Barry Hofstetter wrote:However, I actually hope that you get to the point where you never consciously parse again. Your experience, in part, reflects what is wrong about the way Greek it taught in our seminaries. Parsing and translating, while it can serve a part in the learning process, should never be the end goal of learning the language.
Going beyond parsing is not easy, because there is no clear place to go. How can we analyse Greek in terms of Greek:
One thing is familiarity, like saying, "Oh, yeah, I've seen such and such with such and so before", or "I've seen this verb work in this way before", as time goes by, that will be replaced more and more by, "Wow, that seems like a strange use of the word" (usually just a different sense or idiom, but they seem to be strange when you first encounter them), and "that is a strange way to use that verb". Both of those are okay reactions because you will be learning to value and organise the lexical information. The really rare words pose a problem here, because we can't find a new context to seem them in so they sort of stay 2-D. After you move through that stage, you will begin to finish sentences and to say what is not spoken (it is similar to what you do when you re-add the pronouns that you feel have been left out, but it is different in that you add unspoken elements to (especially) verbs).
Barry Hofstetter wrote:You know the language when you can read a text and understand it as a Greek text. Can you paraphrase it once you've read it? The ideal would be to paraphrase it in Greek, but even being able to paraphrase it English or answer questions based on the text would be a significant advance on the level of comprehension that most of our seminary students come away after the all too minimal instruction that they receive. By all means continue parsing, but make your goal the ability to read and understand the Greek. That takes lots of practice, not just parsing, but reading lots of Greek.
Translation is sort of like a cross-language paraphrase. It is a very useful thing so long as we just see it as that and don't cling to it.Translation allows us to think about things in the text that most students at intermediate level would not be able to do at all, and after that, which students with some real competency in the language slowly develop their ability to do. It takes some time to transfer (or redevelop) the "education skills" (for want of a better name) that we have in our languages of education - how to apply geographical, historical, scientific language in Greek
to the text that we are reading. It doesn't actually take much reading widely to start doing that, but don't expect it to be a quick process. I have found it useful to look at the text I am trying to "think about" and to identify the "topic" and the background knowledge that I would bring to bear on it in English, and then to target my reading on that topic.
I think that the problem that is being described here of getting trapped in your first language is similar to what the textbooks are calling "code switching". My students regularly do that as they are getting into the (Enlgish) language. They just drop their first language into an English sentence (sometimes unknowingly, sometimes out of frustration). Of course it really is a humiliating experience to not seemingly lose linguistic competency as an adult. It is like putting on track pants to run more comfortably in the winter, only that the track pants take so long to pull up. It is easier just to take them off and carry them, and later (since they are not being used) through them away.
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)