Re: Teaching Greek

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Fri Sep 19 1997 - 11:56:55 EDT

>At 10:24 AM -0400 9/18/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>>I have the feeling that Greek is taught quite differently from other
>>languages - and frankly, I haven't yet seen any introductory Greek text that
>>is as good as a reasonably good German or French text. I suspect that the
>>people who write those kinds of texts have a lot to teach us about writing
>>Greek texts.
>Amen. Most Greek grammars are written by people who know Greek quite well,
>but have virtually no knowledge of the widely published literature on
>language acquisition. Of course this is not surprizing. Who has the time bo
>become proficient in Greek while becoming proficient in a specialized area
>of linguistics at the same time? Few people do.
>Micheal W. Palmer

In my personal and humbly anecdotal opinion, nonsense! I have seen a few
German and French texts, which must be "reasonably good" as Jonathan
says--at least they were being used by top universities--and I *never* saw
one I liked. Whether one thinks a particular text is good or not has a lot
to do with the purpose of the text (e.g. speaking vs. reading the
language), one's attitude toward the language and one's subsequent success
with the language. As for the need for linguistic training and
concentration on language acquisition skills, I (again, my own opinion of
course) say nuts to the former and put a large question mark on the latter.
It appears that the linguistics training which tends to be applied to
biblical languages is generalistic and probably lends as much (or perhaps
even more) harm than good. Perhaps this is due to misapplication. As to the
science of language acquisition, I see no point in focusing a discussion on
texts (I assume you are doing that at the moment; forgive me if I'm
mistaken--haven't had much time for email lately) when so much more is
potentially available. For modern languages, there are of course options
like international video, internet, computers, etc. Ancient languages have
to be treated differently, but even for them the internet and computer
programs hold a great deal of promise well beyond what one could ever do
with texts. For example, why not explore the possibilities offered by such
internet sites as Perseus and VRoma, and how they can or should be
integrated with texts (or more importantly, the reverse)? I suspect that if
we thought in these broader terms, texts would assume a different character
from what they are at present.

Don Wilkins

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