Syllogism Basics Illustrated

During the past two weeks of Logic, we have been talking about rules that help students determine whether or not a syllogism is valid. We’ve covered the first four:

  1. A syllogism must have 3, and only three, terms.
  2. The middle term must not be in the conclusion.
  3. A term that is distributed in the conclusion must be distributed in the premises.
  4. The middle term must be distributed at least once.

To understand these rules a student must be able to identify a syllogism’s major, minor, and middle terms. Last week, I made a big deal in class about how “if you go shopping for major or minor terms, you must go to the conclusion!” I tried my best to channel my inner Tom Haverford as I emphasized that it’s in the conclusion — not the premises — that one finds the major and minor terms.

This morning, as the students were filing in and I was hurrying them to their desks so we could start a quiz, I was presented with with this gem:

Scene by scene, the wisdom of shopping at “Conclusion” is beautifully illustrated. Thanks, Emmy!

The Word Order Hurdle

Seventh graders at HLS start their first year of Greek having already taken a few years of Latin, so they are used to seeing subject-object-verb word order in translation exercises. They are not accustomed to seeing sentences that start with a verb, often a third person verb. For example, given a sentence like ἔχουσιν ἀδελφὸς καὶ ἀδελφὴ γῆν, students would likely begin their translation, “They have …”
It seems like I spend a large chunk of the first trimester shaking a sign like the one pictured below over their heads and chanting along with them, “When I see a third person verb in a sentence, I’m going to look for a nominative subject!”

Every class makes a poster board with this mantra, but I thought this one was particularly cool.

But this one is charming, as well:

Chant it till you dream it!

Ancient Errors, Modern Scribes

While checking notecards today, I came across a few modern examples of parablepsis and unintentional scribal changes — the kind of stuff normally discussed in introductions to textual criticism.((For example: Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2012), 227ff.; Paul D. Wegner, A Students Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods, and Results (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2006), 44.)) It’s nice when you have the opportunity to test your solutions to text-critical problems by speaking with the actual scribes.

The first one is a clear example of an unintentional variant created by phonological similarity — the student wrote ο rather than ω. The neat thing is that the student was copying out of the book but made an error of hearing. She read θέλω, turned to her notecard, said the word to herself correctly as “thĕlō,” and then wrote θελο. So this was a confusion of phonologically similar letters from someone copying a written text and pronouncing the word only in her mind, not aloud.

This is a fun sort of parablepsis. The student saw διδάσκω in the vocab list and began to write the first part of the word, looked back at his book, and his eye fell on the last portion of the previous word, γράφω. So διδάσκω + γράφω = διδάφω.

One more: this time the issue is a blend of graphic similarity and interference of the native language.

The word is supposed to be βλέπω (blĕpō). The fact that π makes the sound of an English p is obviously an issue here, similar to the first example above. But this one has an added element. I don’t think the student would have made this mistake if rho (ρ), a similar looking letter to English p, were not a part of the Greek alphabet.

Even if Greek ρ makes a different sound than English prho provides some warrant for writing ρ in a Greek word to represent the sound of an English p.

I wanted to give these students extra credit for their scribal errors because they are just so fascinating.

Beginning of Year Four at HLS

We are about two weeks into the 2016-17 school year, and it’s off to a great start.
Major highlight of the new year: I have 20 students coming to my 7am Greek 3, NT Readings elective. The first year I taught at HLS I set a goal of having 20 in Greek 3, so when the 20th arrived on Friday I was thrilled.

This year I’m teaching the following:

HLS on Tuesday-Friday

  • Two units of Greek 1
  • Two units of Greek 2
  • Greek 3, NT readings elective
  • Two units of Logic/Rhetoric

Cottage school on Mondays

  • Henle 1 Latin

Memoria Press Online Academy on Mondays

  • Greek 1
  • Greek 2

I’m looking forward to cool fall weather and an exciting year.

Robert Henle on Learning Latin


YOU LEARN BY WORKING OUT THE EXERCISES FOR YOURSELF, just as you learn to swim by blundering about in the water, not by watching someone else set a world’s record in the pool. THE MORE EXERCISES YOU DO, THE MORE QUICKLY YOU WILL MASTER LATIN, AND THE EASIER IT WILL BE LATER ON. If you really want to learn, you will read and translate more Latin than your teacher assigns.

No nonsense truth!

Robert Henle on Learning to Read Latin

I’m teaching an elementary Latin class this year using the classic first year Henle book. Early in the grammar he offers some fantastic advice concerning how one can learn to read Latin with understanding — advice I wish I would have followed when at the beginning stages of learning Greek and Hebrew.

Now here is the way to practice reading Latin.

  1. First read each Latin sentence slowly and thoughtfully, trying to understand it. At first you won’t understand a thing. But do this each time anyway.
  2. Then work out in translation all the words and phrases you didn’t understand. At first you will have to work out the whole sentence.
  3. Then REREAD the sentence several times, trying to put the MEANING into the Latin and to understand the Latin without thinking of English words. Do this over and over again until you UNDERSTAND the Latin in the Latin order. It will help to read the sentence aloud and to put as much meaning into your voice as possible. (Be sure to pronounce the words correctly!)

If you do this regularly NOW, Latin later on will be much easier and you will have the satisfaction of reading it quickly and easily.

Oscar Wilde & Acts 27

Paul Jean Clays, via Wikimedia Commons
Paul Jean Clays, via Wikimedia Commons

Sententiae Antiquae posted “Oscar Wilde reads Greek…and more” last year, and I’ve thought about it several times since. The post tells the story of Oscar Wilde being asked to read Acts 27 at his viva. Though he had never read the passage, his classics training allowed him to breeze through and translate it easily. Sententiae Antiquae provides more background to the story. It’s a delightful post that I’ve been meaning to point out since it was first tweeted @sentantiq.

Tomorrow will be the last day this year that my ninth graders and I meet for Greek 3. We will foray into Acts 27 beginning with verse 13 and see how far they can get with the help of their reader’s Bibles. I think we’ll read a portion of the Oscar Wilde post to start the class off, as well.

Greek Reading for Friday 13th

My 7th and 8th graders read this last Friday to practice working with various adjective positions:

ἐπορεύθησαν οἱ νεκροὶ πρὸς τὸν πονηρὸν οἶκον, οὐ δὲ ἠδύναντο εἰσελθεῖν ὅτι οὐκ ἤνοιξεν ὁ παλαιὸς ἄνθρωπος τὴν θύραν τὴν παλαιάν. τί πορεύονται οἱ νεκροί; τίς ἐστιν ὁ παλαιὸς ἄνθρωπος; ἤλθον ἐγὼ πρὸς τὸν πονηρὸν τον οἶκον καὶ εἶδον οὐδένα νεκρόν. οὐδεὶς παλαιός ἦν ἐκεῖ. ὡς προσέρχομαι τὴν θύραν, νὺξ παραγίνεται. ἀνοίγω τὴν θύραν τὴν παλαιὰν βραδέως καὶ ποιεῖ μικρὰν φωνήν. ἐντὸς ἐστιν σφόδρα σκοτεινός. βλέπω ἐντὸς καὶ ὁράω μόνον μέλανα. καὶ τότε λευκόν, πολλὰ λευκά. κλείει μετά με ἡ θύρα καὶ ὁράω τὸν λευκὸν τῶν πολλῶν ὀφθαλμῶν.

Matthew 1-8:1 – Text & Vocab

This PDF includes the text and vocab of Matthew 1-8:1. Each line of the text has enough room to write parsing notes or a translation below it. Vocab is listed alphabetically in the back and includes words that occur 30 times or less in the New Testament.
Finishing the second half of Croy’s Greek grammar and reading 1 John wasn’t enough for my eighth grade girls. We’ve made it through the first two chapters of Matthew and are going to try to get all the way through the Sermon on the Mount by the end of the year! HLS students rock.