Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby Jesse Goulet » August 11th, 2012, 9:56 pm

There are two ways of learning the endings for verbs and nouns:
    *With the connecting vowel (verbs) or stem vowel (nouns), which I like to call the "full ending" method
    *The true endings by themselves

By the looks of it, most grammars I've seen teach the endings with the connecting/stem vowels. This is the way I learned it in my intro Greek classes. The only one I know who teaches the true case endings is Mounce, which I just finished going through. But I question which method works the best.

Personally, I'm leaning more toward the first method because I think it helps more with recognition when reading an actual Greek passage. I don't like the true case ending method as much because I feel like I have to do a whole bunch of word formation and vowel contraction math in my head for every noun and verb I come across as opposed to simply recognizing the forms as they appear. And actually, Mounce doesn't even teach the true case endings much of the time either and relegates many of the actual word endings and their true formation in footnotes (and even then, as I've found out, he STILL doesn't give the full, real endings & formation in some of those footnotes and refers readers to his morphology book a lot).

Mounce's rationale for his teaching method is that it supposedly makes for less memorization and easier to learn nouns/verbs. That might be true (though not by much, I did not notice a big difference in memorization work compared to the full ending method) but it seems to me that you have to do more word math in your head when reading and recognizing words in a passage.

What are your opinions and experiences?
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby Stephen Carlson » August 11th, 2012, 10:24 pm

What I was taught and learned would correspond to the full ending method. I found I needed a vowel to remember something phonetically.

I've taught with Mounce but I'm not sure it's better. It might be for some students who are more analytical, who might "get" Mounce's system better, while those who are more synthetic would not.

At any rate, I do not quiz my students on either the full or the reduce endings, but on actual words, generally short ones, like the article, the relative pronoun, forms of αὐτός, τίς, πᾶς, εἷς, etc. Like the addition and times tables you learned in grade school, these are what students of Greek should internalize without having to analyze into the smaller bits.
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby RandallButh » August 12th, 2012, 2:08 am

Psycholiguistically, you never want a student to be processing grammar rules in order to generate forms that they are using. That is a formula to hinder or to block fluency in a language. Real words used in a meaning context are the fastest way to cement these inside someone.

Always ask yourself the question from the perspective of a Greek kid--how could they have learned whatever it is you are learning?
How would a Greek perceive things?

fortunately, we have the writings of fairly sophisticated ancient grammarians. Dionysios the Thracian did NOT list *-ε- *-α- *-ο- in "-εω, -αω, -οω" verbs. Instead he listed real words (βοῶ, βοᾶς, βοᾷ) and pointed out that they formed a special group or sub-set of verbs. Greeks would have noticed the accent shifts to be sure, but they did not think through the etymological development of the forms.

The historical knowledge is useful for students when learning to look up words in dictionaries that are pedagogically "retro". verbs in -εῖν and -εῖσθαι are searched under εω, verbs that are -ᾶν and -ᾶσθαι are searched under -αω, and verbs that are -οῦν and -οῦσθαι are searched under -οω.

χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby Barry Hofstetter » August 12th, 2012, 7:03 am

I have found that students who use what you are calling the "whole ending" method tend to do better. I simply require the students, when writing out paradigms, to write out an entire inflected word. With older students, I will occasionally explain why the ending looks like it does, but as a supplement to, not a substitution for learning what I call the "whole word" method.
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby ed krentz » August 13th, 2012, 10:41 am

Just for the sake of historical accuracy Greek in the age of Dionysios Thrax did not use accents in writing. They come into Greek orthography later. In Dionysios' day Greeks heard accents, whether tonal or stress accents. But they did not write them. Ed Krentz
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby RandallButh » August 13th, 2012, 1:23 pm

ed krentz wrote:Just for the sake of historical accuracy Greek in the age of Dionysios Thrax did not use accents in writing. They come into Greek orthography later. In Dionysios' day Greeks heard accents, whether tonal or stress accents. But they did not write them. Ed Krentz


Yes, Dionysios even wrote ΒΟΑΙ and commented that the Ι is not pronounced.
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby Jesse Goulet » August 14th, 2012, 2:25 pm

RandallButh wrote:Psycholiguistically, you never want a student to be processing grammar rules in order to generate forms that they are using. That is a formula to hinder or to block fluency in a language. Real words used in a meaning context are the fastest way to cement these inside someone.

Always ask yourself the question from the perspective of a Greek kid--how could they have learned whatever it is you are learning?
How would a Greek perceive things?

fortunately, we have the writings of fairly sophisticated ancient grammarians. Dionysios the Thracian did NOT list *-ε- *-α- *-ο- in "-εω, -αω, -οω" verbs. Instead he listed real words (βοῶ, βοᾶς, βοᾷ) and pointed out that they formed a special group or sub-set of verbs. Greeks would have noticed the accent shifts to be sure, but they did not think through the etymological development of the forms.

The historical knowledge is useful for students when learning to look up words in dictionaries that are pedagogically "retro". verbs in -εῖν and -εῖσθαι are searched under εω, verbs that are -ᾶν and -ᾶσθαι are searched under -αω, and verbs that are -οῦν and -οῦσθαι are searched under -οω.

χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι

So given your unique teaching method, how do you teach noun and verbs? One thing I wish your website had was more examples from your book on how you teach things, like a snippet of how you teach verbs, nouns, pronouns, etc. Is there any way you could post a snippet in here?
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby RandallButh » August 14th, 2012, 2:52 pm

It's interesting to hear the word "unique" applied to methods that are used by thousands around the world.

The overarching principle for teaching is that we play with real objects and that Greek input by the teacher must be in a comprehensible context. It is through play and real language communication that the system is slowly built inside a person's head.
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby Jesse Goulet » August 15th, 2012, 1:29 pm

RandallButh wrote:The overarching principle for teaching is that we play with real objects and that Greek input by the teacher must be in a comprehensible context. It is through play and real language communication that the system is slowly built inside a person's head.

And how do you accomplish this in your textbooks? Obviously this is easier done in an actual classroom setting but how do yo do this with your textbooks? How would the reader learn to differentiate a nominative/plural/masculine noun from a dative/singular feminine noun for instance?
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Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings

Postby RandallButh » August 15th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Jesse Goulet wrote:
RandallButh wrote:The overarching principle for teaching is that we play with real objects and that Greek input by the teacher must be in a comprehensible context. It is through play and real language communication that the system is slowly built inside a person's head.

And how do you accomplish this in your textbooks? Obviously this is easier done in an actual classroom setting but how do yo do this with your textbooks? How would the reader learn to differentiate a nominative/plural/masculine noun from a dative/singular feminine noun for instance?


Well, first of all the textbooks are designed for self study and in book two there is ample English, too much English for experienced language learners, but they learn to skip over stuff. But our materials actually begin as a true parallel to such a classroom.

In our Book One picture lessons (more truly 'immersion' or monolingual, with Greek sound, but no English and no written Greek) students learn to associate groups of doers with αυτοί and they also see things given to a girl who is sometimes called παιδί, sometimes κορασίῳ, and sometimes αυτῇ. This is also covered in universal grammar rule number #1: "we do things like that, because that's the way the Greeks do them."
The basic idea is to open up a new directory in a student's brain and to format it for Greek. I exaggerate, of course, but such overstatement can be very helpful for many who start out learning Greek as anything but Greek.

In book two they get an English explanation and grammar terms in both Greek and English, which is equally foreign for the first-time second-language student.
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