and formulated. These are words written by
> and about people I love.  When I read these Metalanguages,
> I feel that Hectoris again being violated, and I go all Prufrock:
> 
> "The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
> And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
> When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall..."
> 
> But that's just a critical reaction.  It does not advance the discussion.
> 
> Louis HRWTHSE:
> 
> <Can this song be translated into Greek?>
> 
> The question is not "Can this song be translated into Greek?"  The
> question is whether Greek can be made into a song again.   With guys
> like you around, I think it can. 
> 
> Mark L
> Φωσφορος
> 
> 
> FWSFOROS MARKOS
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ________________________________
> From: Louis Sorenson <llsorenson at hotmail.com>
> To: Mark Lightman <lightmanmark at yahoo.com>; Donald Cobb <docobb at orange.fr>; Daniel Streett <danstreett at gmail.com>; B-Greek List mail to all <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Mon, April 26, 2010 9:05:09 PM
> Subject: Shine: Can this song be translated into Greek?
> 
> Hello all,
> (Pardon my tongue-in-cheek)
> 
> I have been quietly reading all the posts about modern linguistics and Greek, translation methodologies, frameworks, modern liguistics, 20th century Bible translation methodologies, κτλ. Twenty-five years ago, it was my desire to go down this road. I did not go down that road, for various reasons. 
> 
> I have great respect for those who have spent a lot of time and effort into developing a technical language and methodology for categorizing and classifying structures, discourse frameworks, scenarios, and any other such elements. I think that many of these "elements" or "entities" are creations of linguists and grammatical analysts to turn the language of the New Testament into "machine language". This is not a bad or incorrect methodology or approach, in itself,  to understanding the language of the New Testament. 
> 
> It is, however, a methodology, which is counter-intuitive (in many aspects) to a natural understanding of "natural language". I do not seek to insult any person. I am right along with those who wish to deconstruct any given foreign language into an understandable, disseminable, parsible format (analysis, analysis, analysis - yes, that is what is needed). But those who go down this road really need to ask themselves if the end justifies the means. 
> 
> Would those on the list have preferred Polycarp, John Chrysostom, Eusebius, Ireneus and all the other NT fathers to use their (modern 20th century linguistic)  terminology when discussing the NT texts? I guess those writers did "not have the tools" to properly discuss the texts which they understood better than all of us. If only they understood Greek Verbal Aspect.... 
> 
> So my focus has changed from deconstructing the Greek language, to understanding what I read. Read, read, read. But how do you internalize a dead language?....Write, write, write. (Has anyone mentioned schole.ning.com(http://schole.ning.com)?
> 
> Randall Buth's and Christophe Rico's works have helped my greatly. When has anyone but them said, "Listen to the NT being read". "Hear what they are saying". When you go to sleep, do you hear their GREEK words in your head?" 
> 
> So thanks Elizabeth, Yancy, and everyone else who has contributed to the many threads the last few weeks. I learn so much from all of you (truly, I appreciate all your insights and contributions). But I see that my greatest need is to understand the Greek I read. I need to read with understanding. 
> 
> So how did I improve in reading the last year?  I did improve. I improved by writing, speaking, hearing and reading. Not reading grammars, but reading lexicons, and more so Greek texts. A year ago the Gospel of Luke and Acts was somewhat difficult to pick up and read, I just got through reading through Acts 9.1-12.1with ease. I noticed a difference in my understanding. Can I attribute it to my reading more Greek grammars (Wallace, Blass-deBrunner, Nigil Turner, AT Robertson)? No. I attribute it to reading Greek texts. and even more, writing and composing songs in Greek. I.e. Using active language methods to learn Greek better (in other words, I tried to communicate in Greek).
> 
> How did I do this?
> Over the last year I have been translating about 40-50 modern praise hymns/songs into Greek. (I've also been teaching some High school students biblical Greek using a spoken teaching methodology). I've also translated a number of classic rock songs (the 60's-70's songs had melody, harmony, prosody, story, rhythm; most modern songs lack this). Translating these songs has really helped me learn and understand Greek. (You can find many, not all, of them at http://www.letsreadgreek.com/songs/.)
> 
> So thank you all for your contributions. Keep them up. I'm open to all of your suggestions and ideas. But in the meantime I will read, read, read and write, write, write, and of course, sing, sing, sing.
> 
> Oh, and the songs. Well help me out. How would you translate the following song into Koine-Klingon? What is the framework of this Song? What was the author trying to communicate? To whom was he talking? What was his audience? What social class was he in? What nationality was he a member of? What language did he speak? What language did he grow up speaking? In what year was he born? Did he grow up in Alaska? (If I don't know the answers to these questions, I cannot determine what he is really saying).
> 
> http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Shine-lyrics-Newsboys/1170E6D94B28380948256DEA002F3217
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cUQe3xs3eY
> 
> There are some songs that easily cross the language barrier, and some that really stretch the boundaries. In this song, there is "dictator", origami", "Eskimo", "vegetarian", "barbecue hamster", "bored", "Deadhead", "Schizophrenic", "Oprah", "science", "rational", "bouncer", "bored", "crayons", "shaker", "plate", "ballet",  "Karma", "fire the army", "What's my Line?".  Do you have Greek words for these English words?
> 
> This is truly a 21st century song. οιμοι· How can it be done? Do we rely on 21st century modern biblical translation methodologies (Nida)?  But if you listen to this song, the tune sticks in your head. Don't you wish you hear Greek rather than English?
> 
> "Dull as Dirt --  You can't assert...."
> 
> Louis Sorenson
> 
> ---------------Song Text follows---------------------
> 
> Dull as dirt
> you can´t assert the kind of light
> that might persuade
> a strict dictator to retire
> fire the army
> teach the poor origami
> the truth is in
> the proof is when
> you hear your heart start asking,
> "What´s my motivation?"
> 
> 
> and try as you may, there isn´t a way
> to explain the kind of change
> that would make an Eskimo renounce fur
> that would make a vegetarian barbecue hamster
> unless you can trace this about-face
> to a certain sign...
> 
> Chorus
> shine
> make ´em wonder what you´ve got
> make ´em wish that they were not
> on the outside looking bored
> shine
> let it shine before all men
> let´em see good works, and then
> let ´em glorify the Lord
> 
> out of the shaker and onto the plate
> it isn´t Karma
> it sure ain´t fate
> that would make a Deadhead sell his van
> that would make a schizophrenic turn in his crayons
> Oprah freaks
> and science seeks a rationale
> that shall excuse
> this strange behavior
> 
> when you let it shine
> you will inspire
> the kind of entire turnaround
> that would make a bouncer take ballet
> (even bouncers who aren't happy)
> but out of the glare
> with nowhere to turn
> you ain´t gonna learn it on "What´s My Line?"
> 
> shine
> make ´em wonder what you´ve got
> make ´em wish that they were not
> on the outside looking bored
> shine
> let it shine before all men
> let´em see good works, and then
> let ´em glorify the Lord
> 
> shine
> 
> shine
> 
> shine
> make ´em wonder what you´ve got
> make ´em wish that they were not
> on the outside looking bored
> shine
> let it shine before all men
> let´em see good works, and then
> let ´em glorify the Lord
> 
> shine
> make ´em wonder what you´ve got
> make ´em wish that they were not
> on the outside looking bored
> shine
> let it shine before all men
> let´em see good works, and then
> let ´em glorify the Lord
> 
> shine
> 
> Lyrics: Steve Taylor / Music: Peter Furler
> © 1994 Ariose Music (a division of Star Song Communications, admin. by Gaither Copyright Management), Warner Alliance Music & Soylent Tunes







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