Re: Fluency and an Epigraphic Language

From: yochanan bitan (
Date: Wed Jun 07 2000 - 08:23:57 EDT

shalom BJ,

I appreciate your points and would like to 'amen' them by taking them an
additional step.

>And to take this to the next step, we must be mindful that
>"speaking" a language, no matter how fluently, will not ipso facto bring
>about the more desired goal of understanding the "culture" of the native
>It is this baptism into another's culture, with its daily routines and
>social interactions, that give words and phrases life.

100% in agreement

>I suppose that if we could reproduce any first century language, and
>reproduce it with total phonetic accuracy, we would have achieved a rather

>shallow victory, having recreated the language without its inherent

Some clarification and expansion is necessary here.

Techno note: Phonetic accuracy is not the same as phonemic accuracy. E.g.
ultimate phonetic accuracy reproduces the exact dialect, the exact voice,
it can even go to the exact rendition of a speaker.
Phonemic justs duplicates an approximation that gets appropriate sounds
inside the boundaries of what would be understood.
NA Erasmian would not be phonemic because it would produce sounds that
would land in the wrong boxes for Koine, thus, EI needs to land in the I
"box", not in the H "box" or E "box". OI needs to land in the U "box", but
OU cannot land in the "U" box. This becomes immediately relavant in the
next note and is part of the practical payoff of learning/using an Emic

Substantive good news. One of the means, and benefits, of learning a
language to a high level of easy use is to peruse all the tidbits that
fill-up a culture and that express its values between the lines.
So YES, thank you for calling attention to that aspect of language

For Koine, that means reading PAPYRI, lots of them: receipts, planned
business ventures, failed business ventures, homesick relatives, births,
pregnancies, marriages, harvests, military service, government policies,
contracts, etc. To these must be added commonly read/assumed literature:
aesop, epictetus, chariton, life of alexander, plutarch, etc. etc. All of
this exposes one to world views and attitudes that are expressed 'between
the lines' and that contribute so much what a document or words 'mean'.
Doing all of this contributes to fluency and from the other side, being
able to read at ease allows one to enter this world. It's both/and,
     It's, like, who would learn modern english and not read a newspaper or
magazine? And who can read Time magazine without learning something about
American culture between the lines?

Randall Buth

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:36:28 EDT