Monday, November 5, 2007

Diary 4: Layton's Coptic Grammar

Update on chapter 8. Since I last wrote, the students worked through the exercises for chapter 8. This is the only chapter that they have complained about so far. I already discussed my opinion of this chapter in a previous post. I think the problem is that the chapter doesn't appear to have a focus. So it is scattered in terms of content, and in terms of what is being asked in the exercises. The exercises were mainly about the possessive pronouns, while the chapter had a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

But the real beauty of Layton's grammar is coming through in Lessons 9 and 10 where he lays out very succinctly the two systems of the Coptic verb. In Lesson 9, he covers the present-tense and future tense system which he calls the durative sentence. His coverage is thorough and systematic. Also included in this chapter are the infinitive and qualitative states (which Layton calls the stative). The list of verbs in section 69 is overwhelming for the students. So it is good to let them know that they do not have to memorize all these verbs in this lesson. Layton will pick a few to cover from this list in the lessons to come. The boxes on p. 76 were too much, with the exception of the verbal auxiliaries which I asked the students to learn along with the future auxiliary.

Lesson 10 covers the second verbal system which Layton calls the non-durative conjugation (5 main clause bases, and 5 subordinate clause bases). Again it is very systematic and easy to follow. I especially like the fact that Layton introduces the negative forms of these bases alongside the affirmative. I have some trouble with his labels for the various bases, so I have adjusted these a bit with my students. His "past" I call the "perfect." His "aorist" I call the "habitual". His "optative" is not the Coptic optative, but the "emphatic future". The "not yet" and "jussive" are fine.

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