Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I.1.

Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I.1.

Postby Mark Lightman » March 6th, 2012, 4:12 pm

Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hellenica I.i.18

The text:

Xenophon wrote in Hellenica I.i.18: τὰς δὲ ναῦς οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ᾤχοντο ἄγοντες ἁπάσας εἰς Προκόννησον πλὴν τῶν Συρακοσίων.


This is probably not the best text to illustrate the three methods because this is actually a comparatively easy Greek sentence. Most Greek sentences are harder than this. But I suspect that most B-Greekers cannot even read this sentence without help, and I wanted to use this sentence because I just read it this morning.

Under each method, the student is told to read the sentence carefully several times and try to figure out what it means without any helps. If unable, the student is directed to these helps, respectfully, found on the facing page.

Method One:

Hellenica I.i.18: τὰς δὲ ναῦς οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ᾤχοντο ἄγοντες ἁπάσας εἰς Προκόννησον πλὴν τῶν Συρακοσίων.

Αnd the Athenians, leading all the ships except for the ones belonging to the Syracusans, went off into Proconesus.

Method Two:

Hellenica I.i.18: τὰς δὲ ναῦς οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ᾤχοντο ἄγοντες ἁπάσας εἰς Προκόννησον πλὴν τῶν Συρακοσίων.

ναῦς: acc pl of ναῦς, εώς, ἡ. For the complete declension, see Smyth 275. ᾤχοντο: 3p imperfect of ὄιχομαι. See LSJ I. and John Doe, “The Imperfect and the Ηistorical Present in Xenophon’s Hellenika, A Study in Remote Prominence,” (Fortress Press, 1991, revised 1992.) Προκόννησον: island and city in Modern Turkey. τῶν Συρακοσίων: sc νεῶν.

Method Three:

Hellenica I.i.18: τὰς δὲ ναῦς οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ᾤχοντο ἄγοντες ἁπάσας εἰς Προκόννησον πλὴν τῶν Συρακοσίων.

καὶ οἱ Ἀθηναῖαι ῆλθον εἰς τὴν γῆν τοῦ Προκοννήσου. καὶ οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ἔλαβον τὰ πλοῖα εἰς τὴν γῆν τοῦ Προκοννήσου. (ἀλλὰ οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι οὐκ ἔλαβον τὰ πλοῖα τῶν Συρακοσίων ἀνθρώπων.)

All three methods have their pros and cons. The first is the Loeb method, which I like, but many Loeb translations are too free to be much help as literal cribs for beginners. Plus, I like to stay in the target language as much as possible. The second method is the standard method used today for learning Ancient Greek, so if you are happy with the status quo, you probably like this method.

Versions of the third method are used by Frank Beetham and some of the Readers from Bolchazy Press. Jeffrey Requandt, I believe, has called for this method for the Greek NT, involving as it does Dr. Seuss Greek, designed for pure beginners. The disadvantage of this method is that if you spend too much time on the facing page (which you should not, by the way; remember that all three methods encourage you to just glance at the facing page and then quickly go back to the real Greek, except for the second method, which encourages you to read a bunch of secondary literature and THEN go back to the Greek) you may begin to internalize, simplified, bad, “artificial” Greek. I recognize this as danger, but I see it as the lesser of three evils.

In its form presented here, I more or less invented the third method, so if you use it to teach Greek, MAKE SURE YOU SPELL MY NAME RIGHT!

ὑπὸ τοῦ Μάρκου
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby RandallButh » March 7th, 2012, 5:27 am

Your method three is part of caretaker speech. It is what we do with children when they don't understand something. We break it down into pieces that they do understand. However, such a process is very dynamic and changes between speakers because they always have different backgrounds.

We do something similar in oral discussions. Choice of vocab and structure depends on the people and if the explainer overshoots the goal, then some feedback from the listener can provide readjustment.

On a technical note, I wouldn't use ἦλθον for ᾤχοντο. Perhaps ἀπῆλθον.
Incidentally, οἴχεσθαι is a tricky verb. We do not list an aorist with it in our verb chart book. It appears to have some kind of stative or perfective component in its lexical nature, but it is used in the the present and imperfect. /////Go figure. The present and imperfect leave the event open, but the departure has happened, so it is very like a perfect and pluperfect. Something like the oppositive movement but similar status of the present and imperfect of ἤκειν 'to be having come'.
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 7th, 2012, 7:40 am

RandallButh wrote:Your method three is part of caretaker speech. It is what we do with children when they don't understand something. We break it down into pieces that they do understand. However, such a process is very dynamic and changes between speakers because they always have different backgrounds.


Case in point: the hardest part of the sentence for me was ᾤχοντο. None of the three approaches helped me, I had to go to LSJ, and I had an "aha" moment when I realized that ὄιχομαι, a veb I didn't know, was related to παροίχομαι, a verb that I did know. But there's another hint in the traditional explanation, the title of this article: “The Imperfect and the Ηistorical Present in Xenophon’s Hellenika, A Study in Remote Prominence". And Randall points out that there's more to this verb ... I notice that the relationship among the verbs of a sentence is often the hardest thing for me to grasp. Ideally, I'd like to be able to read a discussion of that in Greek, but would I understand it readily? I often find Chrysostom's commentaries more difficult to read than the passage he is commenting on.

For me, reading this in Perseus Philologic was actually more helpful than any of the three approaches you present.

In your third approach, it would have been more helpful for me if it helped me pick apart the verb:

ᾤχοντο (ὄιχομαι) ≈ ἀπῆλθον

It would also be helpful for me to have simple grammatical vocabulary in Greek. Instead of "3p imperfect of ὄιχομαι", perhaps

ᾤχοντο (ὄιχομαι, αυτοι : παρατατκικος) ≈ ἀπῆλθον

So I suppose I would prefer something more like method 2, in Greek, with some attention to the detail of the original sentence rather than a paraphrase that eliminates the very thing that I need to learn to understand. And I vastly prefer pronouns like αυτοι to "3d person plural" or the Greek equivalent.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby RandallButh » March 7th, 2012, 10:10 am

ᾤχοντο (ὄιχομαι) ≈ ἀπῆλθον

It would also be helpful for me to have simple grammatical vocabulary in Greek. Instead of "3p imperfect of ὄιχομαι", perhaps

ᾤχοντο (ὄιχομαι, αυτοι : παρατατκικος) ≈ ἀπῆλθον

So I suppose I would prefer something more like method 2, in Greek, with some attention to the detail of the original sentence rather than a paraphrase that eliminates the very thing that I need to learn to understand. And I vastly prefer pronouns like αυτοι to "3d person plural" or the Greek equivalent.


Jonathan, your "Greek #2" + gooblygook replaced with lexical content (3mplxhemtr=> αυτοι) really is "3".
The caveat is not being required to accept Mark's example. As I mentioned, the terms and paraphrases used depend on the speakers.
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 7th, 2012, 10:56 am

RandallButh wrote:Jonathan, your "Greek #2" + gooblygook replaced with lexical content (3mplxhemtr=> αυτοι) really is "3".


I would really like to start with short quotes from the original text with some explanation of what they mean, followed by a paraphrase, similar to Mark's, but in simple declarative sentences. For my own use, the analysis portion is probably more important than the paraphrase. I rarely try to write Greek, so I'm probably munging it, but here's what it might look like:

Xen. Hell. 1.1.18

τὰς δὲ ναῦς οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ᾤχοντο ἄγοντες ἁπάσας εἰς Προκόννησον πλὴν τῶν Συρακοσίων


Analysis:

  • ᾤχοντο (ὄιχομαι, αυτοι : παρατατκικος) ≈ ἀπῆλθον
  • ἁπάσας (ἅπας) ≈ πᾶς
  • πλὴν w/ Genitive = without (how can I say that in easy Greek?)
  • ᾤχοντο, ἄγοντες: some Greek sentences that explain the relationship between these verbs

Paraphrase:

  • οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ἀπῆλθον εἰς Προκόννησον.
  • οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ἤγαγον πᾶς τὰς ναῦς εἰς Προκόννησον, χωρίς τὰς ναῦς τῶν Συρακοσίων.

Can someone who is better at writing Greek complete the parts I did in English, taking care to use very simple Greek? I'd like to see how this turns out. I suspect there's a large audience of people who know at least "1 John Greek", could we write a reasonably good reader's guide along these lines? Perhaps we could even pick a short book, with Greek that's harder than 1 John, and try this out as a project on B-Greek?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 7th, 2012, 2:53 pm

Why is εἰς Προκόννησον being construed with ᾤχοντο instead of ἄγοντες?

Stephen
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Mark Lightman » March 7th, 2012, 3:12 pm

Why is εἰς Προκόννησον being construed with ᾤχοντο instead of ἄγοντες?


Hi, Stephen,

It's being construed with both. One of the things, maybe the biggest thing, that makes Greek hard is figuring out what is construed with what. My method uses word order and repetition to make this really clear. There's always room for debate about what should be construed with what, but the purpose of my method is just to allow the beginner to understand the basic structure of the sentence without an appeal to translation or meta-language. It is a purely pedagogical method, not interested in interpretation.
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Mark Lightman » March 7th, 2012, 3:34 pm

Jonathan: It would also be helpful for me to have simple grammatical vocabulary in Greek. Instead of "3p imperfect of ὄιχομαι", perhaps

ᾤχοντο (ὄιχομαι, αυτοι : παρατατκικος) ≈ ἀπῆλθον

So I suppose I would prefer something more like method 2, in Greek, with some attention to the detail of the original sentence rather than a paraphrase that eliminates the very thing that I need to learn to understand. And I vastly prefer pronouns like αυτοι to "3d person plural" or the Greek equivalent.


You are really proposing here a Method Four, with which I am intrigued. As far as I know, no one is doing this either. When I get a chance, I will apply your method to this sentence and see what happens. Or, maybe as you say, test drive these methods with hard NT Greek passages.

I would argue, you know that I would argue and you know that I HAVE argued ad nauseam, that you DON’T need to learn to understand the stuff contained in Method 2 to understand Greek. If you read enough real Greek with the help of Method 3 you would absorb subconsciously all the grammar you need to know to understand Greek. You would not even know what you know, but you would be fluent in reading Ancient Greek.

I do think your Method 4 is better than Method’s 1 or 2, of that I think we can agree.

ἐρρῶσθαί σε βούλομαι, φίλατε.
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 7th, 2012, 3:38 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:
Why is εἰς Προκόννησον being construed with ᾤχοντο instead of ἄγοντες?

It's being construed with both. One of the things, maybe the biggest thing, that makes Greek hard is figuring out what is construed with what. My method uses word order and repetition to make this really clear. There's always room for debate about what should be construed with what, but the purpose of my method is just to allow the beginner to understand the basic structure of the sentence without an appeal to translation or meta-language. It is a purely pedagogical method, not interested in interpretation.


OK. I have to say I'm not a fan of Method III. It looks like an attempt to translate Xenophon into Koine. Perhaps that's helpful for moving people from Koine to Classical Greek, but it's still a case of translation from one language to another.

It doesn't help that the synonyms really don't capture the sense of the original; e.g. καί and δέ affect the processing of the discourse differently and πλοῖον suggests a commercial ship, even a small fishing boat, but the vessels in question are warships. Also, it doesn't help that the paraphrase basically copped out on how to construe εἰς Προκόννησον (from a syntactical perspective--trees and all that--I doubt "both" is legitimate answer).

Nevertheless, if one desires a Greek perspective, I think it would be a good idea to look at what the scholiasts did, glossing rare words with phrases of more common words and indicating certain features with a meta-language in Greek.

Stephen
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 7th, 2012, 3:40 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Nevertheless, if one desires a Greek perspective, I think it would be a good idea to look at what the scholiasts did, glossing rare words with phrases of more common words and indicating certain features with a meta-language in Greek.


Can you point us to examples? I'm intrigued ...
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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