Life after a basic grammar

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Life after a basic grammar

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » February 17th, 2017, 3:54 pm

Set reasonable goals. After a year of basic grammar, I set about transcribing by hand and taking detailed notes on the Apocalypse and Gospel of John, which took a while. After that I set out to learn Sophocles. That was not a reasonable goal at that time. The first fifty lines of transcribing by hand and taking detailed notes on Sophocles OT was beyond difficult, nearly impossible. I had a library copy of Richard Jebb which was incomprehensible. It would be decades before I was doing Sophocles with anything like confidence. Better to read some simple historical narrative or Plato's Dialogues.

The advantage of reading the Apocalypse and Gospel of John at the same time is you see the syntax difference right away. I am an advocate of Apostolic John as the author of both books. But that is not topic for the this forum.

If you want to read in classics download the Goffrey Steadman notes. https://geoffreysteadman.com
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Life after a basic grammar

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 17th, 2017, 7:25 pm

Michael Sharpnack wrote:... I'm reading passages right now, I'm basically translating them into English in my head.
Just wait till your brain starts wanting to translate everything you hear or read in English (or another language) into Greek, asking you to choose the right one from a number of alternatives. :o At that point you'll know that the bend has been well and truly gone around. Muttering to oneself in words incomprehible to others, as suggested earlier, is just the start. :lol: After you've been speaking to your world in Greek for long enough, it starts speaking back at you. :shock:
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Life after a basic grammar

Post by Shirley Rollinson » February 21st, 2017, 6:31 am

Michael Sharpnack wrote:Thanks for the responses. So, I just bought Deckers Greek Reader, and I think I'll buy Smyth's grammar as a reference as well as Dickey's composition book to start working through.

Another question: as I'm reading passages right now, I'm basically translating them into English in my head. I know the best way to learn the language is to internalize it, and read it for itself, not to translate it, but I feel I have to right now for it to make sense to me. Are there any specific steps to work towards that goal? Anything to avoid? Or, just keep reading that way, and eventually it will start to internalize?
I find that a good way is to read the Greek text aloud - don't try to translate it, or even understand it in detail the first time through. Just read it aloud, and listen to yourself (it's the main way most of us will get to hear spoken Greek). Then read it aloud again, slowly, - you'll start to pick up phrases and get a sense of the meaning, Then make a list of the words you don't know, write out their dictionary forms and parse them. Then write a translation. Then go back and read the whole text through aloud a couple of times.
Keep going. And if you start to feel discourages, look back at where you were last year, and how far you've come (assuming you read some every day) :-)
Shirley Rollinson

Michael Sharpnack
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Location: Nashville

Re: Life after a basic grammar

Post by Michael Sharpnack » February 21st, 2017, 8:54 pm

Shirley Rollinson wrote: I find that a good way is to read the Greek text aloud - don't try to translate it, or even understand it in detail the first time through. Just read it aloud, and listen to yourself (it's the main way most of us will get to hear spoken Greek). Then read it aloud again, slowly, - you'll start to pick up phrases and get a sense of the meaning, Then make a list of the words you don't know, write out their dictionary forms and parse them. Then write a translation. Then go back and read the whole text through aloud a couple of times.
Keep going. And if you start to feel discourages, look back at where you were last year, and how far you've come (assuming you read some every day) :-)
Shirley Rollinson
Thanks for the tip, I will be doing that. Also, I've been reading your online textbook; good stuff. Do you have any more on particles? I find them pretty difficult. I really like the list you have and the explanations with them, I haven't found that in anything else I've read yet, but I could use more practice interpreting their meaning within context.

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Life after a basic grammar

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 25th, 2017, 12:08 pm

Michael,
How much of the grammar that you know is in tables, and how much is in the texts?

I mean like, are you familiar with at least one instance of a feature of grammar that you have learned? For example, if you have learned that the genitive may be a "genitive of price", can you say, "The genitive of price as in the story of the feeding of the 5,000 (households), Philip replies to Jesus and says, Διακοσίων δηναρίων ἄρτοι οὐκ ἀρκοῦσιν αὐτοῖς "loaves of bread to the value of 200 denarii would not be sufficient for them", (ἵνα ἕκαστος αὐτῶν βραχύ τι λάβῃ. "for each of them to get even the slightest bit") (John 6:7)." Rooting the grammar to examples is a way both to consolidate it, and to improve processing speeds when you are reading.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Michael Sharpnack
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Joined: February 2nd, 2017, 5:13 pm
Location: Nashville

Re: Life after a basic grammar

Post by Michael Sharpnack » February 25th, 2017, 4:34 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:Michael,
How much of the grammar that you know is in tables, and how much is in the texts?

I mean like, are you familiar with at least one instance of a feature of grammar that you have learned? For example, if you have learned that the genitive may be a "genitive of price", can you say, "The genitive of price as in the story of the feeding of the 5,000 (households), Philip replies to Jesus and says, Διακοσίων δηναρίων ἄρτοι οὐκ ἀρκοῦσιν αὐτοῖς "loaves of bread to the value of 200 denarii would not be sufficient for them", (ἵνα ἕκαστος αὐτῶν βραχύ τι λάβῃ. "for each of them to get even the slightest bit") (John 6:7)." Rooting the grammar to examples is a way both to consolidate it, and to improve processing speeds when you are reading.
That's excellent; I have a little bit of that for some aspects of grammar, but not very much at all. How would I go about building a kind of repertoire of examples that match grammatical concepts like that?

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Life after a basic grammar

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 25th, 2017, 7:42 pm

Michael Sharpnack wrote:That's excellent; I have a little bit of that for some aspects of grammar, but not very much at all. How would I go about building a kind of repertoire of examples that match grammatical concepts like that?
That's what ideally your grammars of Greek should be doing. Wallace has a number of examples, but not everyone will agree with all his categories or the examples he assigns to them.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Life after a basic grammar

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 26th, 2017, 1:03 am

Discussing a little further along SC's lines...

Wallace is a widely used intermediate grammar, Smyth is (often called a reference grammar, but it is one given to students who are still coming to mastery of Classical Greek, so could be called) an intermediate grammar too. The examples in Wallace will be more familiar to you, for contextualising purposes.

There are different types of memorisation strategies that you can apply to Greek. For the vast majority of learners of Greek (Classical or Koine) we could more readily fill a dozen A4 sheets with grammatical tables or phonological rules, than we could with text, actual, original Greek text. Carl Conrad seems to be a notable exception here, and the other that I personally have met was my Dutch tutor, Dr. van de Lubbe (now at UTS), who had learned one of Euripides' plays by heart for a high school performance put on by her Classical Greek class, and who even in her PhD years could recite the text admirably. The difference between the two of them, is that Carl Conrad has given more time to analytical thinking about what he has memorised, while my Dutch tutor, seemed to more have simply enjoyed the exerience, evidenced by her smile throughout the recitation before our class one day.

In my experience too, reciting whole paragraphs (or chapters) tends to begin as a flow of sounds, which then take definition as words, become further defined as parts of speech, then working together to form meaning. That is not a simple, straightforward or quick process. At a later stage of memorisation - ie after a degree of appropriate reflection - elements of whole passages can become exemplars for our understanding of Greek, and they do so quite naturally.

There are two ways to approach the business of providing examples, one is by indexing to the grammar, which is great if you are interested in exploring a specific aspect of grammar as it has been defined by others, and the other being the memorisation of passages that are of personal interest or significance to you. To do the first - matching the texts to the grammar - look at Wallace (or The Salt Shaker or some other site online) for examples, contextualise the shortest possible snipet of Greek in as much English as is necessary. (If you had said you were working through a beginners text book, I woul have only suggested the phrase Διακοσίων δηναρίων ἄρτοι "loaves of bread worth (or costing) 200 denarii", with the rest of the verse in translation.) You will know when you are ready to learn more of the context in Greek, because you will say to yourself, "Oh, I know, it goes something like blah blah blah". At that point you are ready to give exactitude to your vague recolections, ie sirt of rote lwarning with a headstart. In the second case - close analysis of the grammar of a passage - you can choose a passage based on its literary merits, how much it clicked with you at whatever level of your being, and read it closely and analytically. Understanding the grammar point related to it will be part of the process close reading. My first passage attempted in that way was Romans 10:13, first giving and example of nouns and verbs, then of cases and tenses, and later demonstrating the difference between irrealis and future. This is a fun and effective way to learn grammar, but due to the nature of the selection process, it is none-the-less not comprehensive in its coverage of grammar. In fact most people would urge one to combine both of those methods in a way that works best for you.

Way back in '91 or '93 when I was taking Polish from Dr. Ronowicz (now Assoc. Professor of Linguistics at Macquarie), he insisted that we learn a short exemplar for every point of grammar. It was arduous, but many of those that I learned, I have remembered, albiet without remembering the grammar any longer.

I also find it easier to go beyond English glosses to thinking about meaning, to work with things in memory rather than on paper, but that would be a whole 'nother discussion - "Life after a basic wordlist".
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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