Re: A Question

Jonathan Robie (74144.2360@CompuServe.COM)
09 Sep 96 09:02:09 EDT

Carl Conrad wrote:

> Jonathan has started the new fashion of using "little Greek" for the
> ambivalent figure somewhere between the bare beginner who doesn't even
> know what questions to put to the teacher, on the on hand, and on the
> other, the very clever but unpretentious learner who is much farther along
> the way than he/she will readily admit, and who delights in posing innocent
> questions which threaten to stump the supposedly "older and wiser" teacher.

I like that description, but I want to stress that I really do see people like
Carl Conrad, Edgar Krenz, Don Wilkins, Ed Hobbs, Carlton Winbery as much older
and wiser when it comes to Greek. And I'm not posing questions in order to stump
the teacher, I'm just trying to get as much understanding as I can. So "hungry
little Greek" is a great description!

Incidentally, although I use the term to remind myself of my limitations, it
isn't self-deprecating to me. I coined the term in response to a message
entitled "A little Greek is a dangerous thing". I identified myself as "a little
Greek", and admitted to the dangers, but also argued that "little Greeks" have a
real place, and that each of us should try to understand as much as we can on
our own level, while learning from those who know more.

> It is a marvelous pedagogical device that Jonathan has invented, one
> that works wonderfully to level the playing field of grammatical
> discussion and to expose the fact that we are in fact, all of us who
> concern ourselves with Greek, not experts but learners, GRAECULI
> ESURIENTES, "little Greeks who can't get enough to eat"--at least when
> it comes to grammatical understanding.

I didn't really invent the term to include people like you. At the time, I also
talked about "big Greeks" -- those of you who have so much to teach us. However,
I like your perspective here. In my own field, object oriented databases, I
regularly teach workshops, write manuals and articles, and give presentations.
Although I could probably call myself an expert, I always like to approach new
problems with a "beginners mind". I don't want my brain to calcify at the tender
young age of 37. In my own field, at least, thinking that I know the answer is
often an obstacle to acquiring real understanding.


P.S., your picture of hungry little Greeks wandering all over Rome looking for
food is a fairly accurate depiction of what I have been doing the last few days,
driving all over trying to find grocery stores that are open in the wake of the