Most literal translations with facing texts?

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exorcist
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Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by exorcist » Wed May 22, 2019 7:36 pm

For a beginner-intermediate autodidact (I've completed Mastronarde and am slowly making my way through Plato's Apology and Xenophon's Hellenica without *too* much difficulty), I'm looking for as-literal-as-possible translations with facing Greek text. They make it so much easier than more liberal translations to check my work.

Suggestions for any authors welcome, but I'm especially interested in Demosthenes, Lysias, Xenophon, Plato, Herodotus, and Euripides right now.

Ha. And if there is such a thing for Thucydides, I would love to know.

If you know of really good literal translations *without* facing Greek text, that's ok too.

Thanks!
Last edited by exorcist on Wed May 22, 2019 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by bedwere » Wed May 22, 2019 7:45 pm

Probably hard to find, since teachers would frown at them. Students could use them to cheat at exams.

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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by Constantinus Philo » Wed May 22, 2019 8:09 pm

i remember i once found such a translation online of Xen Anab it was completely incomprehensible and absolutely unhelpful, probably due to the too great differences between the languages
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed May 22, 2019 8:30 pm

If you're not fussed about having a physical copy, there's normally one English translation for each text on Perseus that's pretty literal without becoming nonsensical, and you can bring it up next to the Greek text using the load link (you probably already know that, but I think 'focus' and 'load' are the most unintuitive names for what they do so worth mentioning in case you didn't). For example, for Thucydides the 1843 translation by Thomas Hobbes is close enough to the Greek in word order that you shouldn't have any trouble finding the corresponding words in his text, or wondering where some English metaphor has appeared from - http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... 99.01.0199 .

I feel like we need a parallel thread of the translations that are most spectacularly unhelpful to Greek students - I nominate Pope's Iliad.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed May 22, 2019 8:42 pm

Or, if you're more interested in checking that you've got the forms right than the sense of the sentence, then you might find it useful searching archive.org with the name of the work you're reading + "interlinear" or "literal". There are loads of 19th century interlinears e.g.

Xenophon's Anabasis - https://archive.org/details/anabasisofx ... /page/viii

Demosthenes On The Crown - https://archive.org/details/orationofde ... emo/page/2

Lucian - https://archive.org/details/aselectionf ... g/page/n16
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Wed May 22, 2019 9:50 pm

I would also suggest working through as long a section as possible without looking at the English, and then going to the translation to check your work. And avoid interlinears -- not only do they tend to cripple your language acquisition, but they can cause severe health problems, and the use of 6 of them can eliminate half of all the life forms in the universe.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by exorcist » Wed May 22, 2019 11:21 pm

seanjonesbw -- I did not know that about the Perseus load link, that's super helpful. Thank you! (I'm a little bit fussy about physical copies, but the convenience of online resources is *very* appealing.)

Barry -- That's a good suggestion to work through as long a section as possible. I usually go as long as I feel I can go without potentially getting derailed (or, if I have a text w/o translation on a metro ride or something, for as long as it takes me to get back to a sanity check. ;-) )I've noticed that when I begin a new author and/or work, I'm checking every paragraph or so, but once I get in the flow, I can go a page or two and feel pretty confident I'm understanding at least the gist.

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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu May 23, 2019 12:03 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 9:50 pm
avoid interlinears -- not only do they tend to cripple your language acquisition, but they can cause severe health problems
If interlinears are bad for your health, then this 'interverbal' Homer must be deadly https://archive.org/details/odysseyofho ... e/page/210

Ulysses. Minerva. Yuck.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu May 23, 2019 12:39 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 12:03 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 9:50 pm
avoid interlinears -- not only do they tend to cripple your language acquisition, but they can cause severe health problems
If interlinears are bad for your health, then this 'interverbal' Homer must be deadly https://archive.org/details/odysseyofho ... e/page/210

Ulysses. Minerva. Yuck.
Why did you post that link? Now I can never unsee it... Just one quick glance and I could feel my Greek getting weaker. :lol:
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by BrianB » Thu May 23, 2019 3:16 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 12:03 pm
If interlinears are bad for your health, then this 'interverbal' Homer must be deadly https://archive.org/details/odysseyofho ... e/page/210
I wonder who the translator and publisher had in mind as their target readership. It looks as though it’s aimed at teachers whose Greek wasn’t good enough to enable them to do their job unaided. Is that possible? It must have been embarrassing if their students ever found out what they were doing.

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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by jeidsath » Thu May 23, 2019 3:40 pm

I really like that format, actually. It's easy to only read the Greek, skipping the English, and then pause to check your understanding if you strike on a word you're unsure of. Very similar to Ilya Frank's method, which is worth looking up.

My own recommendation for using it would be:

First pass: read a line in Greek, ignoring the English
Next pass: note any genders/forms/etc that you are unfamiliar with
Next pass: look at the English of words that you don't know, go to your grammar for any forms
Final pass(es): read the Greek only

***

@BrianB -- these cribs were certainly aimed at the students. Speaking of, how are your own Greek studies progressing?
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu May 23, 2019 3:54 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 3:40 pm
I really like that format, actually. It's easy to only read the Greek, skipping the English, and then pause to check your understanding if you strike on a word you're unsure of. Very similar to Ilya Frank's method, which is worth looking up.

My own recommendation for using it would be:

First pass: read a line in Greek, ignoring the English
Next pass: note any genders/forms/etc that you are unfamiliar with
Next pass: look at the English of words that you don't know, go to your grammar for any forms
Final pass(es): read the Greek only

***

@BrianB -- these cribs were certainly aimed at the students. Speaking of, how are your own Greek studies progressing?
I actually can't imagine anything more detrimental to acquisition than such a format. The less you use your primary language, the better off you are.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by jeidsath » Thu May 23, 2019 3:58 pm

And yet I do all right somehow. It’s truly a mystery.

You’ll notice that the method that I recommended is no different than using a lexicon, except with less time wasted page flipping. If you are following it, you will only be getting English input on words you would have to look up anyway. In fact, you’ll minimize English input from non-relevant usages in a lexicon entry as well. So by your lights it’s a better method.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu May 23, 2019 4:31 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 3:58 pm
You’ll notice that the method that I recommended is no different than using a lexicon, except with less time wasted page flipping. If you are following it, you will only be getting English input on words you would have to look up anyway. In fact, you’ll minimize English input from non-relevant usages in a lexicon entry as well. So by your lights it’s a better method.
I completely agree with Joel on this - if you have the self control to hold off looking at the English until the moment you would have turned to the lexicon, it saves you a hell of a lot of time (especially if your lexicon isn't generous with principal parts) without any real downside. The problem I have with that translation is that I physically can't stop myself reading the English!
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu May 23, 2019 5:15 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:31 pm

I completely agree with Joel on this - if you have the self control to hold off looking at the English until the moment you would have turned to the lexicon, it saves you a hell of a lot of time (especially if your lexicon isn't generous with principal parts) without any real downside. The problem I have with that translation is that I physically can't stop myself reading the English!
I suggest rather reading through as much text as you can in the amount of time you have allotted. Look nothing up. Try to discern the meaning of unfamiliar words from context and from knowledge of related words (if you know φιλέω, φιλία is not that difficult). My experience has always been that I understand a lot more of the text than I think that I will from the initial panic of "Oh no, whatever does this say" that we tend to have at first glance. With that having been done (see what I did there?) then is the time to check translations and lexicons. Might this take a little longer? Sure, but quality over quantity any day, and the more you have the former, the more you acquire the latter.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by donhamiltontx » Thu May 23, 2019 5:22 pm

Such translations serve not only as lexicons but also as gazeteers. At least, they can provide you with the English name you might never have guessed.
In the 19th Centuiry Hachette published a number of such texts for French speakers, which it called juxtalinéaire, not interlinear. They put the original language on the top half of the lefthand page and on the bottom of that page a French translation. On the righthand page they put two columns, the column of the left with the original rejiggered to French word order, and French translation of that word order in the right column.
Thanks to Thierry Liotard, many such texts are listed here:
https://www.arretetonchar.fr/wp-content ... uxtas.html
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by BrianB » Thu May 23, 2019 8:08 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 3:40 pm
@BrianB -- these cribs were certainly aimed at the students. Speaking of, how are your own Greek studies progressing?
Groping my way, is the short answer. I started off with Athenaze, which I can readily imagine is a very good beginners’ textbook for classroom use, but I found it less suitable for home study. There are places where it seems to give the student too much and too little information at the same time. For instance, the paragraph on p. 9 about the accents doesn’t tell us what the accents are for. What is the difference between an acute and a circumflex? Are they pronounced differently? In the classroom, a teacher could clear this up in a minute or two, but on my own I find that the book sometimes raises questions that it leaves unanswered.

I ought to explain that this is the first time I’ve attempted to learn a language by the home study method. All my previous experience with language learning has been in the classroom, at least in the early stages.

At the moment I’m attacking the job from a different angle. I’m memorizing Hoffman’s list of the 311 most frequent words in the New Testament. It’s going pretty well on the whole. Predictably, the nouns and verbs are easy enough, but the little words are tricky, the prepositions and adverbs such as μέν, ὅτι, ἐπί, and ὡς. I can only hope that as soon as I’m able to start reading simple texts, the range of meanings of these difficult little words will gradually begin to emerge from the encircling gloom.

At the same time I’ve started writing out a full list of all the inflected forms of the verb εἰμί. The left-hand column goes (1) Pres. Ind. Act., (2) Pres. Ind. M&P, (3) Imp. Ind. Act., (4) Imp. Ind. M&P, and so on, with the six persons (omitting the dual) running along each line. The order of the tenses is the one I found in Green’s Brief Introduction to NT Greek, though it would seem more natural to me to start with the active only, tense by tense, and then go on to the middle and the passive. I have no idea how long it’s going to take me to complete the table for εἰμί, but I think I’d like to do the same thing for a few other verbs as well. Next on the list would be either λύω, as the conventional paradigm, or λέγω, which Hoffman lists as the second most frequent verb in the NT.
Last edited by BrianB on Fri May 24, 2019 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu May 23, 2019 8:27 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 5:15 pm
Look nothing up. Try to discern the meaning of unfamiliar words from context and from knowledge of related words (if you know φιλέω, φιλία is not that difficult). My experience has always been that I understand a lot more of the text than I think that I will from the initial panic of "Oh no, whatever does this say" that we tend to have at first glance.
In one way I completely agree with this - some of the most satisfying experiences I've had in language learning, including Greek, have been moments when I've trusted myself to be able to work things out rather than panicking and running to the dictionary. The connections that I've made doing that have stuck with me much more powerfully than when I've memorised vocabulary from a list (name me a more odious task). I think that Joel and I are both saying that you should always bring that aim to your first reading of a text, knowing the payoff is great if you succeed.

However, there's always going to be a cut-off where your level of Greek means you can't work out much of a sentence based on what you already know, and you'd be banging your head against a brick wall trying to magic lemmas out of thin air.

To take a random line from the Odyssey on Perseus (I clicked and pointed):

ἀλλ᾽ ἦ τοι τὸν κῆρες ἔβαν θανάτοιο φέρουσαι
εἰς Ἀΐδαο δόμους: τοὶ δὲ ζωὴν ἐδύσαντο
παῖδες ὑπέρθυμοι καὶ ἐπὶ κλήρους ἐβάλοντο,
(Od. 14:207-209)

The Loeb translation is:

But the fates of death bore him away to the house of Hades, and his proud sons divided among them his substance, and cast lots therefor.

Assuming you've just read the bit above where Odysseus is talking to Eumaeus, you'll get that he's in the middle of telling a made up origin story, which helps. The words with the lowest Perseus frequency score in Homer from this line are ὑπέρθυμοι and κλήρους (both <20 times in the Odyssey). Let's say you can have a stab at ὑπέρθυμοι as proud or 'high-spirited' based on ὑπέρ+θυμοι, but you don't know κλήρους. Weirdly, the Perseus text has ἐδύσαντο when this should be ἐδάσαντο, and δατέομαι also occurs <20 times in the Odyssey.

For a high-level reader, then, you might get:
But the fates of death bore him away to the house of Hades, and his proud sons (VERB, aor, ind, mid, 3rd, pl) his substance, and 'threw κλήρους'.

Given the specific Homeric meaning of ζωὴν (versus just 'life'), the second part of the line isn't a doddle to work out even if you know most of the vocabulary - you might read on for more context or just accept that the sons have done something with the substance and thrown something else. Or you might have a moment of inspiration and think 'the old man's dead, they've probably divvied up his assets'.

But if you're just transitioning to real Greek, there's lots to trip you up here. If you don't know ἦ τοι/ἤτοι, κῆρες, the specific use of ζωὴν, ἐδάσαντο, ὑπέρθυμοι and κλήρους, and if you have trouble spotting where ἔβαν is from, then you could end up with:

But or to you (??) him κῆρες (pl.) ἔβαν (aorist 3rd plural of something irregular?) of death bearing into the houses of Hades, and the ὑπέρθυμοι sons ἐδάσαντο (VERB, aor, ind, mid, 3rd, pl) the life, and threw upon κλήρους.

Clear as mud. Sure, you can make some educated guesses here at ἔβαν and what kind of figures κῆρες might be to be bearing someone to Hades. The second half of the line will probably be a complete mystery. I think at this point being able to quickly glance at a literal translation on the same page would let you unblock the verbs, which would then let you have that very satisfying experience of correctly guessing the nouns. If you know what ἔβαν and ἐδάσαντο and ζωὴν mean, you can stick everything else together. And it's taken you 5 seconds to get that information instead of 5 minutes fruitlessly searching for ἔβαν.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu May 23, 2019 9:37 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 8:27 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 5:15 pm
Look nothing up. Try to discern the meaning of unfamiliar words from context and from knowledge of related words (if you know φιλέω, φιλία is not that difficult). My experience has always been that I understand a lot more of the text than I think that I will from the initial panic of "Oh no, whatever does this say" that we tend to have at first glance.
In one way I completely agree with this - some of the most satisfying experiences I've had in language learning, including Greek, have been moments when I've trusted myself to be able to work things out rather than panicking and running to the dictionary. The connections that I've made doing that have stuck with me much more powerfully than when I've memorised vocabulary from a list (name me a more odious task). I think that Joel and I are both saying that you should always bring that aim to your first reading of a text, knowing the payoff is great if you succeed.

However, there's always going to be a cut-off where your level of Greek means you can't work out much of a sentence based on what you already know, and you'd be banging your head against a brick wall trying to magic lemmas out of thin air.
Of course. The point is not always to succeed, but to try. Some texts are going to be more difficult than others, and there is a cut-off point where we say "Satis" and seek the help of an instructor, a lexicon or a translation (or all three, if possible). I'm not saying never to use these things, but to make a good faith effort to work it out before using them.

And hey, if Joel and others claim they've had good success using interlinears (very difficult for me to write those words), who am I to argue? But I think this might be a rara avis situation, since it flies in the face of everything known about language acquisition. As for me, I'm filling up a hole in my education and reading the Iliad in Greek (currently in the middle of Book 5), and using the Loeb. Very nice for the quick reference, but I'm still stubborn enough not to look at the English without the old college try, and I still like to look up the unfamiliar vocabulary to get a better sense of it.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by exorcist » Thu May 23, 2019 9:50 pm

I'm with Joel *and* Sean *and* Barry on this. I find fast access to words that I would otherwise have to spend up to a few minutes looking up in a lexicon, extremely helpful, especially if those few definitions unlock the meaning of the rest of a pssage. Plus, lexicon lookup interrupts the flow of reading, and when I return to the text it takes me a few moments to "load" the text into my head again.

That said, I find it super hard to ignore the English in interlinears and in the interverbal Homer. The chunks aren't big enough. But since discovering (thanks!) the Perseus load feature, I'm loving reading a chunk of Greek without looking at English, loading the translation to check, then moving on.

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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu May 23, 2019 9:56 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 9:37 pm
I'm not saying never to use these things, but to make a good faith effort to work it out before using them.
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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by Andriko » Sat May 25, 2019 11:56 am

I have found this from atticgreek.org to be helpful: http://atticgreek.org/downloads/Transitioning.pdf

The best piece of advise I have gained from there is to read the (English) introductions and commentaries, and also to research the subject matter and history a little before reading the Greek text, as one you know the context it becomes a lot clearer what is going on without needing to turn to lexicons and translations too much -having an idea of what they are going on about already mentally prepares you for what to expect.

For example, having recently bought the Cambridge Yellow/Green Lysias speeches, a quick check of the commentary (just the first few paragraphs) telling me the court case was about a family dispute made the Greek text much clearer (still very difficult for me to read, however!).

As some have mentioned, having an English translation too close to hand raises too much temptation to keep checking every other sentence, which in the long run probably isn't helpful!

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Re: Most literal translations with facing texts?

Post by exorcist » Sat May 25, 2019 12:36 pm

Andriko - Totally agree. I've found that even reading some wikipedia links ahead of diving into a work (e.g., on Xenophon and various personages in Peloponnesian War prior to reading Hellenica) makes it way easier to follow who the various people are and what's going on.

Thanks for the link. :-)

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