Re: Greek language teaching

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Sun Sep 21 1997 - 17:03:51 EDT

At 07:42 PM 9/21/97 +0200, mjoseph wrote:

>*Shouldn't* Greek be learned differently than French or German? There
>seems to me to be a fundamental difference between learning to speak a
>language, and "just" learning to read one. In French, grammar rules are
>necessary (for adults), but don't suffice, as listening and speaking are
>crucial. While listening may help some in learning the classical
>languages, when you get right down to it, knowing the inflections and the
>vocab are what is really necessary to the goal of reading the Bible. Or
>am I missing something obvious?

Most of the questions I have posted on B-Greek - and I have posted *lots* of
questions - have involved verses where I knew exactly which inflections were
being used and knew the meaning of the individual terms, but still didn't
know how to read the sentence. Reading is a lot like listening-if you want
to read with understanding, you have to know how the language thinks. I am
not convinced that knowing the inflections and the vocabulary are all of
"what is really necessary to the goal of reading the Bible", and I think
that most Greek grammars assume that they are. Naturally, you *do* need to
learn the inflections and the vocabulary, but beyond that, you have to learn
the syntax and the idioms of the language, to grasp the structure of Greek
phrases, to get a feeling for how the Greek language "thinks".

Many beginning books teach only inflections and vocabulary, and do not
really teach the Greek language. Intermediate texts and reference grammars
do teach the Greek language.

Incidentally, many people who learned classical Greek a long time ago *did*
learn to both read and write the language, and some have suggested that this
really helps you learn Greek better. And reading passages out loud, IMHO, is
also a very helpful way to get more of a feel for the language.


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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