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Don't recall if I mentioned this previously but I am, to quote Sen Whatsherface from Maine, "concerned" about the continuing dumbing down of Education, capital E. It's Princeton this time dropping the Greek/Latin language requirements to major in classics to ... ah ... encourage more diversity. Read: Blacks aren't smart enough to master these languages so we're dropping them.

They didn't say it quite that way but: “Having people who come in who might not have studied classics in high school and might not have had a previous exposure to Greek and Latin, we think that having those students in the department will make it a more vibrant intellectual community” sez Josh Billings Princeton's classics dept head. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/06/princeton-classics-major-latin-greek/619110/

Don't shoot me!

Shoot noted Black Guy and Linguistics Professor John McWhorter, Columbia University, a likeable shit-stirrer who writes for Atlantic, has his own blog platform on substack, hosts a podcast, writes books as well as going to work most days. And, you know, he's Black. McWhorter is known on this forum thanks to a mention by Dog back in Feb that went the way most of Dog's comments did. 

This article channels how math is racist when blacks are required to show their work and come up with the exact answer. (Remember when we all thought Bill Gates was smart?)

Anyhoo, I don't have a fuck to give about classux at Princeton or anywhere else but I'm 110% behind students having an equal playing field. I'm with McWhorter. Same standards for all. Affirmative action measures are the definition of racism. 

Hey, I know how this forum works but I'd prefer you to have read the Atlantic  article prior to posting your "progressive" responses. 

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I think teaching Latin and Greek to any but a handful of scholars in those disciplines is stupid and a pointless waste of time and human energy. Might as well teach cave painting and hieroglyphics.

I do however have a problem with such PC bullshit as referring to bad spelling as "using unconventional spelling".

Maybe there's a reason the national IQ is falling?

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REVISITING CLASSICS AT PRINCETON: EXEMPTING BLACK KIDS FROM CHALLENGE IS LOUSY ANTIRACISM.

High-flying discussions about what the challenge measures? Great, but not out of a flabby idea that if black kids aren't good at it yet it's Because Racism.

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I have written recently about the Princeton classics department’s decision to eliminate the requirement that students engaging closely with Latin and Greek texts be able to … read them in Latin and Greek. The new idea is that the department will attract more majors by opening up to ideas from students who may be full of beans but just not inclined to tackle complex, ancient languages. And sub rosa, the idea is clearly – as we can see from words in the official statement like underrepresented, perspectives, and experiences – that of especial interest will be black students, especially in light of today’s racial reckoning which the department openly acknowledges was the primary spur for this change.

My disappointment with this decision is because it is part of a tradition of arguments that we do black people a favor by exempting them from certain kinds of faceless, put-up-or-shut-up challenges to entry. Back in the aughts, the classic example was brilliant, fierce black lawyers confidently arguing that because black firefighter applicants don’t do as well on the entrance exams required for the job, the exams are racist and should be eliminated. More recently there has been the idea that if black kids are rare at top-ranked public schools in New York City like Stuyvesant because few excel on the standardized test one must ace to be admitted, then the solution is to eliminate the test as “racist.” The Princeton decision is a variation: to get black kids into classics, it’s supposedly immoral to expect them to master the intricacies of Latin and Greek, languages which I suppose we can see as foreign, “white” to them as well. Rather, they must be admitted in shining expectation that their class comments will be bracingly “diverse” in good old English.

* * *

My Atlantic colleague Graeme Wood is more sanguine about the Princeton decision. He argues sagely that a certain kind of student happens to enjoy working their way through languages like Latin as a kind of puzzle (I openly admit being that type), but that there are others who don’t go in for that particular task and yet are itching and well-equipped to engage and analyze classical texts regardless. Graeme notes that we do not consider it an educational tragedy that specialists in English history are not required to be able to read Old English. (Although I wonder if this analogy would hold if the idea were someone specializing in England of the first millennium, where all of the relevant linguistic matter was in Old English [and Latin].)

I can go with him here to an extent. On the one hand, as I have argued here, to engage work only in translation is, of course, to lose a lot. Yet, in making that argument here, I was referring to my own reading War and Peace in English, as I myself was not inclined to hack through it in Russian (although my being black was not the reason for this disinclination [couldn’t help it!]). The question is how important we consider that loss to be.

In this, I have argued – to a goodly amount of pushback – that Shakespeare is up for adjustment, with words whose meanings have drifted beyond modern comprehension in live performance changed to ones we now know. Yes, some of the original nuance would be lost, but the benefit of being able to listen to the texts with genuine comprehension would outweigh these losses. I also consider the tradition bizarre of sitting through three- and four-hour operas in languages one doesn’t know. Opera where possible should be presented, to Anglophones, in English regardless of how pretty Italian’s vowels are or how, well, whatever it is that German is (make no mistake – I love me some German, but as to singability, let’s face it …).

Or – I majored in French in college. We were required to read books in French and then discuss them in French. The idea was for us to rise to this challenge, but frankly, more than a few students in any given class simply weren’t up to it – they hadn’t been taught enough French to read Hugo or Balzac meaningfully, and along the lines of Graeme’s point, often weren’t the types who happen to enjoy toiling to truly read and/or speak another language. They wanted to read books, but that’s different. This was, really, usually most of the class from what I could see. These classes, supposedly literary discussions, operated largely on a Sesame Street level, where if we had been given the work in translation, most of us would have learned a great deal more.

Thus I am not entirely closed to the idea that a classics departments stop requiring majors to know Latin and Greek. A part of me has a hard time letting go of the idea that the challenge is a valuable one to the nurturing of a young brain. Yes, Princeton will continue teaching Latin and Greek to students who want to dip their feet in just “because.” But the ones who specialize in actual Latin and Greek texts, if required to get in up to their waists, are the students who will truly know the languages, using them to grapple with entire chunks of work and thought. The new situation will be one basically announcing “Nobody has to really learn Latin or Greek unless they’re a grammar nerd. What we want is for you to come give us your take on what these texts are about.”

Many wonder what’s so bad about that. And someone like me looks back at antique requirements that all students at a college take Latin and/or Greek and sees a peculiar quaintness. One could see Princeton’s decision as simply taking us even further from arbitrary tradition.

* * *

And yet, my irritation and discomfort remain. This is for a specific reason. I revile decisions like these when they are made with black people in mind. We can have a conversation about whether standardized tests are fair, about whether there might be other ways of fairly assessing students, about whether classical texts really need to be encountered in the languages they were written in. However, to have those conversations within the context of excusing black students from challenge is, in my view, impermissible and yes, in its way, racist.

The kid who doesn’t know he isn’t supposed to mention the emperor’s nakedness – and there is a little of that kid in most people – will always know, for example, that the reason for pulling the test from requirements at schools like Stuyvesant was “because black kids couldn’t handle the test.” No amount of sermonizing about “holistic” this and “welcoming” that will distract sensible people from this basic fact. And it won’t do. Exempting classics students from amo, amas, amat out of a misty-eyed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (i.e. to black students) is the same thing.

The tacit idea is people guilty about their white privilege saying over a Zoom meeting “If we want to have more black students, we can’t be making people learn Greek and Latin anymore.” Ugh – see how that reads when exposed to the sunlight? Revise how those languages are taught. Advertise them differently. Or here’s a compromise – Greek’s harder than Latin; maybe pull it but not Latin? Anything but that patronizing condescension.

* * *

In a little while, our chattering classes are going to have a field day roasting Charles Murray over a spit for his next book, which will openly argue that it has been scientifically proven that black people are, on the average, not as cognitively nimble as other people. For about a month, the usual suspects will jostle for space condemning the very address of this subject as racism incarnate.

Okay – but any public discussion that both reviles the idea that black people are less intelligent than others while also lustily demanding that it’s “racist” to submit black people to cognitive challenges is hopelessly incoherent. We disparage rape culture, diet culture – this exemption culture is premised on a basic assumption that it’s unsavory to require serious challenge of black students Because Racism.

No. You don’t get past racism by creating new forms of it. Scrapping traditional challenges should only be on the table after black kids have mastered the challenge anyway. Zora Neale Hurston gets the final word:

“It seems to me that if I say a whole system must be upset for me to win, I am saying that I cannot sit in the game, and that safer rules must be made to give me a chance. I repudiate that. If others are in there, deal me a hand and let me see what I can make of it, even though I know some in there are dealing from the bottom and cheating like hell in other ways.”

The current “woke” consensus is that Hurston was wrong on this, that she was expecting too much. I would just love to see one of today’s Elect in a room with Hurston trying to tell her where she was going wrong.

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Not sure how many Classic Scholars the world needs (and I'm defining Classic as ancient Greece and Rome, not including China, Persia, India, Americas, etc)

And not sure how many of those Princeton-trained Classic Scholars would find work in that very-limited field if they don't know Latin or Greek.

Seems all kinda silly. 

As for the university, who gives a shit how they define their degree? Have you seen how the for-profit degree mills define theirs? Degrees are just a certificate of completion at the end of the day. They matter for about 1 job post graduation.

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Berkeley Classics (ranked above Princeton) has had a Classical Civilizations major and minor since forever, one which doesn't require Greek or Latin. It also has Language majors. Harvard and Oxford have something similar. I took hella Classics when I was at Berkeley but the engineering load was too great to get the Classical Civilizations minor because you have to finish engineering in 4 years. Did I mention I went to Berkeley? I feel like I should have mentioned this at some point.

Still y'all might want to read what Princeton Classics wrote about this rather than McWhorter's commentary on it.

https://classics.princeton.edu/department/news/statement-community-undergraduate-concentration

Their reasoning used the word diversity, once. But y'all may want to investigate what they meant when they used that word cuz it had nothin' to do with McWhorter's use of the same word. It's almost like McWhorter (who taught at Berkeley and should have known about Berkeley's Classical Civilizations major/minor) was making things up in order to get clicks.

Classics (with or without the language requirement) is a fine liberal arts major, similar to history, sociology, archaeology, .... It's an excellent preparation for law, teaching, business. So are other majors.

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Speaking of "dumbing down" at the Ivy Leagues, I read Rick Yukon's new piece yesterday about Columbia University, and I got curious about Columbia's physics Ph.D. qualifier, so I looked at their website ...

For background, Columbia was known around the world (along with University's of Chicago, Princeton, CUNY and University of Illinois) for having one of the most creatively difficult physics Ph.D. qualifiers. But like most, it was so difficult that a lot of promising candidates could never pass.

So I look on their website after reading the Yukon piece ... Sweet Smoking Mary! They are currently in consideration of shitcanning the whole thing and replacing it with some kind of peer semester review! I can only assume this is so that they can get more Ph.D. graduates.

I get it, demographic forces have killed the supply of new physicists. But without having to reform one's own mind to pass the living nightmare that is a physics qualifier, how will these kids be effective scientists?

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13 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

Did I mention I went to Berkeley? I feel like I should have mentioned that at some point.

You always find a way to sneak that in.

I did my undergrad "work" chasing poontang and playing VB at Long Beach State, which at the time was thought to be the Berkeley of the San Pedro, Harbor City, Long Beach area.  B)

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6 minutes ago, mikewof said:

But without having to reform one's own mind to pass the living nightmare that is a physics qualifier, how will these kids be effective physicists?

That's how McWhorter sees it, fo shor.

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From the article

44 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

Okay – but any public discussion that both reviles the idea that black people are less intelligent than others while also lustily demanding that it’s “racist” to submit black people to cognitive challenges is hopelessly incoherent. We disparage rape culture, diet culture – this exemption culture is premised on a basic assumption that it’s unsavory to require serious challenge of black students Because Racism.

No. You don’t get past racism by creating new forms of it. Scrapping traditional challenges should only be on the table after black kids have mastered the challenge anyway. Zora Neale Hurston gets the final word:

“It seems to me that if I say a whole system must be upset for me to win, I am saying that I cannot sit in the game, and that safer rules must be made to give me a chance. I repudiate that. If others are in there, deal me a hand and let me see what I can make of it, even though I know some in there are dealing from the bottom and cheating like hell in other ways.”

This^^,  Especially the bolded part.

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Ancient latin, Greek, Samaritan, perhaps Mayan and Mohican for balance?    Why bother?   Medicine still uses a descriptive Ancient Greek or Latin root word for various conditions, a hodge podge of two dead languages.   Physicians no longer converse in latin in front of their patients, sounding erudite compared to the barber surgeons while they guestimate how much blood to draw and which irritant to apply in a poultice.  Taxonomy is pretty much filling in new species of existing genuses (genera), using geography and patronage for the names.   Therefore making Latin a prerequisite, when you know it's only offered to children whose parents can hire private tutors or the most select of private schools, is clearly a gatekeeper function.   I went to what was one of the best public schools in Kansas.  I had a choice of German, French or Spanish.   Chinese would be a great choice now.    Many rural schools at that time didn't have any foreign language option, since they didn't have a teacher.  (Graduating class size was often a dozen or two).    They cheated and did British English, since additional language credit was required at that time for state college tracking curriculum.   Presumably they do some virtual education now.

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11 minutes ago, mikewof said:

I get it, demographic forces have killed the supply of new physicists.

What do you mean by this??

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@Burning Man .   I would never presume to know what @mikewof is thinking, but economics have diverted most of America's strong math minds into devising computer trading programs for rich people's  hedge funds.     China is gaining a huge numerical advantage in research and development potential. 

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16 minutes ago, mikewof said:

how will these kids be effective scientists?

Clearly, you didn't go to Columbia

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20 minutes ago, Lark said:

@Burning Man .   I would never presume to know what @mikewof is thinking, but economics have diverted most of America's strong math minds into devising computer trading programs for rich people's  hedge funds.     China is gaining a huge numerical advantage in research and development potential. 

So much this. One of my engineering buddies at Berkeley was a wrong sides of the tracks sort with a minor arrest record growing up. But he went back to school, to a JC and blew it out of the water. Then he went to Berkeley and blew the toughest engineering department there out of the water. Then he went to Columbia for a PhD.

Columbia is just down the street (ok, it's a long street) from Wall Street and buddy got recruited out of his program. Thne having been a quant, he's now a hedge fund manager with the requisite gorgeous wife, place in the Hamptons, ...

But as for China gaining any particular advantage out of this, I'm not sure I agree. The US is still first rate in university education. (But we're second rate in secondary. Maybe we're on to something there.) I'm well versed in my field of technology and the Chinese are well behind. Moreover, the slapdown Jack Ma is getting makes me worry less about China as a competitor and more as a fascist country with a billion people.

I think the main advantage of the US has been we be big. We were big enough that we were guaranteed to have some smart people. This was good (enough) until Republicans became the Party of Dumb. On the other side of the ocean, China under Mao was insanely stupid. They're not brilliant now but they're not stupid either. And they're really, really fucking big. That's what we have to worry about. The Chinese are getting less stupid and we're getting more dumb.

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21 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

So much this. One of my engineering buddies at Berkeley was a wrong sides of the tracks sort with a minor arrest record growing up. But he went back to school, to a JC and blew it out of the water. Then he went to Berkeley and blew the toughest engineering department there out of the water. Then he went to Columbia for a PhD.

Columbia is just down the street (ok, it's a long street) from Wall Street and buddy got recruited out of his program. Thne having been a quant, he's now a hedge fund manager with the requisite gorgeous wife, place in the Hamptons, ...

As for China gaining any particular advantage out of this, I'm not sure I agree. The US is still first rate in university education. (But we're second rate in secondary. Maybe we're on to something there.) I'm well versed in my field of technology and the Chinese are well behind. Moreover, the slapdown Jack Ma is getting makes me worry less about China as a competitor and more as a fascist country with a billion people.

American colleges still have some advantage, but recent immigration policy games have to have eroded that.   My dad and his generation of science professor buddies are mostly retired or dead, so my contacts are gone, I'm now about five years out of date.   Nearly three decades ago, when I attended, there were few American kids wanting to work hard enough to land graduate seats in the hard sciences.   We depended on foreign born students.   We then foolishly kick them out immediately after graduation, if we even let them in.   My dad's best friend since grad school is an Indian born chemist.   He provided decades of benefit to Buffalo after graduating, back when we liked immigrants.

I've long argued all MS and PhD graduates from American universities should be offered permanent green cards with a pathway to citizenship.   

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48 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

https://classics.princeton.edu/department/news/statement-community-undergraduate-concentration

Their reasoning used the word diversity, once. But y'all may want to investigate what they meant when they used that word cuz it had nothin' to do with McWhorter's use of the same word.

Yep read it for the apologist WhiteSpeak that it is. It's very well-written* and indeed "diversity" had another meaning. I also thought that his #2 argument could have been written by McWhorter [my bold]: 

  1. Our conversations with undergraduates have revealed that a minimum language requirement acts primarily as a deterrent to potential concentrators, and is not effective as a means of inducing students to embark on the study of Ancient Greek or Latin. We believe that an approach based on inclusion and persuasion [!] will be more effective in encouraging language study than one based on compulsion. We are confident in the appeal and excitement that the study of Ancient Greek and Latin hold, and see our changes as a means of growing the field (including the study of languages) by removing barriers to entry.

 

IMO, McWhorter's  argument that material should be read in the language written because of the nuances possibly missed by a translator is the telling point.

* One should always pick the brightest guy to tell the biggest lie. Consider the Warren Report.  

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46 minutes ago, Lark said:

 Therefore making Latin a prerequisite, when you know it's only offered to children whose parents can hire private tutors or the most select of private schools, is clearly a gatekeeper function.

Obviously a very strong point. 

31 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

place in the Hamptons, ...

Any chance I could liveaboard on his dock  ... just for the summer, to start?

32 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

makes me worry less about China as a competitor and more as a fascist country with a billion people.

Yeah. That too.

26 minutes ago, Lark said:

I've long argued all MS and PhD graduates from American universities should be offered permanent green cards with a pathway to citizenship.   

Gotta use your OUTSIDE VOICE Cap. To "coin" a phrase, this is a no-brainer.

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29 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

McWhorter

And @Blue Crab sure get a lot of mileage out of pretty much zero evidence. 

Crab would not know an Ivy League school from shinola 

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Just now, badlatitude said:

That sounds snobby, where did you matriculate?

BGSU and the U. of Colorado  . . 

I can beat up on the Ivy League with the best of 'em, 

but the argument made above reeks of bad faith. 

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2 hours ago, Raz'r said:

Not sure how many Classic Scholars the world needs (and I'm defining Classic as ancient Greece and Rome, not including China, Persia, India, Americas, etc)

And not sure how many of those Princeton-trained Classic Scholars would find work in that very-limited field if they don't know Latin or Greek.

Seems all kinda silly. 

As for the university, who gives a shit how they define their degree? Have you seen how the for-profit degree mills define theirs? Degrees are just a certificate of completion at the end of the day. They matter for about 1 job post graduation.

Who was the classics professor that the Catamoron always quoted as an authority for all things not-classics?  His name escapes me. 

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1 hour ago, Blue Crab said:

Yep read it for the apologist WhiteSpeak that it is. It's very well-written* and indeed "diversity" had another meaning. I also thought that his #2 argument could have been written by McWhorter [my bold]: 

  1. Our conversations with undergraduates have revealed that a minimum language requirement acts primarily as a deterrent to potential concentrators, and is not effective as a means of inducing students to embark on the study of Ancient Greek or Latin. We believe that an approach based on inclusion and persuasion [!] will be more effective in encouraging language study than one based on compulsion. We are confident in the appeal and excitement that the study of Ancient Greek and Latin hold, and see our changes as a means of growing the field (including the study of languages) by removing barriers to entry.

 

IMO, McWhorter's  argument that material should be read in the language written because of the nuances possibly missed by a translator is the telling point.

* One should always pick the brightest guy to tell the biggest lie. Consider the Warren Report.  

Tidbit from the Iliad. It has a good cop bad cop scene in it. The poem is freaking 2800 years old (?) and it has good cop bad cop. Odysseus (who is also a minor character in the Iliad) and Diomedes go on a night raid to get information (book 10, 381). They run into an idiot named Dolon and capture him. Diomedes sez:

Either wait or my spear will catch you.

Smooth talkin' Odysseus (biggest+best liar in the canon) then sez:

Do not fear and let no thought of death be upon you

Dolon spills the beans to Odysseus but when he's finished bad ass Diomedes ...

struck the middle of his neck with a sweep of the sword,

and slashed clean through both tendons,

and Dolon's head still speaking when it dropped in the dust. 

I was Suspect #1 for the potential concentrator. As an engineering major, I could never have even minored in Classics with a language requirement. Consequently, they had a program for me. But I couldn't finish even that due to overwork which sent me to the hospital. Oh, when I was done at Berkeley I couldn't even get a masters (a mitzvah in disguise, I suppose). The department was PhD only and the undergraduate manual said that the prestige of the Berkeley degree increases with distance from the Campanile.

Reading the Iliad in Attic Greek is freaky hard. It isn't just Greek; it's Attic Greek, no longer spoken, no longer written and has no dictionaries. We have an approximation of it and McWhorter should know that. At best, that's an upper div aspiration. But the Lattimore translation is awesome. Fagels is awesome. McWhorter's malarkey about reading Война и мир in Russian is similar nonsense. Just read it.

McWhorter isn't maintaining standards. He's throwing up barriers. He reminds me of Victor Davis Hanson's Who Killed Homer bullshit. But the Iliad and the Odyssey are great, freaking Tony the Tiger great! Read them! Don't bullshit around the edges about meta shit. Just teach them and read them any which way, any how.

That's where I'm at. My niece will be reading the Odyssey next year in HS. I'll have read it twice again because I'm looking forward to that so freaking much.

46 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

Any chance I could liveaboard on his dock  ... just for the summer, to start?

I'll check but we are not sleeping together.

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5 minutes ago, Sol Rosenberg said:

Who was the classics professor that the Catamoron always quoted as an authority for all things not-classics?  His name escapes me. 

Woofers?

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There is much to dislike about the Ivy's, but they have made 

some efforts toward diversity, which is why the racist Reich 

hates them. 

Recall how the Reich questioned Michelle Obama's academic 

accomplishments at Princeton and Harvard. 

For the US Reich, it's all about racial fear and animus.  

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My former bro-in-law graduated from Harvard.  Most of his working life was driving for a car service and drinking the best scotch his girlfriend could afford.  His mom recently died so he is a millionaire.

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3 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

Recall how the Reich questioned Michelle Obama's academic 

accomplishments at Princeton and Harvard. 

For the US Reich, it's all about racial fear and animus.  

Yeah but AJ, anyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi, according to you. See where this leads?

Your opinion on dumbing down, in this case entrance requirements, is just another opinion. BFD. Obviously you are for more diversity -- apparently at any cost. McWhorter is the non-racist here. 

And that leaves you as the racist.

Whatchoo got for a persuasive rebuttal of McWhorter's view? Keep in mind he's the black guy who speaks both Latin and Greek, Whitey, and he has a national audience and a prestigious job. And because black. And he thinks blacks can compete with anyone just maybe not yet in the classics. 

But's that's not really his point which is to stop bleeding hearts "helping" blacks pull on those bootstraps thru affirmative action in scholastics. 

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1 minute ago, Blue Crab said:

Yeah but AJ, anyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi, according to you. See where this leads?

Your opinion on dumbing down, in this case entrance requirements, is just another opinion. BFD. Obviously you are for more diversity -- apparently at any cost. McWhorter is the non-racist here. 

And that leaves you as the racist.

Whatchoo got for a persuasive rebuttal of McWhorter's view? Keep in mind he's the black guy who speaks both Latin and Greek, Whitey, and he has a national audience and a prestigious job. And because black. And he thinks blacks can compete with anyone just maybe not yet in the classics. 

But's that's not really his point which is to stop bleeding hearts "helping" blacks pull on those bootstraps thru affirmative action in scholastics. 

Seems like a pretty faux outrage to me. What're we talking about. 10 people / year?

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3 hours ago, Blue Crab said:

Yeah but AJ, anyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi, according to you. See where this leads?

Your opinion on dumbing down, in this case entrance requirements, is just another opinion. BFD. Obviously you are for more diversity -- apparently at any cost. McWhorter is the non-racist here. 

And that leaves you as the racist.

Whatchoo got for a persuasive rebuttal of McWhorter's view? Keep in mind he's the black guy who speaks both Latin and Greek, Whitey, and he has a national audience and a prestigious job. And because black. And he thinks blacks can compete with anyone just maybe not yet in the classics. 

But's that's not really his point which is to stop bleeding hearts "helping" blacks pull on those bootstraps thru affirmative action in scholastics. 

Frankly, if I were black - I would be ashamed and a little more than pissed off at the attitude from the white guilt wing that I could only advance as a result of their sympathy. pity and largess rather than getting where I am by my own hard work.  

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26 minutes ago, Burning Man said:

Frankly, if I were black - I would be ashamed and a little more than pissed off at the attitude from the white guilt wing that I could only advance as a result of their sympathy. pity and largess rather than getting where I am by my own hard work.  

Oddly, my cousin complains more about the traffic stops.

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5 hours ago, Raz'r said:

Seems like a pretty faux outrage to me. What're we talking about. 10 people / year?

For the Reich (I have to put Crab in that category that he worked so hard to earn) 

. . . .  all outrage is faux. 

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5 hours ago, Blue Crab said:

Yeah but AJ, anyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi, according to you.

All you have to do is to provide empirical evidence to support your position  . .  re Princeton classics 

You cannot, you will not . . 

and you don't even know how. 

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11 hours ago, Raz'r said:

Seems like a pretty faux outrage to me. What're we talking about. 10 people / year?

No kidding. 

6 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

For the Reich ...  all outrage is faux. 

Pardon my French but that is a pigheaded comment. It falls squarely in Einstein's sights: Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions. - Albert Einstein

He was talking about martinets just like you.  

6 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

All you have to do is to provide empirical evidence to support your position  . .  re Princeton classics 

You cannot, you will not . . 

and you don't even know how. 

You are correct that I will not bother beyond pointing out the cites on both sides are in evidence above. I'm more in the Raz'r camp that this can't affect too many students. Reality is no one cares about classics studies anymore. The few students of any color wanting to study classics probably speak Greek and Latin already like McWhorter himself. It's your mulishness showing that you say you need more info. 

Also I just referred upthread and don't see your earlier remark which was a simple "McWhorter" suggesting you've hidden it. Obviously you don't think much of him but I wondered if you had more to add. No offense, man, but you'd lose money betting that your academic stature, if any, is anywhere equal to Mc's.

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I'd forgotten about Mrs Obama at Princeton but a quick google found several right side entries along the lines that she had help getting in. In her own words, I believe, she said: 

"It was impossible to be a black kid at a mostly white school and not feel the shadow of affirmative action. You could almost read the scrutiny in the gaze of certain students and even some professors, as if they wanted to say, 'I know why you’re here.' These moments could be demoralizing, even if I’m sure I was just imagining some of it," she wrote. "It planted a seed of doubt. Was I here merely as part of a social experiment?"

There was a lot of that going around at the time including similar references to Mr. Obama as well. Olsonist and I fought that duel years ago. I've forgotten the details but I think Mr. Obama transferred into Columbia under a special program that was an apparent workaround some admission standard. My real issue with the whole deal was Harvard Law anointing him "president" of the law review. In the rest of the world, real law review editors write case notes that can be found.  

In Mrs's case she apparently was a "legacy" case due to her athlete brother per some speculation, however, she had good grades in high school so why not? Maybe she bombed the SATs or something. In any event no sensible person doubts the abilities of the two people have been well-proven in the harsh light of events. 

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1 hour ago, Blue Crab said:

I'd forgotten about Mrs Obama at Princeton but a quick google found several right side entries along the lines that she had help getting in. In her own words, I believe, she said: 

"It was impossible to be a black kid at a mostly white school and not feel the shadow of affirmative action. You could almost read the scrutiny in the gaze of certain students and even some professors, as if they wanted to say, 'I know why you’re here.' These moments could be demoralizing, even if I’m sure I was just imagining some of it," she wrote. "It planted a seed of doubt. Was I here merely as part of a social experiment?"

There was a lot of that going around at the time including similar references to Mr. Obama as well. Olsonist and I fought that duel years ago. I've forgotten the details but I think Mr. Obama transferred into Columbia under a special program that was an apparent workaround some admission standard. My real issue with the whole deal was Harvard Law anointing him "president" of the law review. In the rest of the world, real law review editors write case notes that can be found.  

In Mrs's case she apparently was a "legacy" case due to her athlete brother per some speculation, however, she had good grades in high school so why not? Maybe she bombed the SATs or something. In any event no sensible person doubts the abilities of the two people have been well-proven in the harsh light of events. 

I notice that you didn't mention the white kid who lost their place because of Mrs Obama

Is this progress?

- DSK

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Alternative view. Departments exist when there are students. No students, no department. 
 

maybe they needed to relax the language rule just to get more bloody applicants?

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3 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

I notice that you didn't mention the white kid who lost their place because of Mrs Obama

Is this progress?

- DSK

Nah. I posted the USSC Baake case last discussion. I think schools could read the Baake handwriting on AA, and to avoid the discrimination lawsuits it's just easier to drop the entrance requirements altogether as we see here in the Princeton classics situation. No rules translates to no accountability for schools or administrators. 

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2 minutes ago, Raz'r said:

Alternative view. Departments exist when there are students. No students, no department. 
 

maybe they needed to relax the language rule just to get more bloody applicants?

Yep McWhorter mentions that very fact. 

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Being made to read about the role of the Catholic Church in Simone de Beauvoir's life and Balzac in French in High School made me give up the language for Chinese.  That was one of few smart choices I made at that time in my life. 

Language is just a tool to do something else. 

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46 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

Nah. I posted the USSC Baake case last discussion. I think schools could read the Baake handwriting on AA, and to avoid the discrimination lawsuits it's just easier to drop the entrance requirements altogether as we see here in the Princeton classics situation. No rules translates to no accountability for schools or administrators. 

First, it's Bakke, not Baake. Second, Princeton Classics doesn't have entrance requirements. (Slight correction, they have prerequisites for declaring the major). They have exit or rather graduation requirements. That's because not many schools teach Latin these days and fewer still teach Ancient Greek. This is in contrast to 1869 when Harvard's entrance exam included:

image.png.abdc58ffca653ba188c950af9948ada8.pngimage.png.a83ea0e8fa7c5f2dd8985e41d036c336.png

https://www.businessinsider.com/harvard-entry-exam-2011-7#greek-grammar-give-an-example-of-elision-in-what-words-does-the-accent-of-the-elided-vowel-disappear-with-the-vowel-9

Seriously, McWhorter is full of shit on multiple levels.

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I've stumbled onto a couple of these situations in real time. It's different than reading about them 30+ years later, maybe for the first time. Racial quotas are out but with a little wand waving, admission boards now accomplish what UC Davis Med could not in 1978. I dunno that it matters much. I think Univ of Phoenix online medical school allows a Zoom experience in brain surgery. 

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You are aware that Prop 209 was passed by the citizens of California, no? It sez:

(a) The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

So if you have any examples of this happening, you may wish to forward them to the CA Attorney General's office.

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2 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

First, it's Bakke, not Baake.

Well! That changes everything. :o

I should have known few would read the cites but here's the head of Princeton's classics dept reposted for you: 

  1. Our conversations with undergraduates have revealed that a minimum language requirement acts primarily as a deterrent to potential concentrators, and is not effective as a means of inducing students to embark on the study of Ancient Greek or Latin. We believe that an approach based on inclusion and persuasion [!] will be more effective in encouraging language study than one based on compulsion. We are confident in the appeal and excitement that the study of Ancient Greek and Latin hold, and see our changes as a means of growing the field (including the study of languages) by removing barriers to entry.

My fave part is "We are confident in the appeal and excitement that the study of Ancient Greek and Latin hold ... "

But hard to ignore reference to language requirements. I'll take this as a win.

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5 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

You are aware that Prop 209 was passed by the citizens of California, no? It sez:

(a) The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

So if you have any examples of this happening, you may wish to forward them to the CA Attorney General's office.

I am aware that not all states have followed this example. Moreover, the dumbing down stuff like dropping entrance exams render this moot.  

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A friend I had growing up was even more low income than me  . . his family had been in public housing  .. 

he went to an elite Jesuit high school 

four years of Latin and two years of Greek. 

Dunno if it was Homeric Greek or not 

That sort of social mobility is becoming rare in the US 

Explanations for the relatively low level of social mobility in the US include the better access of affluent children to superior schools and preparation for schools so important in an economy where pay is tilted toward educated workers; high levels of immigration of unskilled laborers and low rate of unionization,

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24 minutes ago, AJ Oliver said:

Explanations for the relatively low level of social mobility in the US include the better access of affluent children to superior schools and preparation for schools so important in an economy where pay is tilted toward educated workers; high levels of immigration of unskilled laborers and low rate of unionization,

C'mon Ollie, this reads like an unattributed quote from someone else, altho I have no beef with the content.

 

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1 hour ago, Blue Crab said:

C'mon Ollie, this reads like an unattributed quote

Of course it is, which is why I kept it in a different font. 

Just google it - 

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4 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

Of course it is, which is why I kept it in a different font. 

Just google it - 

Nah it doesn't work that way. Ya have to show us why we oughta click on some ... let me say this carefully, anonymous link. 

a) you have almost zero cred on this forum.

b) you are constantly being besmirched 

c) you've paid almost no attention to who anyone else here is or what they say

d) you claim to be a PhD but you write worse than an 8th grader. 

So ...  tell me again why anyone would listen to you? I say this with no evil intent, you write like a child. 

 

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On 6/10/2021 at 11:29 AM, mikewof said:

I get it, demographic forces have killed the supply of new physicists. But without having to reform one's own mind to pass the living nightmare that is a physics qualifier, how will these kids be effective scientists

I both passed a pretty hard Physics qualifier and became an effective Physicist, and I don’t really think the one led to the other. If anything it got in the way.

I mean it’s fun and all, in a hazing kind of way, but I already knew how to work and I already knew how to bend my mind to learn new Physics so I was never really sure what we were achieving except just another test to pass that was cute for the theory guys but mainly annoying for us experimental guys. I can look that shit up.

Kinda like the classics thing. If you read what they are saying, to do what they are defining as modern classics you don’t need to be a philologist. They in fact don’t want the field to be dominated by language geeks. Sure Physics is a little different in that we all need to be conversant in the language, but do we all need to be theory geeks? Do we make the theorists pass a super hard lab practical building their own equipment?

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8 minutes ago, jimx said:

I both passed a pretty hard Physics qualifier and became an effective Physicist,

Brilliant post - but if you keep doing that, the trolls will run you right out of here  . . 

(I cheerfully admit to having got lost in 3D phys. calculous. My head still hurts.) 

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6 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

And you write like Clemons/Dickens/Flaubert ?? 

As I've said to you with every weak ass diversionary post you've made, it isn't about me. You encourage ad hom comments by your silly adherence to thinking you're kinda special and your juvenile brand of name calling, and general whininess. I had originally thought you were PUI and said so but now I see that whatever pretense you had to any sort of academic achievement has been forgotten in your dotage. 

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5 hours ago, jimx said:

modern classics

Sounds oxymoronic. I just googled that and got hits on furniture and old cars. For perspective, here's the not-yet-dumbed-down Princeton Classics dept blurb: 

"Introduction to Princeton Classics

Classical languages and literature have been taught at Princeton since the mid-18th century. They were formed into a serious academic discipline in the latter half of the 19th century, with the first fellowships and chairs in Greek and Latin; and their study was eventually incorporated into a Department of Classics by university president Woodrow Wilson early in the 20th century.

The department concentrates on Greek and Latin Languages and Literatures and Greek and Roman History, with close ties to the Program in the Ancient World , which links it to the Departments of History , Religion , and Art and Archaeology ; the Program in Classical Philosophy , which links it to the Department of Philosophy ; the Department of Comparative Literature ; the Stanley J. Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies ; the Program in Linguistics ; and several interdepartmental committees.

Within the Department we cover the standard areas of Greek Literature and History of the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic ages, and of Latin Literature and Roman History from the third century BCE through the third CE. We are moreover particularly invested in the study of Late Antiquity and in later reception . Members of the faculty have strong interests and publication records in drama, epic, lyric poetry, the ancient novel, ancient critical theory, medicine, philosophy, historiography, linguistics, social history, material culture — to offer a far from exhaustive list — and a healthy concern for theory and interdisciplinarity. A panorama of our teaching and research can be discovered by looking into courses offered, individual faculty pages, and the annual reports on our activities to be found in the departmental newsletter."

 

5 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

calculous

Here's a good example mr nutty perfessor. The above is an adjective describing an unwelcome accretion. I wouldn't expect the lawn guy to know the difference but even a small private religious college academic in Nowhere, OH should know how to spell calculus.

 

6 hours ago, jimx said:

and I already knew how to bend my mind to learn new Physics

Any chance of putting that into a brief description for the rest of us? 

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So far, I see Olsonist and Jimx in agreement that ancient languages are not critical to studying classics. Both these guys are sharp and I think I read that O went to Berkeley. And O for sure has read some old stuff and can chat with anyone about it. For me, Greek may as well be spelled calculous or physics. I'm not sure either discipline was offered at my state college (Go Dirtbags!). 

On the other side is McWhorter's argument that texts should be read in the language composed to ensure comprehension and nuance isn't missed by a translator.

Mind, Mc is a pretty serious guy himself: 

"John McWhorter, contributing writer at The Atlantic and professor of linguistics at Columbia University, is a member of Persuasion’s Board of Advisors. His new book, The Elect: Neoracists Posing as Antiracists and their Threat to a Progressive America, is being published in serial at It Bears Mentioning."

O's assessment: 

21 hours ago, Olsonist said:

Seriously, McWhorter is full of shit on multiple levels.

O: this ^^^^ this is kind of weak sauce. Where's the beef?

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My understanding is that "The Classics," as a field of study, is both the language and the literature... and obviously to a large extent must include the culture and the history that produced the language and the literature.

To describe oneself as a "Classics scholar" means that one speaks both Greek and Latin, to some extent at least. Otherwise you're like a person who calls themselves a physicist but doesn't understand high school math.

- DSK

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Lots of people call themselves Christians but don’t speak Hebrew or Aramaic.    I wonder how a first century Roman would make out with a Latin scholar?   Probably about as well as I would with Shakespeare.   

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Translation matters. Upthread someone mentioned a couple of translations as great. I read that as a comment from someone qualified to know; otherwise, says who?

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2 hours ago, Lark said:

Lots of people call themselves Christians but don’t speak Hebrew or Aramaic.    I wonder how a first century Roman would make out with a Latin scholar?   Probably about as well as I would with Shakespeare.   

Probably pretty well except for the pronunciation.

Latin's different from Greek. A lot of Ancient Greek is older than dirt. For instance, the Iliad+Odyssey were an oral tradition, told by storytellers well before Greek even adapted its written component from the Phoenicians. We don't have original Homer because there is no original Homer. There isn't even a Homer (unless you're a 'unitarian' and believe the poems were 'written 'by a single person. Unitarians are idiots.) Our oldest 'Homer' is 10 century CE, 1800 years or so after it was 'written'.

But Latin has three things going for it.

  • writing system and lots of writing
  • the Roman Empire
  • the Church

Latin was the Lingua Franca, the official language of the Roman Empire and what became the Catholic Church. For example, Seneca--Roman statesman, Nero's tutor, playwright, Stoic, ..., intellectual stud--he was born in Cordoba in Spain. This only works if Latin is a standard.

Anyways, the Roman Empire exported Latin (and roads+laws). Writing and the Catholic Church preserved it and still does. We know Latin really well, but we only have fragments of Ancient Greek. Linear B wasn't even decoded until 1951.

On the other hand, how do we even know about the Greeks? What we have was preserved by Muslim scholars. The Irish make a claim as well but they really didn't do anything with it and the Muslims did. Of course, the Muslims were only returning the favor. A lot of Greek math is based on the Egyptians.

When I took Roman Republic, my frikin' brilliant prof made a delicious quotable point that I don't remember at all but which could have been wrapped up and sent out in a Tweet. Then she paused for dramatic effect and asked the class, How do we know this? ... Distribution of grave markers. Thud. I was expecting Indiana Jones to make an appearance and that sounded like Harp in Point Break:

D'you know how we nail the bad guys, Utah?
By crunching data, good crime-scene work, good lab work,...
..and, most importantly, good data-based analysis.

Harp was right, though.

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For me, one thing that detracts a lot from the "classics" is that 

over the millennia various oligarchies and conservative religious 

purged from them almost any favorable reference to democracy. 

And that was done with intent, not by accident. 

If the classics are the sole foundation of your education you will 

likely think that democracy is nothing more than mob rule.  

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48 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

Probably pretty well except for the pronunciation.

Latin's different from Greek. A lot of Ancient Greek is older than dirt. For instance, the Iliad+Odyssey were an oral tradition, told by storytellers well before Greek even adapted its written component from the Phoenicians. We don't have original Homer because there is no original Homer. There isn't even a Homer (unless you're a 'unitarian' and believe the poems were 'written 'by a single person. Unitarians are idiots.) Our oldest 'Homer' is 10 century CE, 1800 years or so after it was 'written'.

But Latin has three things going for it.

  • writing system and lots of writing
  • the Roman Empire
  • the Church

Latin was the Lingua Franca, the official language of the Roman Empire and what became the Catholic Church. For example, Seneca--Roman statesman, Nero's tutor, playwright, Stoic, ..., intellectual stud--he was born in Cordoba in Spain. This only works if Latin is a standard.

Anyways, the Roman Empire exported Latin (and roads+laws). Writing and the Catholic Church preserved it and still does. We know Latin really well, but we only have fragments of Ancient Greek. Linear B wasn't even decoded until 1951.

On the other hand, how do we even know about the Greeks? What we have was preserved by Muslim scholars. The Irish make a claim as well but they really didn't do anything with it and the Muslims did. Of course, the Muslims were only returning the favor. A lot of Greek math is based on the Egyptians.

When I took Roman Republic, my frikin' brilliant prof made a delicious quotable point that I don't remember at all but which could have been wrapped up and sent out in a Tweet. Then she paused for dramatic effect and asked the class, How do we know this? ... Distribution of grave markers. Thud. I was expecting Indiana Jones to make an appearance and that sounded like Harp in Point Break:





D'you know how we nail the bad guys, Utah?
By crunching data, good crime-scene work, good lab work,...
..and, most importantly, good data-based analysis.

Harp was right, though.

I appreciate your knowledge,    Are you saying Latin was somehow different then modern languages, changing greatly over time and place? more so in the days before email and Skype?    The Romans shamelessly assimilated art and technology but prudishly didn’t incorporate local idiom?   Even the historically insular Japanese have English or European words,   They often use Arabic numerals.   They use orange for both color and fruit.   Of course computer related terms are remarkably post Babel around the world.  
 

Latin did change through the centuries.    It fragmented into the Romance languages.    Did it have a great vowel shift?    Why would first century French Latin resemble Ecclesiastical Latin any more then LA Spanglish resembles the Canterbury Tails?   I’m asking for knowledge and out of critical thinking, not to troll,

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35 minutes ago, Lark said:

I appreciate your knowledge,    Are you saying Latin was somehow different then modern languages, changing greatly over time and place? more so in the days before email and Skype?    The Romans shamelessly assimilated art and technology but prudishly didn’t incorporate local indium?   Even the historically insular Japanese have English or European words,   They often use Arabic numerals.   They use orange for both color and fruit.   Of course computer related terms are remarkably post Babel around the world.  
 

Latin did change through the centuries.    It fragmented into the Romance languages.    Did it have a great vowel shift?    Why would first century French Latin resemble Ecclesiastical Latin any more then LA Spanglish resembles the Canterbury Tails?

It changed less because it was an official language. But that's all I'll say. The vowel shift is pronunciation of which I know fuck all about.

Yes the Romans stole. Their religion was a local copy of the Greeks until they copied a Jewish sect. The Aeneid is 'stolen'. Aeneas is a minor character in the Iliad. The Aeneid has two halves, the awesome Odyssean first half and the dreadful Iliadic second half. Virgil didn't finish it and they kind of slapped it together when he died. Virgil tried to burn but Augustus said nix nix. They also lied; well, maybe except for Tacitus. His Agricola has the great line, describing the Romans, describing himself:

in them is an arrogance which no submission or good behavior can escape. Pillagers of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder, and now they ransack the sea. A rich enemy excites their cupidity; a poor one, their lust for power. East and West alike have failed to satisfy them. They are the only people on earth to whose covetousness both riches and poverty are equally tempting. To robbery, butchery, and rapine, they give the lying name of "government"; they create desolation and call it peace.

42 minutes ago, AJ Oliver said:

For me, one thing that detracts a lot from the "classics" is that 

over the millennia various oligarchies and conservative religious 

purged from them almost any favorable reference to democracy. 

And that was done with intent, not by accident. 

If the classics are the sole foundation of your education you will 

likely think that democracy is nothing more than mob rule.  

I don't agree. If that were the case, we wouldn't know about sortition. We have a semblance of that with our (somewhat) random jury selection. But the Greeks minimized factions by choosing people for some offices randomly. We know about sortition from Aristotle via the Muslims.

The Iliad+Odyssey were part of a larger cycle. Why weren't the others preserved? We don't know. We just don't know.

 

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13 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

... Yes the Romans stole. Their religion is a local copy of the Greeks'. The Aeneid is 'stolen'. Aeneas is a minor character in the Iliad. The Aeneid has two halves, the awesome Odyssean first half and the dreadful Iliadic second half. Virgil didn't finish it and they kind of slapped it together when he died. Virgil tried to burn but Augustus said nix nix. They also lied; well, except for Tacitus. His Agricola has the great line, describing the Romans, describing himself:

in them is an arrogance which no submission or good behavior can escape. Pillagers of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder, and now they ransack the sea. A rich enemy excites their cupidity; a poor one, their lust for power. East and West alike have failed to satisfy them. They are the only people on earth to whose covetousness both riches and poverty are equally tempting. To robbery, butchery, and rapine, they give the lying name of "government"; they create desolation and call it peace.

36 minutes ago, AJ Oliver said:

For me, one thing that detracts a lot from the "classics" is that 

over the millennia various oligarchies and conservative religious 

purged from them almost any favorable reference to democracy. 

And that was done with intent, not by accident. 

If the classics are the sole foundation of your education you will 

likely think that democracy is nothing more than mob rule.  

Expand  

I don't agree. If that were the case, we wouldn't know about sortition. We have a semblance of that with our (somewhat) random jury selection. But the Greeks minimized factions by choosing people for some offices randomly. We know about sortition from Aristotle via the Muslims.

The Iliad+Odyssey were part of a larger cycle. Why weren't the others preserved? We don't know. We just don't know.

 

The Roman Republic wasn't really very republican, it was really a kind of plutocracy in which the rich and powerful families could all get together and collude, calling themselves the Senate, instead of fighting each other for graft. Their culture glorified greed and gluttony, but they also had a lot of writers who criticised this heavily.

I would agree with AJ that the body of writing of "The Classics" has been somewhat selectively purged, because so much that survives is so consistently anti-democratic; but we don't really know this. And they had a lot of examples of democracy that went wrong or was deliberately abused by demagogues. I can easily see many rulers and aristocrats, sampling some writings from their libraries (which were a status symbol), would say in disgust "throw this shit out, and everything written by this guy, fuck him!" and this leading to the loss of many works, but not an organized campaign.

I also thought 'The Classics' had to imclude at least some Greek, and broadly included a lot of literature from the other ancient Middle East/Asia Minor empires.

- DSK

 

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24 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

The Roman Republic wasn't really very republican, it was really a kind of plutocracy in which the rich and powerful families could all get together and collude, calling themselves the Senate, instead of fighting each other for graft. Their culture glorified greed and gluttony, but they also had a lot of writers who criticised this heavily.

I would agree with AJ that the body of writing of "The Classics" has been somewhat selectively purged, because so much that survives is so consistently anti-democratic; but we don't really know this. And they had a lot of examples of democracy that went wrong or was deliberately abused by demagogues. I can easily see many rulers and aristocrats, sampling some writings from their libraries (which were a status symbol), would say in disgust "throw this shit out, and everything written by this guy, fuck him!" and this leading to the loss of many works, but not an organized campaign.

I also thought 'The Classics' had to imclude at least some Greek, and broadly included a lot of literature from the other ancient Middle East/Asia Minor empires.

- DSK

No, the Roman Republic was pretty republican, an aristocratic republic but a republic. The plutocracy only shows up with Caesar and the Triumvirates. Before that, the Senate ran the show. And to prove that it was a republic, there were factions competing for power. They weren't just divvying up the goods they stole from the provinces.

A plutocracy would mean that someone like Crassus would be ultimately powerful. He wasn't. He was extremely wealthy. He defeated Sparticus. He was elected co-consul (consuls were elected in pairs each with veto power in order to avoid having a king). But he didn't run the show. After his consulship ended--it ended--he became a governor of Syria before the Triumvirate with Caesar. Now THAT was a plutocracy.

Were individuals powerful? Yes. Were families hereditarily powerful, hell yes. But this power was expressed through the Senate which was aristocratic. You still had a New Man rising to power from time to time. Cicero was such a New Man. He had no Senators in his family tree. He rose on his wits.

The trouble was Caesar who was just too damned talented and too successful. The Senate feared that and when his term in Gaul ended, they wanted to haul him back to Rome and sue him for whatever he did for Rome in Gaul. All Caesar wanted was another appointment but the Senate said no. So Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his troops, and that was the end of Roman Republic.

Yep, the Roman Republic ended because of the threat of litigation.

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Out of curiousity I did some edugoogle.   Latin was a local primitive dialect, one of a half dozen or so in what we call Italy.     Their origins are unknown.    This dialect borrowed written characters from the Phoenicians and Etruscans, the latter was a provincial version of a Greek alphabet.    Latin grew because one Iron Age village was more aggressive then its neighbors.    
 

I’m guessing classical Latin stayed as a recognizable language for several centuries because the daily language, which survived to become modern languages and get added to English, was Vulgar Latin.   The formal stilted language was perhaps somewhat like lawyer speak in contracts, but more so?   When the Catholic Church organized and shifted the Bible to Latin the language was forever locked into the stasis chamber of religious rigidity.   Since the European model of university education and the professions evolved under church influence, they were trapped in the same language.    As French, German, then most recently English supplanted Latin for purveying knowledge, this is merely trivia for a day without wind.   Presumably vernacular / Manderin Chinese will be next and Princeton’s Classical Studies will one day be devoted to Literary Chinese.
 

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1 hour ago, Steam Flyer said:

I would agree with AJ that the body of writing of "The Classics" has been somewhat selectively purged, because so much that survives is so consistently anti-democratic; but we don't really know this. And they had a lot of examples of democracy that went wrong or was deliberately abused by demagogues. I can easily see many rulers and aristocrats, sampling some writings from their libraries (which were a status symbol), would say in disgust "throw this shit out, and everything written by this guy, fuck him!" and this leading to the loss of many works, but not an organized campaign.

I don't think I wrote that the book purge was organized, and it's hard to prove, but . .  

there is ample cause for suspicion. 

At the time of Plato and Aristotle there were around 150 independent Greek city states, and perhaps a good fifty of them had (sorta) democratic governments. 

Almost nothing is known about any of them. 

Could all that history have disappeared solely by accident ?? Coincidence ??  I don't think so. 

Democracy has its drawbacks, but it's way better than oligarchic rule - think Drumph. 

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On 6/11/2021 at 5:19 AM, Blue Crab said:

Yep read it for the apologist WhiteSpeak that it is. It's very well-written* and indeed "diversity" had another meaning. I also thought that his #2 argument could have been written by McWhorter [my bold]: 

  1. Our conversations with undergraduates have revealed that a minimum language requirement acts primarily as a deterrent to potential concentrators, and is not effective as a means of inducing students to embark on the study of Ancient Greek or Latin. We believe that an approach based on inclusion and persuasion [!] will be more effective in encouraging language study than one based on compulsion. We are confident in the appeal and excitement that the study of Ancient Greek and Latin hold, and see our changes as a means of growing the field (including the study of languages) by removing barriers to entry.

 

IMO, McWhorter's  argument that material should be read in the language written because of the nuances possibly missed by a translator is the telling point.

* One should always pick the brightest guy to tell the biggest lie. Consider the Warren Report.  

So...it's like the old Morse Code requirement to get a ham license?

They're trying to "grow the field" of people studying dead languages from dead cultures where no new work has been produced in more than a millennia? Are we striving for new interpretations that haven't been tread, re-tried, mixed and re-mixed by classics scholars in the last two or three centuries?

I'm not sure I see the point. If you're getting an undergraduate classics degree as a foundation for some other field, who gives a flat hot damn about your ability to stumble on some nuanced interpretation as an undergraduate of a 2,000 year old work that no one has ever seen because you were taught a  year or two of a dead language. Your odds seem better at winning at the track or lottery. I suspect undergrads majoring in Classics - especially those with no intention to pursue advanced degrees - aren't doing that kind of serious research.

It's like saying Philosophy undergrads should learn German and French so they can possibly glean more subtle and novel interpretations of Nietzsche and Voltaire by reading the original text. Piffle.

If someone is going to get a PhD in the classics, they'll learn the language to do it. If they're going on to law school or some other endeavor, they will likely never speak or read ancient Greek or Latin again in any meaningful context so it seems a waste to make them learn it. In the mean time, if the Classics department needs kids to pick their major to keep their field alive, and eliminating an onerous and mostly useless barrier (like Morse Code) will help with this, it makes total sense.

Blaming it on "dumbing it down" for black kids speaks more about the people assigning that motive than it does to any motivation on the part of the Classics department. They're protecting their budget and trying to save a dying field of study.

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6 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

I don't think I wrote that the book purge was organized, and it's hard to prove, but . .  

there is ample cause for suspicion. 

At the time of Plato and Aristotle there were around 150 independent Greek city states, and perhaps a good fifty of them had (sorta) democratic governments. 

Almost nothing is known about any of them. 

Could all that history have disappeared solely by accident ?? Coincidence ??  I don't think so. 

Democracy has its drawbacks, but it's way better than oligarchic rule - think Drumph. 

Well, the oligarchs have always disagreed. And often, they're the ones holding the whip

- DSK

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