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Download Understanding Language: A Guide for Beginning Students of Greek and Latin eBook

by Donald Fairbairn

Download Understanding Language: A Guide for Beginning Students of Greek and Latin eBook
ISBN:
0813218667
Author:
Donald Fairbairn
Category:
Foreign Language Study & Reference
Language:
English
Publisher:
The Catholic University of America Press (July 8, 2011)
Pages:
240 pages
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1751 kb
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1628 kb
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But, if you are a beginning student of Latin and/or Greek, or even an intermediate student, you will probably benefit greatly from this book.

But, if you are a beginning student of Latin and/or Greek, or even an intermediate student, you will probably benefit greatly from this book.

A Guide for Beginning Students of Greek and Latin.

Donald Fairbairn (born August 31, 1963) is a scholar specializing in patristic soteriology and Cyril of Alexandria who . Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press.

Donald Fairbairn (born August 31, 1963) is a scholar specializing in patristic soteriology and Cyril of Alexandria who currently teaches at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Donald MacAllister Fairbairn, Jr. (1963-08-31) August 31, 1963 (age 56). Occupation. ISBN 978-0-8132-1866-3.

Select Format: Paperback. ISBN13:9780813218663. Release Date:July 2011.

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This book seeks to break students out of ""English mode"" as soon as possible, at the very beginning of study.

Published by: Catholic University of America Press. eISBN: 978-0-8132-1907-3.

Fairbairn, Donald (2002). Eastern Orthodoxy Through Western Eyes.

In both cases, the book deals first with function (what nouns and verbs must do) and then explains how the forms of Greek and Latin achieve the needed functions. As a result, the book helps to make the hard tasks of memorizing forms and learning syntax easier and more enjoyable.

Why do students today find Greek and Latin so difficult and frustrating to learn? Perhaps the primary barrier preventing us from learning another language successfully is that we often subconsciously believe that English is the standard for the way languages must express ideas, and therefore we unwittingly try to fit the new language into the structure of English.

This book seeks to break students out of "English mode" as soon as possible, at the very beginning of study. Rather than constantly relating Greek and Latin to English, the book starts with a big-picture discussion of what any language must do in order to facilitate communication. It then explains how Indo-European languages in general accomplish the tasks of communication, and how Greek and Latin in particular do so.

Understanding Language includes major sections on the noun and verb systems of the classical languages. In both cases, the book deals first with function (what nouns and verbs must do) and then explains how the forms of Greek and Latin achieve the needed functions. As a result, the book helps to make the hard tasks of memorizing forms and learning syntax easier and more enjoyable. Students gain a broad understanding of the way the classical languages work before they begin the details.

This book gives students some of the conceptual benefits of studying two closely related languages, even if they are studying only one of them. Students do not need to be studying both Latin and Greek (or even to know the Greek alphabet) in order to profit from this book. Teachers may choose to have students read the entire book at the beginning of their study or to read sections at various points in the first year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Donald Fairbairn is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers, Grace and Christology in the Early Church, and Eastern Orthodoxy through Western Eyes.

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:

"This is an essential companion to introductory texts on first-year Greek or first-year Latin. As students learn less and less English grammar in primary and secondary education, virtually all foreign-language instructors must supplement their standard introductions. Why not do it with a book that teaches exactly what is needed to understand beginning Greek and Latin grammar, no more and no less? Equally valuable for both languages, with little that is superfluous for either, Fairbairn's book is clear, concise, and motivational. I recommend it enthusiastically."--Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

"Fairbairn's Understanding Language illuminates the complexities of both classical tongues in many helpful ways by anticipating major challenges faced by today's classics teachers in explaining, and their Anglophone students in comprehending, grammatical issues. His emphasis on the functions of forms is especially welcome and impressive."--Judith P. Hallett, Professor of Classics, University of Maryland

"Understanding Language is a unique and helpful book for both students and teachers of classical (and koine) Greek and Latin. It is unique in that it treats the fundamentals of both ancient languages simultaneously; it does not give undue emphasis and priority to English grammar, but presents the 'forest,' namely the basic building blocks of language generally conceived, before the 'trees,' that is, the specifics of Greek, Latin, and English. The author provides helpful hints for using this book to supplement (but not replace) the material provided in customary Greek and Latin textbooks."--Rev. William B. Palardy, Rector and President, Blessed John XXIII National Seminary

  • Kefrannan
There are several things you have to do if you want to learn a new language. You have to learn to recognize and reproduce the sounds of the spoken language (phonology). You have to learn to recognize and reproduce the symbols of the written language, and know what sounds they represent (orthography). You have to learn how words are formed and modified (morphology), which may require memorizing long lists of prefixes, suffixes, and other variant word forms, along with the rules for how to use them. And, of course, you have to commit lots and lots of words to memory (vocabulary). These are what we might think of as the "mechanics" of learning a new language. They are things that you have to learn by repetition until they become second nature. If you compare learning a new language to learning how to play the piano, these things are like learning how to read sheet music, learning which keys on the keyboard correspond to which notes on the staff, learning how to position your hands in order to play various notes and chords, learning how to work the foot pedals, and learning to play a standard repertoire of simple tunes by heart. There are several methods that can be used in order to help you learn these things; but, ultimately, you've just got to keep practicing until you get good at them.

But there's another thing you have to do in order to learn a new language: You have to learn how the language conveys meaning using words in combination (syntax). In other words, you have to learn the grammatical functions of different types of words, and how those words can be strung together to form larger grammatical structures such as phrases, clauses, and sentences. And you have to learn how to interpret the meaning expressed by those grammatical structures. Unlike memorizing vocabulary words and case endings, or learning correct pronunciation and spelling, developing a proper understanding of syntax is not simply a mechanical skill to be honed through practice. Rather, it's something that has to be learned conceptually, much in the same way that you learn any other conceptual subject -- philosophy, economics, biology, etc. If we compare it to our earlier example of learning to play the piano, learning syntax is akin to learning music theory: the principles of how a piece of music works, and why the notes are arranged the way they are. Though it is possible to learn the mechanics of how to play the piano without ever studying music theory, your proficiency with the instrument will be limited without an understanding of how music is structured. Likewise, it is possible to learn the mechanics of how to speak a language without ever making a formal study of syntax -- after all, you learned the basics of how to speak and understand your own native language long before you ever studied grammar in school; and a number of second language instruction methods try to mimic the experience of first language acquisition by exposing students to the language as it is actually spoken, and letting them develop an intuitive grasp of how the language works, rather than explicitly discussing the principles of syntax -- but your proficiency in this language will be limited without a conceptual understanding of its structure.

This book is about syntax. Specifically, it's about the syntax of Latin and Ancient Greek. It doesn't attempt to cover phonology, orthography, morphology, or vocabulary -- i.e. the aspects of language that must be learned mechanically, through years of practice. Rather, it focuses on the grammatical structure of these two classical languages. It aims to help students develop a conceptual understanding of how these languages work -- how they express meaning by combining words into phrases, clauses, and sentences. It doesn't go into intricate detail, covering every possible nuance of Greek and Latin grammar. Rather, it simply gives students a "big picture" overview of the types of words found in these two languages, and how those words can be put together in ways that express particular sorts of ideas. This book is aimed at beginning students of Latin and/or Greek -- students who may not be familiar with even the most basic grammatical concepts -- and is designed to augment, not to replace, other language instruction materials. It is not intended to teach you everything you need to know about Greek and Latin. Rather, it is intended to fill in some of the gaps that you may find in other language instruction materials, which either fail to provide an adequate discussion of the grammatical structures of these languages, or else discuss them in ways that may be confusing to students who are not already familiar with arcane grammatical concepts and terminology. This book is not aimed at advanced students of the classical languages who have already mastered the basics of Greek and/or Latin syntax. (Though it never hurts to get a refresher on the basics from time to time, no matter how advanced you are.) But, if you are a beginning student of Latin and/or Greek, or even an intermediate student, you will probably benefit greatly from this book.

One of the most difficult things for monolingual people and beginning second language learners to grasp is that different languages have different ways of expressing things. The way we customarily express an idea in English is not the only possible way of expressing that idea. Someone who speaks another language may express that same basic idea in a very different way. For example, if I want to say "I love you" in English, I pretty much have to say it exactly like I just did: using these three words, placed in this very specific order. But to express this same idea in Latin, I could say "ego amo te", or I could say "te ego amo", or "ego te amo", or "te amo ego", or "amo ego te", or "amo te ego", or I could just say "amo te" or "te amo". That's because Latin syntax doesn't work in quite the same way that English syntax does. The biggest hurdle a second language learner will have to overcome is not, as he or she might expect, learning a new alphabet, or learning how to pronounce foreign words correctly, or even having to learn hundreds of new vocabulary words -- these are mere mechanical tasks that will take lots of time and effort to master, but that don't require a radical shift in how a person thinks. The biggest hurdle a second language learner will have to overcome is learning how ideas are expressed in a language whose syntax is very different from that of his or her native language. In order to master the syntax of a new language, you really do have to learn to think differently. That's why a book like this is so useful to a beginning language student: It clearly explains the basics of how ideas are expressed in Latin and Greek, giving special attention to those aspects of Greek and Latin syntax that differ the most from English syntax. It doesn't bog the reader down in the sort of minute details that are of interest mainly to advanced students; but it does give a pretty good overview of the grammatical structure of Latin and Greek -- the sort of basic information that beginning students of these languages really need to know, but that may not adequately be explained in other Greek and Latin textbooks. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn either or both of these two classical languages. In fact, some of the information presented in this book applies beyond Latin and Greek, to Indo-European languages in general; though I don't think I'd go so far as to recommend this book to students of languages other than Greek or Latin, since the bulk of it is geared toward the specific grammatical features of these two classical languages.

Since (as of this writing) Amazon doesn't have a "Look Inside" feature for this book, let me briefly summarize the contents:

PART 1: GETTING STARTED
-- 1. Learning a Foreign Language: The Bad News and the Good News
-- 2. Studying a Dead Language: Why Bother?
-- 3. The Building Blocks of Language

PART 2: NOUNS AND THE WORDS THAT GO WITH THEM
-- 4. Expressing the Relations between Nouns
-- 5. Adjectives, Articles, and Pronouns

PART 3: VERBS: THE HEART OF COMMUNICATION
-- 6. What Do Verbs Do?
-- 7. Finite Verb Forms: A Closer Look at Tense and Mood
-- 8. Special (Non-Finite) Verbal Forms: Infinitives and Participles

PART 4: LOOKING AT SENTENCES AS A WHOLE
-- 9. Words, Phrases, Clauses: Putting Them Together
--10. Reading a Greek or Latin Sentence: Some Suggestions

This book explains, in simple terms that are easy to understand, the function and use of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and other parts of speech, and gives a clear, concise explanation of basic grammatical concepts such as gender, number, person, tense, voice, and mood, as they are used in Greek and Latin. It provides an excellent overview of the Indo-European case system, describing the basic grammatical function of each of the eight Indo-European cases, and how those functions are handled by the seven cases used in Latin and the five used in Greek. It explains the differences between the use of articles in Greek and English, and how Latin is able to function without articles at all. It gives what I believe to be the best explanation of verb tense (time and aspect) I've ever encountered. It also discusses how Latin and Greek join words together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences. And it does all of these things without going into the details of how English grammar works. It does this deliberately, in order to encourage students to start thinking the way that Greek and Latin speakers think rather than trying to mentally "translate" Latin and Greek grammatical structures into their nearest English counterparts (which are often quite different). And, by explicitly comparing Greek and Latin syntax, which are very similar in some ways but different in others, this book does a great job of illustrating how different languages handle the same basic grammatical functions.

I think if you get this book it will really help make the task of learning Greek and/or Latin a lot easier by bringing some much needed clarity to the often confusing system of syntax used in these two languages. I highly recommend it.
  • Dozilkree
This book makes good reading for those interested in studying Greek or Latin. It presumes that the student-reader knows little or nothing about the Classical languages, or even much about English. It presents a linguistic overview of Greek and Latin, explaining both the "good" and the "bad" about what the would-be learner is about to undertake. Fairbairn makes excellent points throughout, the best of which (to my mind) is alerting the student to the mistake of believing that vocabulary in Greek or Latin will have a one-to-one correspondence with English. He suggests that these languages must be viewed on their own merits, not simply by how easy (or hard) they are to learn for a native speaker of English. Also well written is the information on morphology and syntax intended to lay the groundwork for understanding Greek or Latin grammar. This information is neither too cursory or too detailed; it does not overwhelm the student yet manages to present a balanced overview of how these languages operate grammatically. As a teacher of both Latin and Greek, the book succeeds in striking a good balance in its presentation. It does strike me that the book will be more interesting to students who are motivated to learn, or at least interested enough to want to know what they're getting themselves into. It presumes enough interest to work through the terminology of basic linguistics. Latin and Greek are beautiful and infinitely fascinating, and Fairbairn conveys his love for these languages admirably. I would also say that the book is good reading for those who are interested in languages in general. In a world where educational aims are focused on training rather than education per se, where the feeling is that, unless the knowledge can be turned into dollars it is hardly worth bothering with, the book is refreshing, reminding us that the growth of the mind may well be far more important.
  • Bradeya
Just what my son needed for his seminary class work....thanks!
  • Whitescar
To learn Latin, the best way I know is a lot of memorization of lists like i,isti,it,imus,istis,erunt. Reading only this book by itself will not do much to teach you Latin or Greek, but reading this book together with a Latin book like Wheelock's will help you organize the huge number of facts that must be memorized. In fact, when I started Latin it seemed overwhelming to remember the forms of nouns and verbs and then adjectives, but those come with practice and what is harder is sorting out complex sentences with clauses or knowing what a subjunctive means. Fairbairn did a good job defining from scratch all the technical grammar terms used, like clause and phrase. I think that studying the grammar of two languages at the same time is a good way to get a sense for the difference of meaning and form while not being overwhelmed with general linguistics and examples from Chinese, Arabic or the various boutique languages documented by linguists; certainly if we wish to make a statement about all human languages it will not be true unless it applies to every language that exists or has ever existed, but this is too general for a beginner to apply in any way to a particular language.