Quality Quotes: Nida on Greek & Linguistics II

These are just a few quotes that I read this morning before church by Eugene Nida in Language Structure and Translations: Essays by Eugene Nida. Toward the end, there’s a essay entitled “Implications of Contemporary Linguistics for Biblical Scholarship.”

Considerable strides have been made since World War II in many aspects of language teaching. No longer does the student merely learn about a language, i.e., memorizing the rules of grammar, but he actually learns the language. By concentrated approaches to the total structure of a language and with emphasis upon the distinctive features of language rather than on the subordinate mass of details, students have gained remarkable facility in modern languages. There is absolutely no reason why the biblical languages cannot be equally well taught, but in so many instances they are not. It is no wonder that students increasingly depreciate the study of biblical languages and administrative officers are accused of cooperating in eliminating Greek and Hebrew as required courses. If such languages are not taught any better than they usually are, then they ought to be eliminated, since they tend to be such an appreciable waste of the students’ time.

Two of the important aspects of present-day research in the field of language learning are the recognition that not all people learn languages in the same way, and that no one method is going to be of maximal efficiency for all persons. Nevertheless, there are a number of important innovations which teachers of modern languages have employed, and unless these are taken over at least in part (with recognition, of course, that the student of biblical languages is more concerned with decoding that with encoding) then further attrition in the learning of Greek and Hebrew is inevitable (Nida, 264-265).

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