Meta Language

Stirling Bartholomew
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Meta Language

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » October 13th, 2020, 1:48 pm

From: Yancy Smith <yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net>
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] translation strategies
To: "'B Greek'" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Thursday, June 25, 2009, 7:20 AM


I want to add two pence to this discussion from the far left field. My Greek
teacher, Mr. Robert Johnston of Abilene Christian University, used to tell
his students that the didactic categories of Greek grammar taught to
middling students were like the scaffolding built around a building. At some
point in the construction process, the scaffolding becomes a bother and must
be removed
. Before that point the scaffolding is probably necessary. I say
"probably," because it all depends on the method of learning. For example,
many students of living foreign language don't get this kind of stuff until
they take a "Contrastive Grammar" course sometime late in the language
learning process. We become hopelessly confused, however, when we think that
our didactic grammar categories represent something like (universally?)
normative grammar rules and binding us to them some sort of description of
reality. Didactic grammatical tags are rather ad hoc for the most part.
I added the bold.

Some of us removed the scaffolding some years back and now have become quite skeptical about the value of the scaffolding at any stage of learning. People who teach intro and intermediate often have a preoccupation with the scaffolding.
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

Jason Hare
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Re: Meta Language

Post by Jason Hare » October 13th, 2020, 6:29 pm

An eleven-year-old post, Stirling! And from the listserv! :)
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Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Meta Language

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 13th, 2020, 10:52 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
October 13th, 2020, 1:48 pm
Some of us removed the scaffolding some years back and now have become quite skeptical about the value of the scaffolding at any stage of learning. People who teach intro and intermediate often have a preoccupation with the scaffolding.
Yeah, some of us have forgotten what it's like to be a new learner.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Jason Hare
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Re: Meta Language

Post by Jason Hare » October 14th, 2020, 12:51 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
October 13th, 2020, 10:52 pm
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
October 13th, 2020, 1:48 pm
Some of us removed the scaffolding some years back and now have become quite skeptical about the value of the scaffolding at any stage of learning. People who teach intro and intermediate often have a preoccupation with the scaffolding.
Yeah, some of us have forgotten what it's like to be a new learner.
In Greek, I feel like a new learner every day.
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Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Meta Language

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 14th, 2020, 8:37 am

Jason Hare wrote:
October 14th, 2020, 12:51 am
In Greek, I feel like a new learner every day.
Hold on to that joy!
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Meta Language

Post by Barry Hofstetter » October 14th, 2020, 8:52 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
October 13th, 2020, 10:52 pm
Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
October 13th, 2020, 1:48 pm
Some of us removed the scaffolding some years back and now have become quite skeptical about the value of the scaffolding at any stage of learning. People who teach intro and intermediate often have a preoccupation with the scaffolding.
Yeah, some of us have forgotten what it's like to be a new learner.
Teaching really helps with this.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

nathaniel j. erickson
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Re: Meta Language

Post by nathaniel j. erickson » October 14th, 2020, 12:48 pm

taught to middling students were like the scaffolding built around a building. At some point in the construction process, the scaffolding becomes a bother and must be removed.
That's a great analogy. Thanks for (re)sharing this.

One of the great difficulties of teaching Greek in the seminary context (at least the seminary context in my experience) is the knowledge that most of the students you are teaching don't have the desire or opportunities to ever reach a stage of Greek knowledge where scaffolding becomes more of a problem than a help. It will forever remain their crutch, which is at the same time their cage. Thus, the dilemma: try to push as many as possible to phases of building where scaffolding is a nuisance, or try to make as many as possible thoroughly skilled users of scaffolding? I prefer the former, but I certainly understand why so many prefer the latter approach.
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Nathaniel J. Erickson
NT PhD candidate, ABD
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
ntgreeketal.com
ὅπου πλείων κόπος, πολὺ κέρδος
ΠΡΟΣ ΠΟΛΥΚΑΡΠΟΝ ΙΓΝΑΤΙΟΣ

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Meta Language

Post by Stephen Carlson » October 14th, 2020, 6:05 pm

If your seminary context is like mine, there just wasn’t enough class time for the typical student to get up to speed in Greek. For some highly motivated students who can self-study, the class was enough to get them started, but they had to put in a lot of hours outside the class. For the typical student, however, I just wanted them to learn enough Greek so that they can trust the English translations that they use.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Meta Language

Post by Matthew Longhorn » October 22nd, 2020, 2:50 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
October 13th, 2020, 1:48 pm
Some of us removed the scaffolding some years back and now have become quite skeptical about the value of the scaffolding at any stage of learning. People who teach intro and intermediate often have a preoccupation with the scaffolding.
Just curious, but wouldn't this depend on what your goal is. Learning for comprehension doesn't require as much of a focus on "metalanguage" as learning about Greek does. I love learning about language as much as or possibly more than just learning to read it - a lack of terminological clarity would hinder that. Besides, without this "metalanguage" talking with precision about the issues becomes a lot more difficult and potentially requires people to spend far too much time writing what could have been accomplished by the use of a label (which I admit assumes people mean the same thing by a give label).

I think I am in agreement with you in so far as I am worry that labels sometimes convey too much authority to an interpretation in instances, e.g. someone stating that something is concessive vs causative. Not sure I would go all the way to say categorically that the scaffolding has no value at any stage of the learning

Not posting this as argumentative, just curious
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RandallButh
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Re: Meta Language

Post by RandallButh » October 23rd, 2020, 11:35 am

May I suggest using Greek metalanguage?
It might help keeping people in the language, should that be a goal, and probably forces more flexibility because students are learning the metalanguage across a language divide rather than subliminally thinking that it is some kind of bedrock. [I see this thinking in Hebrew sometimes, too. Where students/teachers wonder how Isaiah or Jeremiah could have learned his language without studying a good English grammar.] PS: A.T. Robertson thought that Greek metalanguage was appropriate to be added to his century-old volume.

Some things may even make more sense. αἰτιατική "pertaining to a charge [αἰτία], cause, accusation" was considered a fitting coinage for the case that carries a full load and can most fully complete a transitive verb.

Even ὁ ἐνεστώς gets some new mileage. While the term is primarily time oriented (Rom 8.38, Heb 9.9) the metaphor can work for aspect as well: ἡ ἐνεστῶσα could be the aspect where the perspective is from "standing inside the event". However, I prefer a neologism here: ἡ παρατατικὴ ὄψις. The Greeks used ὁ παρατατικός [χρόνος] to talk about the "extending" ( open-ended) verb in the past. So παρατατικὴ ὄψις looks better for describing non-indicative verbs related to the ἐνεστὼς χρόνος.
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