October Book Notes 2017

There have been a few events of note in the world of book on Greek linguistics this month.

Review of Brill’s GE:

Not the least of these is a prepublication version of John A. L. Lee’s review of Brill’s Dictionary of Ancient Greek (GE).

The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (Amazon)

I would love to point out some of my hightlights from his review, but the discussion is so dense that I’d end up, quite frankly, quoting entire pages. That’s is neither helpful to readers here or respectful to the author of the review, Dr. Lee. It ought to be necessary reading from now on, however, and not merely because it is important to understand the context of the Brill lexicon. It ought to be necessary because the review represents an essential window into the complexities of lexicography in a way that all students and scholars of the language must grapple with if they are to use lexica responsibly in their reading, studies, and research.

The summary at the end is striking, nevertheless. Lee says that GE is not better than LSJ; it cannot replace LSJ and it is not equal to LSJ. That’s three assertions about the lexicons in relation to LSJ. He provides another 13 more.

In a sentence, his review could be summarized as: “GE is another Greek lexicon that gives more of the same.”

Well. That’s great.

And like Lee says in his final statements: It’s time for us to be doing this digitally, from scratch, with better methods. Maybe we just need a separate lexicon for post-classical Greek.

Review of Eleanor Dickey’s An Introduction to the Composition and Analysis of Greek Prose

There’s a lovely review of Eleanor Dickey’s new(-ish) textbook on prose composition and analysis in BMCR.

An Introduction to the Composition and Analysis of Greek Prose (Amazon)

This time, we have a great concise quote in this review that says it well:

In its goals, precision, and effectiveness, Dickey’s book is the best on the market—in fact, it is hard to imagine a better one. The old school texts (e.g. North and Hillard, Sidgwick) are books that, as Dickey notes, “were designed for British schoolboys of a bygone era” (xiii), while more recent textbooks, for example, Susan Stephens’ Greek Prose Composition (Bryn Mawr, 1996, second edition 2012) and Stephen Anderson and John Taylor’s Writing Greek (Bloomsbury, 2010), despite their merits, are altogether different in feel and character. To focus on just one difference (for the sake of brevity) that applies to all of these books: each provides a traditional glossary but only Dickey’s divides the vocabulary chapter by chapter. This seemingly small difference has wide-ranging consequences: it causes the exercises to be more focused (each chapter’s exercises center mainly on the vocabulary of that chapter), it makes the chapters feel more individualized (not just new grammar but new vocabulary), and it gives students a feeling that there is always a right answer—rather than a range of possible ones—since it is always clear what the student is supposed to be practicing in regard to both grammar and vocabulary. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Dickey’s approach facilitates memorization rather than consultation.

It sounds like those who are interested in composition will find a gem in this volume.