stems/roots

How can I best learn new vocabulary items? What aids are there and what pitfalls should be avoided? How does a beginner learn to use a lexicon?

Re: stems/roots

Postby Jesse Goulet » October 16th, 2011, 1:54 pm

cwconrad wrote:I'm one that does indeed believe that learning the roots is of fundamental value when learning vocabulary, but one still needs to learn the basic lexical data for each word (e.g. nom. sg., gen. sg. gender as well as root); BUT in order to make use of the roots learned, one must also grasp (1) the formative elements (prefixes, infixes, suffixes, etc.) for all inflected word-forms, (2) the conjugational and declensional patterns of of every type of nominal and verbal category, and (3) the phonological principles governing the conventional orthography of ancient Greek. I don't know of a single beginning textbook in ancient Greek that explains all these elements (and I'm dubious as to whether it's all in the new Porter-Reed-O'Donnell primer of which it is said by one reviewer that it gives more information about the language than a beginning student can digest). I was blessed with a marvelous teacher who taught ancient Greek phonology and word-construction in the regular course of everyday introduction of new morphology patterns and I've tried to teach it to my own students over the years. All that one needs to know about these matters is set forth clearly and intelligibly in Smyth's grammar, which also refers back to the phonology in the presentation of every nominal and verbal mophological paradigm. I've referred to that information in Smyth's grammar many times over the years in response to questions raised in this forum and its predecessor mailing list about precisely such matters as why the genitive of χάρις is χαριτος or why the genitive of βασιλεύς is βασίλεως. I've made a very brief handout on ancient Greek phonology available at my web site and included it in my Supplement to Reading Greek on a page listing my old course handouts:
http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/current.html


Bookmarked. Looks like a lot of interesting stuff you got on that page. Which reminds me: I was thinking of going on to Wallace's GGBB as soon as I finish Mounce's BBG, but I was wondering if I should take a look at your material and some of the books above that you mentioned. I think I have a Smyth and/or Porter book stashed away somewhere, and I also have Robinson's Mastering Greek Vocab. I'm wondering if it would be a smoother transition to Wallace if I looked at those things first. Or after Wallace. What do you recommend?
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Re: stems/roots

Postby Jesse Goulet » October 16th, 2011, 2:02 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Jesse Goulet wrote:Maybe this is all just a matter of personal choice then.


It probably is. It's hard to generalize to all learners. Those who memorize the actual forms will need to learn how to get to the stems, and those who memorize the stem will need to know how to form the words. Personally, I prefer memorizing real forms. (That's why I loathe the uncontracted lexical forms ποιέω etc. -- you won't really find them in the text, unless it's Herodotus.)

What I'm doing write now is memorizing the lexical forms like normal, but I also have a separate deck of cards that has the lexical form on one side with the stem on the other. I'm just trying to figure out of combining them together with the lexical vocab cards is a good idea or not.

Jesse Goulet wrote:
But the difference is that the nominative and genitive will actually appear in a Greek sentence while the stem and declension code won't. I think it's better to memorize something you'll see in your than something you'll never see in your reading.

The thing is that the stem DOES appear in the text...just with endings added/contracted onto them :D.


Yeah, but not as such. There are many changes in some words.

I don't see many changes happening, I only see a little bit of contraction or ablaut occurring, and only on some words. That's why I figure that it won't be that difficult to memorize stems separately from ending forms. Besides, you still have to know how words form anyway.
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Re: stems/roots

Postby cwconrad » October 16th, 2011, 4:52 pm

Jesse Goulet wrote:
cwconrad wrote:I've made a very brief handout on ancient Greek phonology available at my web site and included it in my Supplement to Reading Greek on a page listing my old course handouts:
http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/current.html


Bookmarked. Looks like a lot of interesting stuff you got on that page. Which reminds me: I was thinking of going on to Wallace's GGBB as soon as I finish Mounce's BBG, but I was wondering if I should take a look at your material and some of the books above that you mentioned. I think I have a Smyth and/or Porter book stashed away somewhere, and I also have Robinson's Mastering Greek Vocab. I'm wondering if it would be a smoother transition to Wallace if I looked at those things first. Or after Wallace. What do you recommend?


You will have already discovered that many in this forum will offer you advice and some of that advice may conflict with other pieces of advice -- so you have to evaluate for yourself which advice you want to take. For my part, although I find lots of things in Wallace that are useful, I am not a fan of GGBB. It is essentially a reference work on syntax; it won't help with morphology or lexicography, and what it has to say about syntax is formulated in terms of how to translate Greek constructions into English more than in terms of understanding Greek constructions. I offer you my advice for what it's worth, because you've asked.

(1) Far and away the most useful grammatical work in English on ancient Greek is Smyth's grammar; if you own a copy, dig it out, make sure the binding's good, and learn how to use its index to find answers to your questions. It is of course true that Smyth's grammar is fundamentally a grammar of Classical Attic rather than of Hellenistic NT Koine, but it is nevertheless more helpful than any reference work that is limited to Hellenistic NT Koine (BDF -- Blass, Debrunner, Funk -- is a valuable work, but it really depends upon the user knowing Classical Attic). Smyth is also accessible online at:
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... 99.04.0007

(2) The best primer of NT Koine Greek has been out of print for over 30 years, but good folk working for B-Greek have digitized it and made it accessible at the B-Greek site. It is Robert Funk's Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek. You can access it at:
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/project/f ... pre-alpha/
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω
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