Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

How can I best learn the paradigms of nouns and verbs and the other inflected parts of speech?
Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » June 11th, 2015, 5:12 pm

cwconrad wrote: As a user of Accordance and Logos (for Mac) software (the latter almost exclusively to access Perseus materials including Smyth, and BDF) I am aware that each of these software packages have options to create "reverse interlinears"; I've never accessed them or seen any reason to do so, agreeing as I do with Barry that interlinears are "the spawn of the devil." I've been interested, however, to learn that some pedagogues have found some utility to these devices. I've always had the notion that the simple one-word gloss on a Greek word that doesn't refer to something concrete and quotidian would not be much help to anyone puzzled by a Greek text. So it has occasionally been eye-opening when something useful in these instruments has been pointed out by our learned contributors.
Carl,

I wasn't thinking about the interlinear features of these rather the ability to parse and lookup lexical resources rapidly. I never use them in interlinear mode either. I wasn't even aware that it existed until someone pointed it out to me.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 14th, 2015, 3:34 am

cwconrad wrote: I was a bit hard put to figure out what Stephen was referring to as particularly "ungentlemanly" -- the Victorian overtones of the protest were at least as amusing as what was being protested.
cwconrad wrote:I still don't quite know why he was called a "mutant"
Yes, calling someone a mutant, who has learnt by a different method shows a lack of respect.

The overwhelming majority of people in the world learn languages without knowing the grammar. Some of us go on to learn how to understand the grammar later when we go to school.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

cwconrad
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by cwconrad » June 14th, 2015, 6:43 am

DanielBuck wrote:John Brown, Oxford professor of divinity, learned Greek while a herding sheep on the hills of Scotland. He had no Greek grammar, nor even an interlinear. All he had was a Greek testament to compare with his English one, and I'm assuming they were at least based on the same text, which isn't the case for some interlinears.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:John Brown of Haddington was a mutant, so he doesn't count. Notice, however, that he didn't use an interlinear, but rather began by comparing two different texts, a distinctly different approach. Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy, is said to have learned to read Homer in the same manner. Interlinears are actually the Nephilim, the ill-get of Shelob, and should be avoided no matter what the cost (or you end up as a faded ring-wraith doing nothing else except parsing verbs for eternity). Don't say you haven't been warned!
Jonathan Robie wrote:Calling other people names is a clear violation of B-Greek policy and will not be tolerated. Here, interlinears are being called names using strong language. I interpreted that as a form of humor, I gather some of you saw no humor in that, Barry can clarify how he meant it. But I can see what you mean, this might discourage a newcomer from participating, and I apologize if we did so.
Stephen Hughes wrote:
cwconrad wrote: I was a bit hard put to figure out what Stephen was referring to as particularly "ungentlemanly" -- the Victorian overtones of the protest were at least as amusing as what was being protested.
cwconrad wrote:I still don't quite know why he was called a "mutant"
Yes, calling someone a mutant, who has learnt by a different method shows a lack of respect.

The overwhelming majority of people in the world learn languages without knowing the grammar. Some of us go on to learn how to understand the grammar later when we go to school.
I continue to scratch my head; clearly I agree with Jonathan in taking Barry’s comment as intended humorously. I have no reason to believe that anybody learns a language by learning the grammar first, which is why I think that the so-called “grammar-translation” pedagogy has failed as miserably as it has — even those who learn by that pedagogy have to see and understand examples of usage before those grammatical rules make sense to them. It appears to me that John Brown may have learned his Greek from what is more nearly analogous to learning from the facing pages of a Loeb Classical Library or a Budé French version of a Greek text. That’s not a method I would recommend, but it seems to me far more reasonable to compare what are deemed to be formulations of the same meaning in two different languages than to comparae word-for-word equivalencies in parallel lines of an interlinear text.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 14th, 2015, 2:23 pm

Leaving the mutant quip for a moment...

I would guess that greater than 95% of people who interact with "Greek" use an interlinear of some sorts.

The interlinear format of presenting a text offers real convenience for the vocabulary, when what you really want is to work onw just one phrase. There are many downsides to working in any way with translations and many benefits. The biggest obstacle to learning Greek is discouragement and the time required to master vocabulary. For someone with less than 1,500 words under their belt, reading is extremely frustrating. Moving laterally from interlinears to texts in a different format or to either a passive "understand" the way-a-native-speaker-would-have type of limited goal, or an interactive question and answer approach as has been suggested is a possibility that I think deserves consideration.

A "Recognition of prior learning" clause that intitutional bodies invoke in some cases is an important step towards valuing knowledge and experience that individuals have worked for or gained by non-standard means. Simply discrediting what little ir much Greek that people have acquired outside a recognised learning framework or programme is not a positive move.

Thinking back from where I am leads me to a number of possibilities. First for vocabulary: I know say 3,500 or 4,000 of the 6,000 words there are to know. If I used an interlinear it would have only the words I didn't know in it.

For grammar the question is whether words are interlined in their dictionary form or in a semi-translated form. Presumably as more grammar is mastered forms of semantically unknown words or words of irregular or unfamiliar conjugation could be interlined.

The basic point being that a user ua weaned off the dependency as they are able to manage various things. Toggling on and off the English, like covering the interlined English in a paper interlinear, then flipping it back on as needed could be another way. Using a concordance arranged by individual forms could be good too. In that way if there were a specific rendering of a Greek word, that could become associated with it. I suspect that interlinear users already do that in a haphazardly sort of way anyway.

I think that seeing interlinear users as socially disenfranchised from discussing about Greek due to their lack metalanguage and analytical skills is better than characaturing them. It would be great if there was a way to allow them to participate more actively with the language and in discussions.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 15th, 2015, 5:54 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
cwconrad wrote: I was a bit hard put to figure out what Stephen was referring to as particularly "ungentlemanly" -- the Victorian overtones of the protest were at least as amusing as what was being protested.
cwconrad wrote:I still don't quite know why he was called a "mutant"
Yes, calling someone a mutant, who has learnt by a different method shows a lack of respect.

The overwhelming majority of people in the world learn languages without knowing the grammar. Some of us go on to learn how to understand the grammar later when we go to school.
Maybe some folks need to upgrade their humor quotient. "Mutant" in the sense of X-men, having super or superior abilities not granted to the rest of us hard-working (or not) mortals.Speaking of the overwhelming majority of those who learn another language, how many do so by reading a text in the original language and then reading a translation in their own language, and how many language teachers would approve this method? Hence, mutant... :o
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

cwconrad
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by cwconrad » June 15th, 2015, 7:42 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Leaving the mutant quip for a moment...
Good! This always seemed like a misdirected effort to disparage the disparagers of interlinears rather than to argue the case for interlinears on its own merits.
I would guess that greater than 95% of people who interact with "Greek" use an interlinear of some sorts.
Hmmm … This looks like a new endeavor to argue the merits of interlinears by changing the definition of an interlinear.
The interlinear format of presenting a text offers real convenience for the vocabulary, when what you really want is to work on just one phrase. There are many downsides to working in any way with translations and many benefits. The biggest obstacle to learning Greek is discouragement and the time required to master vocabulary. For someone with less than 1,500 words under their belt, reading is extremely frustrating. Moving laterally from interlinears to texts in a different format or to either a passive "understand" the way-a-native-speaker-would-have type of limited goal, or an interactive question and answer approach as has been suggested is a possibility that I think deserves consideration.
Something is being said here, but it is being said so awkwardly that its intent is not immediately evident. Let’s agree that ignorance of the words in a foreign text and repetitive confrontation with unknown words is discouraging and disheartening and may lead to abandoning the effort to learn the language. It’s being suggested, I think (but I’m not altogether sure that I understand the sentence), that interlinears may function as a stepping-stone to another methodology that holds out the hope of fuller understanding of words and word-sequences.
A "Recognition of prior learning" clause that intitutional bodies invoke in some cases is an important step towards valuing knowledge and experience that individuals have worked for or gained by non-standard means. Simply discrediting what little or much Greek that people have acquired outside a recognised learning framework or programme is not a positive move.
I take this as a convoluted assertion that it’s not helpful to deter people from using interlinears or to belittle them for doing so; the fact is (he argues) that people do in fact learn some Greek vocabulary by using interlinears. I think that’s what was meant.
Thinking back from where I am leads me to a number of possibilities. First for vocabulary: I know, say, 3,500 or 4,000 of the 6,000 words there are to know. If I used an interlinear it would have only the words I didn't know in it.
I don’t understand this at all. Wouldn’t a simple glossary serve the purpose better in this case?
For grammar the question is whether words are interlined in their dictionary form or in a semi-translated form. Presumably as more grammar is mastered forms of semantically unknown words or words of irregular or unfamiliar conjugation could be interlined.
If I understand this rightly, what’s being suggested is that, as a student progresses in recognition of structural signals in the foreign language, the glossing of what is unfamiliar could become more restricted.
The basic point being that a users are weaned off the dependency as they are able to manage various things. Toggling on and off the English, like covering the interlined English in a paper interlinear, then flipping it back on as needed could be another way. Using a concordance arranged by individual forms could be good too. In that way if there were a specific rendering of a Greek word, that could become associated with it. I suspect that interlinear users already do that in a haphazardly sort of way anyway.
It would appear that the focus has shifted from interlinears to software representations of texts being puzzled out by learners. At any rate, the suggestion is that the user of an interlinear may gradually “upgrade” the manner in which the interlinear is used so that it better contributes to new learning.
I think that seeing interlinear users as socially disenfranchised from discussing about Greek due to their lack metalanguage and analytical skills is better than caricaturing them. It would be great if there was a way to allow them to participate more actively with the language and in discussions.
We are being asked not to disparage or caricature those who rely on interlinears, but somehow to encourage them to participate in discussions of how the language works.

In response to this argument, I have to say that I’m not yet persuaded, except that I do see that disparagement of interlinears and their users is questionable morally and not very helpful pedagogically. In the past I have expressed some disdain for “Reader’s Editions”, but I would sooner promote their use than use of interlinears. It is possible that interlinears and “Reader’s Editions” may lead their users to more informative pedagogical methodologies and devices for self-learning; but, as I see it, the real peril of these first-step learning measures is when users of them suppose that they have gained a serious understanding of what the original Greek text means and continue to rely upon them for exegetical or, God forbid, apologetic purposes.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 15th, 2015, 8:07 am

There are no merits to using an interlinear. If one is trying legitimately to learn the language, it has a crippling effect. If one is trying to get insights into the language without actually learning the language, then one is doomed to failure. If interlinears are such a good thing, then why don't we see them for other works of literature? Because teachers of those languages know the problems an interlinear can cause. Now, having said that, I once found an early 20th century edition of Caesar's Gallic Wars in an interlinear format, and the flyleaf of the book contained a list of other interlinears (all commonly read Classical Latin texts) by the same publisher. Apparently they didn't do too well, because they went out of business a looong time ago (and good riddance). The only place they've hung on is in biblical circles, and that again because people seem to want the benefits of knowing the original language without actually learning it.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

cwconrad
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by cwconrad » June 15th, 2015, 9:08 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:The only place they've hung on is in biblical circles, and that again because people seem to want the benefits of knowing the original language without actually learning it.
cwconrad wrote:... as I see it, the real peril of these first-step learning measures is when users of them suppose that they have gained a serious understanding of what the original Greek text means and continue to rely upon them for exegetical or, God forbid, apologetic purposes.
We're agreed here, I think. It may be the case that some learners can drop the crutch of the interlinear upon gaining the ability to wobble along in the language without them, but the insidious thing about interlinears is empowerment of exegetes and apologists to interpret Greek texts without understanding them.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » June 15th, 2015, 10:40 am

If there is one thing that is clear on this topic it is that positions are entrenched which often means that there are valid arguments on both sides. My own experience is that people tend to use interlinears to give the impression that they know the language - or often they seem to have that impression themselves. They tend to think they've found a suitable shortcut to understanding Biblical Greek, and they typically are quite unaware of how far they are from actually 'knowing' what the text says.

My comment on this thread, though, was not about the topic but about the overkill of the response to a new person. Jonathan's original response would have been quite adequate to make a position clear and yet and still welcome response and dialogue. The two green comments after that could easily be devastating to someone who is brand new. Even if a new person's first comments might seem a bit outlandish. I don't think that is the right place to pile up such strong statements - especially "green" statements which no doubt feel authoritative to most novices, and therefore rather final.
γράφω μαθεῖν

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Policy: B-Greek does require Greek

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 15th, 2015, 11:38 am

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:If there is one thing that is clear on this topic it is that positions are entrenched which often means that there are valid arguments on both sides. My own experience is that people tend to use interlinears to give the impression that they know the language - or often they seem to have that impression themselves. They tend to think they've found a suitable shortcut to understanding Biblical Greek, and they typically are quite unaware of how far they are from actually 'knowing' what the text says.

My comment on this thread, though, was not about the topic but about the overkill of the response to a new person. Jonathan's original response would have been quite adequate to make a position clear and yet and still welcome response and dialogue. The two green comments after that could easily be devastating to someone who is brand new. Even if a new person's first comments might seem a bit outlandish. I don't think that is the right place to pile up such strong statements - especially "green" statements which no doubt feel authoritative to most novices, and therefore rather final.
If I see a new driver about to drive off a cliff, I'm not going to to be particularly gentle in getting him to stop. Similarly to anyone tempted to use an interlinear. "Friends don't let friends drive interlinear." Yeah.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

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