Friday, January 4, 2013

Three Steps As You Begin Translating Sentences In Greek

There are a few Greek J-terms underway right now. The students will be studying middle/passives in no time. But, I was thinking about what sort of advice I could throw out to beginning Greek students as they begin to translate sentences. Here are my three steps:
  1. Identify the verb. Greek verbs, like Spanish, include a generic subject ("I"/ "you"/ "he," "she," "it"/ etc.) So, a Greek sentence may not have a separate subject working with the verb. When you identify the verb, go ahead and figure out its person, number, voice, tense, mood. That's called "parsing." You may find it helpful to do something like double-underlining or circling the verb. You can mark the other parts of the sentence a different way. Just be consistent, so you don't confuse yourself.
  2. Identify the subject. Maybe the subject is generic (included in the verb). But, maybe not. If there is another subject, the case (nominative) is going to be your flag. It's saying to you, "Hey, translator, look at me. Here I am. I'm the subject!" And, a definite article is going to be a really big flag.
  3. Identify the object. After you've found the verb and the subject, you'll have to identify the object of the verb. What case will you be looking for? The accusative case (except with certain verbs, whose objects are in the nominative case [predicate nominatives]). And, you'll learn to love those definite articles. They are big, big flags no matter where they are in the sentence. The only problem is, they're not always there. You won't always find an object, by the way. Sometimes you'll have a verb, a subject, and a noun in the dative or who knows. There are all sorts of variations. But if you start with these three steps, I think you'll be on the right track.
Have you ever seen that movie "What About Bob?" with Bill Murray. It is without a doubt one of the funniest movies of all time. "I'm taking a vacation...from my problems!" I love that line. Dr. Leo Marvin gave Bob his book, Baby Steps, to help him with his issues. He told Bob, "Bob, if you are leaving the building...don't think about what you have to do to get out of the building. Think about what you have to do to leave this room." When you are learning how to translate Greek sentences, don't let the number of different words surprise you or intimidate you. Think "Baby Steps." Baby steps to the verb. Baby steps to the subject. Baby steps to the object. Before you know it, you'll be saying just like Bill Murray in the movie, "It works, it really works!"

No comments:

Post a Comment