What is DECODING and GRAMMAR/TRANSLATION?

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Louis L Sorenson
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What is DECODING and GRAMMAR/TRANSLATION?

Post by Louis L Sorenson » May 20th, 2011, 8:09 am

There have been a few discussions on Grammar/Translation and Decoding in the B-Greek archives.

One was started in 2009 labelled Grammar-Translation
and another as recent as Feb 2011 titled "DECODING?"
I'm sure there are many more threads on this in the B-Greek archives. I think this would be a good place to understand what is mean by these terms. Apparently there are videos of David Black teaching his course which give a great example of how this actually takes place. Has anyone seen them? Is this a 'teaching practice' that you don't really see in text books (maybe in workbooks)?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: What is DECODING and GRAMMAR/TRANSLATION?

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 20th, 2011, 10:43 am

Gack.

For a while, I would take any text that I wanted to understand and line it out, as described here, often starting with an automatically phrased Greek New Testament.

I find that helpful. And of course, it's important to recognize the grammatical form of any word.

To me, this is much more helpful than syntax diagrams and approaches based on translation. You need to get an intuitive grasp of the language, that's different from being able to think analytically about language constructs.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Jonathan Robie
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Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
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Re: What is DECODING and GRAMMAR/TRANSLATION?

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 20th, 2011, 11:33 am

I think there's a middle ground here.

Let's compare what Carl wrote to my description of phrasing a Greek text. Both use the same verse as an example, which makes comparison fairly easy.
cwconrad wrote:I once had a notion of a computer program that would display Greek
paragraphs with accretions of each new word/phrase that adds meaning
to the opening of sentences. For example, the opening of 1 John 1:

Ὃ ἦν [hO HN]
ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς, [AP᾿ ARCHS,[
ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, [hO AKHKOAMEN,]
ὃ ἑωράκαμεν [hO hEWRAKAMEN]
τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, [TOIS OFQALMOIS hHMWN,]
ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα [hO EQEASAMEQA]
καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν [KAI hAI CEIRES hHMWN]
ἐψηλάφησαν [EYHLAFHSAN]
περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς _ [PERI TOU LOGOU THS ZWHS _]
My description uses a few "decoding" techniques to phrase the text out:
  • Put each sentence on one line, ignoring verse boundaries.
  • Start a new line for each comma, question mark, dash, or period.
  • Place each independent verb on its own line, together with any verbs that are dependent on it.
  • If a line remains complex, consider placing the objects of a verb on separate lines, if they occur after the verb. Keep the subject on the same line as the verb, and only do this if the result is easier to grasp. It often makes more sense to put direct objects or prepositional objects on a separate line than to put indirect objects on a separate line.
  • ... a few more rules for breaking down complex lines.
I think this does something similar to Carl's method, using cues that are perhaps more available to a beginner. The result of applying the first three steps to 1 John:1-3 - is very similar to Carl's example:
1 ὃ ἦν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς,
ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν,
ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν,
ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα
καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν,
περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς
— 2 καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη,
καὶ ἑωράκαμεν
καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν
καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον
ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα
καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν
— 3 ὃ ἑωράκαμεν
καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν
ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν,
ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν.
καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ.
The first three steps are the most helpful. The other steps allow you to break down some of the longer lines that remain.

Doing this in a text editor has helped me get to the point that I no longer have to do this very often. I can recognize the structures more intuitively.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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