Jonathan Robie wrote:If you want to learn German or Spanish "as a language", you can easily find software like duolingo, Rosetta Stone, etc, listen to radio programs, watch television, go live in the country. Resources abound, and there are many native speakers. In addition to immersion, I've always found it very helpful to have (1) a simple grammar like "Essential French" or "Essential Dutch", and (2) a phrasebook - and you get those kinds of resources if you take a class in a modern language.
I think we need to get better at leveraging the corpus to get lots of real, appropriate examples for language learning. And we need to get better at leveraging the computer. Over time, I hope we grow the number of people who can teach the way that you, Buth, Louis, Daniel Streett, etc. advocate. But I'd also like to see us get to where the same kinds of resources I use for modern languages are available for Greek.
In the meantime, most learners don't have access to the kind of instruction you advocate, and the resources I would like to see don't exist. Most people who succeed do so by reading regularly, every day, and trying to understand how the texts they read say what they do. Even better if they listen to the texts read out loud. I don't think that has to be a grammar-translation method, and I do think that reading and listening are also valid forms of language experience. Writing simplified sentences, and variations on simplified sentences, is also helpful.
There's more than one way to learn. And more than two. That's true for modern languages, where many more approaches are available. And it's also true for ancient languages.
This is going to be a long post – sorry – and I want to begin with a personal observation and a couple of ‘truisms’.
The personal observation is that I am indebted to Dr. Buth and his colleagues and am grateful for their pioneering work which will certainly change the learning/teaching of Biblical languages far into the future. I only wish I had discovered it earlier on my own learning journey. I am also, as I have said elsewhere, an admirer of the work Paul Nitz is doing in implementing a real language approach for Koine Greek AND making it available for all to observe. No one should miss the opportunity to do so.
Now the truisms:
1. Pioneers and pioneering movements tend to divide their area of interest into black and white for obvious reasons. “οὐδεὶς πιὼν παλαιὸν θέλει νέον λέγει γάρ ὁ παλαιὸς χρηστός ἐστιν.” The world is not really black and white, though, and the human brain seems almost unbounded in its ability to adapt.
2. The way that you changed the world from a marketing perspective
in 1950 was to develop elaborate strategies, invest mountains of money, price your product very carefully, foster brand loyalty, open regional offices, tightly control distribution, and brand, brand, brand.
The way to change the world in the age of the global village is to get the product out the door. Give it away! Pay people to take it! Whatever you have to do – get it out there!
Many a young Bill Gates has learned that, aside from any philanthropic or moral considerations, δίδοτε, καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν is a pretty sound business principal in the 21st century.
Jonathan is right, and I think he said it rather well, and he has said it before. Stephen Hughes also made the same point elsewhere, as have I. Access and opportunity are what it is about
. For a long time the complaint of the pioneers was that the language community was not listening. Now I wonder if they
are listening. Or perhaps there needs to be a new group who will market the ideas. We see it! We get it! WHERE IS IT? Where is it, that is, for a price that is reasonable (i.e. most of us can handle) and in a form that we can easily implement. I have effective products for learning modern Greek and Spanish, and I have them for a very modest price. There are also many other resources which I can access easily online - often for free, as Jonathan has pointed out.
I think also that there has been a tendency, in the larger language community, to claim there is only one possible way to do the thing. (Every generation seems to rediscover the one path!) Practitioners know better. There is a whole range of successful approaches to language acquistion which work very well, notwithstanding the backwardness of the Biblical languages community. The underlying principals may be the same but the scope of effective methods is quite broad.
Paul Nitz wrote: 1. Learn to decode Greek. This is a valid option for a small percentage of learners. …
2. Learn Koine as a language. I would recommend this approach for normal learners. …
I think you’ve set up a straw man here, Paul. To divide everthing into these two groups obscures all that happens in between the two extremes. I believe it is a false dichotomy. Much good happens in between the extremes, as has already been said.
Paul Nitz wrote: For the decoding route, pronunciation makes about as much difference as your choice of pronunciation for Java. But pronunciation is a key component of any language learning. Choose well.
This is silly, and there is a long line of successful Biblical language students who would say so.
Paul Nitz wrote: Erasmian is an option, but it is awkward and contrived.
I wouldn't consider Modern Greek an option. It cannot carry Koine since it has melded so many vowels in to iota. The typical example is that ἠμῖν and ὑμιν, if pronounced in Modern Greek, is indistinguishable... ιμιν ιμιν.
I find Restored Attic attempts at pronouncing tone odd. I highly doubt that any 2nd language speaker (e.g. all Biblical writers) preserved an ancient tone system in their pronunciation. Besides, tone in Greek does not change meaning the way it does in other languages. The effort in learning tone doesn't seem to have any real pay-off.
Restored Koine is the best option. It is based on solid research of historical pronunciation. It flows like a real language. There is some ambiguity in Restored Koine pronunciations (E.g. ὁ & ὦ, συ & σοι) but it is very manageable.
Generally, I agree with you here, but I think you are overstating some things and understating others. Restored IS the best option for Koine Greek. All things being equal it would be my choice, and it will be when the resources are available. Meantime, I need – at a reasonable price - a New Testament narrated professionally, which I and my students can listen to. The lack of such a resource is the single biggest reason why I chose modern when I switched from Erasmian.
I agree that the heavy ‘iotaization’ of modern creates some difficulties. However, for me and many others it certainly IS
a viable option. My understanding is that many people are using it successfully. Again, all things being equal, and when the resources are available, I still would/will choose restored.
I do also think, however, that you somewhat understate the same issue with regard to restored Koine. There is a good deal of uniquity lost by dropping all of the rough breathing sounds – which is true, of course, for both modern and restored. (When I look at what is lost, I really have to wonder whether there wasn’t at least some of the rough breathing still in use during the Koine era.) There are also other sounds obscured by such changes in restored and modern as “υ” and “β” to a “v” sound, and having the same sound for “ο” and “ω”, which you already mentioned.