Monday, October 1, 2007

Diary 2: Layton's Coptic Grammar

Chapter 4 is all about the adjective. But there are several items that are missing from the explanation in the chapter, but that come up in the exercises in chapter 4 and later in chapter 5.

1. In section 36, the meaning of the inverted word order is not explained. Layton believes that when the adjective precedes the noun, the adjective "expresses a special nuance." I never learned this previously, having been taught that the word order was arbitary in terms of position of the adjective. But this is not Layton's opinion. He doesn't say what the nuance is, although it pops up in the exercises since he asks students to write from English into Coptic: The big house (Ba.): pêi ennoch; The huge house (Bb.): pnoch emêi. So when orally covering section 36, the instructor may want to note that the inverted order according to Layton is for rhetorical effect and tends to emphasize the adjective ("big" becomes "huge"; "wicked" becomes "vile"; "large" becomes "gigantic" or "great"; "beautiful" becomes "gorgeous"; and so forth).

4. In section 36, an example of a full sentence using the attributive construction modifying a single article phrase should be added. If not, the students get very mixed up in the exercises where they are asked to put from English into Coptic: Ea. I am impious and wicked (aneg-ouponêros enacebês). Students missed this construction (with linking en) because it wasn't clearly stated by Layton in section 36 (last paragraph and 2 examples). See also exercises Ef., Eh., and El. which all want this construction. The only time he gives an example of this construction in a sentence is in the next chapter's exercises (chapter 5, An.): entoou hendikaios neenoch (As for them, they are big and righteous).

2. In section 37, as (old), ouôt (single), ouôbesh (white) need to be added to adjectives that can be placed immediately after the noun with no linking en.

3. I would add a "37.5 section" to cover adjectives that like to proceed the word they are modifying. Not only is this needed to cover the adjective completely, but Layton has a series of exercises where the adjective proceeds the noun in the next chapter (chapter 5), yet he has not explained this in chapter 4 (or 5). So I'd put these words under 37.5 heading "Adjectives that can proceed the noun being modified":
noch (big), koui (small), shêm (small), shorep (first), hae (last), merit (beloved).

4. The box on p. 33 is not useful at all. It confuses the students because they do not know yet the verb "to be," er. I'm not at all sure that the material presented in the boxes is wholly appropriate for the level that the students are at. The boxed materials seem to always cause confusion and discomfort on the part of the students. Since the boxed materials have not yet been included in the exercises, I wonder what the purpose of the boxed material is?

Chapter 5: a breeze. Layton does a fine job laying out three member nominal sentences (I've always called these pe sentences).

The students will take their first Coptic exam on Wednesday, covering 1-5. So I'll return with my diary entry after a few more chapters. I have a lot to say about lesson 6 which struggles to explain what Layton calls "specifiers" but which I know of as Quantity Expressions. Until then...

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