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Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 25th, 2011, 9:52 am
by cwconrad
http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.co ... bacon.html

Cited from: Cecil Torr, Small Talk at Wreyland: Second Series:
Foreign languages ought to be begun in nurseries, and not left for schools: all good linguists have begun by learning words in different languages as soon as they could speak. If children are only told that a certain creature is a cat, they will afterwards learn the word 'chat' as a translation of the word 'cat.' But if they are told that the creature is called 'cat' by some people and 'chat' by others, they are prepared to find that other people call it 'katze,' others 'gatto,' and so on. And they connect the creature with its foreign names at once, instead of indirectly through the English name. However, these nursery lessons are not always a success. I remember a Parisian who learnt her English from an Irish nurse, and always spoke it with a brogue.

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 25th, 2011, 10:13 am
by Jonathan Robie
Reminds me of the Lewis quote:
Those in whom the Greek word lives only while they are hunting for it in the lexicon, and who then substitute the English word for it, are not reading Greek at all; they are only solving a puzzle. The very formula, “Naus means a ship,” is wrong. Naus andship both mean a thing, they do not mean one another. Behind Naus, and behind navis or naca, we want to have a picture of a dark, slender mass with sail or oars, climbing the ridges, with no officious English word intruding.
But is the same true for formulas like "this is present active indicative, nominative feminine singular"?

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 25th, 2011, 11:38 am
by Mark Lightman
Jonathan wrote
Reminds me of the Lewis quote:

Those in whom the Greek word lives only while they are hunting for it in the lexicon, and who then substitute the English word for it, are not reading Greek at all; they are only solving a puzzle. The very formula, “Naus means a ship,” is wrong. Naus andship both mean a thing, they do not mean one another. Behind Naus, and behind navis or naca, we want to have a picture of a dark, slender mass with sail or oars, climbing the ridges, with no officious English word intruding.



But is the same true for formulas like "this is present active indicative, nominative feminine singular"?
Hi, Jonathan,

Yes, for me it's the same. Both English glosses and meta-language may serve a limited purpose when first learning Greek, but for me, they should both equally be abandoned as soon as possible.
...with no officious English word intruding.
"Officious," for those of you in Rio Linda, means "objectionably forward in offering unrequested and unwanted services, help, or advice." This to me is a fine description of meta-language, whether of the traditional or more recent stock.

But I recognize that officiousness is εν τῳ οφθαλμῳ του βλεποντος. Many people find English glosses helpful beyond the point that I do. Many people find meta-language unlocks subtleties in the Greek language, and many more find meta-language, whether it leads to fluency or not, to be an interesting discipline it its own right. I'm down with that.

What I've said above is one of my ad-nauseams, which raises the question, on this new forum, do we need to call these ad-neo-nauseams? :)

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 25th, 2011, 11:56 am
by Mark House
Jonathan,

Can you provide the source for the Lewis quote? I know I've read it before, but I'm not sure where. Is it perhaps from his Studies in Words? I found this a delightful read some years ago.

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 25th, 2011, 12:13 pm
by cwconrad
Mark House wrote:Jonathan,

Can you provide the source for the Lewis quote? I know I've read it before, but I'm not sure where. Is it perhaps from his Studies in Words? I found this a delightful read some years ago.
I cited a recent blog entry from Michael Gilleland in this very forum on June 9 -- two weeks ago -- containing the bit from C.S. Lewis:

http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.co ... greek.html

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 25th, 2011, 12:49 pm
by cwconrad
Mark Lightman wrote:
Jonathan wrote
Reminds me of the Lewis quote:

Those in whom the Greek word lives only while they are hunting for it in the lexicon, and who then substitute the English word for it, are not reading Greek at all; they are only solving a puzzle. The very formula, “Naus means a ship,” is wrong. Naus andship both mean a thing, they do not mean one another. Behind Naus, and behind navis or naca, we want to have a picture of a dark, slender mass with sail or oars, climbing the ridges, with no officious English word intruding.



But is the same true for formulas like "this is present active indicative, nominative feminine singular"?
Hi, Jonathan,

Yes, for me it's the same. Both English glosses and meta-language may serve a limited purpose when first learning Greek, but for me, they should both equally be abandoned as soon as possible.
...with no officious English word intruding.
"Officious," for those of you in Rio Linda, means "objectionably forward in offering unrequested and unwanted services, help, or advice." This to me is a fine description of meta-language, whether of the traditional or more recent stock.

But I recognize that officiousness is εν τῳ οφθαλμῳ του βλεποντος. Many people find English glosses helpful beyond the point that I do. Many people find meta-language unlocks subtleties in the Greek language, and many more find meta-language, whether it leads to fluency or not, to be an interesting discipline it its own right. I'm down with that.

What I've said above is one of my ad-nauseams, which raises the question, on this new forum, do we need to call these ad-neo-nauseams? :)
I am in full accord (this time) with ὁ φίλος μου Φώσφορος. My own experience as a teacher is replete with memories of instances of students who could parse a verb-form completely and accurately but had no notion of what sense that verb-form was supposed to convey to the reader/listener. To be sure, other students could parse the verb-form accurately and also knew what the verb-form was supposed to mean. I conclude from this that understanding the meaning of the verb-form doesn't depend upon any conscious analytic abilities. The ability to parse allows one to draw inferences about possible, impossible, probable and improbable meanings; it helps one sort out a range of alternatives bearing on the meaning; ultimately, however, I think that grasp of meaning must be intuitive or dependent upon a deeper level of analytical discernment than the reader/listener is at all conscious of.

I noted yesterday my preference for Autenrieth's Homeric Dictionary and gave as my reason the wonderful woodcuts that illustrate so many items of Homeric vocabulary. Those 19th-century woodcuts are not merely quaint little images that delight the eye and the mind; rather they are eye-openers to the meaning of words like λάμπας and ἅρμα and ναῦς that have no need to rely upon one's sense of an English equivalent of one of these words. They serve the same purpose as the simple and unmistakable images in Randall Buth's introductory volume -- those images that enable the eye to envision what a βότρυς, a κῆπος, or a τεῖχος, is at the same time as one's ear hears the words pronounced in the restored Koine προφορά. The right picture, the right sounds, and the right word in association with each other are worth more than a thousand detailed entries in a lexicon.

Φώσφορε μου, τό τε ’ἕως ἅσης" σου καὶ τὸ ’ἕως ἅσης μου ἔσται ποτὲ τὸ αὐτὸ ’ἕως ἄσης’ ἡμῶν ἀμφοτέρων!

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 26th, 2011, 10:22 am
by Michael Christensen
Since I grew up bilingually (English and German), I understand quite well what it means to think in two different languages – or to think in no language at all, just holding an abstract thought and then searching for the appropriate wording in whichever language I happen to be using. But how could I consciously aquire this skill with a new language, such as Greek?

Perhaps by reading sentences and texts over and over again and imagining the meaning in one's head as vivdly as possible – until the words become directly linked to their meanings in one's brain (is that what C.S.Lewis meant)?

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 26th, 2011, 2:32 pm
by Mark Lightman
Since I grew up bilingually (English and German), I understand quite well what it means to think in two different languages – or to think in no language at all, just holding an abstract thought and then searching for the appropriate wording in whichever language I happen to be using. But how could I consciously aquire this skill with a new language, such as Greek?
Hi, Michael,

If you listen to Greek read aloud, you simply don't have time to think about English equivalents. When reading, you can do this in a split second, and you have to make an effort NOT to think about the English, but for some reason when listening to Greek, the English does not pop into your brain. At least this is how it works for me.

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 26th, 2011, 7:53 pm
by Vasiliki Didaskalou
The beauty of Greek is that whilest it might be learnt in a scholastic and academic sense ... it was a language designed to be sung .. it is poetry and without an understanding of how the word is understood when it is used as music then no scholar will ever truly grasp the context of the Greek ... and that is why many have translated the Greek into English incorrectly.

Unfortunately, many of the Greek linguists who could help the non-Greek world with understanding this have died and this understanding disappeared with them .. my grandfather was one of them.

Re: Learning English Glosses ≠ Learning Greek Words

Posted: June 27th, 2011, 11:52 am
by Michael Christensen
Vasiliki Didaskalou wrote: Unfortunately, many of the Greek linguists who could help the non-Greek world with understanding this have died and this understanding disappeared with them .. my grandfather was one of them.
That is indeed very unfortunate…

Are there perhaps any recordings of someone chanting Greek texts in ancient style that have survived?

What do you think of the greek recordings on http://www.greeklatinaudio.com/ ? Though the recordings appear to be only spoken instead of sung, might they still be helpful for learning Greek?