Mark Janse on Hellenistic Greek

I have added eight works by Mark Janse to my Comprehensive Bibliography of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics. (Thanks to Mike Aubrey for providing the bibliographic information on six of them and a lead to the seventh.)

Dr. Janse is Research Professor in Asia Minor and Ancient Greek at Ghent University. He has written extensively about the history of Greek and related issues in Linguistics. The publications that I have added to the bibliography are ones that consciously apply a specific insight from Linguistics to the study of Greek from the Hellenistic period, or in one case from the Classical period where no similar work has yet been published for Hellinistic Greek.

Here are the items I added:

Janse, Mark. “Aspects of Bilingualism in the History of the Greek Language.” In: J.N. Adams, Mark Janse & Simon Swain (eds.), Bilingualism in Ancient Society. Language Contact and the Written Word. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, 332-390.

________. “The Distribution of the Enclitic Personal Pronouns in New Tetament Greek in the Light of the Septuagint and the Modern Greek Dialects of Asia Minor: A Structural-Functional Analysis.” PhD. dissertation: Ghent University, Department of Latin and Greek.

This dissertation is available from Dissertations Abstracts International 58 (1997) 776-C. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International.

________. “La phrase segmentée en grec ancien. Le témoignage des enclitiques.” Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris 86.1 (1991) XIV-XVI. Paris: Klinck sieck.

________. “La position des pronoms presonnels enclitiques en grec neo-testamentaire a la lumiere des dialectes neo-helleniques. In C. Brixhe ed. La koine grecque antique I (1993), 83-121. Nancy: Presses Universitaires de Nancy.

________. “Phonological Aspects of Clisis in Ancient and Modern Greek.” Glotta 73 (1995-1996) 155-167. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

________. “The Prosodic Basis of Wackernagel’s Law.” In André Crochetière, Jean-Claude Boulanger & Conrad Ouellon (eds.), Les langues menacées. Actes du XVe Congrès international des linguistes, Québec, Université Laval, 9-14 août 1992. Sainte-Foy: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1993, Vol. 4, 19-22.

Originally presented as a paper at the 15th International Congress of Linguists, Quebec, August 9 to 14, 1992.

Creve, Sam, Mark Janse, and Kristoffel Demoen, “The Pauline Key Words πνεῦμα and σάρξ and their Translation.” Filología Neotestamentaria. Vol. 20 (2007), 15-31.

Mike Aubrey has himself done a good amount of work on Hellenistic Greek Clitics and reached similar conclusions. He has posted several discussions at ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ.

Using Pinax and Django for Collaborative Corpus Linguistics (Greek)

If you are interested in web design and the possibilities it presents for collaborative work in Ancient Greek Linguistics, you must see James Tauber’s BibleTech2010 talk (embedded below). It’s almost an hour long, but well worth the time.

James begins by explaining Django, a core tool for managing basic functionality on a website. He then explains Pinax, a product that runs on top of Django to power much of the functionality of social networking sites. He finishes this discussion, though by presenting the possibilities of using this combination to power collaborative work in corpus linguistics, using Biblical Greek as his example.

He is developing precisely the kind of tools needed to do the lexicon project I have in mind. Here’s the talk. Feel free to comment on its implications for Greek Linguistics.

Using Pinax and Django For Collaborative Corpus Linguistics from James Tauber on Vimeo.

Comprehensible Input

The video below demonstrates Stephen Krashen’s influential notion of “Comprehensibe Input” far better than I could explain it. Watch the video, then read the discussion below.

How could this perspective be applied to teaching Ancient Greek? I am certain that Krashen is correct in his assessment of the nature of language acquisition, but teaching an ancient language presents some special problems that make his method extremely difficult.

No materials designed specifically to support this kind of teaching exist for Hellenistic Greek as far as I know (though some limited attempts have been made). My own online grammar is certainly not suited to this purpose. I wrote most of it far too long ago. It is focussed on learning Greek, not acquiring it (See “Acquiring and Learning Greek“).

I would like at some point to begin to create materials to support this kind of instruction for Hellenistic Greek, but that’s a major project that is going to have to wait quite a while.

Acquiring and Learning Greek

With this post I am beginning a new thread on language acquisition as applied to Ancient Greek. Slowly over time I hope to introduce a number of important elements of language acquisition theory to those of you who teach Greek on a regular basis, and to those who are interested in the practice of teaching Greek.

I should confess up front that my view of language acquisition is heavily influenced by the perspective of Stephen Krashen. Over the last 30 years Krashen has had a huge impact on langauge acquisition theory by introducing a number of key concepts that have stood the test of time in the relevant literature. In this post I want to address only one of them, the distinction between Acquisition and Learning.

Adults have two separate means of developing compentence in a language: language acquisition and language learning.

Language acquisition is a subconscious process. It is the way a child learns language. By hearing the language they begin to understand, yet are not consciously aware of the grammatical rules. They develop a “feel” for what sounds right. They pick up the language without memorizing rules and vocabulary.

Language learning refers to “knowing the rules, being aware of them, and being able to talk about them.” Language learning is becoming consciously aware of the structure of the language.

While it used to be thought that adults loose much of their acquisition ability and cannot gain language competence the way children do, this view has been discredited. Krashen argues that adults do not lose the ability to acquire languages the way that children do. In stead, adults add the ability to consciously try to learn language. Still, such learning can never be a substitute for acquiring the language if we really want to become truly competent in the language.

Research has shown that error correction has little effect on children acquiring their first language (error correction is learning strategy, not an acquisition strategy). In the same way, error correction can help adults learn Greek, but it will not help them acquire it.

SEE ASLO Conprehensible Input

New Contact Page

Since a few readers of this blog have had difficulty getting in touch with me to discuss issues off the blog, I’ve added a “Contact” page that will enable you to send me email without making me subject to loads of SPAM. I hope you find it useful.

Seaching this Blog

I’ve added a second way to search this blog. In addition to the search form that appears at the top of the right-hand column, there is now a Google search form at the bottom of the right-hand column [also near the top of the right hand column]. The two forms return slightly different results because they use different criteria to perform the search. If you don’t find what you’re looking for with one, try the other.

Deponency and Greek Lexicography, by Bernard Taylor

I just finished reading “Deponency and Greek Lexicography” by Bernard A. Taylor, in Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography. He works slowly up to the argument that we should dispense with the notion of “deponent” verbs altogether, arguing that this designation comes from Latin rather than Greek and no ancient Greek grammarian ever mentioned a similar notion.

He also argues for basing lexical entries on the aorist rather than the present. This is a notion we have kicked around here as well. Using the aorist infinitive would emphasize the “default” form of the verb. It’s nice to see a discussion already in print as of 2004 making this argument.

In the conclusion to his article, Taylor proposes a need to broaden the textual base for a lexicon of the Septuagint. Pointing to the work Frederick Danker has done in including non-Christian and non-Jewish works in the new version of BDAG (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition), Taylor urges a similarly broad base for a new lexicon of the LXX.

I hope to someday see that kind of broad base both for a new lexicon of the LXX and for a new Hellenistic Greek lexicon more broadly.

Searching the Online Grammar

I have added a search bar to the footer of every lesson in my online grammar and to the top of the list of contents on the Table of Contents page. This should make it somewhat easier to find a particular discussion that might interest you.

The search is powered by Google, and produces a brief text add at the top of each set of search results. It searches only the grammar, not the whole of or the web.

Randall Buth on Hellenistic Pronunciation

While I’m on the topic of Randall Buth’s recent contributions with regard to teaching Greek, I should point out his discussion of Hellenistic pronunciation that relates it directly to the task of teaching and learning Hellenistic Greek: Ἡ Κοινὴ Προφορά (Koine Pronunciation): Notes on the Pronunciation System of Phonemic Koine Greek (PDF).

He does a very nice job of summarizing the state of reconstruction of Greek pronunciation for the Hellenistic period and laying out key assumptions about the criteria a reconstructed pronunciation should meet.

Do any of you know how to get a copy of his Living Koine Greek For Everyone?

Randall Buth on Greek Lexicography

Today I had the pleasure of reading Randall Buth’s article, “Verbs Perception and Aspect: Greek Lexicography and Grammar.” It’s refreshing to read a Biblical Scholar talking about the work of Stephen Krashen on language acquisition.

While I did not find Buth’s argument about the aspect of Greek perfects convincing, his arguments for using the infinitival forms as the lemma in a lexicon is well informed and well presented. He argues for listing both the aorist and present infinitives, giving the aorist first place.

In the early part of the article he gives an insightful and challenging account of what happens in Biblical Greek classrooms and an honest acknowledgment of the results. This account forms the background for his proposal of a different type of lexicon. I would like to propose, though, that his critique has more far reaching implications. For the good of the field, we need major changes in the way Hellenistic Greek is taught. The methods currently employed do not produce fluent readers who can “think in Greek.”

I’ll try to find time later to write a post on the implications of Krashen’s work for the way we teach Greek. I have struggled with this issue for many years.