Putting Good Greek into Bad English

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cwconrad
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Putting Good Greek into Bad English

Post by cwconrad » June 24th, 2011, 1:36 pm

http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.co ... glish.html
Joseph Fontenrose, Classics at Berkeley: The First Century, 1869-1970 (Berkeley: Department of Classics History Fund, 1982), p. 34 (on Ivan Mortimer Linforth):

In the years that followed I had a class or individual study with Linforth in, I believe, every term. He was an excellent teacher who knew Greek thoroughly, every nicety of the language. One knew that he loved the language and the great books written in it, and he could convey his feeling to his students. His method was indebted to Flagg's: he seldom had students translate, rightly considering deadly a class hour devoted to putting good Greek into bad English. I regret to say that student oral translation remains a common practice (and often the sole method) of Greek and Latin teachers, whose students never read the original texts aloud and so mispronounce Greek and Latin ever after. His usual, but not invariable, procedure was first to answer students' questions on the assignment, then ask them questions, and finally call on students to read the Greek text, teaching them to phrase it properly; and he would discuss literary and metric topics. His own reading of Greek was perfect, and he did not ignore word accents in his reading of quantitative poetry. In his forty-four years of teaching (from 1905 to 1949) he must have taught classes in every major Greek author; he also taught beginning Greek and Attic prose composition, besides lecture classes on the Greek Heritage, religion, and sometimes tragedy.
It's still all too true:
I regret to say that student oral translation remains a common practice (and often the sole method) of Greek and Latin teachers, whose students never read the original texts aloud and so mispronounce Greek and Latin ever after.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Vasiliki Didaskalou
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Re: Putting Good Greek into Bad English

Post by Vasiliki Didaskalou » June 26th, 2011, 8:00 pm

The heading of this post brought to mind something Greeks say that makes total sense in Greek but is quite humerous if you translate it literally into English.

In Greek, we say in an affectionate manner to someone who is naughty: tha fas xilo.
In English, this [dryly] translates to: You will eat wood.


:lol: ... this would leave anyone learning Greek quite perplexed as to what that actually means ...
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Putting Good Greek into Bad English

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 26th, 2011, 10:34 pm

For Carl: I always have my students read the Greek (and Latin) before offering any English version. Latine! Ἐλληνιστί...

For Vasili, this is what we call an idiom... :D
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

Vasiliki Didaskalou
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Re: Putting Good Greek into Bad English

Post by Vasiliki Didaskalou » June 26th, 2011, 10:45 pm

I love it :)

Well, if you continue to teach me these things I will learn to be an academic in next to no time and as my pay back I will pass to you the good nature and culture of the Greek people that can not be taught :)
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JBarach-Sr
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Re: Putting Good Greek into Bad English

Post by JBarach-Sr » June 28th, 2011, 5:22 pm

I taught Greek to a student from Costa Rica.
Orally he would read the sentence in Greek fairly well, but his English translation was, shall we say, interesting.
It would often be something like: "The hombre goes into the casa."
-- John Barach, Sr.
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καὶ ἀνέγνωσαν ἐν βιβλίῳ νόμου τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐδίδασκεν Εσδρας καὶ διέστελλεν ἐν ἐπιστήμῃ κυρίου καὶ συνῆκεν ὁ λαὸς ἐν τῇ ἀναγνώσει. (Neh. 8:8)
[url]http://www.GreekDoc.com/lxx/neh/neh08.html[/url]

refe
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Re: Putting Good Greek into Bad English

Post by refe » September 7th, 2011, 10:41 am

It isn't just oral translation, it's the whole mentality that the purpose of learning Greek is to translate it into English. No intro grammar or (I would assume) 1st year instructor will outright say this, but they will often say that the purpose is "exegesis," which in this case is basically shorthand for "translating for exposition."
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