Throwing away my flashcards

How can I best learn the paradigms of nouns and verbs and the other inflected parts of speech?

Throwing away my flashcards

Postby Jonathan Robie » July 3rd, 2011, 5:45 pm

I have been reviewing morphology, and started by making decks of flashcards.

I've decided to abandon that approach, at least for now. The flashcards do help me memorize the relationship between various forms and the metalanguage, but I find myself looking at a word like ὢν and thinking, "present active participle, nominative masculine singular" (one syllable has expanded into 18!), and visualizing which cell it it occupies on a table.

I don't think that's what came to mind for native speakers of Greek when they saw a sentence like "Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν." What I really want to practice is seeing the relationship between ὢν, Ἰωσὴφ, and the verbs in the sentence.

So for now, I'm taking this approach: when I want to make sure I recognize a form, I do a query to find examples of that form, and I use a pencil to mark up relationships in the sentence. Ἰωσὴφ ... ὢν, δίκαιος ὢν ... ἐβουλήθη ... I printed up a sheet with all the present active participles of εἰμί (157 of them), and started working my way through the examples, writing down questions I encountered as I read through them.

It makes me learn the meaning of the form along with the form. It stops me from understanding Greek primarily in terms of the metalanguage.

It's also a lot more motivating. I like reading Greek. I like doing queries and searching for patterns in texts. I don't like flashcards.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
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Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm

Re: Throwing away my flashcards

Postby JBarach-Sr » July 6th, 2011, 1:30 pm

I think a person has to begin with flashcards to gain some vocabulary.
Coupled with that, he needs to understand the grammar.
Those are usually taught in the first year of Greek classes.
However, once a person has gained some understanding of those ingredients, I like to point a person to the following site
http://www.motorera.com/greek/text/greek.html.
Upon choosing a particular book and chapter, a person can begin reading and understanding the context.
When there is an unfamiliar word, a simple click takes the person to a lexicon giving parsing and meaning.
In some cases, even hovering over the word gives its basic meaning.
In this way a person can read the text not as isolated words, but in union with the whole of a paragraph.
What used to take hours of tedious work consulting lexicons can now take minutes.
Admittedly some nuances of words will require the use of a good lexicon and the practice of cross-referencing.
Every year some student asks "At the end of this course, can we actually read the NT?"
With the above free website, the answer is "Yes."
Cheers,
John Barach, Sr.
καὶ ἀνέγνωσαν ἐν βιβλίῳ νόμου τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐδίδασκεν Εσδρας καὶ διέστελλεν ἐν ἐπιστήμῃ κυρίου καὶ συνῆκεν ὁ λαὸς ἐν τῇ ἀναγνώσει. (Neh. 8:8)
http://www.motorera.com/greek/lxx/neh/neh08.html
JBarach-Sr
 
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Location: Chilliwack, BC, Canada

Re: Throwing away my flashcards

Postby Jonathan Robie » July 6th, 2011, 3:21 pm

JBarach-Sr wrote:I think a person has to begin with flashcards to gain some vocabulary.
Coupled with that, he needs to understand the grammar.
Those are usually taught in the first year of Greek classes.


Different people probably have different learning styles.

I've always learned vocabulary better from sentences than from flashcards. Right now I'm working my way through Funk, reviewing my Greek grammar, and I'm finding that I also learn grammar better from sentences than from flashcards. Your mileage may vary.

Let me expand on the OP. I wanted to memorize the present active participles of εἰμί. Here's what I did:

I started with a conventional table, which contained the material I wanted to review (excuse the formatting, I don't have time to get it right):

Code: Select all
singular       
N/V   ὢν         οὖσα       ὄν
G     ὄντος      οὔσης      ὄντος
D     ὄντι       οὔσῃ       ὄντι
A     ὄντα       οὖσαν      ὄν
plural       
N/V  ὄντες       οὖσαι      ὄντα
G    ὄντων       οὐσῶν      ὄντων
D    οὖσι(ν)     οὔσαις     οὖσι(ν)
A    ὄντας       οὔσας      ὄντα


Then I did a series of queries to get examples of each of the forms, in sentences (a few did not occur). Here are examples for the singular portion:

  • ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος
  • καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος ἀπὸ ἐτῶν δώδεκα
  • μικρότερον ὂν πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων τῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὅταν σπαρῇ
  • Καὶ ὄντος αὐτοῦ ἐν Βηθανίᾳ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ
  • ὀψὲ ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας
  • οὐκ ὄντος αὐτῷ τέκνου
  • Ὁ θεὸς τῆς δόξης ὤφθη τῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν Ἀβραὰμ ὄντι ἐν τῇ Μεσοποταμίᾳ
  • οὔσῃ ἐγκύῳ
  • --
  • εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον ὁ θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν
  • ταύτην δὲ θυγατέρα Ἀβραὰμ οὖσαν
  • --
Then I simply queried for all active present participles of εἰμί in the GNT, making sure I understood what they agree with in the sentence (this is just an excerpt):

Code: Select all
(Book 01 01:19) δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι ,

(Book 01 06:30) εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον ὁ θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν ,

(Book 01 07:11) εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὄντες οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν ,

(Book 01 12:30) ὁ μὴ ὢν μετ’ ἐμοῦ κατ’ ἐμοῦ ἐστιν ,

(Book 01 12:34) πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν πονηροὶ ὄντες ;

(Book 02 02:26) καὶ ἔδωκεν καὶ τοῖς σὺν αὐτῷ οὖσιν ;

(Book 02 04:31) μικρότερον ὂν πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων τῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὅταν σπαρῇ ,

(Book 02 05:25) καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος δώδεκα ἔτη καὶ πολλὰ παθοῦσα ὑπὸ πολλῶν ἰατρῶν καὶ δαπανήσασα τὰ παρ’ αὐτῆς πάντα καὶ μηδὲν ὠφεληθεῖσα ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εἰς τὸ χεῖρον ἐλθοῦσα ,

(Book 02 08:01) Ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις πάλιν πολλοῦ ὄχλου ὄντος καὶ μὴ ἐχόντων τί φάγωσιν ,

(Book 02 11:11) Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς τὸ ἱερόν καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντα ὀψὲ ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας ἐξῆλθεν εἰς Βηθανίαν μετὰ τῶν δώδεκα .

(Book 02 14:03) Καὶ ὄντος αὐτοῦ ἐν Βηθανίᾳ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ κατακειμένου αὐτοῦ ἦλθεν γυνὴ ἔχουσα ἀλάβαστρον μύρου νάρδου πιστικῆς πολυτελοῦς συντρίψασα τὴν ἀλάβαστρον κατέχεεν αὐτοῦ τῆς κεφαλῆς


etc.

Does that make more sense? I'm basically looking for examples of the verb forms I want to learn how to distinguish. I find that I learn better this way than using flashcards.

JBarach-Sr wrote:However, once a person has gained some understanding of those ingredients, I like to point a person to the following site
http://www.motorera.com/greek/text/greek.html.
Upon choosing a particular book and chapter, a person can begin reading and understanding the context.
When there is an unfamiliar word, a simple click takes the person to a lexicon giving parsing and meaning.
In some cases, even hovering over the word gives its basic meaning.
In this way a person can read the text not as isolated words, but in union with the whole of a paragraph.


I find this kind of site helpful for checking my work, but not as helpful for learning a form that I failed to recognize in the text. I'd love it if these sites would break down the morphology of a verb form for me, instead of just giving me the parse code. One of the reasons I am really working on morphology right now is that I've been using too many crutches as I read.

I like your site quite a bit, but not for mastering morphology.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
Posts: 1456
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm

Re: Throwing away my flashcards

Postby Michael Christensen » July 7th, 2011, 9:58 am

I think your method – of looking for example sentences to learn new Greek words and grammar – makes quite a lot of sense. I'll have to try it too.

The weaknesses of using flashcards become more apparent when they are applied to speaking a language. For instance, I used flashcards for a while when learning Chinese, but then abandoned the flashcards after I was repeatedly told by my wife "that's not how we use this word in this context, etc.". Learning by flashcards created the illusion in my mind that the English translation was identical to the Chinese word even though it wasn't: words in different languages actually differ quite a bit in regard to their different meanings and usages in different contexts (especially when the languages are as different as English and Chinese!). Since I was using what I'd learned from the flashcards to translate words directly from English into Chinese, I often used the wrong words in the wrong places.

Germans learning English make similar mistakes: for example they often say "I have to learn for the test tomorrow" instead of "I have to study…". Whereas in English, we use two different words for the two sentences "I'm learning Greek" – "I have to study for the Greek exam", in German you would use the same verb in both sentences.

The method you suggested promises to be a good solution to these kind of problems, since by reading certain words in the context of different sentences, one automatically gets a more accurate feel for the syntax of the language as well as for the way different words are used to express certain things.
Michael Christensen
 
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