Tuesday, January 11, 2005

That was a pretty boss town

And at long last my first APA report. I hope there really wasn't much anticipation.

We picked Mo up at Philadelphia International at 9:30 Friday night, and made it to Boston by 4am. We slept two to three hours then had to face the regrettable consequences of requesting a wake-up call.

After getting lost in the maze of the hotel/convention center, I ran into Professor Kitchell, who is as funny and charming as ever. He proceeded to tell someone who seemed important to watch out for me because I'm a thief and a liar, and the stories about the goat are all true.

From there I snuck into section 31: Using Linguistic Evidence to Enrich the Teaching of Classical Languages and Cultures. I caught the second half of Mary Bacharova's talk, yeah? But I didn't really see the usefulness of the approach and felt that her extensive treatment of the so-called English 'get passive' was tedious and often incorrect. Mastering the verb is the key to reading Greek, and the teaching of individual verb forms based on relative frequency can at best give a temporary satisfaction to the textbook learner. What happens when the most common forms are not encountered, and your students have no idea how to determine what it is they're looking at?

Rex Wallace in turn offered his own approach, namely teaching Greek pronunciation from an articulatory perspective from day one, and empowering students throughout the first year of Greek to determine forms which most people would consider irregular but which are in fact perfectly consonant with native phonetic rules. This answered part of Bacharova's paper in which she noted that her students often can't find words in the dictionary.

Andrew and I were taking a coffee break today and for some reason I asked him what the aorist of βλώσκω is. It took a minute to remember ἔμολον and it occurred to me that it's probably not irregular. I reckoned that the root might well be *mol(o)-. The present would then be zero grade, *ml(o)-, with the bi-labial nasal affected by native phonological rules to produce the stem *blo-. Understanding phonology early can eliminate a lot of the confusion.

Professor Wallace's examples included Grassmann's law and loss of voice before -s, among others.

To be continued ...

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