An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 4th, 2014, 4:03 am

In addition to thinking that interlinears have a use in learning Greek, here is another technique for learning "foreign" languages that is completely unscientific and anti-intellectual, but seems to work.

It is to incorporate Greek into English sentences.

Consider these sentences:
  • I'm going to eat some vegetables and κρέας for dinner.
  • Κρέας is the σάρξ of animals.
  • We go to a μάκελλον to buy κρέας.
  • The μάκελλον is one stand or one part of the larger ἀγορά.
  • If you are thirsty, you can buy a πόμα to drink.
  • People sell many types of πόματα at the ἀγορά.
  • The most basic πόμα for human beings is ὕδωρ.
  • ὕδωρ from the sky is βροχή.
  • ὕδωρ that flows from the mountains to the sea is a called a ποταμός.
  • While we speak of one ποταμός, we speak of many ποταμοί.
  • The little fast flowing ποταμοί that that start in the mountains are called ῥεύματα.
  • While we speak of many ῥεύματα, we speak of one ῥεῦμα.
  • If you want to drink ὕδωρ from a ποταμός it is best to ζεῖν it first.
  • To ζεῖν the ὕδωρ, you will need to kindle a πῦρ.
  • A πῦρ needs something to καεῖν.
  • The best thing to καεῖν is ὕλη.
  • ὕλη is what a δένδρον is made of.
  • So to get ὕλη we could κόπτειν a κλάδος from a δένδρον, but that type of ὕλη is not good to καεῖν because it is not ξηρά.
  • ξηρὰ ὕλη will produce very little κάπνος.
  • If smoke gets into our ὀφθαλμοί, then we can't see.
  • But be careful here, because ὀφθαλμοί is the word we use when we are seeing, but if we talk about the physical organs of our body, we call them ὄμματα.
  • For most people, their δεξιὸς ὀφθαλμός is dominant and their ἀριστερός one is weaker.
  • But if you are a ἀριστερόχειρ person, then you ἀριστερὸς ὀφθαλμός will probably be dominant.
  • A lot of δένδρα together is also called an ὕλη, because we don't really see individual δένδρα, but we know that we can get a lot of ὕλη from it.
  • We can ζεῖν the κρέας that we want to eat in ὕδωρ.
  • If we want to cook it over the πῦρ and not use ὕδωρ to transfer the θερμότης to the food for cooking, that is not ζεῖν, but ὀπτᾶν.

It's not all Greek, but did you learn any vocabulary?
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
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Re: An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 4th, 2014, 4:37 am

Sounds similar to a project by James Tauber: http://jtauber.com/blog/2008/02/10/a_ne ... ed_reader/

I don't know what has become of it.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

Postby Philip Tollinga » March 4th, 2014, 8:28 am

That is an excellent vocabulary acquisition tool. Better than flashcards. I find that I want to read it again, whereas I have never enjoyed or done much flashcards. I have done for the last eight years much reading in Greek. Because B-Greek posters have consistently advocated reading I began to do that. The helps of instant look up in computer bibles have been an amazing time saver, along with the 'Reader's Bibles". However, I do like the flow of the sentences you made teaching a lot of back story. I am currently going through Athenaze and find it very helpful. I haven't heard much on this book from the list. What do you all think about it?

Thanks Stephan for posting these vocabulary sentences.

Phil
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Re: An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

Postby Barry Hofstetter » March 4th, 2014, 9:01 am

It exceedingly annoys me that the forms aren't properly declined/conjugated in context. In all seriousness, I think seeing the forms in the context of Greek sentences would be far more useful.
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An "unsound" way to learn verbal forms

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 4th, 2014, 10:10 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:It exceedingly annoys me that the forms aren't properly declined/conjugated in context. In all seriousness, I think seeing the forms in the context of Greek sentences would be far more useful.

After a certain level of understanding and ability, whole sentences in Greek would be managable. I'm only thinking of learners who struggle with traditional ways of learning.

Declined / conjugated forms would be a different type of text. I think that concentrating on one skill at a time is okay, the same way that a grammar book isolates one grammar point at a time and covers them in turn - which you are probably used to, but some learners find tedious and mind-numbing.

Take for example the verb ἔχειν, "to have". The most common forms are; εἶχεν, εἶχον, ἔσχεν, ἔχει, ἔχειν, ἔχεις, ἔχετε, ἔχομεν, ἔχοντα, ἔχοντας, ἔχοντες, ἔχουσιν, ἔχω, ἔχων, so let's ignore the others and work with these one.

The following exercise is about the verb ἔχειν "to have".
  • For a long time John εἶχεν a big house, but now he lives on the streets.
  • A husband and wife lived in Brooklyn and they εἶχον three children - a son and two daughters.
  • Yesterday Fanny ἔσχεν three dollars.
  • It is good that the native fishermen ἔσχον the strength to swim to shore after their boat capsized and sank off the coast of Borneo. (An LXX form actually)
  • Carla ἔχει two ears.
  • Raymond ἔχει three buckets. Ask him if you can use one for today.
  • Naomi wants ἔχειν a lot of money and a new car.
  • Hey Graham, don't try to hide them. ἔχεις beautiful new shoes.
  • You guys are really cool!! ἔχετε so many grammar textbooks and lexicons in your bedroom.
  • We need to go shopping. ἔχομεν only two apples and an orange in the fridge.
  • When I was in the park I saw a man ἔχοντα a green shirt and orange socks.
  • Well, when I was in the supermarket, I saw a couple ἔχοντας matching T-shirts.
  • I think that couples ἔχοντες matching T-shirts should have their photo put in the newspaper.
  • Many people ἔχουσιν torches (flashlights) today because there will be a solar eclipse this afternoon.
  • ἔχω a map, but I am still lost.
  • It is matter of brute force not skill. The king ἔχων the most soliders will win the battle.
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
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"More context" not "less to remember" is best.

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 4th, 2014, 10:31 am

Philip Tollinga wrote:That is an excellent vocabulary acquisition tool. Better than flashcards. I find that I want to read it again, whereas I have never enjoyed or done much flashcards. I have done for the last eight years much reading in Greek. Because B-Greek posters have consistently advocated reading I began to do that.

Hi Phillip, I am one of the advocates of reading. I don't think you should stop that just to make little sentences for yourself to memorise vocabulary.

The view that I have heard about vocabulary acquisition is that learners should learn as little as possible, so flashcards should be brief. Most books that talk about teaching vocabulary suggest that the opposite is true. They say that learners will acquire vocabulary more easily and retain it longer when it is in a meaningful context.

These sentences are in the context of Engish (my L1 - you could make sentences in your own L1 and that would be better perhaps) because they are for beginners. If they were for intermediate students who had already reached a threshold (perhaps 1,500 or 2,000 words) then, as a matter of course, the sentences are in Greek. At a more advanced level, words become confusing - almost meaningless - on their own, without contexts. For a person starting off, it is neccessary to get up a certain amount of vocabulary and the easiest way to do that is depending on previous knowledge in English (or another L1).
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
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Re: An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » March 4th, 2014, 4:29 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:It exceedingly annoys me that the forms aren't properly declined/conjugated in context. In all seriousness, I think seeing the forms in the context of Greek sentences would be far more useful.



I agree. One of the problems I have with a number of SIL publications (e.g, Levinsohn's discourse features) is they present the Greek examples in these hybrid mixed english-greek-parsed interlinear form that make reading the actual greek almost impossible. I always have to look up the text in a different book to get past the format. The intent is to present the examples in a manner that a non-reader of greek will be able to make sense out of it but that doesn't really work. I have never been able to make sense out of Farsi or Swahili or … by seeing them presented in this format.
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Re: An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

Postby Louis L Sorenson » March 4th, 2014, 11:26 pm

This is the way the workbook in Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek introduces more and more complexity - He embeds Greek in English sentences, and then the sentences become more and more Greek. The real question to be asked is this: Should a beginning grammar (primer) constantly switch between 2 languages (L1 and L2)? Is an L2 better learned by staying in the target language (Language which is to be learned)?
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Re: An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » March 5th, 2014, 1:20 am

Louis L Sorenson wrote:This is the way the workbook in Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek introduces more and more complexity - He embeds Greek in English sentences, and then the sentences become more and more Greek. The real question to be asked is this: Should a beginning grammar (primer) constantly switch between 2 languages (L1 and L2)? Is an L2 better learned by staying in the target language (Language which is to be learned)?


I think mixing L1 and L2 in linear fashion is a mistake. The least objectionable two language format is also the oldest, parallel columns like Loeb does on facing pages. You can interact directly with either language but you don't have a direct word for word mapping like you do with an interlinear.
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Re: An "unsound" way to learn vocabulary

Postby Philip Tollinga » March 5th, 2014, 4:28 am

Hi Stephen,

I checked myself today after reading it two times (not memorizing) yesterday and find that I easily recall some new words such as ormmata and ule (I won't try the spelling since I wasn't memorizing). Secondarily seeing the word zein gave me an instant recognition of the biblical zelos being used in its most basic meaning. My Greek reading is overwhelming LXX and GNT so it was stimulating to see normal 'daily' life usage so there isn't always a spiritual meaning attached to the vocabulary. This, as I also discovered with Athenaze's stories, this actually helps the GNT to come alive more as a normal language.

I had not originally picked up that you were toying with the idea of the learner constructing the English sentences himself. I would tend to think of that as a bit time consuming for the amount of vocab gained. But it certainly is enjoyable to read the fruits of someone else's labor!

This oblique sort of language learning reminds me of one of the phases of Greg Thomson's GPA approach in which the language helper is requested to tell stories culturally familiar to the language learner, so that she is anticipating the meaning and can focus more on the unfamiliar vocab and sentence structure. Another helpful image from Thomson is the iceberg metaphor in which words, when first heard, go to the bottom of an iceberg, symbolizing the inner consciousness of the learner. As most of the iceberg is buried, so also the word itself when despite being seen several times it still cannot be remembered. Thomson encouragingly notes that the word is still rising upwards in the iceberg despite our frustration at having forgotten it yet again. As we persist in constant exposure to the stories and vocab, eventually the word rises to the part of the iceberg above the water at which point it is recognizable and later becomes useable as exposure continues.

So, I see your sentences as another helpful delivery system, that stimulates some different connections deep in the iceberg.

Very enjoyable, I think I'll go over your story again...
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