Memorization & case order of nouns

How can I best learn the paradigms of nouns and verbs and the other inflected parts of speech?
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WAnderson
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 5:18 pm

Memorization & case order of nouns

Post by WAnderson » July 27th, 2015, 9:42 pm

Ok, a rather obscure question. I notice that most conjugation charts list the endings in a particular order:

Nom
Gen
Dat
Acc
Voc

Why is this? On first sight this makes more sense

Nom
Acc
Dat
Gen
Voc

because the first three correspond to the order in which we would normally analyze an English sentence: Subject / Object / Indirect Object. The Vocative is last because it is rarest, so that leaves Genitive in the fourth spot. I started memorizing according to the bottom order, but now realize I'm swimming upstream and need to change to the top order.

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Memorization & case order of nouns

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 27th, 2015, 10:50 pm

The memorisation of tables is a very early step in a number of learning approaches. It is by no means a final goal. The forms are listed in the table for convenience, rather than practicality.

Listing various accusatives together would be of more immediate value in reading. The cases represent syntactic relationships within sentences. Their relationship to verbs - which you have mentioned is one of them.

We are in the habit of associating the nominative case with the dictionary meaning. In grammatical analysis, the genitive is given in the dictionary too. In terms of the Greek language, the accusative is the most resilient case across the history of the written record.

So, then, there are reasons for either way of ordering them, with the proviso that in the end you will outgrow the need to associate the cases of a word with each other, but, following the way of learning based on tables and rules, for the sake of practical usage first you will move on to gender and number associations in each case between nouns and adjectives. Next, or as you do that, you will develop the associations between prepositions and cases, and then between various verbs and their "objects", which is simular ti what English does, but a little more complex.

If you are following a textbook or attending a class, this is not an issue wirth being indivudualist about. If you have many different books, choose your main one. As you progress beyond tables into Greek itself, work to develop the other forms of association.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Memorization & case order of nouns

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 27th, 2015, 11:38 pm

There are basically two orders in traditional pedagogy:

The oldest order, since "Dionysius Thrax," is Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative.

In the 19th century, Madvig reordered them on formal (though not semantic) criteria as: Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative.

I learned the first order and that's the one I'm most comfortable with, but the second order is better grounded linguistically, based on patterns of syncretism and cross-linguistic case hierarchies.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Barry Hofstetter
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Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Memorization & case order of nouns

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 28th, 2015, 7:07 am

If it was good enough for DT, it's good enough for us. Seriously, doing like the ancients themselves did it helps us better conceptualize how they themselves viewed their language.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Memorization & case order of nouns

Post by Stephen Hughes » July 28th, 2015, 7:59 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:If it was good enough for DT, it's good enough for us. Seriously, doing like the ancients themselves did it helps us better conceptualize how they themselves viewed their language.
Yes, learning the grammar will help you to better understand the language you are speaking, and using as part of your daily life. :lol:
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Shirley Rollinson
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Location: New Mexico
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Re: Memorization & case order of nouns

Post by Shirley Rollinson » July 29th, 2015, 9:42 pm

WAnderson wrote:Ok, a rather obscure question. I notice that most conjugation charts list the endings in a particular order:

Nom
Gen
Dat
Acc
Voc

Why is this? On first sight this makes more sense

Nom
Acc
Dat
Gen
Voc

because the first three correspond to the order in which we would normally analyze an English sentence: Subject / Object / Indirect Object. The Vocative is last because it is rarest, so that leaves Genitive in the fourth spot. I started memorizing according to the bottom order, but now realize I'm swimming upstream and need to change to the top order.
In the second system, the order is usually Nominative-Vocative-Accusative-Genitive-Dative-(and -Ablative-Locative for languages with a fuller case-system). However, don't let the order of the cases get you bogged down - it's much more desirable to be able to read a phrase and analyze it instinctively, than to be able to write out a full set of paradigms for all declensions. I had a student like that once - she could write out every declension and conjugation, and parse like crazy - but give her a simple bit of text to read and tell me what it said and she stumbled and mumbled and got angry and thought I was trying to give her a trick question. We're learning NT Greek in order to be able to read the GNT, not to write out paradigms.
Just my two cents rant :-)
Shirley Rollinson

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