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  The Greek Approach, A Coursebook In Advanced Translation by Kostas Termentzoglou
The first edition of this book has been sold out. The second, revised edition (excerpts of which you can read here) has not been published yet. For more details regarding publication please refer to the author's web site www.term.edu.gr.

This second edition has been completely revised and new material has been added with a view to serving a number of purposes. First of all, there are hardly any books dealing with Greek - English translation at advanced level so this publication hopes to be of considerable help to all those preparing for such examinations in Greece and abroad. Secondly, as international integration grows, translation will become more and more necessary for non-native speakers of English. It is my fervent hope that this book will not only provide a sound basis on which to build up and expand one's knowledge, but will also initiate the reader into some of the deeper aspects and intricacies of where and how the two languages intersect. However, the prime objective of this book is to assist Greek teenagers preparing for the Proficiency examination and who, not living in an English speaking country and being relatively young, need the reassurance of their mother tongue.

THE GREEK APPROACH holds the view that the acquisition of advanced vocabulary - especially the grasping of abstract concepts - is not complete unless the learner is also given the Greek equivalent. This dispels some of the mysteries of the English language as Greek students are made aware that its structures have a familiar equivalent in their language. Consider, for example, that a 16-year-old student comes across the phrase "a man of unswerving rectitude" or "the regime seems to be in its death throes", to take just two examples from past examination papers at Proficiency level, both of which are dealt with in this book. It is my contention that an explanation in English will only partly satisfy students' curiosity. As for their teacher, she will leave the classroom at the end of the hour proud, confident and satisfied that she has done the right thing and avoided the "evil of translation". However, what the teacher does not (?) suspect is that she is now leaving her students to their own devices to work out an equivalent in their mother tongue and is basically going to waste their time, because now they themselves take over and try to relate the above meanings to their own language and perception often with uncertain, if not completely erroneous, results. What is more, to assume that our students take our English explanations at face value or that they read in English without translating outside the classroom is, I think, a gross misjudgement.

Greek students do and always will translate into and from their mother tongue whether or not we want them to, or no matter how often we exhort them not to. They translate subconsciously for themselves, they translate in class for peers, they translate notes, letters, brochures, etc for their parents, friends, relations, lovers. "Translation will remain a preferred practice technique of many students in an EFL setting…However, it should not be forgotten that translation is not a device to be used to save time, but to provoke discussion and help us increase our own and our students' awareness of the inevitable interaction between the mother tongue and the target language that occurs during any type of language acquisition." (Radmilla Popovic, The place of translation in language teaching)

I suspect translation, especially from Greek into English, has been frowned upon and stifled mainly due to its inherent difficulties and non-finite number of possibilities. Teachers pretend that it is a waste of time dealing with it because it takes valuable time away from other more beneficial and relevant activities in the classroom. This, however, is a moot point. If there were no x or y Proficiency exams in Greece, would we teach grammatical transformations and cloze tests? Or, to put it in another way, will anyone, in a real-life situation, ever ask you to transform "I managed to persuade her to join us tonight" into an "I succeeded in...." structure? How much longer should we toe the line and spend (or waste!!!) countless classroom hours teaching things, which our students will never again use in life? Intuitively, as a teacher, I have always felt inferior to translators, these formidable language professionals, who can come up with a dozen synonyms or alternatives for transferring a particular abstract meaning from Greek into English. What I find most upsetting though, is when teachers try to thrust their anti-translation views down my throat, attempting to capture the moral high ground as conscientious teachers who respect their students' needs. Yet, a few hours later, they themselves will be translating for their Greek friends when found in the company of other native speakers! That is the measure of our hypocrisy and brainwash. When in class, some of us preach against what we indisputably recognise inside us as a natural, real-life need.

My aim in this book is to show that translation has a vital role to play in the classroom and that its judicious use can pay great dividends for learners. The least it can do is sensitise Greek students to the pitfalls of word for word translation, which frequently occurs in their speaking and writing, and teach them that equivalence, even in apparently simple cases, is anything but obvious. This, in my humble opinion, can turn out to be a lesson for life. It is techniques and principles like these that students will remember ten or twenty years later and not examination techniques, which, in any case, have a very short shelf life in their minds. The purpose of translation in a, say, Proficiency class is not to train professionals, but to help learners to develop their knowledge and understanding of advanced level English. The learner should be told that trying to express his/her own thoughts and feelings in English is like looking for points of intersection in two parallel worlds.

When the first edition of the book came out in September 2001, I was still unsure whether teachers would welcome such a radical approach to mastering advanced level vocabulary and adopt it in their classes. The majority of them, quite understandably, had their reservations, if not vehement objections. The very idea of using Greek in the classroom seemed repugnant to most of them. And rightly so, because translation has so often been misapplied and abused when employed in the classroom. Gradually, the first e-mails started arriving from all over Greece. Some were thrilled to see such a book and wanted to thank me for it, others said they would wholeheartedly recommend it to their Proficiency students for self-study, while others went so far as to say that this is a book born out of the classroom and that if our high school students themselves were to write a book that really helped them grasp difficult meanings and concepts in English, this would be it! Flattering though this may have been for its writer, it was definitely a wildly exaggerated view. But it hammered home an inescapable point. Something was happening. There was a sense of camaraderie, a kind of joining forces by non-native speakers. It suddenly dawned on me that I was no longer a voice in the wilderness. Quite a few were giving up pretences of tenacious anti-translation beliefs and were welcoming a new approach. May this 2nd edition of THE GREEK APPROACH cater for their needs more thoroughly and assist their students more constructively in their onerous task towards mastery of the English language.

How the book is organised
Unit 18
Unit 18 Key

Kostas Termentzoglou
Serres, June 2002
e-mail: kterm@term.edu.gr
web: www.term.edu.gr

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