Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Friday, November 12, 2010
Part of the purpose of such a lecture is to explore possible frameworks and formulae for future bilingual lectures in the Applied Linguistics Consultation.
(GREEK text follows below and covers items in this English outline)
outline of Greek lecture (English lecture has addition points):
1 a. We are human.
b. we are teachers of Greek.
c. Humans are creatures of speech.
d. Greek is a human lanugage.
2. Language needs practice. SBL is a great opportunity for practice when like-minded people are together.
3. Speaking and listening is done at the speed of natural speech. Using a language at natural speeds forces internalization.
4. Speaking leads to discovery.
One example: you can't speak without making aspectual choices in every sentence.
5. Speaking leads to all-around improvement in language skills.
6. Improved language skills lead to better reading skills.
7. Using Greek demonstrates that it is possible to communicate in an ancient language.
(We may surprise ourselves positively with our capabilities. To listen to the language being used in a training setting, see the April 2010 blog
ἀρέσκει μοι τὸ ἰδεῖν ὑμᾶς καθιζομένους ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ αὐλῇ
εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαί τι ἐν τῇ ἑλληνικῇ γλώσσῃ.
ἐν χαρᾷ ἀσπαζόμενος ὑμᾶς
ἐρωτῶ ἡμῖν πᾶσι τὸ ἐρώτημα
τὸ Διὰ τί δημηγορῶ
λαλῶν ὑμῖν ἑλληνιστί;
ἡ πρώτη αἰτία ἐστὶν ὅτι
ἡμεῖς ἐσμεν ἄνθρωποι
καὶ διδάσκαλοι τῆς ἑλληνικῆς γλώσσης.
Κατὰ τὰς γραφάς,
κατ᾽ εἰκόνα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς ὁ θεὸς,
καθ᾽ ὁμοίωσιν αὐτοῦ.
εἰ οὖν κατ᾽ αὐτοῦ εἰκόνα ἐσμέν,
τὴν δύναμιν τοῦ λαλεῖν ἔχομεν
δυνάμενοι πρὸς ἀλλήλους γνωρίζειν
τὰς ἡμῶν διανοίας ἐν ἀνθρωπίναις γλώσσαις.
ἡ δὲ ἑλληνικὴ ἀνθρωπίνη γλῶσσά ἐστιν.
διὸ δημηγορῶ ἑλληνιστί.
ἡ δευτέρα αἰτία ἐστιν ὅτι
ἡ τέχνη ἐν ταῖς γλώσσαις ὀφείλει χρῆσιν.
δεῖ ἡμᾶς χρῆσθαι γλώσσῃ,
τὸ πράσσειν ἐστιν καλόν τε καὶ ἀναγκαῖον.
Τίς οὖν τόπος κρείσσων ἐστιν ἢ εΣ. μΒι. εΛ [ΣΒΛ] ;
Καὶ παραγινόμενοι ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ καὶ ὁμοθυμαδὸν
δυνάμεθα συλλαλεῖν ὅσα ἄν βουλώμεθα.
διὸ δημηγορῶ ἑλληνιστί.
ἡ τρίτη αἰτία ἐστὶν ὅτι
τὸ τάχος οἰκοδομεῖ γνῶσιν βαθεῖαν.
ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη λαλιά ἐστιν ταχεῖα.
οὐ δίδωσιν ἡ λαλιὰ χρόνον ἱκανὸν
εἰς τὸ φρονεῖν ἐν ἑτέρᾳ γλώσσῃ
ἢ εἰς τὸ μεθερμηνεύειν ἐν ἑτέρᾳ διαλέκτῳ. [μεταφράζειν]
οἱ ἀκούοντες δημηγορίαν ἀναγκάζονται φρονεῖν
ἐν τῇ διαλέκτῳ τῆς δημηγορίας ἐκείνης.
εἰ μὲν δημηγορῶ ἑλληνιστί
δεῖ δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀκούειν ταχέως
καὶ συνιέναι ἑλληνιστί.
ἄλλως γὰρ οὐ συνήσετε οὐδὲ καταλήμψεσθε,
μὴ ἔχοντες χρόνον τοῦ φρονεῖν ἐν ἑτέρᾳ γλώσσῃ.
ἄρα οὖν τὸ τάχος τῆς λαλιᾶς ἀναγκάζει
τὸ φρονεῖν ἐν τῇ ἑλληνικῇ,
τὸ δὲ φρονεῖν ἐν τῇ ἑλληνικῇ
οἰκοδομεῖ γνῶσιν βαθεῖαν καὶ τελειοτέραν.
διὸ καὶ δημηγορῶ ἑλληνιστί.
ἡ τετάρτη αἰτία ἐστὶν ἡ εὕρησις.
παραδείγματος χάριν --
ὀφείλομεν ἐκλέξασθαι ἢ ἀόριστον ῥῆμα ἢ παρατατικὸν ῥῆμα.
δεῖ ἡμᾶς ἑλέσθαι μεταξὺ τοῦ ποιῆσαι καὶ τοῦ ποιεῖν.
διά γε χρήσεως καὶ ἕξεως μανθάνομεν αἰσθάνεσθαι
πῶς διαφέρει τὸ <ἵνα ποιήσῃ> καὶ τὸ <ἵνα ποιῇ>.
διὸ δημηγορῶ ἑλληνιστί.
ἡ πέμπτη αἰτία ἐστὶν ὅτι
διὰ χρήσεως προκόπτομεν.
πᾶς ὁ κόσμος ὁμολογεῖ ὅτι
ἡ τῆς γλώσσῃς τέχνη αὐξήσει διὰ χρήσεως.
ἐὰν χρώμεθα τῇ γλῶσσῃ
ἄρα γε χρώμενοι τῇ γλώσσῃ
ποιήσομεν κρείσσονα καὶ μᾶλλον κρείσσονα.
διὸ δημηγορῶ ἑλληνιστί.
ἡ ἕκτη αἰτία ἐστὶν ὅτι ὁ καρπὸς τῆς ἐργασίας ἡμῶν
ἐστιν ἀνάγνωσις βαθεῖα καὶ διακρίνουσα.
ἐὰν ἡ τέχνη ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ γλώσσῃ αὐξάνῃ
ἡ τέχνη τῆς ἀναγνώσεως αὐξάνει.
διὸ δημηγορῶ ἑλληνιστί.
ἡ ἑβδόμη αἰτία ἐστὶν ὅτι
δείκνυμεν τί ἐστιν τὸ δύνατον ἐν τῇ ἑλληνικῇ.
ἐάν τις ἐρωτᾷ περὶ τῆς ἀρχαίας κοινῆς διαλέκτου
ἆρά γε δυνάμεθα συλλαλεῖν ἀλλήλοις ἐν γλώσσῃ θνητῇ;
Ναί. καὶ πάλιν Ναί.
διὸ δημηγορῶ ἑλληνιστί.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
It is rather top-heavy with metalanguage from Cognitive Linguistics so I will try to summarize and interact with the main points, plusses and minuses, in language that gets halfway back to common English, including some comments for Hebrew learners. Unfortunately, talking about a language is always more complicated than using a language, so the reader needs to bear with me.
I like the flexibility in Andrason’s approach and his synchronic starting point is a breath of fresh air. Cognitive Linguistics has room in its theory for things in language that defy overly simplistic labels. The Hebrew verb is one of these things. Some background comments of my own: as many scholars, maybe most, are at least intuitively aware, the Hebrew verb fuses the parameters of Tense/Aspect/Mood/Textual relationship [i.e. TAM + the ‘sequential’ system] into the four and one-half categories of the indicative Hebrew verb. (qatal, yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and we-qatal are four, qotel is the 'nominal' that was added to the verbal system, making five.) Despite that, many studies spend a lot of ink trying to fit one label on a Hebrew verb category, Tense or Aspect or Mood. As is mentioned in our chapter “The Hebrew Verb: A Short Syntax” in Selected Readings (Biblical Language Center, 2006), such ‘single label’ attempts ultimately fail in a similar way that particle or wave interpretations of light fail by themselves. Light can be a particle ‘when it needs to be’ and it can be a wave ‘when it needs to be’. In fact, it is simultaneously/potentially both. (Physicists are still sorting that out, though String Theory went a step in that direction.) The Hebrew yiqtol conjugation can be a Tense and an Aspect and a Mood as the situation demands. Such is reality and such explains how a person would have learned Biblical Hebrew in antiquity. The formal categories of the verb (qatal, yiqtol, wayyiqtol, we-qatal, qotel, plus the volitionals eqtela, qtol, yaqtel) are mapped by the language users’ experience to the whole realm of human communication and to any referential worlds. Derek Bickerton was one of the linguists of the last generation who re-enunciated this by claiming that the ‘meaning’ of a verbal category in a language will be determined in part by how many pieces ‘the cake’ is divided. He pointed out that many theoretical linguists lose sight of this. Nevertheless, many try to postulate one semanatic parameter for yiqtol and qatal that is mitigated by context. Instead, Hebraists should have been calling a multi-dimensional spade, a multi-dimensional spade. After adding the ‘sequential’ forms, the resulting four and one-half categories (plus the volitionals eqtela, qtol, yaqtel) have a complex ‘mapping’ into their various semantic usages and spaces in BH. Such is reality. Such was the reality of the ancient user and this basic framework needs to be the reality of the modern user.
Fortunately, Andrason develops and posits such a semantic mapping, which is why I called this a breath of fresh air. He also avoids getting himself tangled up by the names he is using for the tense-aspect-moods. Andrason, p. 17: "it is thus not surprising that all attempts to reduce the yiqtol to one well-defined and unambiguous semantic-functional verbal domain (i.e., to one taxis, one aspect, one tense, or one mood) have failed and will always lead to oversimplifications." More background comments from me: probably the majority of materials written for beginner and scholar alike call the yiqtol an ‘imperfect’ or an ‘imperfective’. Those labels have a potential to mislead a person in BH future contexts. In future contexts the overwhelming majority of references are to situations that are being conceived of perfectively [!] as ‘complete/whole’, howbeit in a future time. If someone says ‘maHar yavo ’ מחר יבוא “tomorrow he will come”, the default reference is not to “he will be in the process of coming”, the default implication is that the person ‘will arrive tomorrow’. In other words, in Hebrew the yiqtol refers to future contexts without specifying the aspect, least of all imperfective! As Andrason writes, future yiqtol “is an aspectually neutral tense” (Andrason, p. 53). This is exactly the opposite to what some students and too many scholars assume, based on the name ‘imperfect’. Many scholars have avoided this pitfall. The Jouon Muraoka reference grammar is based on Jouon 1923 where he intuitively called the yiqtol a ‘future’. The problem, though, is that the yiqtol is also a past imperfective. Hence, we encounter the need to recognize a fusion taking place with the parameters of time and aspect in the Hebrew yiqtol. Mood interacts with yiqtol too, but it is more complicated to define and will not be highlighted in this brief discussion and review. See “The Hebrew Verb: A Short Syntax” for further integration of yiqtol with mood and the Hebrew volitional system.
Now back to Andrason. On page 15 of his article Andrason presents a nice, summary, semantic ‘map’ of the indicative yiqtol that includes its basic functions. He also presents a modal map on page 16. As with all maps, the reader should be aware that the graph will change slightly depending on how coarse or refined one wants to make the boxes. But the point is that yiqtol does in fact ‘map’ onto all of these meaning areas. And linguistics does not have good names for the specific ‘fusion’ of TAM that is found in a language like Hebrew. Any single name based on one TAM characteristic may potentially mislead a student. (So naming the form is often the best shortcut: yiqtol, the “yiqtol conjugation”.) Yet the multivalent mapping system works. Andrason, p. 18, "It should be emphasized that the prefix conjugation is not just an accidental amalgam of any functions but, on the contrary, possesses a well established set of time-aspect-taxis-mood and textual uses which are actualized in a particular context." When Andrason summarizes his synchonic view of yiqtol at the end of the article he concludes with an inclusive 'both-and' approach to previous views: “all so far proposed frameworks are to some extent correct” (p. 57). This is a good start.
One item needs correction, page 8. Andrason needs a different example for 2c future imperfective “I will serve you seven years …” (Gen 29:18). Andrason supports his imperfective interpretation based on a Polish possibility. However, his Arabic example 13k on page 51 should have given him a more Semitic perspective, “He spent [suffix conjugation] 40 days in the wilderness.” Since a demarcated time period in the past is normally presented as perfective in Hebrew, it is only consistent if future, demarcated time periods are also considered to be perfective. Thus, Gen 29:18 is not an example of a future imperfective but only provides an example of a durative Aktionsart within a perfective aspect, within a future context. This item does not change Andrason’s overall schema since he elsewhere says that the yiqtol future is neutral for aspect. (The Arabic example 13g is not imperfective either: “Tonight his head will be done away with.” [my translation--RB])
So far so good. Andrason is trying to formalize the Hebrew verb within the theoretical framework of Cognitive Linguistics. As such, it gives theoretical backing (even for those who may not want to venture into reading Cognitive Linguistics) to what may be called a Tense-Aspect-Modal fusion.
The continuation of the paper gets into more speculative territory. It is for theorists rather than language users. Andrason is trying to give a historical linguistic account of how the yiqtol developed into the shape, semantics, and functions in which it is found in Biblical Hebrew, and he is fitting the discussion into Cognitive Linguistics. Persons who read this article will need to be prepared for discussions of ‘trajectory’, Proto-Semitics, Akkadian, Arabic, and Modern Hebrew. His conclusions about a split “imperfective-modal diachrony” and a development from an Akkadian *yaqattal+u are interesting and may be correct (see figure 7, page 55). At the same time, they may confuse the non-linguist learner/user of Biblical Hebrew. Fortunately, Andrason is not arguing that *yaqattal actually existed in Biblical Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew did not have *yaqattal, and yiqtol would only be a metamorphicized, fused, morphological remnant. Of course, one should be aware of not reading etymological meanings into the semantics of the BH verb. In support of Andrason, he avoids this in this article.
The article is a rewriting of part of a dissertation that Andrason has written. When discussing the ‘imperfective-modal’ trajectories from a "Central Semitic" to Biblical Hebrew in this article, he pointed out that any theory that projects correctly into Biblical Hebrew needs to project correctly into other Central Semitic languages, too. However, there is an oversight in the discussion on Arabic, pp 50-51. Arabic includes a past imperfective as “kan ‘be [past]’ + yiqtol [!]”. For comparison, the integration of the participle into the BH verbal system [BH qotel] already by First Temple times needs to be included in the overall framework. This is a major disjunct between Arabic and Biblical Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew developed a past imperfective in “haya ‘be [past]’+ qotel [participle!]” while Arabic developed its past imperfective as “kan ‘be [past]’ + yiqtol [!]”. Since this article focussed on yiqtol in BH, not Arabic, I would hope that these diverging trajectories will be dealt with in any section on BH qotel in future publications. In the meantime, it should be noted that this may be evidence that the development of Hebrew peaked and included time in one of the trajectories at an earlier stage than Arabic, though both Arabic and BH already included a non-past yiqtol without aspect. Furthermore, because qotel penetrated into the BH verb system, it appears that proto-BH *yiqtol-nonpast became simply BH yiqtol-future. The so-called present-tense examples of yiqtol appear to be instantations of a modal yiqtol and habitual/timeless yiqtol. See Randall Buth, “The Hebrew Verb: A Short Syntax” in Buth Selected Readings (138, 142).
A person may access the original article at
For Biblical Hebrew learners, my advice is to keep working directly on the internalization of BH itself. The BH system is the reality and the grid that Hebrew readers need to use when using the language, however it developed historically. It is also the grid that any historical explanation will need to include. For those with interests in historical or theoretical linguistics, this work of Andrason will provide some great reading and an excellent stimulus. It is a remarkable contribution by a PhD student and will likely cause more than one Semitist to wade into the waters of Cognitive Linguistics.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
I want to read the Hebrew Bible//Greek New Testament. Why is there so much listening in the BLC courses if the purpose of learning Hebrew//Greek is only for reading?
Lots of listening and speaking will make you a significantly better reader of a new language.
There are several reasons for using extensive listening and speaking in learning a language, even when the goal of learning the language is only to read the literature. The reasons together lead to the conclusion that listening produces something significantly better for the learner than reading alone. If one's goal is a high level reading skill, then an 'infrastructure of spoken fluency' needs to be built.
1. Although a minor reason, listening is a faster way to begin. Learning is not held back by a foreign alphabet but can proceed at full speed from the very beginning. In modern languages, listening also helps someone acquire a better accent.
2. Listening is also the natural way to begin. A child listens and learns a language before they learn to read. By itself, this reason is not compelling, but it turns out that this more natural way also produces benefits in final skill levels.
3. Listening builds a skill of speed for faster comprehension. The speed of speech is often much faster than a learner would chose for processing a new language. Listening leads a student to rise to that level of natural speed in the new language.
4. Listening and speaking is one of the main vehicles for developing 'fluency', automaticity in the language, that is, the ability to rapidly 'think in the language'. This comes through rapid, meaningful use of the new language as well as more repetitions in the new language. An adult has a natural tendency to want to retreat into an old familiar language, and this can be overcome through listening and speaking, where the natural speeds of communication override any possibility of retreat. The result of such learning is being able to think in and with the new language. 'Reading only' does not produce the same fluency skills.
5. Fluent listening and speaking skills allow for higher level reading skills to be activated. A reader only has a limited amount of energy for processing the message being read. If a significant part of conscious energy is diverted to the 'formal nuts and bolts' of the language rather than the meaning, then one's full conscious energies cannot be directed to the threads and connections of the meaning and larger message. As one illustration, the meaning of a word is not just itself, or what it refers to, but includes its relationship to the other potential words in a language that were not chosen at any one point. A reader who is fluent in a language and can think in the language will process these meanings and relationships as the message unfolds.
6. Psycholinguistic studies have shown that a significant percent of unconscious processing energy is devoted to processing the sound system of a language, even in languages with picture writing systems like Chinese. Without an underlying spoken infrastructure, the processing of the 'new' language is left incomplete and maybe 'crashed' in a processing loop.
7. Finally, it must be remembered that the graphic system of a language, the writing system, is only a partial representation of a language. Languages are always more than a writing system and a spoken communication medium is always fuller than the symbol system that is used to partially record the spoken language. Readers who speak the language that they are reading are intuitively aware of this. Developing fluency skills allows the reader of an ancient text to become more aware of the overall communication process.
8. Listening does not have the problem of 'dyslexia'. Dyslexia is a problem caused when simultaneous visual input is reversed. Audio input is serial and cannot be reversed in the same way.
9. Listening and reading should not be confused with audio and visual learning. Visual learning takes place whenever a language is used in a real life context or when pictures accompany the language description. When a person gets to visually 'see the meaning', then visual learning takes place. This is true whether the language input is spoken or written.
10. Caretaker speech, that is, special, slowed down speech is sometimes used with learning through listening. This occurs between mother and child, and ideally, it is often used between teacher and student. This goes hand in hand with point nine, immediately above.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Probably not, so here’s what happened: You were surrounded by people much larger than you, who were making noises and moving their faces, hands and arms in ways that made sense to them. After awhile, you realized that these noises and gestures meant things—some good, like food and hugs; some not so good, like night-nights.
Fascinated, you copied those sounds and gestures. Then you discovered frustration as what you did didn’t bring the desired result. Still, the big people were encouraging, so you kept trying.
One day, success! You did something and the big people responded. From then on, no one could shut you up.
That method—immersion—is how you learned your first language. Immersion is also how Brian Schultz teaches biblical Hebrew."