Robert Crellin on the Hellenistic Greek Perfect

Robert Crellin’s PhD thesis and recent book on the Hellenistic Greek Perfect

Robert Crellin, writer of the entries on prepositions for the Greek Lexicon Project in Cambridge, has recently published   The syntax and semantics of the perfect active in literary Koine Greek, (Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell), 2016.

The book is not yet available in the Wiley catalogue, but it is projected to cost $45.00. Not bad for a 264 page book by a competent linguist! According to the abstract at the Library of Congress, Crellin

Offers a comprehensive and unified account of the Greek perfect that considers its behaviour in terms of tense and aspect, as well as voice (or diathesis)…

I have not yet been able to get a copy of the book, but according to the abstract, Crellin discusses the syntax and semantics of the Greek perfect using a large corpus of Hellenistic Greek texts that has not previously been discussed in the linguistics literature about the perfect. The book is targeted primarily at linguists and researchers specializing in (Hellenistic) Koine Greek.

Crellin has also recently uploaded his 307 page PhD thesis on the Koine Greek perfect to Academia.edu: The Greek Perfect Active System: 200 BC – AD 150. The thesis was completed in 2012 under the supervision of Geoffrey Horrocks at the University of Cambridge. I’m not certain of the relationship between the book discussed above and the PhD thesis, but here’s what Crellin says of his aim’s and the scope of his corpus in the uploaded thesis:

It is the aim of the present investigation to establish under what circumstances the various senses, past and present, active and medio-passive, may be attributed to the perfect active stem in this period, and from this to seek to provide an account of the semantics and function of the form which most readily accounts for the observed distribution. At the heart of the investigation is a very large corpus, approximately 800,000 words, containing work of the historians Polybius, Plutarch, Josephus and Appian. A combination of close contextual analysis and quantitative statistical methods is then used to analyse this. The investigation is primarily synchronic, but seeks to use findings made on a synchronic level to inform discussion of diachronic developments (p. 3).

I’ve added both the book and the thesis to the bibliography here at Greek-Language.com.

Review of Living Koiné (Part One)

LivingKoineImageKevin Madden has written a helpful review of Randall Buth’s Living KoinéPart One. His review even has a video of the first lesson.

If you are interested in learning Biblical Greek, and you want to know how it sounded at the time of Jesus, you will probably enjoy these materials tremendously. Using drawings and audio, Buth employs a method commonly found in books on modern languages. It’s a great way to internalize the language!

Upgrade for Greek-Language.com

HomePageScreenShotToday the new code (HTML5 and CSS) behind Greek-Language.com went live. It gives the site a new look and makes it dynamically readjust for the screen size of smartphones and tablets. The blog has had this ability for some time, but the rest of the site got an overhaul over the past few weeks. After many hours of painstaking rewriting, troubleshooting and testing, the new design is complete. I hope you like what you see.

Καλά Χριστούγεννα 2015

I wish you all a peaceful and joyous Christmas.

Seeing the flow of traffic that comes in to this blog every year on Christmas Eve is a beautiful experience for me. I appreciate your visit, whether you come to learn about Greek or Greek Linguistics, or even if this is the only time you have ever come to the Greek Language and Linguistics Blog and you just wanted to learn how to say Merry Christmas in Greek (You can get that here).

Peace and joy to you all.

Nativity, by Jeff Weese, Creative Commons
Nativity, by Jeff Weese, Attribution 2.0 Generic Liscense

Randall Buth’s Reading of 1st John

1st John read in reconstructed Koiné.

I had the good fortune of encountering Randall Buth’s reading of 1st John today. He uses the reconstructed Imperial Koiné pronunciation, the system that represents how Hellenistic Greek most probably sounded in most places during the period of the Greek and Roman empires, more specifically between 200 BCE and 200 CE.

You can hear his reading here.

Steve Runge: Contrastive Substitution and the Greek Verb: Reassessing Porter’s Argument

Steve Runge has uploaded a copy of his 2014 Novum Testamentum article to Academia.edu. In this paper he challenges both Porter’s interpretation of his primary sources and his understanding of the linguists he cites as support for his method.

You can read the article online at Academia.edu, and I have added an entry for it in the bibliography here at Greek-Language.com.

ἡ ἡμέρα τῶν εὐχαριστιῶν καὶ ἡ χριστούγεννα

Merry Christmas in Greek: καλὰ χριστούγεννα

ChristmasTree2015SmallNow that ἡ ἡμέρα τῶν εὐχαριστιῶν has come and gone, it’s time to say καλὰ χριστούγεννα (Merry Christmas).

To see how that phrase would have been pronounced soon after Christians began to celebrate Christmas and how it is pronounced today in Greece, see this earlier post.

May you all find joy and a renewal of hope for bright days ahead. καλὰ χριστούγεννα πᾶσιν ὑμῖν.

Alphabet Flashcards

CardDia_GreekAlphabetCards

When I returned home after SBL a package was awaiting me from CARDDIA entitled Biblical Greek Alphabet. Angelo Cheung, the producer of these cards had offered to send them to me several weeks ago so that I could give my assessment of them on this blog. I was delighted to see them and opened the package right away. Let’s start with a description of what the cards provide.

The set includes forty-eight alphabet cards, 24 upper case and 24 lower case, plus eleven additional cards covering diacritics and punctuation. Each alphabet card provides the target letter in an attractive large font on one side and key information about that letter on the back, including guidance on the stroke sequence needed to write the letter, the letter’s alphabetical order, its Greek name, the form not shown on the front (upper case for lower case letters, lower case for upper case letters), the usual English transliteration, a pronunciation suggestion, and one or more forms of the letter found in manuscripts. This last detail is a welcome addition to what such products usually provide.

Psi

Punctuation and diacritics cards show the relevant mark with a gray letter or word on the front of the card and give an explanation on the back.

QuestionMark

Each card is 8.6 centimeters (almost 3.5 inches) across and 6.1 centimeters (almost 2.5 inches) tall. The clear print allows a surprisingly large amount of information to be legibly presented in this small space.

When the producers of the cards first contacted me about writing a review, the cards gave pronunciation suggestions using the Erasmian system, and I recommended that they revise them to provide the reconstructed Hellenistic pronunciation. They have clearly attempted to do this, but with mixed results. The card for β recommends “v as in vote” which does pretty well approximate the Hellenistic pronunciation of that letter, but the recommendation for τ is “t as in time,” and this aspirated pronunciation was not in fact used. The letter was pronounced like the “t in stand” where there is no aspiration. The card for ζ even retains the Erasmian recommendation!

The discussion of accents is particularly problematic as the editor has merged pitch accent with stress accent. The recommendation for the acute, for example, is as follows:

The acute is used to indicate a syllable with a high pitch, it marks the stressed vowel of a word. (e.g. χρόνος)

Pitch accent had disappeared before the period of “Biblical Greek” and mixing the two systems is simply confusing.

My recommendation to students who use any such cards along with a course in Greek is to ignore the pronunciation recommendations and listen to your instructor. It is the other features of the cards that are particularly useful anyway, and the quality of production of this set places it above any other I have seen.

 

SBL Presentation Including a Greek Lesson in Greek: Mark 14:22

SBL Atlanta from the OmniThe presentation that Jonathan Robie and I gave at SBL this past Sunday was well received, and discussion afterward was productive.

Our talk began with a brief discussion of language acquisition theory and it’s practical implementation, then Jonathan gave a brief introduction to the ways we are using queryable databases to support the development of Greek lessons using a communicative approach. In the last ten minutes of our talk I presented a brief Greek lesson taught in Hellenistic Greek.

Here is the plan for that lesson:

Mini-Lesson on Mark 14:22

bread-wholeBuild Background

  • Place a whole loaf of bread in front of the students (not sliced bread).
  • Point to the bread and say: ἄρτος. ἄρτος ἐστίν.
  • Ask, τὶ ἐστιν;
  • Allow two or three students to answer, then say ναί. ἄρτος ἐστίν.
  • Pick up the loaf of bread. Say, κλῶ τὸν ἄρτον and break the bread.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow two or three students to answer, then say ναί. ἔκλασα τὸν ἄρτον.
    As you say ἔκλασα, place your hands against your chest. As you say τὸν ἄρτον point to the bread. Repeat this sequence, but as you say ἔκλασα this time, place your hands against your chest, then mime breaking the bread.
  • Take one half of the bread in each hand as you say, λαμβάνω τὸν ἄρτον.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow one or two students to answer, then say, ναί. ἔλαβον τὸν ἄρτον.
  • Lift the bread high and look toward heaven as you say, εὐλογῶ τὸν θεόν.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow two or three students to answer, then say ναί. εὐλόγησα τὸν θεόν. As you say εὐλόγησα raise your hands toward heaven.
  • Break off a piece of the bread, say ἐσθίω τὸν ἄρτον, then eat it.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow one or two students to answer, then say ναί. ἔφαγον τὸν ἄρτον. νῦν ἐσθίω τὸν ἄρτον. Break off another piece of bread and eat it.
  • Break the bread into enough pieces for your students, hand each one a piece as you say δίδωμί σοι ἄρτον. Retain one piece of bread for yourself.
  • Ask, τί ἐποίησα;
  • Allow one or two to answer, then say, ναί. ἔδωκα ὑμῖν ἄρτον.
  • Say ἐσθίετε τὸν ἄρτον. Eat the piece you reserved for yourself.

It should not be necessary to teach εἶπεν· λάβετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου. It is highly likely that your students will deduce the meaning of this statement from the context of this story plus their own contextual experience in the church. If you have students who lack that experience, however, you may need to add a section dealing with this last sentence.

Read Mark 14:22 

Pick up a copy of the Greek New Testament and say, ἀναγινωσκῶμεν τὸν εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Μάρκον.

Read the text slowly, using gestures to reinforce the connection with the background exercise above.

Mark 14:22 Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν· λάβετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.

Assess Understanding of the Text (Identify Student Success)

Ask each of the following questions orally. Possible answers are given in parentheses.

  1. τί ἐποίουν οἱ μαθηταὶ ἐν τῷ λάβειν Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἄρτον;
    (ἤσθιον)
  2. τί ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ ἄρτῳ;
    (ἔκλασεν τὸν ἄρτον, εὐλόγησεν τὸν θεόν, ἔδωκεν τὸν ἄρτον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ)
  3. τί ἐποίησεν πρῶτον ὁ Ἰησοῦς; Hold up your index finger as you say πρῶτον.
    (ἔκλασεν τὸν ἄρτον)
  4. τί ἐποίησεν δεύτερον; Hold up two fingers as you say δεύτερον.
    (εὐλόγησεν τὸν θεόν)
  5. τί ἐποίησεν ἔσχατον ὁ Ἰησοῦς;
    (ἔδωκεν τὸν ἄρτον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ)
  6. τί εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ;
    (λάβετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.)

Hand out copies of what is printed below the horizontal line below, and say, γράψαντες ἀποκρίθητε ἕκαστον ἐρώτημα.


Comprehension Questions on Mark 14:22

Mark 14:22 Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν· λάβετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.

Γράψας ἀποκρίθητι ἕκαστον ἐρώτημα.

  1. τί ἐποίουν τοὺς μαθητὰς ἐν τῷ λάβειν Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἄρτον;
  2. τί ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ ἄρτῳ;
  3. τί ἐποίησεν πρῶτον ὁ Ἰησοῦς;
  4. τί ἐποίησεν δεύτερον ὁ Ἰησοῦς;
  5. τί ἐποίησεν ἔσχατον ὁ Ἰησοῦς;
  6. τί εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ;

 

As the students write answers to these questions, circulate among them offering support. This exercise should NOT be used as a test. It is a learning exercise. Give students advice on how to improve their responses. Make sure your comments do not sound judgmental, but also do not offer false praise when students’ writing is poor. Your comments should be supportive while pushing students to do better.


If you have any comments on this lesson, feel free to post them. If you were at SBL in the session where this was presented, I’d love to hear your feedback on that as well.

Looking forward to SBL

atlantaskyline
Atlanta Skyline

It’s less than two weeks till the national meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta, Georgia. I will be presenting jointly with Jonathan Robie in the session, Applied Linguistics for Biblical Languages; Global Education and Research Technology (S22-206). Here’s the abstract for our presentation:

Systematically Generating Examples from a Syntactic Treebank for Internalizing Language

This presentation is about systematically generating the materials needed to teach the Greek verb. The verb is particularly difficult for many Greek students to master, and difficult to teach. In keeping with best practices in research based language instruction, we argue that using authentic texts with appropriate scaffolding is essential to achieving reading competency. But finding optimal examples in large enough quantity to use in such instruction can be overwhelming. We believe that intelligent use of a syntactic treebank can greatly simplify this process, creating teaching materials that can greatly improve mastery. We generate a complete set of examples for each verb in the New Testament using XQuery and syntactic treebanks to illustrate the constituent patterns and morphology, starting with the most common uses of each verb, then less common uses. Teachers can select the examples they want to use, either for classroom instruction or computerized presentation. We also show how to convert these examples for use in existing software commonly used for language instruction and learning.

If you plan to be there, feel free to contact me using the contact form on this blog. I would be delighted to meet you.

During the meeting I will be tweeting about my experience from @grklinguist.