Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

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Thomas Dolhanty
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Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 30th, 2015, 1:26 am

I have written a simple Excel macro which:
  • takes as input a passage of Greek and a translation (you can cut and paste up to 100 passages),
    scrambles the words in random order,
    then allows you to reassemble the words in the order which seems right to you
.
It is written for a Windows platform using Excel 2013. It is NOT bullet-proof, or elegant at all - but seems to work fine for me in my setup.

I am finding this little routine quite useful as an exercise to see if I can predict the word order of different sentences and clauses from the GNT. So far - not so good! But I am doing at least a few examples every day, and definitely getting better at it. I think that this tool is giving me a real boost in learning how GNT authors arrange the wording in their phrases, clauses, and sentences. Actually, there are other benefits of doing this excercise that I hadn't foreseen, because you have to think about more than just word order to reassemble the passage. You can also add enhancements to the exercise - such as using your own translation which can reflect the Greek word order - to help learn how Greek authors expressed themselves.

I have attached a copy of the spreadsheet with the macro here if you want to try it out.
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 31st, 2015, 12:38 am

I fixed a minor boundary error, which prevented the 1st "original verse" from displaying when "show original verse" is clicked.

Updated file attached
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Louis L Sorenson
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Re: Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Louis L Sorenson » May 31st, 2015, 2:02 am

Does your software use punctuation to break the text into clauses. If so, which punctuation and which text(s) are you using?

Thomas Dolhanty
Posts: 400
Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 31st, 2015, 2:42 am

Louis L Sorenson wrote:Does your software use punctuation to break the text into clauses. If so, which punctuation and which text(s) are you using?
The text that you use is independent of the program itself. I have simply used NA27 for Greek and ESV for English translations in the sample texts - but they would be replaced by the user with his or her choice of texts.

In fact, the program doesn't care what language you put in, or whether you choose to include punctuation. That is all up to the user. The macro simply divides the text into "words" based on spaces, between elements in a sentence. Thus, if you wanted to include punctuation, you would simply leave a space between the various punctuation marks and the surrounding words. If you appended the punctuation to the appropriate word - eg. ἡμᾶς; - (which is the case with several of the sample verses), then that punctuation mark simply appears appended to that word (as if it were part of the word).
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Louis L Sorenson
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Re: Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Louis L Sorenson » May 31st, 2015, 2:49 am

But should not phrase boundaries, clause boundaries, sentence boundaries, and paragraph boundaries be an integral component of such an application. The TLG web application "Diogenes," lets the user limit textual searches based on paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase, 1 line, 2 lines, 5, lines, 10 lines, 50 lines.

Thomas Dolhanty
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Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » May 31st, 2015, 3:20 am

Louis L Sorenson wrote:But should not phrase boundaries, clause boundaries, sentence boundaries, and paragraph boundaries be an integral component of such an application. The TLG web application "Diogenes," lets the user limit textual searches based on paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase, 1 line, 2 lines, 5, lines, 10 lines, 50 lines.
Again, this is just a simple Excel macro that takes a sentence, clause, phrase, or whatever type of passage you want to examine, rearranges the words in random order, and then allows you to 'rebuild' the text.

It makes no claims at all, beyond that. If you wanted to examine passages with different types of boundary markers, for example, you could simply invent boundary marker symbols and include them in the text. Then, in your re-assembly, you could try to put the markers in the right place. My own interest in the macro is much simpler - discover how NT authors arrange the words in their text. The WHY is a different question. If I see a word order that surprises me, (and I really do "see" it when I go through this exercise) then I will set out to see if I can discover a reason for the unexpected arrangement.
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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » June 3rd, 2015, 10:49 pm

I won't keep updating this, but I do want to make this latest refinement available, which makes it much simpler to load the verses you want to examine. The Greek and English verses now load on separate pages, rather than being interleaved on the same page. This makes it much easier to scoop up a long string of Greek verses (I have Luke 1:1-80 loaded in the sample), and paste them in easily.

I am finding this to be a very useful tool as a way to observe, think about, and try to predict GNT word order. For me, at least, it is also proving to be a great way to think about sentence structure in general. I usually do at least a few verses a day. The idea is not really original, but is similar to a tool which Living Languages and others use to teach sentence building.

It IS platform specific, and it does require Excel 2013 or later, but if you have that set up and are still in the learning sentence structure stage, I do recommend you try it out.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Stephen Hughes » June 6th, 2015, 4:17 am

I think this is a very helpful tool. I find the English distracting, but overcome that by scolling it up out of the way.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Thomas Dolhanty
Posts: 400
Joined: May 20th, 2014, 10:13 am
Location: west coast of Canada

Re: Word Order: Excel Macro for Learning Word Order

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » June 6th, 2015, 3:25 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:I think this is a very helpful tool. I find the English distracting, but overcome that by scolling it up out of the way.
Thank you. I never imagined anyone reassembling the verse without the English to guide them. Silly me! It certainly makes for a more interesting challenge, especially on long and complex verses.

Here is a version which will allow you to select a default format with the English translation not shown when the scrambled words appear. I have also added a toggle switch to allow you to toggle the English translation on/off, and I converted the "show original verse" switch into a toggle.

For anyone using it for the first time, do check the "Notes" sheet. For one thing, I find it much more natural to move the buttons to the right hand side, but leave them on the left at the start so that they can be seen on smaller screens (I have a large screen). The notes will tell you how to re-position them.

I have also included an Excel 2003 version which seems to work OK.
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