Donnerstag, 30. Juli 2009

Packing: The Longlist

Two months till Germany. I'm very gradually starting to think about packing and -- most importantly -- deliberate about which books to take with me. Rather a daunting task, even though I've tried to weed out my collection a bit over the last couple of months. Needless to say, most of it is staying here, it's just a question of what.
  • Langenscheidt, Pocket Dictionary German-English/English-German **
  • Wahrig, Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache **
  • Duden, Fremdwörterbuch
  • Richerd Lederer, Reference Grammar of the German Language
  • LSJ **
  • Smyth's Greek Grammar **
  • Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Griechisch
  • Sidgwick's Greek Verse Composition
  • Hans Orberg, Lingua Latina
  • Moreland & Fleischer, Latin: An Intensive Course
  • Nicholas J. Brown, New Penguin Russian Course
  • Morrison & Gauthier, French Grammar
  • Lewis V. Thomas, Elementary Turkish
  • John Saeed, Semantics
  • Handbook of Narratology **
  • Dictionary of Literary Terms
  • Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics **
  • Todorov, The Fantastic
  • Horkheimer & Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklärung **
  • Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination
  • Peter Bürger, Theorie der Avantgarde
  • Walter Kaufmann, Tragedy and Philosophy **
  • Kant, Critique of Judgment
I'm a bit alarmed, as it is only the most important of my reference material and Fachliteratur, and it already makes up quite a hefty list! Obviously, I can't take all of them, or I won't have room for anything else. Seeing that I also plan to buy books while I'm in Germany, I want to keep the number of books I take with me down as much as possible, and I'd rather not have to try to ship stuff.

And this still leaves everything else, and it's rather hard to guess what I'm going to need...German literature I can, of course, acquire easily enough once I'm there, but I'd rather not have to buy a book because I need it for class while my copy is sitting unread in Boulder several thousand miles away! I took a look at the Vorlesungsverzeichnis to see what's being offered, which at least gives me some idea of what I'm likely to need during the winter semester, but there's still comfort reading, and miscellaneous projects, and books that I've had forever and never had a chance to get around to reading...
  • Kleist, Werke in einem Band **
  • Goethe, Faust; Dramen **
  • Ingeborg Bachmann
  • Ilse Aichinger
  • Franz Kafka
  • E.T.A. Hoffmann, Erzählungen
  • Hermann Hesse, Das Glasperlenspiel
  • Hermann Broch, Der Tod des Vergil **
  • Özdamar, Die Brücke vom goldenen Horn
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragödie
  • Russische Zaubermärchen
  • Chekhov, Рассказы
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
  • Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word
  • George Steiner, After Babel
  • Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red
  • Michael Ayrton, The Maze-Maker
  • Christopher Logue, War Music
  • Mary Renault, Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
  • Ursula le Guin
  • Italo Calvino
  • Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch
  • A.S. Byatt, Possession
  • Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again
Sigh. I was aiming for two Girl Scout cookie boxes or thereabouts, but I don't think I'm going to be able to get it down that far. (It doesn't help that every time I look at this list, rather than taking stuff off, I find something else to add!)

I'm going to have to double-check the baggage policies for US Airways, and then take another look at my suitcase and get a sense of how things are going to fit. I need to buy another suitcase, but I'm still not sure how much space that is going to leave me. Besides clothes, I also need to leave space for:
  • Laptop
  • Sewing kit
  • Patterns + fabric
  • Plush pegasus family
  • Tea (whatever's left at that point)
I think most other stuff I should be able to buy once I get there.

Dienstag, 28. Juli 2009

Ships and Temples

A discussion of temple architecture in my Greek art and archaeology class sent me scrambling for the dictionary, wondering about the relationship between the word naos, used to describe the main chamber of a temple, and ships (the Greek word is naus). Christian churches, obviously drawing on Greek models, refer to the body of the church as the nave (in German, Schiff), recalling the Latin word navis. Which left me wondering, is there any actual etymological connection between these two very similar Greek words?

Apparently not. I started off in the stacks. Hofmann's Etymologisches Wörterbuch des griechischen produced the following:
νᾱός, ion. νηός, att. νεώς: m. Tempel, Heiligtum. Als Götterwohnung aus *νασ-ϝ-ος zu ναίω (aor. νάσ-σαι) wohne.
Under ναῦς (ion. νηῦς, gen. νη(ϝ)ός or νεώς) there is no useful information, except a comparison to Indogermanic *naus, and Latin navis (war mir schon klar), so the root seems to be pretty basic, and, more importantly, entirely unrelated to the word for temple.

This still leaves the question, why 'nave'? The OED suggests it is derived from a post-classical use of the Latin navis or an Italian or Spanish equivalent. Not much help so far.

A little more searching on the web turned up an article from 1926 which makes some doubtful assumptions (etymological and otherwise):
The ship was for the Greeks something sacred and was regarded as the gift of the Olympian Gods. The economic life of the population around the Aegean Sea was based on shipping. It was no mere accident that the inner shrine of Greek temples was given the same name as the ship, naos. The word nave used in the Christian churches to this day is probably derived from the Latin word navis and handed down from the days of the temples, and it is known that in the early Christian Church the ship stood as a sacred symbol.
(Hovgaard, William. "The Arsenal in Piraeus and the Ancient Building Rules," Isis 8.1 (1926): p. 18.)
Another article provides more substantial evidence for the Christian connection between the church and ships. The etymological claims are also much more conservative:
NAVE (Gr. ναός, εὐκτήριον τοῦ λαοῦ; Lat. navis, capsum; Fr. nof; Ital. Nave; Ger. Schiff, Langhaus) Authorities are not agreed on the etymology of the word, some deriving it from (1) ναός, temple, which is the ordinary Greek term for what we should call "the body of a church;" and others from (2) navis, a ship. The fact that in several European languages (e.g. French and Italian), the corresponding word is used to designate both "ship," and "part of a church" may be thought to favour the latter hypothesis.[...]As being the receptacle of the people, it was no great stretch of fancy to speak of it under the figure of a ship. The Ark was at all times the Old Testament figure of the Church. The idea of the comparison between the church and a ship was elaborated very early.[...]The resemblance of nave to its Greek equivalent (ναός) may be nothing more than accidental.
(Smith, William, and Daniel Cheetham. A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, v. 2 (1880): p. 1381)
So it seems we can trace this usage to the early Christian period, although it still does not explain how the Latin word navis came to be applied to architecture. Was this inspired by a perceived resemblance between the shape of a ship and the shape of the main chamber of a temple or church? Or is it based on a false etymology of the Greek word naos? I would tend to speculate the latter. Certainly the Greek words for 'temple' and 'ship' are similar enough to be easily confused, and this sort of etymological play was not untypical of the Romans -- or the Greeks, either, for that matter. However, this seems to be a post-Hellenic usage, not a connection that the Greeks themselves drew, which was my original question.

A final note is in order, however: In the process of this research I came across an interesting article (for those with academic journal access, here) on analogies between temples and ships in Homer. He notes the use of νηοὺς - - ˘ θεῶν ("temples of the gods") in Od. 6.10 and suggests word play with a common formula for "swift ship", for example, νηῦς - - ˘ θοή in the same metrical position in Od. 24.299. He cites a number of examples of possible cultural associations of temples with ships; I did not find them completely convincing, but I'll cite his explanation of the etymology here.
The nominative singular of νηός, “temple,” is identical to the genitive singular of νηῦς, “ship.” One often finds such superficial similarities in Greek and elsewhere between forms originally quite distinct: νηός “temple,” derives from proto-Greek *naswos, the verbal reflex of which is *nas-io > ναίω, v, “to dwell,” a fact not lost on the author of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (cf. νηὸν ἔνασσον, 298), while νηός, “of a ship,” comes from proto-Greek *nawos and ultimately from PIE *neH2ues,which is widely attested. (544)
He also makes a couple of intriguing remarks on connections between power/leadership and seafaring - this metaphor makes sense for a culture where seafaring is of supreme importance - as well as the connection of ships with temples in another context: their presence as dedications. (For the sake of readability I've eliminated his notes on sources in classical writers here; those interested are referred to the original article.)
The equation of temple and ship gives special point to the fact that as helmsman of Olympus Zeus 'sit[s] high on the benches' what the ancients rightly saw as a seafaring metaphor....Ships and parts thereof made common dedications, like the Roman rostra, usually at temples, and Christian lore says that Jesus, who like the Egyptian ferryman of the dead, Mahaf, was a fisher of souls taught from the boat of the Rock (Simon Peter) on whom he would build his church. (544)
(from Griffith, R. Drew. "Temple as Ship in Odyssey 6.10," American Journal of Philology 123 (2002): 541-547.)

Freitag, 3. Juli 2009


French, week 2.
Once again I'm reminded of why I generally skip over numbers and dates at the initial stages of learning a language. Admittedly this is partly self-indulgence: I want to get on to the more juicy bits of grammar as quickly as possible, and numbers are usually irregular and not very useful for understanding the working of the language as a whole. Because I'm usually learning the language for reading knowledge, rather than for travel or communication in a foreign country, it's also not extremely urgent, since in written texts numbers typically play a relatively small role.

This approach is of course the opposite of most contemporary language courses, which teach numbers quite early on, usually in the first month or so (one notable exception is Russian, where numbers are usually delayed -- for good reason -- until after the genitive plural has been taught, sometimes until the second semester). However, if immediate survival skills in the language are not at issue, I think there are some good reasons why putting off numbers actually makes sense. Numbers are (I find) actually one of the more difficult parts of a language to learn. We process them differently. Fine, it's easy enough to recite the numbers from 1 to 10 or whatever, but it takes much longer until we actually are able to connect them to something. Try doing mental arithmetic or remembering a phone number in a foreign language: not so simple. Furthermore, numbers are relatively separate from the rest of a language. Most words we use only in connection with other words; we have to know what forms they take, how to distinguish an object from a subject or a past tense from a present, how an adjective changes when used with a feminine noun rather than a masculine, what complements a verb takes. But numbers remain fairly isolated. They're more like placeholders, they don't have particular characteristics of their own, they don't mark out syntactical or rhetorical relationships. Instead, they refer to a separate symbolic system with its own set of rules.

At the initial stages of learning a language, I'm inclined to see this as a distraction. Instead of spending time constructing sentences and getting comfortable with the way the language works, its patterns and rhythms, the student is forced to divert his attention to mastering a bunch of idiosyncratic expressions and performing the double process of trying to produce sentences in an unfamiliar language and at the same time do mental calculations which may actually hinder the process of trying to think in the language.