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

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

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 7th, 2012, 4:06 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
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 ...


It's been a while, and I haven't enough time to fully read it, but I believe it's discussed in this book:

Dickey, Eleanor. Ancient Greek scholarship : a guide to finding, reading, and understanding scholia, commentaries, lexica, and grammatical treatises, from their beginnings to the Byzantine period / Eleanor Dickey. New York ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2006.

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

Postby Mark Lightman » March 7th, 2012, 4:32 pm

Stephen: 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.


Hi, Stephen,

You are really missing the point. The point is that there are people out there who want to learn to read Greek and cannot read Greek. Priority one is to learn to read Greek. Priority two is to hair-split the difference between καὶ and δὲ and πλοῖον and ναῦς. What the heck difference does it make to me what is the EXACT syntax of the sentence if I cannot even process the sentence at all, do not even know BASICALLY what the sentence means, because the traditional methods used to teach Greek are not working. I did not use πλοῖον because it means the same thing as ναῦς, (I don’t care right now if it does or does not) Ι used it because I know, from personal experience, that there are people out there who can decline πλοῖον but not ναῦς, and that that deficit contributes to the failure to process the sentence. There are people like Jonathan who know what (ἀπ)ῆλθον means but not ᾤχοντο. That, and the strange word order, and the fact that it is hard to keep track of who is leading whom into what city, causes these beginners to fail to process the sentence. All I am trying to do is find a new way to help people process these sentences quickly, staying in the target language, and then to move on to the next sentence. I DON’T want them to slow down and ponder EXACTLY what οἴχομαι means. I want them to speed up and read Xenophon, knowing BASICALLY what he means.

What it comes down, Stephen, is that, as Mike A. might say, we do not hair-split here on the Teaching Methods Subforum. I’m not being sarcastic or cute. I know that I am obnoxious in my constant meta-language bashing, but I am trying to light a light instead of cursing the darkness, to come up with ideas about how we can try something new, how we can develop an alternative pedagogical method to meta-language, which I honestly believe is PREVENTING people from learning Greek, and all I get is more meta-language!

But wait, let me back up. Unlike Mike, I have no problem if anyone wants to critique or challenge the assumptions here on the Teaching Methods subforum. I know we all want the same thing. I appreciate your response and welcome more discussion.

As far as the Scholiasts go, they are great, and they can be used as a model for people teaching via Method 3, but beginners will probably struggle with them until they learn to read Greek. In teaching no other language do we expect people to read scholars before reading Dr. Seuss.
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 7th, 2012, 4:54 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:You are really missing the point. The point is that there are people out there who want to learn to read Greek and cannot read Greek. Priority one is to learn to read Greek. Priority two is to hair-split the difference between καὶ and δὲ and πλοῖον and ναῦς. What the heck difference does it make to me what is the EXACT syntax of the sentence if I cannot even process the sentence at all, do not even know BASICALLY what the sentence means, because the traditional methods used to teach Greek are not working.


I don't think Stephen is missing the point. It's no harder for a beginner to read something that correctly distinguishes καὶ and δὲ, πλοῖον and ναῦς. It's harder for the person who prepares the materials to get these things right, of course.

And a beginner is better off using materials that do get these things right.

It's hard to get a metalanguage right, of course. Especially a metalanguage expressed in Greek, and written by people whose native language is not Greek. So it's a real challenge. But I think Stephen's points are well taken.
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, 5:18 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:You are really missing the point. The point is that there are people out there who want to learn to read Greek and cannot read Greek. Priority one is to learn to read Greek. Priority two is to hair-split the difference between καὶ and δὲ and πλοῖον and ναῦς. What the heck difference does it make to me what is the EXACT syntax of the sentence if I cannot even process the sentence at all, do not even know BASICALLY what the sentence means, because the traditional methods used to teach Greek are not working. I did not use πλοῖον because it means the same thing as ναῦς, (I don’t care right now if it does or does not) Ι used it because I know, from personal experience, that there are people out there who can decline πλοῖον but not ναῦς, and that that deficit contributes to the failure to process the sentence. There are people like Jonathan who know what (ἀπ)ῆλθον means but not ᾤχοντο. That, and the strange word order, and the fact that it is hard to keep track of who is leading whom into what city, causes these beginners to fail to process the sentence. All I am trying to do is find a new way to help people process these sentences quickly, staying in the target language, and then to move on to the next sentence. I DON’T want them to slow down and ponder EXACTLY what οἴχομαι means. I want them to speed up and read Xenophon, knowing BASICALLY what he means.

What it comes down, Stephen, is that, as Mike A. might say, we do not hair-split here on the Teaching Methods Subforum. I’m not being sarcastic or cute. I know that I am obnoxious in my constant meta-language bashing, but I am trying to light a light instead of cursing the darkness, to come up with ideas about how we can try something new, how we can develop an alternative pedagogical method to meta-language, which I honestly believe is PREVENTING people from learning Greek, and all I get is more meta-language!


I'm all in favor of pedagogical experimentation. In fact, as a teacher of Greek, I'm sure that all the effort I put into translating Xenophon into Koine will benefit my own Greek. It's a form of compositional practice, after all.

As for benefiting the students, I think it depends on the level of the student's Greek. It looks like that it is geared from someone who's already had first-year Koine, hence my comment, "Perhaps that's helpful for moving people from Koine to Classical Greek." For someone starting fresh, with less than a first year of Koine, I would guess that ναῦς and πλοῖον would be equally difficult if they haven't yet been exposed to any word referring to a ship. If one is to read Xenophon, at some point they will have to learn what a Greek word for ship is.

I do think the paraphrase must have as close to the same meaning as feasible. After all, you did not paraphrase ναῦς with τένκα, did you? (Yes, I'm being absurd, but it proves that meaning is important.)

As for word order, it's not particularly strange. Maybe to an Anglophone, but certainly not to a Greek. Sorry about the meta-language, but the τὰς ναῦς is left-dislocated to topicalize it as the theme of the sentence, and the rest of the word order is fairly unmarked (the subject οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι precedes the verb as a switch topic). Of course, I am construing εἰς Προκόννησον with ἄγοντες rather than ᾤχοντο, so that part of the word order does not bother me. Since you're not a fan of meta-language, you can paraphrase the function of preposing τὰς ναῦς as περὶ τῶν νεῶν/πλοίων.

Mark Lightman wrote:But wait, let me back up. Unlike Mike, I have no problem if anyone wants to critique or challenge the assumptions here on the Teaching Methods subforum. I know we all want the same thing. I appreciate your response and welcome more discussion.

As far as the Scholiasts go, they are great, and they can be used as a model for people teaching via Method 3, but beginners will probably struggle with them until they learn to read Greek. In teaching no other language do we expect people to read scholars before reading Dr. Seuss.


Another thought that occurred to me is that you can accomplish much with the dreaded interlinear, but at least it's Greek glossing Greek.

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

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 7th, 2012, 5:40 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Sorry about the meta-language, but the τὰς ναῦς is left-dislocated to topicalize it as the theme of the sentence, and the rest of the word is fairly unmarked (the subject οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι precedes the verb as a switch topic).


That's easy to say in scholarly English. It's probably not too hard to say it in less scholarly English, or to add more detail to the scholarly description.

Now suppose we want to take a #4 approach. We're limited by our ability to say things simply, in language accessible to someone who knows only, say, first year Koine Greek. So here's a challenge: can you say that in Greek simple enough to be easily understood? Or can anyone else?

FWIW, I could imagine a #4 approach that builds gradually, starting with a mix of English and Greek, phasing out the English as the student learns Greek descriptions for the things that are being described. But when I learned German, we didn't learn the grammatical terms in English, we learned them in German. Why not do the same in 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 Mark Lightman » March 7th, 2012, 6:02 pm

Jonathan wrote:

Stephen Carlson wrote:Sorry about the meta-language, but the τὰς ναῦς is left-dislocated to topicalize it as the theme of the sentence, and the rest of the word is fairly unmarked (the subject οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι precedes the verb as a switch topic).


That's easy to say in scholarly English. It's probably not too hard to say it in less scholarly English, or to add more detail to the scholarly description.

Now suppose we want to take a #4 approach. We're limited by our ability to say things simply, in language accessible to someone who knows only, say, first year Koine Greek. So here's a challenge: can you say that in Greek simple enough to be easily understood? Or can anyone else?


Carl, do you want to take a crack at this? You know that I like doing stuff like this for fun, but here I really do want to test Jonathan's question, a question that as you know I have also been pondering of late. Getting this on the record, whether it can be done and how well, will advance the discussion, which I think is a serious one.

Stephen and others of course should go for it too.
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Mark Lightman » March 7th, 2012, 6:10 pm

Another thought that occurred to me is that you can accomplish much with the dreaded interlinear, but at least it's Greek glossing Greek.


I see what you are getting help. A Greek-to-Greek interlinear could be designed which would help students process difficult Greek, without producing Greek prose that some would find objectionable. I actually have nothing against Greek-to-English interlinears--I think they do less harm than English metalanguage--and I think your idea would be a Method #5. I'm in favor of anything that changes the status quo, but let's test Method's 3 and 4 first. We are getting ahead of ourselves.
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 7th, 2012, 6:20 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:
Another thought that occurred to me is that you can accomplish much with the dreaded interlinear, but at least it's Greek glossing Greek.


I see what you are getting help. A Greek-to-Greek interlinear could be designed which would help students process difficult Greek, without producing Greek prose that some would find objectionable. I actually have nothing against Greek-to-English interlinears--I think they do less harm than English metalanguage--and I think your idea would be a Method #5. I'm in favor of anything that changes the status quo, but let's test Method's 3 and 4 first. We are getting ahead of ourselves.


I vastly prefer phrase-by-phrase to word-by-word.
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 Mark Lightman » March 7th, 2012, 6:33 pm

Jonathan ἔγραψε concerning the proposed all-Greek interlinear: I vastly prefer phrase-by-phrase to word-by-word.


Method 5 does not even exist yet and we are revising it. Man, this is a tough crowd! :D
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Re: Three Methods for Helping Beginners Learn to read Hel. I

Postby cwconrad » March 7th, 2012, 6:40 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:Jonathan wrote:

Stephen Carlson wrote:Sorry about the meta-language, but the τὰς ναῦς is left-dislocated to topicalize it as the theme of the sentence, and the rest of the word is fairly unmarked (the subject οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι precedes the verb as a switch topic).


That's easy to say in scholarly English. It's probably not too hard to say it in less scholarly English, or to add more detail to the scholarly description.

Now suppose we want to take a #4 approach. We're limited by our ability to say things simply, in language accessible to someone who knows only, say, first year Koine Greek. So here's a challenge: can you say that in Greek simple enough to be easily understood? Or can anyone else?


Carl, do you want to take a crack at this? You know that I like doing stuff like this for fun, but here I really do want to test Jonathan's question, a question that as you know I have also been pondering of late. Getting this on the record, whether it can be done and how well, will advance the discussion, which I think is a serious one.

Stephen and others of course should go for it too.


I'm well aware, Mark, that you really think it should all be formulated in Greek and that you really haven't much use for any kind of metalanguage for grammatical analysis of the text. Metaphrasis of a Greek text into Koine Greek is perhaps helpful for demonstrating that you understand the original text. But I think that understanding the text, and even demonstrating that one understands the text, is not the same thing as analysis of the text and accounting for how and why the text works. A metalanguage is essential, and it's hard enough for most of us to handle the analysis in English. My 2c.
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