English-Greek Phrasebooks and Lexicons

English-Greek Phrasebooks and Lexicons

Postby Louis L Sorenson » October 30th, 2011, 4:29 am

For those who are looking for a English-Greek lexicon, Carl Conrad has translated the bulk of the German Book, Sprechen Sie Attisch into English. The book can be found on Google Books, or an online version of the ongoing translation can be found at http://www.letsreadgreek.com/phrasebook/default.htm. Those who want a pdf print version can download http://www.letsreadgreek.com/phrasebook/GreekEnglishPhrasebook.pdf. There are still some errors being corrected; the pdf has instructions on how to send corrections in to the editor.

A recent discussion about this book came up on B-Greek: http://www-test.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=809&hilit=sprechen+sie+attisch
It's precisely this sort of phrase that constitutes the bulk of the Johannides Sprechen Sie Attisch? chat book; the objection raised against that has been that these are Attic, not Koine expressions. I think the same would apply to the Platonic conversational phases. Of course I personally think that the objections are a sort of reverse-snobbery: Phrynicus warns would-be speakers of good Greek to avoid colloquial Koine usages and to adhere to "pure" Attic expressions. I think, on the other hand, that the objections to Attic conversational usage constitute a preference for the language of the street and a rejection of phraseology that Plutarch and Josephus and Philo might have used if they'd had the opportunity to chat with each other. The fact is that there were, even in the Hellenistic era, Stilhöhen comparable to the modern distinction between Katharevousa and Dimotiki

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

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Re: English-Greek Phrasebooks and Lexicons

Postby RandallButh » October 31st, 2011, 3:15 am

On style and prejudice, let me clarify my own position.
I have no problem speaking 'higher Greek' within Koine Greek. In fact, I don't feel a divide between "Koine" and "Attic", there is just a wide scalar gradient of one and the same language from higher and older language down to mistake-riddled "immigrant" Greek in some private papyri (imagine χρῆσθαι + accus., or "received from him" παρὰ αὐτῷ). An optative or two and some colorful turns of expression using vocabulary that would be understood in the first century is exactly what we should want to do, and we can assume that Yosepos and Ploutarchos did the same. Hey, we can read them--they did that very thing.

However, there is a very useful heuristic question that arrives out of all of this. If we find a phrase that uses words that appear to have dropped out of the language in the post-Alexander period or were no longer in common use, we can always ask, what would they have been saying in its stead? If the phrase sounds "high" or might not have been understood, then there will always be some good, common, plain equivalents in use. We need those latter phrases identified, added if missing, and possibly more central within a pedagogy.

One of the helpful points about speaking and using a language is that a person becomes more sensitive to "register", to the levels of a language. A word does not just mean whatever a Greek-English dictionary/grammar says it means, it also carries a relational meaning in tension with the other possible ways in the language of saying almost the same thing. It is those relational meanings that always get lost in translation and are one of the main reasons for reading a text 'in the original'. This is why people need to work 'in the language' and not merely discuss the meaning of a phrase/structure in another language.
εὐχαριστῶ ὑμῖν, χάριν ἔχω ὑμῖν περὶ τούτου τοῦ διαλόγου, ναί, χάριν οἶδα.
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