Do Greek Professors Know Greek? What About Aramaic Professors?

A rather surprising story comes from Daniel Streett of καὶ τὰ λοιπά (HT to Jim Davila and James McGrath):

A Test for Greek Professors
In November, 2008, I presented a paper at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on teaching Greek communicatively. As an experiment, I began my presentation by passing out a quiz for attendees to take. I’m guessing it was the first time that had ever happened! Attendance was pretty good–around 30 audience members. Here’s the quiz. See how you can do:

Write the Greek word/phrase for the following common English words or phrases:

1. Yes ______________
2. Chair or Seat ______________
3. Ball ______________
4. Cat ______________
5. Monkey ______________
6. Nine ______________
7. Red ______________
8. Cold ______________
9. Nose ______________
10. To jump ______________
Bonus: “Hello, how are you?” “Goodbye!”_______________________________

What was surprising about it is that, when all was said and done, the highest score was 2 out of 10.

My strength is Aramaic rather than Greek and I got 3 out of 10 off the top of my head ("yes" "cat" and "nose"; Jim beat me!). Like the participants of the experiment, I wager that my grasp of Greek grammar is much stronger than my memorized vocabulary.

There are only three ways to keep vocabulary in your head:

1) Read.
2) Write.
3) Speak.

As an example, doing the same test for Aramaic, I only missed #5 (as monkeys don't tend to come up very often in my line of work -- for the record it is קופא , and now I'll never forget it). :-)

So here's my addition to the challenge: Try your luck in the ancient languages you know. It's an interesting indicator.


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