Attic Greek?

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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby RandallButh » April 15th, 2014, 10:14 am

cwconrad wrote:(1) beginning the study of ancient Greek with Attic may not be what one had in mind, but it's not a matter of making the best of a bad situation, and (2) learning Greek by immersion is very desirable but is unfortunately not an option for every one who wants to learn it; an opportunity to get a start with ancient Greek, whether in Attic or Koine, shouldn't be put off until one can do it in a classroom where the ancient language is used conversationally.


I trust that you won't be surprised to find that I agree with both of these, without qualification.

So why give the following advice?
RandallButh wrote:I recommend starting with starting ancient Greek through a spoken medium.


Because it raises awareness that can help lead to change in the field. If one student walks into a beginning Greek class and after some time asks the professor why they aren't using Greek in class, the professor is likely to brush this question off. But if two students do this, it may get the professor to thinking unsanctioned thoughts. "Why aren't we doing that?" And imagine if a whole group of students were marching into a shrink's office singing the Alice's Restaurant massacre in four-part harmony? (Younger listers will need to listen to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant to make sense of this reference.) I think that every student should be told at the beginning of their training that oral use of the language for real communication is vital for the most rapid progress in the language. Eventually, things will change and this will be good for the field.

In the meantime, by all means, start learning Greek.
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby cwconrad » April 15th, 2014, 10:19 am

RandallButh wrote:
cwconrad wrote:(1) beginning the study of ancient Greek with Attic may not be what one had in mind, but it's not a matter of making the best of a bad situation, and (2) learning Greek by immersion is very desirable but is unfortunately not an option for every one who wants to learn it; an opportunity to get a start with ancient Greek, whether in Attic or Koine, shouldn't be put off until one can do it in a classroom where the ancient language is used conversationally.


I trust that you won't be surprised to find that I agree with both of these, without qualification.

So why give the following advice?
RandallButh wrote:I recommend starting with starting ancient Greek through a spoken medium.


Because it raises awareness that can help lead to change in the field. If one student walks into a beginning Greek class and after some time asks the professor why they aren't using Greek in class, the professor is likely to brush this question off. But if two students do this, it may get the professor to thinking unsanctioned thoughts. "Why aren't we doing that?" And imagine if a whole group of students were marching into a shrink's office singing the Alice's Restaurant massacre in four-part harmony? (Younger listers will need to listen to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant to make sense of this reference.) I think that every student should be told at the beginning of their training that oral use of the language for real communication is vital for the most rapid progress in the language. Eventually, things will change and this will be good for the field.

In the meantime, by all means, start learning Greek.

In turn I concur wholeheartedly.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Advanced / Reference grammars and Attic

Postby Stephen Hughes » April 15th, 2014, 1:24 pm

At some point after being a beginner you will move on from a teaching grammar to a number of reference grammars. Many of the Advanced or reference grammars - especially the older ones - assume a working knowledge of Attic Greek.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 16th, 2014, 4:41 am

cwconrad wrote:So I say, (1) beginning the study of ancient Greek with Attic may not be what one had in mind, but it's not a matter of making the best of a bad situation, and (2) learning Greek by immersion is very desirable but is unfortunately not an option for every one who wants to learn it; an opportunity to get a start with ancient Greek, whether in Attic or Koine, shouldn't be put off until one can do it in a classroom where the ancient language is used conversationally.

Yeah, I don't want people feeling apprehensive that if they are not learning Greek the "best" way, they shouldn't be learning it at all.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby RandallButh » April 16th, 2014, 5:40 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:Yeah, I don't want people feeling apprehensive that if they are not learning Greek the "best" way, they shouldn't be learning it at all.


Agreed. Absolutely.

And I wouldn't want them to stop trying to internalize Greek because they can read a text, parse a verb in their sleep, and discuss pragmatics or aspect in English. Until the guild can hold discussions in the language, we have a L O N G way to go. So far to go, that we can only imagine it when we compare fluency in other languages.
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Avoiding conversation like the plague!

Postby Stephen Hughes » April 16th, 2014, 7:02 am

Randall, the problem is not confined to Greek.

Most of my colleagues (Chinese nationals; competent teachers of spelling, pronuncuation, grammar, syntax and writing) avoid native speakers like the plague for fear of striking up a conversation beyond some formalised niceties.

Conversational English classes are a case of reciting a dialogue in a book after the teacher, then practicing it in pairs.

It is more often than not always the 海龟 [hâiguī sea turtles - those who returned after receiving an overseas education] that can and will speak, regardless of their college major.

With regard to your suggestion about prompting the esta-blush-ment to do what they will find awkward abd embarrassing. Academic power is about being right, having the answers and justifying the pass and failure of students by some rules.

To get those in power to take the students suggestions that you are proposing students make, the power relationship will need to be left intact. that requires safe training sessions for teachers away from their students. In thus case they travel to English speaking countries for short study trips, and it is amazing how quickly it all falls into place, and the majority of them become quite accomplished, but not always idiomatic speakers. These are people who have spent 5 or more years studying the language at school, 4 years of about 15 hours classes at college then formal teacher training leading to certification as a teacher. There is already the background knowledge there that can be used in a new way.

On rare occasions, I've had the chance to meet people who begin speaking good English simply after passive exposure to the language through various media. Those first time fully proficient speakers are not noticeable for either their intelligence or education, only for their enthusiasm or interest in the language over a long period. They tend not to have the same degree if cross-linguistic interference that those taught through grammar-translation pedagogy clearly display.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby RandallButh » April 16th, 2014, 7:26 am

I didn't say that this would be easy or quick.

The first step in solving a problem is acknowledging a problem. Most of the field is still in denial but a growing minority is recognizing a problem.

Somebody once said something about only the sick needing doctors. I suppose people who know their weaknesses will eventually get some medicine. Something about seeking and finding.
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Re: Attic Greek?

Postby Jonathan Robie » April 16th, 2014, 8:02 am

OK, but when beginners come in here asking how to get started, we should probably tell them how to get started. They may not be up to revolutionizing the field just yet, they just need to know how to take the first few steps. I suspect we would be better off revolutionizing the field in the main forum.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Avoiding conversation like the plague!

Postby Stephen Carlson » April 16th, 2014, 8:23 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:To get those in power to take the students suggestions that you are proposing students make, the power relationship will need to be left intact. that requires safe training sessions for teachers away from their students.

This is perceptive and key. In an ideal world, Greek teachers need to be get special training to do this (funded by a Daddy Warbucks?). Actually, that would be the second-most ideal world, since, ideally, they'd already be trained to do this.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
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