articles and lexical forms

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?

articles and lexical forms

Postby Jesse Goulet » October 15th, 2011, 3:52 pm

In every grammar I have looked at, in their vocabulary sections, or with whatever vocabulary program that comes with your grammar book (e.g. Mounce's Flashworks), the nouns are given in their lexical forms, and the article comes AFTER the lexical form.

For example: λόγος, -ου, ὁ

But why? In a sentence, the article comes IN FRONT of the word, not after it. Shouldn't your flashcard be written instead as: ὁ λόγος, -ου?
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Re: articles and lexical forms

Postby cwconrad » October 15th, 2011, 7:26 pm

The lexical entry for a noun ordinarily lists three elements: (1) the nominative singular form of the noun, (2) the genitive singular form of the noun, (3) the gender of the noun. That's what the sequence you've cited -- λόγος, -ου, ὁ -- indicates. Instead of the article you may find a letter indicating the gender: λόγος, -ου, m.

You mustn't think of a lexical entry for a noun (or for any other inflected form either) as a word or sentence: λόγος, -ου, ὁ is not a Greek textual expression at all but rather a listing of information about this particular word; you might compare it with a listing of persons in a telephone directory where the regular sequence in each entry is: last name, first name, address, telephone number. This sequence is a purely conventional formula for items of information that identify the person listed in the directory or the word listed in a Greek lexicon or vocabulary list.

Why these particular elements? The first two items tell you what declensional pattern the noun follows -- in this instance, the second-declension o-stem pattern. But it's not enough to know that λόγος is a second-declension o-stem noun because there are several second-declension o-stem nouns that are feminine in gender, e.g. ἡ ὁδός, ἡ νόσος. Why do you need to know the gender of a noun? In order to understand which forms of adjectives may be used with it and which forms of pronouns may refer to such a noun: ὁ μακρὸς λόγος but ἡ μακρὰ νὴσος.

Why do we need both the nominative and the genitive forms of the noun? Because the form of the nominative is not enough to indicate completely what declensional pattern it belongs to. λόγος is a second-declension masculine noun with noun stem λογ- and genitive-case ending -ου, but the noun μέρος ("part") happens to be a third-declension neuter noun with a noun stem μερε- that contracts with a genitive case ending -ος to form μέρους. So, the lexical entry for this noun is μέρος, μέρους, τό -- indicating that this is a third-declension neuter noun with a stem in μερε-that will contract with vowel endings.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: articles and lexical forms

Postby Jesse Goulet » October 15th, 2011, 7:54 pm

cwconrad wrote:The lexical entry for a noun ordinarily lists three elements: (1) the nominative singular form of the noun, (2) the genitive singular form of the noun, (3) the gender of the noun. That's what the sequence you've cited -- λόγος, -ου, ὁ -- indicates. Instead of the article you may find a letter indicating the gender: λόγος, -ου, m.

You mustn't think of a lexical entry for a noun (or for any other inflected form either) as a word or sentence: λόγος, -ου, ὁ is not a Greek textual expression at all but rather a listing of information about this particular word; you might compare it with a listing of persons in a telephone directory where the regular sequence in each entry is: last name, first name, address, telephone number. This sequence is a purely conventional formula for items of information that identify the person listed in the directory or the word listed in a Greek lexicon or vocabulary list.

Ah, I never thought of it that way, that's a good analogy.

Why these particular elements? The first two items tell you what declensional pattern the noun follows -- in this instance, the second-declension o-stem pattern. But it's not enough to know that λόγος is a second-declension o-stem noun because there are several second-declension o-stem nouns that are feminine in gender, e.g. ἡ ὁδός, ἡ νόσος. Why do you need to know the gender of a noun? In order to understand which forms of adjectives may be used with it and which forms of pronouns may refer to such a noun: ὁ μακρὸς λόγος but ἡ μακρὰ νὴσος.

Why do we need both the nominative and the genitive forms of the noun? Because the form of the nominative is not enough to indicate completely what declensional pattern it belongs to. λόγος is a second-declension masculine noun with noun stem λογ- and genitive-case ending -ου, but the noun μέρος ("part") happens to be a third-declension neuter noun with a noun stem μερε- that contracts with a genitive case ending -ος to form μέρους. So, the lexical entry for this noun is μέρος, μέρους, τό -- indicating that this is a third-declension neuter noun with a stem in μερε-that will contract with vowel endings.

I'm well aware of all of this. I'm just wondering if it's more practical to just have the article first before the noun because that way you can sort of combine what you might see in a sentence (where the article comes before the noun) with the technical info (the nom and gen endings that indicate the stem vowel, as well as the gender that the article indicates). As my example "ὁ λόγος, -ου" indicates. I'm just trying to combine practicality with technicality here, but I'm not sure if this would work well or not.
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Re: articles and lexical forms

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 15th, 2011, 10:41 pm

When I present new vocabulary to my students, I put the article before the noun.

But Mounce presents new words based on you will find in the lexicon, and lexical entries for nouns need to begin with the nominative for alphabetization.

Stephen
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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