The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Jonathan Robie
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 3rd, 2015, 4:41 pm

OK.

By the way, I wouldn't mind syntax trees for a few Faulkner sentences I remember reading ...
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by cwconrad » June 3rd, 2015, 5:39 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:OK.

By the way, I wouldn't mind syntax trees for a few Faulkner sentences I remember reading ...
The Bear, perhaps? It certainly leaves Eph 1:3-14 in the dust.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Stephen Hughes
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 3rd, 2015, 7:27 pm

cwconrad wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:OK.

By the way, I wouldn't mind syntax trees for a few Faulkner sentences I remember reading ...
The Bear, perhaps? It certainly leaves Eph 1:3-14 in the dust.
Faulkner's The bear : Carl's Bugbear.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 3rd, 2015, 7:51 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:Take the opening of Galen, On the natural facilities.
επειδή το μεν αισθάνεσθαί τε και κινείσθαι κατά προαίρεσιν ίδια των ζώων εστί, το δ' αυξάνεσθαί τε και τρέφεσθαι κοινά και τοις φυτοίς,

Looking at that, I've been wondering whether the τε και construction allowed or required the κατά προαίρεσιν to go with the αισθάνεσθαι as well. Common sense says that it doesn't, because "feeling" or '"sensory perception" is not something that obe purposes to do then does - not in my understanding at least. But, I'm open to the possibility that other people in other cultures thought of αισθάνεσθαι as happening κατά προαίρεσιν too. In marking up the text for a tree, one or other choice has to be taken. I would take κινείσθαι κατά προαίρεσιν as a single unit "motion for a purpose". That would be restricted to one branch of those trees with κατά προαίρεσιν under κινείσθαι.
That's not an example of annotating according to different conventions, that's an example of multiple possible interpretations of the meaning of a sentence. That's not a quality issue at all.

On the other hand, existing treebanks do have a weakness here: they generally support one interpretation of each sentence, but multiple interpretations are frequently reasonable. We're slowly working toward allowing our treebanks to support multiple interpretations for comparison, while still having one primary interpretation for the sake of simplicity. But wouldn't it be great to have a useful graphical depiction of various interpretations of a sentence, instead of reading paragraphs of text?

And I'm not aware of anyone who is doing much to systematically compare interpretations made by two different treebanks. I have done a few things with both PROIEL and GBI / Lowfat, I expect to do more over the coming year.
That is the manageability (simplification) issue that I mentioned earlier.
Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:
  • ...
  • The way that two annotators mark up the same interpretation of a given sentence is the same, they agree on how the model is used to represent a given interpretation. For instance, in a given corpus, you don't have one editor that marks the article as the head of a phrase and another editor that would mark the noun as the head of the same phrase.
This fourth one seems like it is more about manageability than quality.
I disagree.

A treebank isn't just for interpreting one sentence at a time, it's a basis for queries to see how the language is used as a whole.

If I look at one syntax tree and look for similar examples, I don't want to miss out on examples or see false instances of examples because each sentence is annotated according to different conventions. For queries, at least, this is a matter of quality. It determines whether the answers I get are trustworthy.
I think we actually agree on this point. I probably made wrong assumptions about your technical language here. I take it now that editor is the program (like Arethusa), while annotator is a person (making the call about what elements extend to what other elements). I was reading editor as an in an editor of a text (e.g Smyth) who provides an interpretation in a translation that he also published to accompany the text.

For that Galen passage, A.J. Brock (the editor and translator, 1912) obviously interprets κινεῖσθαι κατὰ προαίρεσιν as a single unit, separated in sense from αἰσθάνεσθαί, according to how he renders it in translation:
Since feeling and voluntary motion are peculiar to animals, whilst growth and nutrition are common to plants as well, we may look on the former as effects of the soul and the latter as effects of the nature
I see now that your thinking is that your
the same interpretation of a given sentence is the same, they agree on how the model is used to represent a given interpretation
is not requiring that there should only be one "right" interpretation, but that you are talking about the mechanics of / convention for representation in the machine. 8-) ;). Let's move on :arrow:
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 3rd, 2015, 10:23 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:I think we actually agree on this point. I probably made wrong assumptions about your technical language here. I take it now that editor is the program (like Arethusa), while annotator is a person (making the call about what elements extend to what other elements). I was reading editor as an in an editor of a text (e.g Smyth) who provides an interpretation in a translation that he also published to accompany the text.
Actually, I did mean 'editor' as in person, a synonym for 'annotator'. If you are doing Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG), and you have a noun phrase with an article and a noun, you normally want a convention that tells you whether the article or the noun functions as the head of that phrase. That's a matter of the conventions of the model you are using, it's not really about what you think the phrase means. A treebank in which that is not predictable would be harder to use.

But a treebank also needs to be flexible enough to represent all reasonable interpretations of a sentence.
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 4th, 2015, 1:09 am

Jonathan Robie wrote: I ... mean 'editor' as in person, a synonym for 'annotator'.
= The contemporary grammar analyst who marks up the text for the tree, not the 19th century textual critic who added punctuation and compiled various types of notes on the text. Right?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by Jonathan Robie » June 4th, 2015, 7:36 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote: I ... mean 'editor' as in person, a synonym for 'annotator'.
= The contemporary grammar analyst who marks up the text for the tree, not the 19th century textual critic who added punctuation and compiled various types of notes on the text. Right?
Yes. I can use the word 'annotator', which is probably clearer.

Here's another way of putting it: if two different annotators create annotations for the same sentence, and their annotations differ, the differences should indicate differences in the way that they interpret the sentence (by this, I mean syntactic interpretation only).

Here's a useful article on AGDT, the Ancient Greek Dependency Treebank, which will show you what they are doing in the classics. You can also download the current AGDT, which has more than they had when that article was written.

Back to pedagogy: the AGDT people use syntax trees as a teaching tool. Students annotate texts together, and use annotations others have produced if they can't grok a sentence. They use drag-and-drop to do this. I have only treebanked a couple of chapters of Luke by hand, most of what I do is as a user, but people who have done a lot of treebanking seem to be good at Greek, and I felt that doing even a few chapters of Luke involved me deeply in the details of the way the language is used. You can do treebanking graphically, with your brain mostly in the Greek rather than metalanguage. You do assign labels, but to assign syntactic relationships, not at the morphological level,

Here's a screenshot of their editing environment:

Image

Micheal and I are not taking this approach. We are using treebanks to extract reliable examples that illustrate specific points of Greek grammar. If you want to teach the language without using a lot of metalanguage, you need lots of carefully targeted examples, and you want them to be accurate.
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » June 4th, 2015, 11:19 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:Back to pedagogy: the AGDT people use syntax trees as a teaching tool. Students annotate texts together, and use annotations others have produced if they can't grok a sentence. They use drag-and-drop to do this. I have only treebanked a couple of chapters of Luke by hand, most of what I do is as a user, but people who have done a lot of treebanking seem to be good at Greek, and I felt that doing even a few chapters of Luke involved me deeply in the details of the way the language is used. You can do treebanking graphically, with your brain mostly in the Greek rather than metalanguage. You do assign labels, but to assign syntactic relationships, not at the morphological level,

Here's a screenshot of their editing environment:
Thanks for this reference, Jonathan. What would you recommend as a starting place to:
  • 1. learn the basic concept of syntax trees ( without ploughing through unnecessary detail), and,
    2. access what is now available for Biblical Greek from an XML user perspective?
I have some facility with XML / XQuery (sic ;->), and I have a current copy of the Oxygen XML Developer software.

I would like to wander into this area a bit and start gaining some familiarity with syntax tree structures and how to query them.
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by Paul-Nitz » June 4th, 2015, 11:42 am

cwconrad 31 May wrote: What sort of competence are we aiming at when we seek to learn or teach Bibilical Greek?

... We would prefer (some of us) that successful learners acquire the abiity to "think" in Greek -- to read the successive words of the text in question and understand their cumulative impact on the meaning being communicated by that text.
I think CWConrad answered his own question: "to read the successive words of the text in question and understand their cumulative impact on the meaning being communicated by that text."

Isn't this sort of competence is what we would simply call "reading" in the same sense as when we would read a living second language? When reading a second language, I may have to stop and puzzle, I may need to look up a word, but it's still "reading." In contrast, parsing and piecing together is not reading. This sort of decoding type of competence can certainly produce better understanding of a text. Those who love it, do well with it, and profit from it. They have all the learning resources they could ever hope for. I'm not worried about them (just the other 96% of learners) :)

The question in pedagogy, as I would define it, is not what is our objectives. I think it's simply the ability to read (the LEVEL of reading is a side question). I think the main question in pedagogy is: Which are the "best practices" in Greek pedagogy that result in a greater number of learners who can read?

I would, of course, recommend an approach other than an analytic approach. It is my theory that analysis is simply not up to the task when it comes to language. Analysis requires a narrow topic that can be broken down, labeled, and defined. There's simply too many factors to absorb in language. True, there are some few highly intelligent and analytic types who seem to have managed to learn through analysis and conduct some amazing feats with it (Smyth!). But for the normal learner, approaching language through analysis is like learning to paint a landscape by following a list of directions.

And yet our brains are capable of learning languages, even several languages. We can do this by synthesis (if that's the right word). We swallow many many bits of input, and we come out with an understanding. We don't know quite how it happens. We have trouble even describing it. Any bilingual person could attest to the eureka experiences of jumping to a new plateau of understanding when learning a language. No one I have met can say how or why it happened. We do know that we got there by lots of comprehensible input, and probably some output. And we know that pleasure of comprehension when it happens.

This synthetic type of approach does not have a name. Some of us have been using "The Communicative Approach." Others use other names (Comprehension-Based, Comprehensible Input, Immersion, Living, etc.). The best way to define the approach seems to be listing a bunch of methods that fit with it. So we have, for example, TPR, an approach in which comprehensible input (commands, typically) are followed by body movement. We have TPRS, an approach in which a story is read and learners respond to questions about it, adjust it, play with it. We have WAYK, an approach in which roles a set and manipulatives are used as tools to learn specific structures. Don't think of these methods as strictly oral/aural (A/L theory), or as learning like a child does (Immersion theory), or as a method that teaches Modern Greek (I don't use any). Think of them as various delivery methods that make either utterances or written text understandable to a learner.

In my opinion, all of these methods, and others unmentioned, have a common aspect that makes them effective language learning methods. They trick the learner into taking in the language as genuine communication. Often, it's not even a trick, it simply IS genuine communication. When our brains hear things we believe to be communication to us, they start to do some remarkable learning.

Once we start understanding language structures and responding to them automatically, we can come back to some analytic methods and speed up our learning (BTW, something children cannot do). Using pop-up grammatical explanations in English during an otherwise communicative type lesson is not only allowable, it's nearly indispensable. An intermediate student will naturally want to consult grammars and charts. An advanced student might well get some read insights out of a treatise on a feature of the language. But this is not the same as saying "we mix the Grammar Translation Method" in with other methods. The GT Method excludes. It leads the brain to approach the language as code and try to understand it in analytic terms. Its methods and its approach is in square opposition to and counter-productive to a natural and efficient approach to language.

Here is where many arguments and misunderstandings arise. Analysis of language and grammatical explanations of language are very useful within an overall synthetic approach to learning the language. But the Grammar Translation Method is NOT simply analysis and grammar. It is talking about and thinking about the text as code, not language.

Another common misunderstanding is that we can only learn Greek by synthesis if we have a teacher who knows how to offer it to us. There is some truth. It is far far easier and much much more efficient to have a teacher who uses a synthetic approach, especially in beginning stages. But any autodidact can learn synthetically. The learner just needs to find a way to make the input comprehensible and 'like communication." The various techniques that I've run into in this vein is something I've been itching to write for months. But that's for another day.

My thoughts expressed here are not fully formed, I'll admit. But I hope the main gist is comprehensibly input.

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cwconrad
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Re: The Objective of “Biblical Greek” Pedagogy

Post by cwconrad » June 4th, 2015, 12:21 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:
cwconrad 31 May wrote: What sort of competence are we aiming at when we seek to learn or teach Bibilical Greek?

... We would prefer (some of us) that successful learners acquire the abiity to "think" in Greek -- to read the successive words of the text in question and understand their cumulative impact on the meaning being communicated by that text.
I think CWConrad answered his own question: "to read the successive words of the text in question and understand their cumulative impact on the meaning being communicated by that text."

That's certainly what I think -- as well as several others. I said that's what "some of us" want. I think, however, that those who teach by the "grammar-translation" method honestly believe that this is too much to expect, and they're content with achieving an ability to decode the Greek text and convert it into a more-or-less literal formulation in the target language.
Paul-Nitz wrote:Isn't this sort of competence is what we would simply call "reading" in the same sense as when we would read a living second language? When reading a second language, I may have to stop and puzzle, I may need to look up a word, but it's still "reading." In contrast, parsing and piecing together is not reading. This sort of decoding type of competence can certainly produce better understanding of a text. Those who love it, do well with it, and profit from it. They have all the learning resources they could ever hope for. I'm not worried about them (just the other 96% of learners) :)

The question in pedagogy, as I would define it, is not what is our objectives. I think it's simply the ability to read (the LEVEL of reading is a side question). I think the main question in pedagogy is: Which are the "best practices" in Greek pedagogy that result in a greater number of learners who can read?

I would, of course, recommend an approach other than an analytic approach. It is my theory that analysis is simply not up to the task when it comes to language. Analysis requires a narrow topic that can be broken down, labeled, and defined. There's simply too many factors to absorb in language. True, there are some few highly intelligent and analytic types who seem to have managed to learn through analysis and conduct some amazing feats with it (Smyth!). But for the normal learner, approaching language through analysis is like learning to paint a landscape by following a list of directions.
I don't think a text can be analyzed until the analyst has a fundamental intuitive sense of what the text says, even if forms of nouns, verbs, pronouns, etc. have been recognized and parsed. I think that analysis has value more for 'fine-tuning' understanding of the text but that it's never going to be a significant key to opening up the basic meaning of the text.
Paul-Nitz wrote:And yet our brains are capable of learning languages, even several languages. We can do this by synthesis (if that's the right word). We swallow many many bits of input, and we come out with an understanding. We don't know quite how it happens. We have trouble even describing it. Any bilingual person could attest to the eureka experiences of jumping to a new plateau of understanding when learning a language. No one I have met can say how or why it happened. We do know that we got there by lots of comprehensible input, and probably some output. And we know that pleasure of comprehension when it happens.

This synthetic type of approach does not have a name. Some of us have been using "The Communicative Approach." Others use other names (Comprehension-Based, Comprehensible Input, Immersion, Living, etc.). The best way to define the approach seems to be listing a bunch of methods that fit with it. So we have, for example, TPR, an approach in which comprehensible input (commands, typically) are followed by body movement. We have TPRS, an approach in which a story is read and learners respond to questions about it, adjust it, play with it. We have WAYK, an approach in which roles a set and manipulatives are used as tools to learn specific structures. Don't think of these methods as strictly oral/aural (A/L theory), or as learning like a child does (Immersion theory), or as a method that teaches Modern Greek (I don't use any). Think of them as various delivery methods that make either utterances or written text understandable to a learner.

In my opinion, all of these methods, and others unmentioned, have a common aspect that makes them effective language learning methods. They trick the learner into taking in the language as genuine communication. Often, it's not even a trick, it simply IS genuine communication. When our brains hear things we believe to be communication to us, they start to do some remarkable learning.

Once we start understanding language structures and responding to them automatically, we can come back to some analytic methods and speed up our learning (BTW, something children cannot do). Using pop-up grammatical explanations in English during an otherwise communicative type lesson is not only allowable, it's nearly indispensable. An intermediate student will naturally want to consult grammars and charts. An advanced student might well get some read insights out of a treatise on a feature of the language. But this is not the same as saying "we mix the Grammar Translation Method" in with other methods. The GT Method excludes. It leads the brain to approach the language as code and try to understand it in analytic terms. Its methods and its approach is in square opposition to and counter-productive to a natural and efficient approach to language.

Here is where many arguments and misunderstandings arise. Analysis of language and grammatical explanations of language are very useful within an overall synthetic approach to learning the language. But the Grammar Translation Method is NOT simply analysis and grammar. It is talking about and thinking about the text as code, not language.

Another common misunderstanding is that we can only learn Greek by synthesis if we have a teacher who knows how to offer it to us. There is some truth. It is far far easier and much much more efficient to have a teacher who uses a synthetic approach, especially in beginning stages. But any autodidact can learn synthetically. The learner just needs to find a way to make the input comprehensible and 'like communication." The various techniques that I've run into in this vein is something I've been itching to write for months. But that's for another day.

My thoughts expressed here are not fully formed, I'll admit. But I hope the main gist is comprehensibly input.
I think that you and I are in fundamental agreement here, Paul. And some day, I'd like to share a cold one with you.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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