Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » June 30th, 2015, 9:58 am

Peter Montoro wrote: It still seems beneficial though to learn a core vocabulary before attempting extensive reading. Of course "learning" a flashcard is no substitute for learning the way that a given word is used by a given author.
I think one of the points my learned friends are making is that if your intention is to learn Greek as a language – as GREEK – then your method is not quite in line with that intention. When you “learn” a word by attaching an English gloss to a Greek word, you are ‘tethering’ yourself to English. You are building a ‘decoding table’ in your head, so that when you read λόγος you think “word”.

There’s nothing wrong with that if your intention is simply to translate, although even there you’ve greatly limited your understanding, and thus your ability to render the best translation. And of course, we all have to use our mother tongue as a bridge to start with, unless one has a huge block of time to employ only living language methods from the start. But as long as you are ‘pre-loading’ your memory with glosses, it will be difficult to get past reading the Greek text as a code for English words and expressions and idioms and structures.
(btw is that the correct way to reference specific previous commenters or is there another convention?
Normally, to reference a previous comment we just use the “Quote” function. To reference a specific person - <<
”Name of person” wrote: ... text ...
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Peter Montoro
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Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by Peter Montoro » June 30th, 2015, 11:05 am

I think one of the points my learned friends are making is that if your intention is to learn Greek as a language – as GREEK – then your method is not quite in line with that intention. When you “learn” a word by attaching an English gloss to a Greek word, you are ‘tethering’ yourself to English. You are building a ‘decoding table’ in your head, so that when you read λόγος you think “word”.
I know that this can be a problem -- it has been a problem for me already with the NT, though my previous knowledge of the NT in English has made it much worse. At the same time, is there really a way to learn a language without learning vocabulary with English glosses? If you have to look up every word you will never get through much text and even then you will still be looking it up in a lexicon that explains a word in English. I know that Dr. Buth's method (and such programs as Rosetta Stone) try to work around this through the use of pictures, there will still be very very many words that cannot be learned (at least I don't see how they can) be learned by this method.

It seems as though one must pass through a "stage" in which one, having built something of a "decoding table" (which is certainly less than ideal), then uses it to read so much that it becomes more efficient for the brain to skip the "decoding" stage altogether and start thinking in Greek or Hebrew or whatever else. Once you know enough of the surrounding words, you can begin to learn words from the context without even having to look them up. Ideally, one could begin to use a Greek/Greek dictionary if one could be found. Am I missing something? If there is a better way to reach the goal I really do want to know what it is...

Thomas Dolhanty
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Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » June 30th, 2015, 12:23 pm

Peter Montoro wrote:It seems as though one must pass through a "stage" in which one, having built something of a "decoding table" (which is certainly less than ideal), then uses it to read so much that it becomes more efficient for the brain to skip the "decoding" stage altogether and start thinking in Greek or Hebrew or whatever else. Once you know enough of the surrounding words, you can begin to learn words from the context without even having to look them up. Ideally, one could begin to use a Greek/Greek dictionary if one could be found. Am I missing something? If there is a better way to reach the goal I really do want to know what it is...
No, I think we’re saying the same thing, except perhaps for the ideal point at which one has acquired enough glosses to simply let the text teach you. I think, though, that the current literature would not support your notion that the brain just automatically switches over to L2 at some point like getting up enough speed down the runway that you finally lift off. It is certain that most of us will always use lexicons like BDAG to some extent but, at least for the great majority, we do need to make a conscious effort to learn our vocabulary from the text itself as early as possible if we wish to read the Greek as Greek.

I have to intentionally ‘stay within’ the language in my reading, even though I continue to consult a lexicon from time to time. You certainly do not want to keep pre-learning large lists of glosses, I believe, once you’ve learned a few hundred of the most used words. As Carl says above, the language itself will soon become my teacher if I so confine myself. If you do keep memorizing glosses in the abstract, it is doubtful whether you will ever really let go and swim in the new medium; at least it will take a long, long time before you do so. There are many who have been 'doing Greek' for many years, who still lack even basic skills - skills possessed by young children - in the Greek language.
Peter Montoro wrote:Ideally, one could begin to use a Greek/Greek dictionary if one could be found.
As a matter of fact, the first such lexicon - at least in recent times - has just been published. Find a description of it here.
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Peter Montoro
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Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by Peter Montoro » June 30th, 2015, 1:18 pm

Thanks
Thomas Dolhanty
!
I will certainly be focusing on reading in the future, though I still think I need to do Hansen and Quinn in order to get a deeper grasp of the verbal system than one gets in most primers of Biblical Greek. After that I will read, and then read, and then read some more... :-) Though I hear that Athanasius and Cyril can be rough going sometimes!

cwconrad
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Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by cwconrad » June 30th, 2015, 1:47 pm

Peter Montoro wrote: I will certainly be focusing on reading in the future, though I still think I need to do Hansen and Quinn in order to get a deeper grasp of the verbal system than one gets in most primers of Biblical Greek. After that I will read, and then read, and then read some more... :-) Though I hear that Athanasius and Cyril can be rough going sometimes!
I heartily recommend Hansen and Quinn; it was developed for the 8-week, 6-hours-a-day, 5-days-a-week immersion summer course that used to be done at UC-Berkeley and CUNY (I don't know if it still is); worth attention also (and probably less known among B-Greekers) is Hardy Hansen's online course, Greek 701: Greek Rhetoric and Prose Style at the CUNY site, http://greek701.ws.gc.cuny.edu/ The description of the course is itself tantalizing (or traumatizing, depending on your point of view):
Reading:

We read selections from Greek prose authors of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E., ranging from Hekataios to Demosthenes. Assignments are fairly brief (about five Oxford pages a week) so that we can translate and analyze each selection closely as we follow the development of Attic prose style. In particular, the course seeks to examine the nature and development of periodic sentence structure in Attic Greek. Most of the selections assigned are available, via the Perseus web site, by clicking on the course syllabus.

We spend the first several weeks on Lysias, in order to review Attic morphology and syntax and to establish a “baseline” for discussions of loose and periodic sentence structure and of prose style in general.

Writing:

The weekly written assignments consist at first of English sentences to be rendered into Greek in order to review certain basic points of syntax such as conditional sentences, indirect statement, and correlatives. There are also verb synopses.

Later in the course the students are asked to compose short paragraphs of connected prose in order to enhance their understanding of the varied and elegant ways in which writers of Attic prose structured their thoughts.

Finally the students, while continuing to compose Greek, compare the styles of various authors, first in informal “sketches” and later in a formal term paper.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Peter Montoro
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Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by Peter Montoro » June 30th, 2015, 2:07 pm

That does sound tantalizing! Oh to find the time for such things.... One must always balance the things one would like to do with the things that one must do at a given time :-) Surely that will fit somewhere.

cwconrad
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Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by cwconrad » June 30th, 2015, 2:23 pm

Peter Montoro wrote:That does sound tantalizing! Oh to find the time for such things.... One must always balance the things one would like to do with the things that one must do at a given time :-) Surely that will fit somewhere.
Aye! There's the reason why "scholarship" and "school" derive from σχολή, the ancient Greek word for leisure. It's also why I, at my age -- and really enjoying retirement --, can second the words of Solon, γηράσκω ἀεὶ πολλὰ διδασκόμενος.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Peter Montoro
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Joined: June 29th, 2015, 10:25 am

Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by Peter Montoro » June 30th, 2015, 2:31 pm

Thank you so much for your input
cwconrad
!

Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » June 30th, 2015, 2:47 pm

cwconrad wrote: γηράσκω ἀεὶ πολλὰ διδασκόμενος
Aye!
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Comprehensive Vocab Lists

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 1st, 2015, 2:19 am

I'm sorry to enter the room after everybody has already high-fived each other... :roll: But there are a few things I'd like to add.
Peter Montoro wrote:
I think one of the points my learned friends are making is that if your intention is to learn Greek as a language – as GREEK – then your method is not quite in line with that intention. When you “learn” a word by attaching an English gloss to a Greek word, you are ‘tethering’ yourself to English. You are building a ‘decoding table’ in your head, so that when you read λόγος you think “word”.
I know that this can be a problem -- it has been a problem for me already with the NT, though my previous knowledge of the NT in English has made it much worse. At the same time, is there really a way to learn a language without learning vocabulary with English glosses? If you have to look up every word you will never get through much text and even then you will still be looking it up in a lexicon that explains a word in English. I know that Dr. Buth's method (and such programs as Rosetta Stone) try to work around this through the use of pictures, there will still be very very many words that cannot be learned (at least I don't see how they can) be learned by this method.
Tethering to a fixed object, a swaying object and to a moving object can all have different effects. Rather than pursue that analogy till it get's strained, let me categorise words.

Some words basically just have lexical meaning that can be quite successfully tethered to English. Verbs and nouns can do that to a large degree. They are more or less fixed and their meaning is well-defined (self-defined to a larger degree), "knowing" them is possible without knowing Greek. Prepositions - at the other end of the spectrum - take most of their meaning from context, and are vaguely self-defined in meaning. Unfortunately, prepositions are often presented as being little elements of the that language that can be well-known from glosses, presumably because they are small. Grammatical / syntactical words like ὅστις, ἤ, οὖν provide only false analogies with English grammar. In the case of those words, knowing how they work means knowing Greek.

The grammar and syntax of the language can be mastered in all it's usual patterns without knowing much vocabulary. That knowledge will lead to fluency, without much comprehension. If you feel the need to train yourself to think in Greek, this point is the basis. I think that pursuing the aim of Greek to Greek in every way ends up throwing bath-water, baby and bath out the window. Substituting pictures, actions or sounds for glosses (of things that relate to sensible perception) is not Greek, it's words.

Look at a Greek text in which every element of lexical meaning has been crossed out. Recognising the relationships between unknown words is knowing Greek as opposed to knowing the meaning of the Greek. While it requires knowledge, it more so requires the skilful use of the some part of the knowledge that you have - knowing Greek is as much a skill as it a few small elements of knowledge. It is knowing the case endings and the verbal forms and knowing how they relate together in texts. You will not get that from learning vocabulary in the way that you are intending to (and currently doing), you will be working towards word-for-word-ness.

To put it visually, I am saying that apart from what you are doing with the vocabulary lists, this should look familiar and reasonable
Chariton wrote:
Chariton wrote:XXXX-θεν οὖν XXXX-ων εἰς τὸν XXXX-α, ἕκαστον αὐτῶν ε-XXXX-ε. XXXX-ε δ̓ ἐνίους μὲν ἐν XXXX-οις, τοὺς δ̓ ἐν XXXX-οις, XXXX-ον XXXX-ὸν τοιούτῳ XXXX-ῷ.
The effect of learning with glosses should be that you should read with an understanding like this:
Chariton wrote:Early morning-θεν οὖν run_through-ων εἰς τὸν harbour-α, ἕκαστον αὐτῶν ε-investigate-ε. find-ε δ̓ ἐνίους μὲν ἐν brothel-οις, τοὺς δ̓ ἐν tavern-οις, fitting-ον army-ὸν τοιούτῳ general-ῷ.
Using Enlgish to help you understand concepts that are encoded in Greek.

Not like this:
Chariton wrote:From morn therefore running through into the harbour, each of them he investigates. he found and some on the one hand in brothels, the and in taverns, suitable army for such a general.
You can easily adduce from that what I consider knowing Greek to be. The exact boundries of categorisations of what should be learnt in which way will vary slightly from learner to learner, but the general principle is sound. Letting Greek function as Greek in your mind doesn't have to be done as one great leap into the oblivion. First, have Greek function as Greek syntactically, later substitute Greek to Greek explanations for the English ones.

Learning grammar and learning to analyse grammar are related, but slightly different skills.
Peter Montoro wrote:I know that Dr. Buth's method (and such programs as Rosetta Stone) try to work around this through the use of pictures, there will still be very very many words that cannot be learned (at least I don't see how they can) be learned by this method.
On the living languages approach, let me take the opportunity that has arisen to state my opinion that: The spelling mistakes in the papyrus documents (authoured, rather than transmitted douments) suggest that their authours were writing down what they could already speak. To state the obvious, people spoke the language before they wrote it.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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