Re: Book explaining sentence diagramming?

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Tue Feb 10 1998 - 07:03:25 EST

Randy LEEDY wrote:
> With all due respect to Carlton's reservations about the value of
> diagramming, I'd like to add that, in my teaching experience,
> diagramming has proven to be a helpful way to get students to pay
> attention to the way the Greek sentences work rather than contenting
> themselves with English renderings. The diagrammer may choose to work
> from an English rather than a Greek base, but I don't think anything
> about the diagramming method PER SE favors an English-based approach.
> Students testify that diagramming is what finally brought them to
> think grammatically rather than translationally (if I may manufacture
> a word) about the Greek they're reading.
> Some might maintain that this is just exactly wrong--that students
> should be taught to read Greek rather than to analyze grammar. I
> think I'd agree with that assessment if we could have total immersion
> as a teaching method for Koine. But in the absence of that
> possibility, I've found that, for adult learners, the ability to read
> Greek accurately requires an ability to analyze the grammar.
> Diagramming seems significantly to facilitate the development of that
> analytical skill.

I think Randy has stated this rather well. As an adult learner of NT Greek I
have worked up a private procedure which includes a mixture of analysis
(including lexical, morphological, syntactical, and discourse analysis) and
reading. When I want to seriously study a body of literature (e.g., Luke-Acts)
I always do the analysis first and then proceed to reading after I have all of
my analysis written down. On the other hand, if I want to just read a passage,
and I have the vocabulary to do it, I just open the GNT and read it. I do most
of my reading in texts which I have already done the analysis for (about 75%
of the NT) but I do occasionally strike out in a minor Pauline epistle and
just read it without any preparatory work.

After a decade of diagramming I find that I do not usually need to write the
diagram down anymore. But I do the diagramming in my head. When I did my
analysis on Hebrews (1990-91) I found that I needed to write down almost
everything, but now in Luke's writings I find that it is quite unnecessary to
write it down.

I think diagramming needs to be part of learning any language which has a
different syntax structure than one's native tongue.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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