Ok, so I’m taking Aramaic this semester. I really enjoy learning languages. I enjoy studying the Bible. It’ll look good on my transcript when I go on for PhD work (the issue of a youth pastor having a PhD in Hebrew Bible is not one that I wish to get into at present…I’m the oldest child in my family, I’m used to blazing new trails). It also, if I manage an A or A+ in the course, opens the door to taking both Targumic Aramaic and Syriac as a directed study. So, those would both be awesome.
Now, on to the topic of this post. I am, in no small way, panicking. Let me explain what our first week of work included in this class:
- 143 Vocabulary words (some are exact Hebrew cognates, so no big deal. Others aren’t hard if you sorta know the Bible (ie, bar for “son”…but even then there are probably around 90 words that don’t fall into that category)
- 8 Paradigms (Personal pronouns, absolute and construct nouns, Peal strong verb perfect, imperfect, imperative, participle, passive participle and infinitive.
- We were responsible to read ahead in the textbook (A Short Grammar of Biblical Aramaic by Alger Johns), and do the exercises for material we had not yet covered in class.
- There were 50 of these exercises, which wasn’t a horrible number as they are fairly simple sentences.
- Of those chapters in the textbook we were supposed to work through, there were 5.
This is, according to the syllabus, what I can expect for the first half of the semester. I’m not complaining, this is, after all, graduate school. I am panicking! We are making our way through the entire grammar in about five weeks. Which, my instinct is, wouldn’t be bad–if we were actually covering the lessons in class and then doing the exercises, etc. However, we are supposed to just read the chapter, understand enough to do the exercises, and then show up in class–which is spent going over the exercises and having the entire class ask questions that waste time because they’re overly simple but we don’t know them because we were never actually taught the material. Beyond that, if I have 8 paradigms to memorize every week, aside from being a horrible way to learn a language, it means that I am going to be responsible for at least 40 paradigms on the mid-term. Now, we won’t have to reproduce all 40. But since Dr. Stuart refuses to tell us which ones will be on the mid-term we will have to know all 40. Add to this trying to learn and retain ~100 vocab words a week, and I’m just freaking out. Do people actually learn languages like this?
Now that I’ve vented my frustrations and panicked ravings enough to get on with life I’m going to return to the insurmountable number of vocab words and paradigms I have to learn. Because I’m already behind.