Thomas Dolhanty wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:I don't think you need to use the marked forms in Greek to be reasonably fluent either, but you do need to understand them if you bump into such sentences.
What I am speaking about is "basic" concepts which will allow the practitioner to compose a reasonably sophisticated sentence / dialogue / narrative. The information and the sense of the information in your paragraph can be stated in simple VSO quite readily.
True. And the same is true of Greek sentences. I sometimes rewrite complicated Greek sentences to simplify them and put them in an order that is easier to understand. In my Sunday morning classes, if someone is having difficulty reading a sentence, I often restate the sentence out loud in Greek, reordering the clauses and leaving out some unneeded phrases while keeping the parts that make up the main structure of the sentence. A simple example from last Sunday that comes to mind: someone was struggling with this clause:
καὶ τοὺς χρείαν ἔχοντας θεραπείας ἰᾶτο.
I asked, what does χρείαν θεραπείας mean? He could answer that. Then I asked, what would καὶ τοὺς χρείαν θεραπείας ἔχοντας ἰᾶτο mean? The light went on. He is new to the class, so he decided to start reading Luke from the beginning and catch up. The first sentence of Luke is rather tricky:
1 Ἐπειδήπερ πολλοὶ ἐπεχείρησαν ἀνατάξασθαι διήγησιν περὶ τῶν πεπληροφορημένων ἐν ἡμῖν πραγμάτων, 2 καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν οἱ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι τοῦ λόγου, 3 ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι, κράτιστε Θεόφιλε, 4 ἵνα ἐπιγνῷς περὶ ὧν κατηχήθης λόγων τὴν ἀσφάλειαν.
I didn't reorder that, but I did give him this simplified version:
Ἐπειδήπερ πολλοὶ ἐπεχείρησαν ἀνατάξασθαι διήγησιν ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι, κράτιστε Θεόφιλε
Using that as a framework, he was able to figure out how the rest fit in. I think students can learn how to do this kind of rewriting and simplification, and I find it a useful skill.
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:Because not much work has been done in this area until quite recently, it seems like you are thrown off the deep end as a beginner and must somehow try to cope with a bewildering range of word order appearing in sophisticated texts, when what you really need is "The Three Bears".
For a beginner who is learning to read, I think the most important things to learn are probably along these lines:
- To understand a clause, identify the verb, it's subject(s), object(s), and adjuncts
- In a clause, V,S,O, and adjuncts can occur in any order (teachers should provide sentences in a wide variety of orders)
- To understand a sentence, understand the relationships among verbs in its clauses
For that, you don't need to teach abstract rules about the order of these components, give them lots of experience with real sentences first. Some of that may involve writing sentences like example sentences that use various VSO orders and various relationships among clauses. People aren't ready for the rules until they've had quite a bit of real world language experience.
A lot of beginning grammars seem to present clauses with little variety in the order of VSO. I think that's unfortunate, because the variety of orders that occur in real texts is one of the things that throws people off, the beginning grammars don't always prepare them for that. Goetschius does this well.
Even in the very beginning, I think we should expose people to various clause orders, e.g. if you start by teaching John 1 as your first text, why not show permutations of the sentence?
- ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος
- ὁ λόγος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ
- ἐν ἀρχῇ ὁ λόγος ἦν
- ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ ὁ λόγος
- ἦν ὁ λόγος ἐν ἀρχῇ
- ὁ λόγος ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν
I think that helps people deal with the various word orders they will encounter in real texts. But I'd also keep it simple when explaining the meaning of word order, and not be too ambitious with the description. Let them wrestle with real language rather than abstract explanations and theories.