Patrick Maxwell wrote:Whether a student like me who is doing introductory Greek should (or should NOT) resort to interlinears is another question. If I need to be rebuked to some extent for my interlinear pursuits, please go ahead and do so!
Let me answer your last question and give you a different perspective on interlinear useage and language learning. I have seen many different people take many diverse paths to language proficiency - interlining is one of them.
If you are a student doing a course in introductory Greek, the path you have chosen is probably analysis and translation and you will acheive your goals in learning Greek in that way. In the way that courses usually run, the student is told a lot of fancy names for the different words in the text and a lot of English translations for various Greek words, then using that framework, Greek is connected to "good" English. In effect Greek grammar is a series of abstracted transformations between one language and another. ὁ υἱός μου becomes masculine nominative singular noun υἱός "son" with the masculine nominative singular defininte article and the common genitive singular possesive pronoun "my". Which if taken altogether means "my son".
An interlinear is a different way of understanding - bridging the gap between two language - and can help people who are following a different path often their own (often) self-study path to language proficiency. In this path, there is no need for grammatical terminolgy or abstracted rules - really strange sounding English bridges the gap between the languages. ὁ υἱός μου becomes "the son of me", which by force of habit become "my son" in good English. There are a small measure of people who do learn language very well by this way, and as they advance in their experience of the target language, they can drop the middle (interlinear) step from their processing and for an ever increasing number of situations go from Greek to good English directly. About 5% of students will use the interlinear method to understand what the grammar is saying anyway, even if they are force-fed an analyse/translate way of learning, and left to themselves with more freedom, it will be about 25 or 30% either soley or partially using this method. Like that there are interlinears on the market to help students master NTG, there are books to teach English (and other languages) based on this interlinear-like method, and the results for simple readily recognisable sentence transformations are good, but for transformations longer than a half-dozen words, it falls apart. Such short-comings are subordinate and relative clauses and the order of phrases withing a sentence. Teachers generally decry such books, but students still buy them, and to some degree have some success with them. Besides the difficulty of handling longer utterances well, another problem is that learning in not comprehensive - there is no listing of different possibilities all in one place, so the learning will be sporadic rather than comprehensive.
In your situation specificly, if you use the interlinear while you are learning via the grammar/translation you will most probably get confused. Imagine what you are trying to do, you are learning technical names and abstract transformations AS WELL AS hardwiring a set of transformations. That is like integrating programming in BIOS with progamming in JAVA or another highlevel language. In my experience, those who interlineate their target language with a really poor version of their mother tongue go on to be great communicators and get the point of things more quickly than analytical learners - they are social and communicative and can readily understand multi-way conversation, but they suffer from occasional (or frequent) production of "strange" English, and have an uphill battle to master "grammar" when they have to pass exams.
Using an interlinear is only effective if you use all three things together. Greek text
- interlined English
- translated English
together. Just using Greek-text - interlined English together will be quite useful for a student's vocabulary (especially in seeing how polysemy works in different situations) but detrimental for their overall understanding of the language. For those who do use this method, the main working will be between the interlined English and the real English - or in other cases between bad Chinese and real Chinese - and the effort spent to learn the language will be similar. Another draw back is that the system is more "mechanical" (rigid) and doesn't equip one to readily deal with variance and provides no ready way of abstracting and discussing language. But if you are in a class, you will most likely need to discuss things with others, so grammar (or even linguistics) will be useful. Likewise for computer programmes; if the computer programme presents you will only the Greek text and the strange English, avoid the programme it is limitedly useful and ostensibly deleterious, but if a computer programme allows you to readily work from the weird English to "good" English then it will be useful for learning for people who don't handle grammar well.
I wish to preach... that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.(TR-1899)