So what is Polis Method?

April 21, 2017

polis1

I did inquire of the Polis Institute what the Polis Method was, and they kindly sent me a link to Christophe Rico’s page on academia.edu.  There is what seems to be a full account here and you can enjoy a lesson on YouTube here.  I especially enjoyed the comments left under the video, redolent as they are of stale pedantry and hatred of the human race…but I’m not saying that they’re wrong, at least about the pronunciation…

Church Slavonic and Septuagint Greek versions of Genesis 2:7

April 18, 2017

IMG_2117[1]

A solid enough display of Biblical scholarship

Question 

Here is a paragraph in progress regarding versions of Genesis 2:7. What bothers me is note 2. Is it the case that the Church Slavonic is ultimately based on the Septuagint rather than on some Hebrew original? I discovered that the current Synodal Russian translation is actually utilizing Gospod’ in 2:7, unlike the Church Slavonic edition I have. Any assistance on this would be much appreciated.

Biblical scholar Ronald A. Simkins writes of Genesis 2:7: “… YHWH’s forming of the human creature (the male ’ādām) from the dirt of the arable land (the female ’ădāmāh) serves as a metaphor for humankind’s birth out of the earth.”[1] Again, the earth gives birth, but not without God. Here it is worth noting that, like the grammatically feminine Hebrew word for “earth” (’ădāmāh), the equivalent words in the Septuagint Greek (gē), Vulgate Latin (terra), and Church Slavonic (zjemlja) – are also grammatically feminine. It is worth noting as well that the grammatically masculine Yahweh (YHWH) is matched by its grammatically masculine Greek (kurios), Latin (Dominus), and Slavonic (Gospodь) equivalents.[2]

[1] Simkins 2014, 48 (cf. also Simkins 1998, 39-46).

[2] However, these equivalents do not turn up until the next verse (8) in the Septuagint Greek and Church Slavonic texts.

Response

It is certainly the case that the Church Slavonic text comes from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew text.

The standard Hebrew text in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia gives the equivalent of ‘the LORD God’ (YHWH elohim, if you like) at both 2:7 and 2:8–the first occurrence that I can see of this pairing is at 2:4, before that it’s elohim (God). LXX has ho theos (God) in 2:4 and 2:7, then kurios ho theos (the Lord God) in 2:8.

I think that Jewish tradition has often tried to distinguish YHWH elohim on the grounds that one is God in the aspect of justice and the other in the aspect of mercy, but I’m not aware of anything being made of grammatical distinctions. Alternatively elohim may be interpreted as the creator and YHWH as the god of the covenant in relationship to Israel. ‘Elohim’ is notoriously plural in form but governs a masculine singular verb–to over-simplify, grammatical number and gender didn’t have the definitive character in Biblical Hebrew that they do in (say) modern Russian.

Another issue here is that LXX in some cases appears to be based on a more ancient (Hebrew) text than the standard Masoretic text we have, though BHS doesn’t give any textual variants at 2:7.

Ernest Dowson died here

April 17, 2017

IMG_2116[1]

159 Sangley Road

According to Arthur Symons’s memoir of Ernest Dowson:

[he] died at 26 Sandhurst Gardens, Catford, S.E on Friday morning, February 23, 1900….[he] was found one day in a Bodega with only a few shillings in his pocket, and so weak as to be hardly able to walk, by a friend, himself in some difficulties, who immediately took him back to the bricklayer’s cottage in a muddy outskirt of Catford, where he was himself living…

Meanwhile the Lewisham Council website states:

Died in the house of a friend at 26 Sandhurst Gardens (now 159 Sangley Road),

and we presume they ought to be a reliable source for addresses in Catford.

The house above looks as though it was built around 1900, so the bricklayer may have been living there while working on other houses nearby (which is why it was muddy–largely bare ground or a building site rather than houses) and letting out rooms.

What did they do with the free coal?

April 16, 2017
kopeisk

Irrelevant picture of a mine at Kopeisk, from humus.livejournal.com

On SEELANGS, Robert Chandler asks about the following passage (from За правое дело, and apparently referring to life in a miners’ settlement in 1942):

И человек, понимающий рабочую жизнь, знает, как важны эти пустые с виду просьбы: дать записку в детсад, чтобы приняли ребёнка, перевести из холостого общежития в семейное, разрешить пользоваться кипятком в котельной, помочь старухе матери перебраться из деревни в рабочий посёлок, открепить от одного магазина и прикрепить к другому, который поближе от квартиры, разрешить не работать день, с тем чтобы отвезти жену в город на операцию, приказать коменданту дать угольный сарайчик. Кажутся эти просьбы действительно мелкими и нудными, а от них ведь зависит и здоровье, и спокойствие души, а значит, и производительность труда.

The original question was about the угольный сарайчик, which was easily enough identified as a coal shed rather than a corner shack, on the basis that the miners got an allowance of free coal.  Then the question arises as to what they would have done with the free coal if they lived in a barracks.

I think the possible answers are:

1) the list of cases does not refer to the same person who needs to move to married quarters, take his wife to the hospital, be registered at another shop and so on.  Some of the miners will have had the kind of accommodation where they could burn coal in their own stove and will have needed somewhere to store the coal;

2) while selling the coal  privately in the Soviet Union on 1942 might not have been wise, it does get cold in Russia in the winter and it would probably have been possible to exchange it for something;

3) nobody was interested in whether you had a use for your coal–you were issued it, and then it was up to you to deal with it.

‘Somewhere life is simple…’ (Anna Akhmatova)

April 13, 2017

Somewhere life is simple, the light does fall
Transparent, warm and cheering…
There a neighbour talks over the wall
At evening with a girl, only the bees are hearing
The tenderest talk of all.

Then we live grandly and with difficulty
And we see bitter meetings are rightly done
When the foolhardy wind abruptly
Breaks off utterance just begun.

But we will not exchange for anything the splendid
Granite city of glory and of doom
Ice resplendent on rivers’ wide room
Sunless gardens filled with gloom
And the Muse’s voice, scarce apprehended.

granitnyj_gorod

Picture from www.liveinternet.ru/users/romanovskaya_galina/

Ведь где-то есть простая жизнь и свет,
Прозрачный, тёплый и весёлый…
Там с девушкой через забор сосед
Под вечер говорит, и слышат только пчёлы
Нежнейшую из всех бесед.

А мы живём торжественно и трудно
И чтим обряды наших горьких встречь,
Когда с налёту ветер безрассудный
Чуть начатую обрывает речь, –

Но ни на что не променяем пышный
Гранитный город славы и беды,
Широких рек сияющие льды,
Бессолнечные, мрачные сады
И голос музы еле слышный.

А.Ахматова.

Immersive Ancient Languages In Jerusalem

April 12, 2017

polis

Etti Calderon writes (1 NIS = £ 0.22/$ 0.27):

Polis- The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities is based in Jerusalem, Israel and was established in 2011 by a group of academics with the goal of promoting the study of ancient and Semitic languages. The founders believe the best way to understand ancient or modern texts and cultures is to become immersed in the language through listening, speaking, writing, and reading. In order to access the ancient texts without the need for dictionaries and study aids, the Polis Method (a combination of acquisition techniques including total immersion, total physical response, and story building) was developed to teach ancient and modern languages as living languages in an immersive environment. From the first lesson only the target language is spoken, written, and read in the classroom. 

We have two sessions in Jerusalem during the summer months with intensive courses in Classical Syriac, Ancient Greek, and Biblical Hebrew. The courses in Jerusalem will take place at the Polis Institute, located at 8 HaAyin Het Street, in the neighborhood of Musrara, near the Old City of Jerusalem.

Classical Syriac (Level II)

  • Dates: Monday-Friday (July 3-21, 2017)
  • Hours: 9:00-12:30
  • Academic Hours: 60
  • Cost: 2,100 NIS
  • Location: Polis Institute
  • Level: Advanced Beginner

Ancient Greek (Levels I+II combined)

  • Dates: Monday-Friday (August 30-September 28, 2017)
  • Hours: 9:00-15:00
  • Academic Hours: 120
  • Cost: 3,750 NIS
  • Location: Polis Institute
  • Level: Absolute Beginner + Advanced Beginner (knowledge of the Greek alphabet is pre-requisite)

Biblical Hebrew (Level III)

  • Dates: Monday-Friday (August 30-September 28, 2017)
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 15:00-19:30 and Friday 9:00-13:30
  • Academic Hours: 80
  • Cost: 2,800 NIS
  • Location: Polis Institute
  • Level: Intermediate

Students registering in levels above Absolute Beginner may be required to take a placement test to ensure placement into the correct level.

Please feel free to forward this information to your contacts or subscribers who you think may be interested. 

If you have any questions regarding Polis or our certificate and MA programs, please do not hesitate to contact us via email (info@polisjerusalem.org) or phone (+972-074-701-1048)!

 

 

Translate at City: 26-30 June 2017

April 9, 2017

Robert Chandler (Russian) writes:

This is a truly excellent summer school. I greatly admire ALL the other tutors, and the general atmosphere is always enthusiastic, intelligent and constructive. We are later than usual this year in advertising it, so I will be very grateful if you can forward the information to anyone who might be interested. This year we are running courses in translating from 11 different languages.
See details here.

We give some advice on mental illness…

March 29, 2017

I was asked whether my own experience provided any guidance for a friend whose daughter, a student, had returned home from university apparently suffering from depression:

I did indeed suffer from severe depression (accompanied by anxiety) 30 or so years ago when you used to kindly come and visit me in the hospital in [a place] whose name I’ve forgotten. Since then, I’ve suffered from it  more mildly on a few occasions.  (I think I the most serious episode was when I had five days off work while waiting for the pills to take effect.)

I personally find that antidepressants have always worked for me.   Apart from that, a lot of the process of getting through mental illness (indeed illness generally) is finding someone who you can talk to, who will listen to you and take you seriously.  I had a very nice lady doctor in [a place] who managed to sell me me on various things by saying that especially if you were clever you could convince yourself that depression was all kind of terrible things but it was just depression.

It’s important to reach the stage of understanding that this is it, which means that it’s not going to go away but also it’s not going to turn into something fantastically worse.  I think it’s useful to have contact with people in the same kind of situation as yourself, but I believe (this may be a London thing) that nowadays inpatient mental health facilities are often occupied largely by dual diagnosis cases (drug use and mental illness) and so aren’t particularly pleasant.  Actually, that’s not only London but also NHS, so probably beside the point. In my day, a lot of the clientele were nice young women suffering from bipolar disorder and as long as they were taking their lithium they were perfectly charming.

I have no real experience of either talking therapies or ECT, so can’t say much about therapeutic possibilities outside pills. It’s certainly the case that whatever the  underlying mechanism is, severe episodes are initiated by stress of some kind, so it’s worthwhile avoiding that.  I think that something like a rest cure in a simplified, predictable environment ought to do some good–it did some good in the days when there were no effective specific treatments.  One should avoid alcohol and other recreational chemicals–at best they impede the process of things getting better naturally.

I hope this answers your questions, as far as my experience is relevant.  What strikes me from re-reading your letter is that you say [your daughter] had been self-harming for years as of a year ago.  That suggests something starting in adolescence, which is a different mechanism from the one I am well acquainted with of having a severe initial episode as a young adult and less severe recurrences through adult life.

Jane Austen’s estate

March 5, 2017
austen

There’s more going on here than agreement of verb with subject

A visit to the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton raised some interesting questions, and not only about English grammar.

If there is a valid point being made in the picture above, I think it’s the corollary of the one stated: Due to her writings, she had some money of her own at a time when women generally didn’t. I wonder what Cassandra did with it? How much it was in today’s terms is an almost completely meaningless question–between £ 50,000 and £ 3,000,000 perhaps according to measuringworth.com.

In Capital in the Twenty-First Century Thomas Piketty states:  In Great Britain, the average income was on [sic] the order of 30 pounds a year in the early 1800s, when Jane Austen wrote her novels….She knew that to live comfortably and elegantly, secure proper transportation and clothing, eat well, and find amusement and a necessary minimum of domestic servants, one needed–by her lights–at least twenty to thirty times that much. The characters in her novels consider themselves free from need only if they dispose of incomes from 500 to 1,000 pounds a year.

So on that basis Jane Austen’s lifetime earnings of £ 800 wouldn’t have got her very far.  If she had bought land with the normal rental yield of 4-5% that would have given her the average and deeply insufficient annual income of £ 30-£ 40.  But the question is what the marginal cost of an unmarried sister or maiden aunt would have been–once you had the house, carriage, servants etc the marginal cost of an extra household member may have been comparatively small.

While it is true that nowadays many of us would be penniless without our jobs, Piketty’s point is that in Jane Austen’s day you might make 5x average income from a job or profession or even writing novels if the French didn’t pirate them, but it wasn’t enough–you needed to own lots of land or seize bling from the French like her brothers Charles and Francis, both of whom became admirals.

In Brief March 2017

March 1, 2017

The Tale of Januarie  GSMD 27 February

I was interested by the libretto in Middle English and it did not disappoint, being rather similar to Northumbrian dialect.  I bought a programme at the interval and so found out that we were supposed to regard the characters distantly, before that I had been quite sympathetic to may.  I thought the music in the ensemble passages worked best, there was nothing particularly striking in the individual declamations and I had the feeling that composer Julian Philips was trying to find a safe place between Machaut on one side and Benjamin Britten on the other.  Set, costumes and performance were all first class.  I don’t think the audience actually laughed at any point…

Cost:  £ 25  Rating: ****

The Importance of Being Earnest  Bridewell Theatre 28 February

It was interesting to see this finally, and there was more than sporadic laughter from the audience as the action progressed, interspersed with two intervals.  It all seemed to be played fairly straight, and Jack Worthing emerged as more human than I expected.  But what I enjoyed was Cicely producing to biscuit-tin of the letters to herself she had been forced to write on behalf of Algernon and showing him the diary entries reflecting the course of their engagement.  That was quite mad and also the kind of thing a young woman living in the country with her governess and strict guardian might well do.  This one must have more famous quotes per scene than anything else outside Shakespeare…

Cost:  £ 12   Rating:  ***