Wednesday, May 09, 2012

More thoughts on my Ørbergian Greek reader

Sorry that I don't post about much else right at this moment, it's just that this has captivated my attention.

I've got the list of words that make up 80% frequency of appearance in Greek literature, I think it's a 1000 or so, plus a frequency list of NT vocab. My aim is that over the course of the reader all the 80% should be covered, and probably I will aim for every NT word above 30x. That is quite a lot of vocab, in some ways, but I will just make the reader as long as necessary.

I plan to rewrite the first chapter to make it not-a-translation from Ørberg, though I think I will retain the geography/map scheme. It really is a great way to get into the language.

My story is going to be set in Rome, AD, rather than 4/5th century Athens or wherever, for several reasons: because it allows Koine, over pure Attic. It allows a retrospective look at more Greek literature. It also allows a picture of Hellenistic world under Rome. Finally, it allows a Greek/Roman/Jewish interplay, and the introduction of Christian material. No doubt some feel that the inclusion of any 'religious' material will make the text unsuitable for politically correct secular institutions, but in my mind that is both a misunderstanding of secular space as well as historically naive.

I have no timeline, I just plan to write a little each day or so. I will probably try and draw up a schedule of what grammar to introduce when.


Peter Sipes said...

You were right to drop the translation of Ørberg's Latin into Greek. Ørberg is gettng away with this because for a beginning student, 1st declension ablative looks like nominative. This sleight of hand doesn't work in Greek. Like you, I've also put some thought into this style of a Greek book, but not made too much progress. There are a few challenges: not least the alphabet, which I've accomplished by agreeing to ignore that for now. The article will also be a trick. It's obligatory and weird. Middle voice is another spanner in the works. Same with the importance of aspect to tense. Luckily indirect speech is a snap. Same with preposition usage. Greek seems far more flexible with the question of using prepositions or not in comparison to Latin.

Unlike you, I've never considered Koine as an alternative. While it makes the NT immediately accessible, at the same time it shuts off earlier Greek as well as a good bit of Hellenistic Greek. Also, I seriously doubt that beginning students of Greek, either in university or seminary, have too much interest in later Greek literature. At first. (My suspicion is that most university students, to generalize, begin taking Greek to get at classical works. I.e. Plato, Homer and their ilk. On the flip side, I suspect that most seminary students, again generalizing, are looking to get through a required class and be able to analyze the original text while using a translation of the NT to add some spice to sermons—if my experience in the pew is any indication. Again, nothing wrong with those sorts of students or approaches, but I suspect we're outside of the norm here. Though I could be wrong.)

But, I guess Greek is a different critter than Latin, you need to make a choice on the matter of dialect. For what it's worth, Epic seems like the worst choice out of Epic, Attic and Koine—and there's really no real option outside of these three.

Anway. Thanks for listening to my ramble.

Seumas Macdonald said...

Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts! I haven't worked on this for some time, but I still think it's a useful project.