If you are interested in Open Source software or Open Data projects for the Biblical languages, I would like to recommend the following sessions at SBL:
Saturday, November 19th
Sunday, November 20th
For more about Open Data in Biblical Studies, visit http://biblicalhumanities.org/.
On November 19 in the 1:00 pm session of the Global Education and Research Technology section of the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in San Antonio, Jonathan Robie and I will present our ongoing work on a communicative Koine Greek course. I would love to see you there.
Here is the abstract of our talk.
Γραφὴ ζῶσα is a freely licensed communicative Koine Greek course centered on the text of the New Testament. It is currently in early stages. In this talk, we will present sample lessons as they would be used in a classroom or online, discussing how they are developed and presented, and the adaptations required for online presentation.
We believe that the main goal of language acquisition should be comprehension rather than translation, and that the main focus for biblical Greek should be the text of the New Testament and the Septuagint. Therefore, we are designing a communicative language course that revolves around biblical texts, asking and answering questions about these texts in Greek both orally and in writing, using approaches commonly used in ESL and SSL classes to make the texts accessible to students.
We believe that there are many people who want to learn Greek but have no teacher, and many people who have learned at least basic Greek but have no experience with communicative approaches and cannot themselves produce the materials they would need to teach a class. Therefore, we focus on producing materials that can be used to teach others communicatively, in the hope that former students will dust off their Greek, teach others, and form small learning communities who can teach and learn from each other. These materials include teacher workbooks and student workbooks, videos for teachers who want to learn how to teach a class, and videos for students who do not have access to a teacher.
We believe that systematic instruction is important, tracking vocabulary and grammatical structures to ensure that we teach the things that a student needs to learn. We also believe that text-based instruction reveals the importance of teaching some things not typically taught in introductory courses, but common in the texts that we read. The ability to generate large numbers of examples that illustrate specific concepts by querying syntactic treebanks and other sources is crucial to our approach, ensuring that we can provide adequate practice using authentic ancient texts.
Join us in San Antonio, TX for a lively discussion of this approach. If you plan on attending, but are not yet registered for the SBL conference, click here.
This weekend I met with Mike Aubrey, Jonathan Robie, Randall Tan, James Tauber, Andy Wu, and several others to think about the future of Greek Computational Linguistics. Four of these I had previously known only through the Internet. It was nice to finally meet them in person. The other, Jonathan Robie, was my co-presenter at SBL.
If you want to see some of what is to come in the presentation that Jonathan Robie and I will make at SBL on Monday afternoon, check out the following posts on the B-Greek forum:
If you won’t be in San Diego, you can still participate in the discussion through the B-Greek forum!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this earlier post.
Are you going to SBL in San Diego? I am, and I’d love the chance to talk with any of you who are going to be there. If you will be there, contact me via the Contact page here.
Jonathan Robie and I will be doing a presentation on Monday afternoon/evening for a joint session of the Global Education and Research Technology Section and the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies Section. This is a themed session entitled “Teaching the Bible in an Open World: Open Resources for Teaching and Learning with the Bible” (S24-317a). Our presentation is entitled Greek Syntactic Analysis for Humans (“Does this analysis make my text look fat?”). Here’s the abstract:
By exposing the internal structure of a text, syntax trees represent important elements of meaning, and can be used to explain difficult constructs, teach Greek reading skills or for syntactic queries. But the phrase-structure syntax trees most widely used in biblical studies are redundant, complex, based on theories that are no longer widely accepted, and poorly model the function of the Greek verb. We combine the strengths of dependency grammars and phrase structure grammars to create a more flexible and powerful model. We use a hybrid approach. Some features of Greek syntax, such as Noun Phrases and Prepositional Phrases, neatly fit traditional phrase structure categories. Verbs do not. We represent verbs and their relationships with phrase structures in terms of a verb’s arguments. We have created an analysis using this model, based on the Global Bible Initiative (formerly Asia Bible Society) Greek New Testament syntax trees from biblicalhumanities.org (a phrase structure treebank) and the PROEIL treebank of the New Testament created by Dag Haug (a dependency structure treebank). Using Koine Greek texts, we present new ways to visualize the structure of Greek syntax that are simpler and more closely fit the language. Users can examine texts directly, choosing whether to highlight phrase structure (our Phrase View) or verbs and their relationships to surrounding constituents (Verb View). The same model can be used to better support syntactic queries and for teaching the Greek language.
Our presentation is the last of five in this session that runs from 4:00 to 6:30 pm. Ours is likely to start around 6:00. Unfortunately, this session is scheduled at the same time as one of the meetings of the Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics Section. Oh well… no schedule is perfect.
I hope to see you there.
On June 30, while I was away at a retreat in the mountains of North Carolina with my daughter, Mike Aubrey announced over at ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ that the Greek Language & Linguistics section of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) has a new website up and running. You can find that site at
The site has preliminary abstracts for the papers that will be presented in November.
Here’s what the site says about its purpose:
This site has an informational purpose. While it provides some information from past meetings, it will mainly serve to post announcements about future meetings of the Section at SBL and provide details of the papers to be presented.
This seems to hint that more information on the papers will be forthcoming, but it’s hard to tell.
The Greek Language and Linguistics Section of the SBL holds two sessions at each meeting of the SBL. One is an “Open Session” often presenting papers on a wide variety of topics. The other session is “Thematic,” that is, focused on a single theme. This year’s thematic session will focus on discourse markers. If you are interested in discourse studies and their relation to Linguistics, you will want to read the abstracts for the “Thematic Session.” Follow the link above and scroll down to find them.