New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
Stephen Hughes
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 10th, 2014, 12:19 am

jtauber wrote:What you see on that site is a preliminary study I was doing into the relationship between the frequency of a word (just nouns initially) and its likelihood of being known. Which high-frequency words are less likely to be known? Which low-frequency words are more likely to be known? Are there systematic reasons for the outliers? etc.
Frequency that a word occurs and the chances that it is known is not such a simple thing to understand.

Consider the adage, "Reading id the best way to acquire vocabulary". For a student in the beginning and lower intermediate stages, close (intensive) reading and rereading is a great way to acquire vocabulary. The words are learnt with the one sense that they have in that passage. As time and experience goes on, reading broadly and quickly (extensive reading) becomes important too, where comparison of context and looking at the different senses (dictionary sub-divisions) of a word begins to give a different perspective on the way that words are known. At some point, the dictionary needs to be given up for a while, so that uncertainty can play a role in the reading as well.

Not all students read the same texts closely in their beginning stages of learning. I think I recall that Galatians was the first book I read through like that, so even now when I read it, I follow the grammar and syntax much more analytically, with greater reference to the English meanings of words (the ideal outcome of the grammar translation method). Another student will have their early experiences in other works. At that level, overall New Testament frequencies are not very relevant - for the student, the limits of their world are the limits of the text set by their teacher and they explore the world very closely and repeatedly. But of course we all grow up in different houses, and its only later that we use our motor skills and coordination dynamically to get around different and new environments.

The variability of readers' experiences with texts in and out of the New Testament will play a part in determining which words they have been exposed to, and the order of reading will determine how those texts were tackled - a text read during (the earlier or later stages of) formal instruction will be "known" differently than a text read many years later for "enjoyment".

The amount of rote learning that a student has done or been required to do makes a difference too. It seems fashionable these days to learn words by frequency, but that is not the only way. Two other ways are to learn all the words used in a passage, and to learn all words in grammatical classes. I have tried all three. When I read Galatians, and later Plato's Symposium, I set about the task of mastering the vocabulary by rote in context - the goal was never fully achieved, but to a great extent it was. My old note books are full of words arranged by grammar (eg. all the New Testament words with verbs of the pattern (ν) αν, or all feminine nouns in ις, εως (arranged alphabetically without regard to frequency). Another way that I would recommend but wasn't able to do at that time for lack of resources, it to memorise (by rote in context) all the words for a particular topic or situation, eg fishing words from all the fishing contexts. That type of learning allows a student to be completely free from the burden of vocabulary and to pay fuller attention to grammar, syntax and other features of the text.

You may need a large sample group of students with adequate background information to be able to make sense of the data that you acquire from the sampling.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

TimNelson
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by TimNelson » December 11th, 2014, 12:34 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Another way that I would recommend but wasn't able to do at that time for lack of resources, it to memorise (by rote in context) all the words for a particular topic or situation, eg fishing words from all the fishing contexts. That type of learning allows a student to be completely free from the burden of vocabulary and to pay fuller attention to grammar, syntax and other features of the text.
Paul Nation, in his 2000 article "Lexical Sets", points out that, as far as straight vocabulary memorisation goes, it's actually more difficult, generally, to memorise vocabulary in semantically-related lexical sets, although there are exceptions to this (and I suggested uncertain follow-up areas in my M.Div. project). Having said that, Nation studied only direct memorisation; he was willing to admit that the opportunity to use a group of words in classroom discussion, and be able to usefully discuss a topic in the target language, might outweigh the disadvantages of memorising semantically-related words together. So the short version is, don't memorise words in semantic groups unless you have a related goal.

:)
--
Tim Nelson
B. Sc. (Computer Science), M. Div. Looking for work (in computing or language-related jobs).

Stephen Hughes
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 11th, 2014, 1:29 pm

TimNelson wrote:Nation studied only direct memorisation;
As I hinted, I personally prefer rote learning in context for lower level students. I'm not a fan of "direct memorisation" - which I suspect is lists of Greek words with one or two glosses being learnt by repeating them.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

cwconrad
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by cwconrad » December 11th, 2014, 2:07 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:
TimNelson wrote:Nation studied only direct memorisation;
As I hinted, I personally prefer rote learning in context for lower level students. I'm not a fan of "direct memorisation" - which I suspect is lists of Greek words with one or two glosses being learnt by repeating them.
In olden days we used to memorize sizable chunks of text -- from Homer, from the gospels, things like 1 Cor 13 or Rom 7-8, choral odes of Sophocles (πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κ’οὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον ... ), κτλ. Later, after reading large chunks of poetry or prose became easy enough, large chunks of lovely text came to cling in one's memory: φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θεοῖσιν ... But that's true in one's native language too, I think. One doesn't forget words in those passages in their context.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

jtauber
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by jtauber » December 11th, 2014, 2:24 pm

Much smaller chunks, but my various "new kind of graded reader" attempts have often resulted in things like:

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν.

or

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ·

being taught on day one.
James Tauber
http://jktauber.com/

Stephen Hughes
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 11th, 2014, 11:52 pm

jtauber wrote:Much smaller chunks, but my various "new kind of graded reader" attempts have often resulted in things like:

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν.

or

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ·

being taught on day one.
Not to say much, but just to keep the conversation going, and not to tell you your business in preparing a graded reader for your students seeing as we all have our own personal responsibilities for our students, but rather just to give you my opinion, permit me to disagree.

I think that teaching those idiosyncratic epistolary constructions χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη (Paul and Peter's + πληθυνθείη) rather than the standard -ος -ῳ χαίρειν (found in James and the two letters in Acts) in the early stages might form the reader's idea that that model was somehow standard. Also the deep feelings of love and admiration and great shows of affection for his readers that Paul begins his epistles, which are remarkable (worthy of being noticed) over against a sea of terseness, would not be so noticeable.

I couldn't teach my students some thing like, "My dearest and most excellent friend Abby, There is not a day that goes by wherein I don't remember the life we shared together as girls, nor miss you, nor hope that we could see each other again now or in our retirement. ... Your most devoted friend, hugs and kisses, Sabrina" as the first letter writing experience. I'd of course just give them the straightforward, "Dear Abby, (I have a problem with my husband. His feet smell but he doesn't wash them before he goes to bed. What can I do?) Yours (sincerely) Sabrina." [Sorry everyone to keep hammering on the English when we want the house to be built of Greek nails, but that's more-or-less the difference between the elaborate style of Paul and Peter (and to a lesser degree John with his Ἐχάρην γὰρ λίαν) and the functional style of James, The Apostles and Elders, and Claudius Lysias.]

I don't prescribe it, but what I see is that short phrases reflecting "standard" usage are usually set to be memorised. The ratio tends to be about 10:1 words to set phrases or maybe 20:1 words to sentences, but that depends whether the things are being learnt for passive or active usage.

———

Side point... Presumably the command γράψον to the scribe (amanuensis) in the Book of Revelations means "compose", "put into the correct literary form"
Revelations 2:1 wrote:Τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον,
Looking at it, the level of epistolary innovation in the construction there in the first two chapters of Revelations more or less hides the standard formulation. The basic opening is recognisable enough
Revelation 1:4-6 wrote:Ἰωάννης ταῖς ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαις ταῖς ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος· καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἑπτὰ πνευμάτων ἃ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ· 5 καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός , ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν , καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς. Τῷ ἀγαπῶντι ἡμᾶς, καὶ λούσαντι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ· 6 καὶ ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν, ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ· αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.
But when the we get to chapter 2, the authour of the Book of Revelations seems to be recording the actual words that were said to him when he was told to write the letter. The expected letter (in simple style) would be something like Ἰωάννης τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἐκκλησίας χαίρειν and then the indication that he is going to quote verbatim what the speaker says Τάδε λέγει ... and then the quote.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 12th, 2014, 12:07 am

cwconrad wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:
TimNelson wrote:Nation studied only direct memorisation;
As I hinted, I personally prefer rote learning in context for lower level students. I'm not a fan of "direct memorisation" - which I suspect is lists of Greek words with one or two glosses being learnt by repeating them.
In olden days we used to memorize sizable chunks of text -- from Homer, from the gospels, things like 1 Cor 13 or Rom 7-8, choral odes of Sophocles (πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κ’οὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον ... ), κτλ. Later, after reading large chunks of poetry or prose became easy enough, large chunks of lovely text came to cling in one's memory: φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θεοῖσιν ... But that's true in one's native language too, I think. One doesn't forget words in those passages in their context.
Rote is out of fashion, but there is a lot to be said for it. My erstwhile Dutch tutor then in her late 20's had memorised her part from one of Euripides plays from her high school days, which she could still quote and remember the meaning of, despite having lost most of the rest of her Greek.

What has really gotten me over the decades with that is my changing systems of pronunciation! Quotes from Homer from the time when my classmate and I were doing our best to use an intonational pronunciation are now garbled memories. Somewhere between other changes, what should be etas have become "re-memorised" as epsilons (or sometimes vice versa). :(

If I had known the changes that I would have attempted later, I probably would have put more effort into memorising by sight than by ear. But really, memorising by ear is easier (as is understanding texts in dialect).

Happy are those who study in one course with one course with one teacher in one institution because they will avoid the cacophony of Koine (and classical) Greek.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

jtauber
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by jtauber » December 12th, 2014, 7:27 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
jtauber wrote:Much smaller chunks, but my various "new kind of graded reader" attempts have often resulted in things like:

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν.

or

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ·

being taught on day one.
Not to say much, but just to keep the conversation going, and not to tell you your business in preparing a graded reader for your students seeing as we all have our own personal responsibilities for our students, but rather just to give you my opinion, permit me to disagree.
I'm not quite sure what you are disagreeing with. See http://graded-reader.org for what I mean by "new kind of graded reader". These aren't graded readers I'm manually preparing for students, these are experiments in computer-generated readers, finding clauses that get students to real text almost immediately. This isn't about the traditional graded readers for intermediate students or a guide for Greek composition classes, but what could be shown to beginning students. My point, as made in the first video on the site linked to, is that a student can get familiar with the Johannine formula ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ long before learning all the things a normal beginning student would be taught before seeing a real clause like that.
James Tauber
http://jktauber.com/

Stephen Hughes
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 12th, 2014, 3:10 pm

jtauber wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:
jtauber wrote:Much smaller chunks, but my various "new kind of graded reader" attempts have often resulted in things like: χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν..
...permit me to disagree.
I'm not quite sure what you are disagreeing with.
Now that you have explained what you are doing I understand that my disagreement is with the outcome of an algorithm.

What I was meaning to say is that the shorter formula is the common no-nonsense addressing convention for letters in the language as a whole.
jtauber wrote:These aren't graded readers I'm manually preparing for students, these are experiments in computer-generated readers, finding clauses that get students to real text almost immediately. This isn't about the traditional graded readers for intermediate students or a guide for Greek composition classes, but what could be shown to beginning students.
Set phrases are regularly introduced to students in the early phases of their language acquisition.
jtauber wrote:My point, as made in the first video on the site linked to, is that a student can get familiar with the Johannine formula ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ long before learning all the things a normal beginning student would be taught before seeing a real clause like that.
Due to technical difficulties at my end, I'm unable to watch your presentation, I'm sorry.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

jtauber
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Re: New Testament Greek Vocabulary Assessment

Post by jtauber » December 12th, 2014, 4:25 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:Set phrases are regularly introduced to students in the early phases of their language acquisition.
Sadly, I haven't seen much evidence of this in beginning Greek textbooks or classes.
James Tauber
http://jktauber.com/

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