Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

SACE Ancient Worlds Summer School

August 8, 2012

Animated discussion at break-time

The first week of the SACE Ancient Worlds Summer School included language courses in Sanskrit (which was a bit disorganised) and Akkadian (which was excellent), or alternatively lectures based on current research in Egyptology.

We were surprised to see that the potentially 20 sessions for the two languages were reduced to 17, two of the missing ones being taken up with a ‘visit’ to a museum that was closed–so there was a handling session instead.  The schedule is shown in the picture below:

In another location, the masses showed their opinion of student hall catering:

We do Akkadian in 7 hours

August 4, 2012

So this is how we did Akkadian in seven hours:

Session 1: Hammurabi (1792 BC –1750 BC) consolidated Babylonian power.  His laws are good reading for beginners since they follow a set structure.  The nominal sentence with -ma, verb statives, independent pronoun.

Session 2:  Expressing possession with the particle ša, pronominal suffixes, the construct state.  Some exercises.  We also write cuneiform on clay tablets using extra-large matches somewhere around here.

Session 3:  Some books on Akkadian and Ancient Mesopotamia.  Triconsonantal roots.  Adjectives and nouns.

Session 4:  The G stem of strong verbs.  Subj-Obj-Ind Obj-Verb.

Session 5: The G D  Š and N stems.  Weak verbs (verbs with a weak stem consonant).

Session 6:  We translate some of the Laws of Hammurabi, like the following:

šumma awīlum īn mār awīlim uhtappid īnšu uhappadū

if a man the eye of the son of a man has blinded his eye they will blind

Session 7: We read some cuneiform Laws of Hammurabi from clay tablets kindly manufactured by Hannah for this very purpose.

Commentary:  That was excellent!  We were well impressed at how our tutor Hannah Johnson had prepared a great variety of materials and used a variety of approaches in putting the subject across, along with being very nice about it all.  It turned out to be the first time she had taught Akkadian, so we felt especially honoured.

Most of the material used can be found on the Internet here.

What did we do in 10 hours of Sanskrit in Liverpool?

August 2, 2012

It remains far away!

That’s a good question.

The short answer would be that we got a commentary to the first four chapters of  Coulson’s Complete Teach Yourself Sanskrit, with the idea that we could then proceed under our own steam.  As our instructor pointed out, Coulson’s book really presupposes a reader who already knows their Latin and/or Greek, thus giving them the basic structure, and merely needs to have the peculiarities of Sanskrit pointed out.  As someone else pointed out, another feature of Coulson is that the rather small format means that the paradigms aren’t set out in nice large reassuring tables but are instead rather difficult to comprehend.

The approach also involved bringing into play the material in the appendices at the back of the book, rather than just the text at the front.

So here’s the content of the sessions (each of which occupied one hour).  There were seven in the group and at least in the instructor’s opinion we didn’t need any explanation of the traditional terminology of ‘grammar’.

Session 1:  Position of Sanskrit as ancient Indo-European language.  Not used for everyday purposes.  Ignore devanagari script.

Session 2:  Present indicative active of thematic verbs.  Vowel gradation (guna, vrdhhi).

Session 3:   To be (asmi/bhu) pres ind act.  Pres ind act of gam and stha.  Sandhi and use of sandhi grid.

Session 4:  Paradigm of nouns in -a: nom, acc, instr, dat, abl, gen, loc, voc; singular, plural and dual.  (Something seems to have happened to the duals of phala and kanya.)

For our homework, we did Exercise 2b from Coulson in the Roman transliteration version.  That was quite feasible, though required a definite effort.

Session 5:  First and second person personal pronouns (again without the dual, but in all the cases).

Session 6:  Imperfect of asma.  Compounds.  Some applications of sandhi.

Session 7:  Declension of adjectives (in -a).

Session 8:  Past participles.  Use of these in place of finite verbs as characteristic of Sanskrit.

Our homework was (the romanised version of) Exercise 3b from Coulson.  Only one person had sufficient morale to apply the time-honoured procedure of writing out all the questions and then underneath them the answers from the back of the book.

Section 9:  Our instructor went through the homework.

Session 10:  Our instructor went through the first few (17) lines from the Tale of Nala from the Mahabharata, identifying the words and parsing them.

As for texts for further study, our tutor mentioned Ramopakhyana – The Story of Rama in the Mahabharata by Peter Scharf, together with  The Sanskrit Language by Maurer and Fields and A Sanskrit Grammar by Manfred Mayrhofer.

Conclusion:  That was all rather disorganised.  We were disappointed to see the ‘four contact hours per day’ become 10 contact hours over 3 days, with Wednesday afternoon a half-holiday.  But it was useful to be told which were the more and less important parts of Coulson and how much attention (not) to pay to learning the rules of sandhi in detail.