Course: CLG 101
Instructor: Andrew L. Ford
Description of Course Goals and CurriculumThe goal of CLG 101 is to familiarize students with the grammar and syntax of Attic Greek. Professor Ford aimed to complete half of the chapters in the assigned book, which essentially means that the students will have, ideally, mastered half of Attic Greek grammar, leaving the rest of the book for CLG 102. Although the mastering of any language includes the growth of vocabulary, and the course does demand the acquisition of a certain vocabulary, the main focus of the course is to understand how Greek sentences are structured and become familiar with the way that Attic Greek authors expressed sometimes quite nuanced differences in meaning. To accomplish this Professor Ford emphasized and demanded the mastery of seemingly trivial details. For example, the accentuation of words (seemingly is stressed given that it is not necessary to memorize or know how to accent words to read Greek, but it is a great advantage to have). There is not one single way to learn Attic Greek, so depending on the assigned book, each year students might be introduced to concepts at a different time than the year previous; however, the study of Greek is fundamentally comprehensive and except for possible slight variances in the introduction of certain rules,, the mastery of each concept is necessary to work in any way towards reading. I mean that, as opposed to other courses, where the student might struggle with a concept or idea but be able to move on and focus on another, revisiting the struggle at a later time, Greek study requires the understanding of each concept in order to make progress. Students should expect to master each chapter as they are covered. This of course presents a demanding challenge, but grammar textbooks invariably have an abundance of exercises for practicing application. Given time constraints, Professor Ford did not assign every single one, but completing the optional exercises pays dividends. Another large component of the course is understanding how to think in paradigms (in a syntactical sense). A student should expect to master these paradigms through repeatedly writing them out or speaking them aloud. It requires patience, but this is the best way to memorize them. The course begins with creating this understanding and will rest on it throughout its entirety. You will start with simple and regular verb and noun paradigms and gradually increase in complexity throughout the semester.
Learning From Classroom InstructionThe class meets four times per week, usually doing one chapter per day (sometimes one in two days at most). Each day there are homework assignments due, always the completion of one or two exercises in the chapter that was taught that day, which will be reviewed and discussed during class. After the review of the homework, the next chapter is introduced and taught. This can get monotonous, but it is necessary to master the language. Professor Ford also usually has some great insights to offer or something witty to say which softens the repetition. The class sessions are interactive and the best way to gain understanding is to be assertive. Class can feel as though it is moving too fast at times, so I found that it was immensely helpful to have read the chapter and worked on some of the chapter exercises that were to be worked on that day before going into class so that I was already familiar with the terminology that was going to be introduced. This also made it easier to participate, which always leads to greater understanding.
Learning For and From AssignmentsAll of the assignments are straightforward and there will never be confusion on what is expected to be known. Because of how interactive the course is, assignments and quizzes are usually discussed before being assigned (with consideration of length of the assignment and additional obligations among other things). There are daily assignments. These usually consist of the completion of chapter exercises and the memorization of a paradigm or syntactical structure. The mastery of the day’s lesson will be tested in a quiz the following day. This does mean daily quizzes, but these are not meant to be stressful, and good performance can be achieved through spending a few minutes memorizing a paradigm or completing the homework assignments that are due anyway. The point of the quizzes is to keep you on track because, as mentioned above, the study of Greek grammar is fundamentally inclusive. There is a midterm and a final. These consist of either declining nouns or conjugating verbs (which is the testing of your paradigm knowledge), the completion of similar exercises to the ones assigned in the chapters (sometimes ones you’ve already seen if you have done them), and then a sight translation. The main focus is on the Grammar understanding (paradigms and exercises). The sight translation is included because the ultimate goal is to read Greek, but Professor Ford is quite lenient on the assessment of this, given that his main concern is with the master of grammar and syntax. He wants to see that you have mastered the formulas for understanding Greek grammar and that you understand fully how and when different forms of words will be used more so than he wants to see that you can actually read Greek. This will come in later courses.
External ResourcesThe required textbook is sufficient for complete understanding, but there are many valuable resources online. The Perseus Digital Library from Tufts is a great resource. It not only serves as a dictionary but you can find other Grammar books such as Smyths A Greek Grammar for Colleges, which might be able to offer another explanation on any particular topic. Also the Greek Paradigm Handbook: Reference Guide and Memorization Tool is a great resource for a quick and compact reference to the many paradigms.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course SelectionThis course is demanding. Undertaking the study of Greek is a monumental task, but it is very rewarding. A student will have to devote time each day to their Greek, but the structure of constant quizzing and exercise assures that the student has a good grasp on the material. You will learn how to study sentence structures in a formulaic way and will develop an ability to think logically that will be applicable in other areas of study. It will also improve your writing skills, giving you a better command of language both through an expanded vocabulary and through a deeper understanding of the foundations of grammar and syntax--an invaluable skill.
Beginner’s Greek: Greek Grammar