Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.

Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby Nikolaos Adamou » March 23rd, 2012, 11:39 am

The way I was taught my language.

Learning Classical Greek in my times was a process starting in 7th grade.

By that time a lot of preparatory work was already done in Biblical Greek.
Being regularly in church, and loving to be there as a kid, I was accustomed to hear during vespers and matins first, read afterwards, and memorize later the ν´ (51) the ρμγ´ (104) and the γ´ (3), λζ´ (38), ξβ´ (63), πζ´ (88), ρβ´ (103), ρμβ´ (143) psalms, as well as all psalms used in services. At the same time got accustomed to the prophetic readings from the Old Testament. Listening to the Liturgy of Chrysostom and memorizing its prayers due to the frequency of its occurrence helped tremendously. I witnessed many uneducated people to know by heart many psalms, some even the entire book of psalms. It was the practice, when one dies, the night of the death, to be with the body of the deceased and read the entire book of psalms. Many old people just recite them by heart as the book as moving around in the room, and each one was taking its part. One of the competitions we had as kids in summer bible camps was to learn the psalms by heart. At that time I memorized many errors as well, for example γιγνώσκω for γινώσκω in the ν´ (51) psalm, that I curried repeating the error until few years ago, when a colleague noticed them and asked me to focus my attention into my errors and correct them.

Also, by that time in 5th and 6th grade we covered the Modern Greek grammar. That means that for nouns and adjectives we new everything except dative, and for verbs we new everything except ἀπαρέμφατον and the group συζυγία of verbs in -μι. Of course there are some variation in the formulation of the χρόνους, but not in the logic of it. Approaching classical and biblical Greek from a Modern Greek point of view, and based on the continuity of the language, while you are comfortable in the official form of the language - καθαρεύουσα - gives one the great advantage I had.

Then, at middle school, we had a year of an artificial text, by Ζούκη http://www.free-ebooks.gr/gre/ebook/2300 that was written to accompany the grammar book of Τζαρτζάνου http://blogs.sch.gr/billbas/2010/08/10/αρχαία-ελληνική-γραμματική-αχιλλέως/ . It was four days one hour a week classical Greek, and three hours a week grammar. The 8th grade text was Xenophon’s Anavasis and Herodote’s histrory. Simple, easy, to build confidence and vocabulary. In the 9th grade we were introduced to rhetoric, Lysias and Isokratis and Thusidites, the melitian dialogue and Demosthene’s speach. The Tzarzano’s syntax came into the picture. We were taught syntax in the 9th and 10th grade. In the 10th grade the main text was Antigone, and theatrical work continued to the 11th grade. At that time, the courses in philoshopy and theology introduced parts of Aristotle and Church fathers, in a double text, original and modern Greek translation in the side. Finally, at the last two years, Homer was introduced. I have mentioned that I was in the science track of gymnasium, not the classical. But the smartest and most competitive were there, and as a result we werer better in languages than our counter parts of the non science focussed track.
Not all loved the language, and not all teachers were capable of teahing it in a way that we can appreciate what we were taught and learn. They were only few good teachers that knoledgeable and loving the subject. Many made us to hate the Greek language but few helped us to love it. I was fortunate to be in the last generation that Greek at least was taught. In the early eighies, conservatives and socialists introduced reforms that eliminated the official usage of the purified form, kathareuousa, which had datives and infinitives, forms and structures that allowed one to be familiar easier to the historical language. Classical Greek was taught in a parallel with Modern Greek, and modern Greek had literature from the middle centuries and after. Grammar and syntax were taught only in terms of the Classical greek after the 6th grade, and in the modern Greek one was explained the variations of the evolution.

All those textbooks we used then, now are reprinted and in circulation. Those of us who want our children to not loose contact and break from the historical language we are use them with our children, in Greece and abroad. The most important, these texts are free in the web, available to all, in an electronic format, in a document format and in a pdf format.

But the most important was not what was taught, but how was taught. The language had context, was never just grammatical and syntactical rules, as I observed been taught in the US when I was sitting in a classics program couple years ago. At that time, when I was doing my search on Grammar, I was amazed to see that Dionysious Thrax twenty two centuries before, presented the mode that I was taught Greek.

Γραμματική ἐστιν ἐμπειρία τῶν παρὰ ποιηταῖς τε καὶ συγγραφεύσιν ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ λεγομένων. Μέρη δὲ αὐτῆς εἰσὶν ἕξ·
• πρῶτον ἀνάγνωσις ἐντριφῆς κατὰ προσῳδίαν,
• δεύτερον ἐξήγησις, μετὰ τοὺς ἐνυπάρχοντας ποιητικοὺς τρόπους,
• τρίτον γλωσσῶν τε καὶ ἱστοριῶν πρόχειρος ἀπόδοσις,
• τέταρτον ἐτυμολογίας εὕρεσις,
• πέμπτον ἀναλογίας ἐκλογισμός,
• ἔκτον κρίσις ποιημάτων, ὅ δὴ κάλλιστόν ἐστὶ πάντων τῶν ἐν τῇ τέχνῃ.

R.Robins, in his Byzantine Grammarians, page 44 gives the following translation.

Grammar is empirical knowledge [the greek texts has as a noun the experience, ἐμπειρία, been the object, and says nothing about knowledge γνώσις, and experience requires πείρα] of the general usage of poets and prose writers. It has six divisions [Μέρη is parts rather than divisions, and it is some discussion for that in Theodosious, parts are coming on their own αὐτούσια, while divisions from the one who divides]:
• first, expert [ἐντριφῆς – here the transmited typorgaphic text has a problem. It has to be either ἐντρυφής delightful or ἐντριβής, proved by rubbing, versed in, because of a lot of practice and experience – and I think both are important since only by been ἐντριβής one becomes ἐντρυφής] reading with due regard [according] to prosodic features;
• second, explanation of the literary expressions found in the texts;
• third, the provision of notes on particular words and on the subject matter;
• forth, the discovery [finding - εὕρεσις not ἀνακάλυψις] of etymologies;
• fifth, the working out of grammatical regularities [ἀναλογίας ἐκλογισμός -to explore the rational of the analogies in the text] ;
• sixth, the critical appreciation of literature [to judge whatever is written], which is the finest part of all that the science [there is nothing about ἐπιστήμη but the focus is on the art] embraces.

As Robins notes, one scholiast notes that what is involved is not so much the content of grammar but the requirements laid upon the teacher (p. 45).

It is noticeable that even classicists to the statue of Robins while dealing with Greek grammar prove that they know but not feel the language, as a result they provide translations that miss most the nuances of the language which are kept in the native speakers even if and when the knowledge is not there.

The above passage presents how we were taught and were examined and tested.

While in the classroom for instruction, first the text was read out loud to us by the professor, and we had to listen without seen it. Then it was read out loud to us again, and we had to follow it reading it with our eyes. Then, detailed explanation of the pragmatological, literal, grammatical and syntactical issues entailed in the text were presented to us. After that, we were assumed that we have knowledge of he text, and as a result we could be able to translate it, or provide the meaning of it in our own words. Having achieved that, we needed to know the etymology of the words. A separate text on etymology was available for our usage as an auxiliary text. We had to identify grammatically all the words of the text, and be comfortable with all their grammatical variation. Finally we had to pass a judgment on the text that was the most difficult of all. Also, as an auxiliary text we had the list of the irregular verves. Such texts were as a short one volume of 170 pages to an extensive three-volume sequence of about 300 pages per volume including examples.

Because not all of us were able to do all the above, we were getting help by using special books that were providing all the above in a ready-made fashion called μεταφράσεις. Good students never used them, I did, but now I search for them and cannot find them. Good philologists were punishing us severely if we were caught to have the forbidden book with us. But mediocre instructors used them as well.

Every day we were tested orally. That meant that three four students were standing in front of the class, having to read the text, translated into Modern Greek, answer random questions with respect to grammatical syntactical etymological and pragmatological matters of the text, and be graded. Also we need to know how to write it correctly when the test was read to us out loud - ὀρθογραφία.

After the first two years of middle school, in the last four years on high school, we were taking written exams in a double form. The first part was on the known text – that was easy because we were able to be prepared. It was a similar text to our oral testing in a written form from everything we covered during the term in class. The second part was a test from parts that were never taught; know as unknown text, ἄγνωστο κείμενο, and the best way to practice for that was to read more of the text on your own. Thus I remember reading variety of tragedies and many parts of the History by Thusidites. The test was coprized by writing the text as it was read out loud to you, ὀρθογραφία, and from the spelling that you had then in front of you, one had to do all the analysis. Difficulties arose when you have to hear words in sequence as: ἐφ’ ᾧ ὁ παραλυτικὸς - τί οὗτος οὕτως λαλεῖ (Mark 2, 1-12 - NA27) τί οὗτος οὕτω λαλεῖ (WH, ANT1904). Besides of writing correctly, we had to write nice and clear, καλλιγραφία, that I missed today from my students.

Unfortunately, I was one of the last classes trained in Greek in that mode. Everything changed in 1981. I hope they will change their attitude. But I am comfortable with the education I got in my language, and I teach the same way I was taught.
Nikolaos Adamou
 
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby jeffreyrequadt » March 23rd, 2012, 8:44 pm

On a slightly different note, how do modern Greek children learn to read modern Greek? Is it primarily based out of the home, or more in formal educational settings? Is there much literature published for children?
Jeffrey T. Requadt
Tucson, AZ
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby ed krentz » March 24th, 2012, 1:44 pm

I liked what Nicolaos Adamou wrote about learning Greek through the Katharefousa and through many years of education. Very few Americans would have such an experience--and most not even the experience I had from 1941 on.

In HS I began with Latin in my freshman year, introduced to an inflected language. In my sophomore year we read Caesar's Gallic War, in our Junior year Cicero's Catalinarian orations, in our senior year Vergil's Aeneid.

Meanwhile, beginning in my sophomore year we began the study of German, another inflected language where we also had conversational practice. Beginning in my Junior year we read a modern German mystery novel, in my senior year a Schiller play and some poetry by Heinrich Heine. Each year we also had to practice conversation and the writing of German essays.

My junior year of HS we began the study of Greek. By that gime I was very used to reading an inflected language. Latin and German had taught me to read languages with a much different word order than English; so Greek sentence structure did not seem so foreign as it apparently does to many on BGreek. In our senior year we read Xenophon's Anabasis.

I attended a church school modelled on the German gymnasium. It went on to include two years of college. There we read Pliny's letters in Latin, a lot of German, and Homer and Plato in Greek. In addition we had to master the principal parts of many irregular verbs. Every period began with a quiz on these verbs. The fourth time through the list 90 % was a D-.

When I did my graduate German exam, I had no trouble passing it, since I had read German for every seminar paper.

Such education is long gone in America. I knew very little science, but a lor of history and literature in English, German, and classical languages before I began graduate studies. The school used Lat4in names for buildings and rooms, for student assemblies, and even for some jargon. It was not as good as that wonderful education in Greece. But if gave me the ability to read, not translate, the NT at sight, and many classical writers such as Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Pseudo-Aristotle's De Mundo, etc.
Edgar Krentz
Prof. Emeritus of NT
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 24th, 2012, 2:40 pm

ed krentz wrote:I liked what Nicolaos Adamou wrote about learning Greek through the Katharefousa and through many years of education. Very few Americans would have such an experience--and most not even the experience I had from 1941 on.


Me too. This was fascinating.

ed krentz wrote:Meanwhile, beginning in my sophomore year we began the study of German, another inflected language where we also had conversational practice. Beginning in my Junior year we read a modern German mystery novel, in my senior year a Schiller play and some poetry by Heinrich Heine. Each year we also had to practice conversation and the writing of German essays.


We started German in 6th grade, the first novel we read was "Emil und die Detektive" - is that the detective novel you mentioned? I bought a copy as an adult, it's still a fun read ... and extremely easy German.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby Nikolaos Adamou » March 24th, 2012, 9:12 pm

My daughter is fixing my initial post from the grammar/syntax point of you.
Sorry that it is not perfect, but in my daily life, I prefer to be real without façade and with my mistakes.

Since my children learn how to read now in elementary school in the US and my niece of the same age in Greece,
I can make few comments.

1) in both places spelling errors are tolerated and not punished.
2) syllabication is not stressed that much.
3) reading out loud is not a part in my children's education but it is in my niece's.
4) with respect to formal grammar the above applies.
5) there is no literature available to practice the language here but still there is in Homeland.

Language education in most of European countries is more or less similar, more rigorous than what it is in the US. I would same the same is true with mathematics as well.

Languages is more important in Europe in general than in the States. English, German, French, Italian, Spanish are dominant, but now it is not uncommon to find people learning Russian, Japanese, Chinese.
Up in the north Greek, and in Thessaloniki in particular the Institute of Balkan Studies offers programs with all Balkan languages,
Turkish, Bulgarian, Albanian, Serbian, Rumanian. I took a year in Rumanian as a University student there.

unfortunately, Latin is not dominant and popular as in the past.
Many books written by Greeks in Europe between the 14 to the 19 century are in parallel Latin and Greek, available now in Google Books.

I would define as Modern Greek the standard Greek after the 1981 reform generally known as nonotonic Greek, that breathing signs, grave and circumflex are eliminated from the written language, although grave was printed in books but even in my times we were writing it as an acute - incorrectly.
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby jeffreyrequadt » March 24th, 2012, 10:02 pm

Thank you for your comments. Are your children learning to read Greek at school? I'm a little surprised that reading aloud is not really a part of their education. It probably has to do with a different philosophy of education than I am used to.
Jeffrey T. Requadt
Tucson, AZ
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby Nikolaos Adamou » May 30th, 2012, 9:21 am

The Greek Bible Society put in its site the original text of psalms in its original language,
http://www.vivlos.net/psalmoi.html
as well the entire New & Old Testament in modern Greek translations.
The reader is the same - Apostolos Vavilis, or brother Raphael in his monastic name - who reads in www.bible.is the original text of the new testament.

This coming academic year, I will teach biblical Greek at the William Spyropoulos Day School of the St. Nicholas Greek community in Flushing New York,
starting from the second/third grade, to students who understand modern Greek.
At the same time, I will teach to high school graduates and adults as an evening class, in a two different groups,
one that does not have any knowledge of Greek whatever, and another that has good knowledge of Modern Greek and is exposed to biblical Greek in its ecclesiastical usages.
Although I tested this process in teaching to non native speakers - our student body at HTS is mostly American Born, Russian Native speakers, Japanese, Chinese, Ukrainians, students from Sweden, Serbia, Switzerland, and Macedonia among others. I would be also interest to observe any difference between seminarians and non seminarian students.

This year I put emphasis in taping the readings of my students, and kept a record of their first and final reading, as well as the times of reading between these two, and the time between them. It is also interesting to observe the reading improvement of their first reading as time goes on, in relationship to reduction of the times required for an improvement to the final reading. Another interesting factor is the relationship between the reading fluency and the reading comprehension.

Going backwards from Modern to Biblical seems easier, since for nouns/adjectives one needs to introduce ONLY the dative,
while for the verbs the general structure is known and the emphasis is to irregular verbs and the usage of ἀπαρέμφατον.

Been by profession a professor of management and mathematical economics, I would like to treat these two groups as experimental design test for educational purpose.
At the same time I am using some variations from the way that Biblical and Classical Greek are taught, based on my experience in teaching Biblical Greek at the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Seminary during the last two academic years. The variations of this program are given below. I apologize that this information is not yet available in English, since it is still in the final step of its developmental process.

Ἡ πρωτοπορία τοῦ προγράμματος Γινώσκω ἃ Ἀναγινώσκω εἰς τὰς Γραφὰς ἔγκειται στὰ ἐξῆς σημεία·

1. ἐνῶ εἰς τὴν δύσιν τὰ ἑλληνικὰ τῆς Κ.Δ. διδάσκονται ὡς νεκρὰ γλῶσσα, πρὸς μεταφραστικοὺς κυρίως λόγους, τὰ ἑλληνικὰ στὴν ὀρθοδοξία ἀποτελοῦν ζῶσα γλῶσσα, ἀδιαλλήπτως ἀναγιγνωσκόμενα, ἀκουόμενα, κατανοηθέντα. Αὐτὴν τὴν γλῶσσαν δὲν θὰ τὴν ἀφήσομεν νὰ ἀποσβέσῃ, ἀλλὰ θὰ συνεχίσομεν νὰ τὴν ἀναγιγνώσκομεν, ἀκούομεν καὶ κατανοοῦμεν, τόσον οἱ ἕλληνες τῆς διασπορᾶς, ὅσον καὶ οἱ τῆς ἡμετέρας πίστεως καὶ παιδείας μετέχοντες. Ἐλάβομεν τὴν παρακαταθήκην ταύτην, ἐτηρήσαμεν, τηροῦμεν καὶ οὐδεπόποτε θὰ ἐγκαταλήψομεν ταύτην.
2. ἐνῶ οἱ δυτικοὶ διὰ μὲν τὴν Παλαιὰ Διαθήκη παραμερίζουν τὴν σπουδαιότητα τοῦ κειμένου τῶν Ο´ βασιζόμενοι εἰς τὸ μασωριτικὸν ἑβραϊκὸν κείμενον, ἡμεῖς ἀναδεικνύομεν τὸ ἐκκλησιαστικόν κείμενον τῆς Παλαιᾶς Διαθήκης καὶ τὴν σχέσιν του μετὰ τοῦ κειμένου τῆς Καινῆς Διαθήκης, ὅπως ὁ καθηγητὴς τῆς Θεολογικῆς Σχολῆς τῆς Χάλκης κ. Ἀντωνιάδης πρωτοποριακῶς παρουσίασε τὸ εἰς ἄρθρον του τὸ 1894.
3. δίδομεν ἔμφασιν εἰς τὸ κριτικὸν πατριαρχικὸν κείμενον τοῦ 1904/1912 μετ᾽ ἀντιπαραβολῆς αὐτοῦ μετὰ τοῦ ἀλεξανδρινοῦ τῆς βιβλικῆς ἑταιρείας τῶν Nestle-Aland – 27η ἔκδοσις, τοῦ κειμένου τῆς Biblical Literature Society τοῦ 2010, τοῦ Βυζαντινοῦ κειμένου τῶν Robinson-Pierpont 2005, καθῶς καὶ μὲ τὰ προϋπάρχοντα τοῦ Ἀντωνιάδου κείμενα τόσο εἰς τὴν δύσιν, ὅσο καὶ εἰς τὴν διὰ ἐκκλησιαστικὴν χρήσιν ἀνατολὴν – γενικῶς γνωστῶν ὡς τὸ παραδεδομένο κειμένο (textus receptus).
4. δίδομεν ἔμφασιν εἰς τὴν χρήσιν τῆς τεχνολογίας διὰ τὴν ἀνάλυσιν τοῦ κειμένου (λεξιλόγιο, γραμματική, συντακτικόν).
5. δίδομεν ἔμφασιν εἰς τὴν γραφὴν, τόσον τὴν διὰ τῆς χειρὸς καλλιγραφίαν, ὅσον τὴν εἰς διὰ τοῦ ὑπολογιστοῦ πληκτρολογήσεως, ὡς καὶ τὸν αὐτόματον ὀρθρογραφικόν ἔλεγχον.
6. δίδουμεν ἔμφασιν εἰς τὴν ὀρθόφωνον ἀνάγνωσιν καὶ τὴν σχέσιν αὐτῆς μετὰ τῆς ὀρθογραφίας, βασιζόμενοι εἰς τὴν περὶ στοιχείου ἀντιληψεως τῆς γλῶσσης, τὸν συνάφειαν φωνῆς καὶ γραφῆς.
7. δίδομεν ἔμφασιν εἰς τὴν ἀπομνημόνευσιν, παρουσιάζοντας τὴν ῥητορικὴν ἀξίαν τῆς Βίβλου καὶ ἀξιοποιώντας τὴν λειτουργικήν χρήσιν αὐτῆς.
8. χρησιμοποιόμεν τὴν θεωρία τῆς γραμματικῆς ὡς παρεδόθη ἀπὸ τὴν ἑλληνιστικὴν εἰς τὴν βυζαντινὴν περίοδον, βασιζόμενοι εἰς τὸ ἔργον τοῦ Θεοδοσίου καὶ τῶν σχολιαστῶν αὐτοῦ, καθὼς καὶ τὴν μεταβυζαντινήν της σύγχρονον παρουσίασιν. Διὰ τοῦ τρόπου τούτου μεταβιβάζεται ἡ ἔμφασις ἐκ τῆς μορφολογίας (σύγχρονος ἀντιμετώπισις) εἰς τὴν αἰτιολογίαν τῆς γλώσσης.

Τὸ πρόγραμμα Ἑλληνικῶν τῆς Ἁγίας Γραφῆς βασίζεται εἰς κείμενα ἀναγιγνωσκόμενα εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, παρουσιαζόμενα εἰς τρεῖς ἑνότητας· (α) ψαλμούς, (β) ἀποστολικὰ καὶ εὐαγγελικὰ ἀναγνώσματα, καὶ (γ) κείμενα ἐκ τῆς γενέσεως, ἐξόδου, παροιμιῶν, Ἰώβ καὶ προφητειῶν.

The results and experiences of this program will start to appear at the web site of the HTS in the fall in written, audio and video forms.

Also, the students of HTS who finished the two year of biblical Greek this year, will continue on Patristic Greek next year, starting from the liturgies of st. Basil & Chrysostom.

I would greatly appreciate any critical comments.
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby Nikolaos Adamou » May 30th, 2012, 10:14 am

On last Monday the students who graduated from High School and take the entrance exam to Greek Universities for the Theoretical Group of Schools
Philology, Theology, Law, etc took the following exam in Classical Greek.
The exam, the expected answer, and comments are in the following three documents,
so the rest of us outside from Greece we can see what these guys are doing besides of posing a great threat to the common european currency
and helping us who plan to visit during the summer to have a better price for our dollars.

http://sup.kathimerini.gr/xtra/media/files/exams/2012/themataarxaiakat.pdf
http://sup.kathimerini.gr/xtra/media/files/exams/2012/lyseis_arxaia_kat_12.pdf
http://sup.kathimerini.gr/xtra/media/files/exams/2012/sxolio-arxaiakat12.pdf
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby Jonathan Robie » May 30th, 2012, 10:15 am

Nikolaos Adamou wrote:The Greek Bible Society put in its site the original text of psalms in its original language,
http://www.vivlos.net/psalmoi.html
as well the entire New & Old Testament in modern Greek translations.
The reader is the same - Apostolos Vavilis, or brother Raphael in his monastic name - who reads in http://www.bible.is the original text of the new testament.


This is just amazing. I usually find music irritating in audio recordings of the Bible, but this music is very well chosen and worshipful. The pronunciation is clear, the phrasing is excellent.

I can't quickly see how to download the files for my MP3 player. Can you help?

Nikolaos Adamou wrote:The results and experiences of this program will start to appear at the web site of the HTS in the fall in written, audio and video forms.

Also, the students of HTS who finished the two year of biblical Greek this year, will continue on Patristic Greek next year, starting from the liturgies of st. Basil & Chrysostom.

I would greatly appreciate any critical comments.


Please do keep us posted. I'm interested in hearing how you teach Patristic Greek to people with Koine background.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Learning Greek Experience as a native Greek

Postby Nikolaos Adamou » May 30th, 2012, 10:29 am

Jonathan,
The Greek Bible society allows you to download from the general site of the Bible Society
http://www.bible.is/audiodownloader
that so far has only the NT.
I assume that is an ongoing process, and soon the other parts that now are available in the Greek site would also be available.
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