Re: Semesters in Greek

From: l. j. swain (
Date: Mon Mar 20 2000 - 01:48:38 EST

Mike Sangrey wrote:
> said:
> > on 03/19/00 9:43 AM, l. j. swain wrote:
> >> Too often basic level language courses treat language like math.
> > Larry,
> > What about advanced language studies that treat language like math? I
> > have a copy of R. E. Longacre's, "The Grammar of Discourse" (New
> > York: Plenum Press, 2nd edition, 1996). This book is the only math
> > text in my whole library. I have been struggling with some portions of
> > this book. I have not yet been able to put all the pieces of the
> > "grand theory" together and make sense out of them. But it is a
> > rewarding process none the less.
> > Just thought I would point out that the problem you mention is not
> > just found in basic courses.
> > Clay
> If I may chime in here, I think the two of you are talking about
> something at two entirely different levels. Which, interestingly,
> lends support to both your points. :-)
> A lazy 1st year Greek student will view getting at the language as
> plug and play. That, some how--magically--parsing and labeling the
> different words according to their forms will, insta-bingo, reveal
> the meaning. I run across people all the time (I'm sure I'm not
> alone) who discover a usage of a Greek word and, making large leaps,
> catapult themselves out of the context. First year Greek alone does
> not prepare the student to discover meaning. And, if they don't put
> forth the effort, they never will arrive at that place.

Right. I was addressing the tendency to see the beginning of the entry
to EKKLHSIA as EK + KALEW, and deduce that the word used for the church
means "those called out" and string together a whole sermon on it, heard
many like this. Makes for good press, but not good Greek. Hence, 1 + 1
=2. This is an oversimplistic example of what I mean, but I think it
will suffice.

> The mathematics of discourse analysis--here I'm a weanie--is much
> more like a tool a craftsman wields to sculpt the meaning from the
> stone face of the text.

I'm a weanie as well. But DA is for the strong minded I think, not the
likes of me. I do believe that there is a place up yonder (no, not
heaven) where math and language meet and "kiss one another" lest I be
taken to be disparaging math.
Thanks Mike, for your comments, I got a lot out of your analogy which I
snipped from this post.

Larry Swain

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