Monday, February 15, 2010

A few more reflections on reading Chrysostom's Greek

Today I finished my 8th homily. I've worked out that I can translate roughly 500 Greek words an hour. That includes annotating a Greek text with footnotes for vocabulary and forms I didn't recognise or thought I might need help on later, and typing up a translation. I could probably read Chrysostom's greek a lot faster, but I'd lose a lot more comprehension. I've been working away with the NFPF sitting open next to me, which is more blessing than curse at this stage.

There's no doubt that it short-circuits some of my own thinking and Greek-ing. That's a downside - I'd be getting more from the Greek learning process without a translation. But, the loss of an existing translation would lead to more than a little confusion on my part: often I don't get from the Greek the right senses of words, or I just can't work out how things are constructed. The existing translation let's me understand what's going on in the Greek, thus rendering both the meaning and the constructions clear. I think in the long run that that is more valuable.

In exchange I make myself continue on with some solid Greek work in the mornings: reading Greek straight, doing English-to-Greek translation, and working on Kendrick's Greek Ollendorf, Buth's Koine materials, and Rico's Polis course. So I'm working hard to continue to internalise Greek, and figuring that will pay off in the longer run.

Things Chrysostom is teaching me:
- I need to do some work on the broad range of meaning attached to some very common verbs in Greek.
- I need to work harder with -mi verbs, to get to know them inside and out
- My vocabulary is awesome for the NT, but miniscule next to Chrysostom! I suspect this is an inevitable fact of extra-NT reading. Solution: keep reading and learning.

I should be able to knock over 2 more homilies by next Wednesday, which is good, since we are flying to Mongolia on Thursday 25th.


mike said...

Keep it up! I need to get back to Chrysostom -- I suppose it helps that this is such a major part of your degree!

You're using both Buth & Rico. Is the pronunciation difference a challenge?

Seumas Macdonald said...

re: pronunciation difference.

Not really, I'd done some work before encountering Buth, trying to shift from Erasmian to classical-restored, and that had gone pretty well. Picking up Buthian Koine was more of a challenge, but now I tend to read with it (though I tend to still pronounce rough breathings). Moving between the two isn't much of a problem, though I imagine if one was at an earlier stage of learning it would be confusing.

Roger Pearse said...

500 words an hour - wow! That is very fast. A column of Migne an hour!

Would you be interested in translating some of Chrysostom's shorter works? (If I have already asked, forgive me).