Places where there is a lack of detail in the Greek

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
Post Reply
Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Places where there is a lack of detail in the Greek

Post by Stephen Hughes »

Stephen Hughes wrote:
RandallButh wrote:We might assume 15000-20000 words for most people.
Not all of those would be active vocabulary items, though. And not all of them would be fully understood. I've noticed, however, that "vagueness" of meaning is a difficult thing to learn by rote.
That is taken an earlier thread, and perhaps now, having looked at it a bit, and I think that "vagueness" is not such a good word to have used. Perhaps "lack of attention to details", or "un-detailed" would be better. Perhaps passive only knowledge, recognise them but never use them.

Going from the New Testament vocabulary to that 15,000 to 20,000 leaves great scope as to how that vocabulary could be filled. Vocabulary with a general reference is sometimes a shorthand way of referring to vocabulary with a specific reference - words that speakers of a language know. Fish to anchovy, hake, catfish etc. Workman to whatever specific job he had etc.

What I at least do presently is to, go look up the specifics in English. I'd like to do that step in Greek too.

For the sake of example in this regard I would like to ask about the θηρία of Mark 1:13, the πωλοῦντας of Matthew 25:9, and the συνέκλεισαν πλῆθος ἰχθύων πολύ· of Luke 5:6.

Does anyone know of prepared lists of wild animals in the wilderness of Judea, the names of the sellers & shops in the market and their typical products, or the species of fish caught in the Sea of Galilee all in Greek?

I've been looking around a bit and have a few ideas, but does anyone know of ready resources prepared for learning the background knowledge that the New Testament words with only a general reference are drawing on to convey the message of the text?
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)
Louis L Sorenson
Posts: 709
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 9:21 pm
Location: Burnsville, MN, USA

A lack of detail in the Greek (list of occupations)

Post by Louis L Sorenson »

Here is a list of occupations I had been working on several years ago. Some words like -πωλης could be expanded. But learning by lists is not as helpful as one would think. See the citation below. And this list lacks much of the wider range of occupations. (see the citation from Atheneus' Deipnosophistae).

ἔξω τοῦ οἴκου· (οἶκος, ου ὁ house)

ἔργον, ου, τό work, deed, task
ἐργασία, ας ἡ business, trade
ἐργάτης, ου ὁ laborer
τεχνίτης, ου ὁ craftsman, artisian
γεωργός, οῦ ὁ farmer
θεριστής, οῦ ὁ harvester, reaper
κηπουρός, οῦ ὁ gardener
ἀμπελουργός, οῦ ὁ vinedresser
ποιμήν, ένος ὁ shepherd
ἀρχιποίμην, ενος ὁ head-shepherd
ἁλιεύς, έως ὁ fisherman
οἰκοδόμος, ου ὁ: builder
τέκτων, ονος ὁ carpenter, mason
ἀρχιτέκτων, ονος ὁ: master builder

ἐν ἱερῷ (ἱερόν, ου τό temple)
Λευτίτης, ου ὁ Levite
ἱερεύς, έως ὁ preist
λειτουργός, οῦ ὁ temple servant

ἐν συναγωγῇ· (συναγωγή, ῆς ἡ synagogue)
ἀρχισυνάγωγος, ου ὁ synagogue ruler
Ραββί ὁ Rabbi (Heb. loan)
νομοδιδάσκαλος, ου ὁ teacher of the Law

ἐν τῷ συνεδρίῳ (συνέδριον, ου, τό Sanhedrin)
ἀχριερεύς, έως ὁ chief preist
Φαρισαῖος, ου ὁ Pharisee
Σαδδουκαῖος, ου ὁ Sadducee
γραμματεύς, έως ὁ scribe
σύνεδρος, ου, ὁ a member of the council
πρεσβύτερος ου ὁ an elder, presbyter (title)

ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ (ἐκκλησία, ας ἡ assembly)

επίσκοπος, ου ὁ bishop
διάκονος, ου ὁ ἡ deacon
ποιμήν, ένος ὁ pastor
προφήτης, ου ὁ prophet
προφῆτις, ιδος ἡ prophetess
ἀπόστολος, ου ἡ apostle
εὐαγγελιστής, οῦ ὁ evangelist
πρεσβύτερος ου ὁ an elder, presbyter (title)

ἐν τῇ πόλει· (πόλις, εως ἡ city)
πολίτης, ου ὁ citizen
δοῦλος, ου ὁ slave
ἐλεύθερος ου ὁ freeman

Καῖσαρ, ος ὁ Caesar
βασιλεύς, έως ὁ king
βασίλισσα, ης ἡ queen
ἀνθύπατος, ου ὁ proconsul
ἡγεμών, όνος ὁ ruler; governor
δεσπότης, ου ὁ ruler
στρατηγός, ου ὁ praetor; chief magistrate
ἄρχων, οντος ὁ ruler, official
στρατιώτης, ου, ὁ soldier
ἄγγελος, ου ὁ messenger
τελώνης, ου ὁ tax-collector
Ἡρῳδιανοί, ῶν ὁ Herodians
ζηλωτής, οῦ ὁ zealot (not a political term until 66 A.D.)

ἐν ἀγωρᾷ (ἀγορά, ᾶς ἡ marketplace)

ἔμπορος, ου ὁ merchant
ἀγοραστής, ου, ὁ purveyor (slave)
ὠνητής, -ου, ὁ buyer
-πώλης -seller (> πωλεῖν to sell)
- βιβλιοπώλης, ου ὁ bookseller
- οἰνοπώλης, ου ὁ wineseller
- κεραμοπώλης, ου ὁ jarseller
- παντοπώλης, ου ὁ huckster (of everything)
τιμή, ῆς ἡ selling price, value
ἀγοραζω I buy
ὠνοῦμαι (ὠνέ-ομαι) I sell
δίδωμι I pay
ἀποδίδωμι I pay back

ἐν σχολῇ (σχολή, ῆς ἡ school, leisure)
διδάσκαλος ου, ὁ ἡ teacher
ἀρχιδιδάσκαλος ου, ὁ ἡ principal
μαθητής, ου ὁ male student
μαθήτρια, ας ἡ female student
διδάσκω I teach
μανθάνω I learn
- ἔμαθον I learned
- ἔμαθες you (sg.) learned
- ἔμαθεν he / she learned

I've been reading a book titled: Vocabulary Myths (see citation)
There has not been a great deal of research on the use of semantic sets, but the research results are clear and, I think, very conclusive. As Table 7 shows, semantic sets are not only unhelpful, they actually hinder vocabulary retention. What our field needs is research comparing the efficacy of these two approaches with L2 students in real classes over a regular term of study (e.g., a semester). This research would include not only the obvious quantitative student learning data but also qualitative data gathered on students’ impressions of their learning with each technique. In Tinkham (1993), two experiments compared the learning rates of the same ESL learners who were learning semantically related and then semantically unrelated target vocabulary items. Results of this study showed that the learners were able to learn the semantically unrelated target items much more quickly than they could do with the semantically related items. Learners who were given words that share a common superordinate concept (such as words for colors) in list form need more time to learn these words than words that do not have a common superordinate. Thus, findings of this study strongly suggest that students have more difficulty learning new words presented to them in semantic clusters than they clusters than they do learning semantically unrelated words.

Folse, Keith S. (2013-04-24). Vocabulary Myths:Applying Second Language Research to Classroom Teaching (Kindle Locations 887-894). The University of Michigan Press. Kindle Edition.

A list for sellers of things could go on forever (Atheneus Deipnosophistae 3.100.45ff):
ἐπεὶ δὲ φιλάρχαιος
εἶναι θέλεις καὶ οὐδὲν φὴς φθέγξεσθαι ὃ μὴ τῆς Ἀτ-
τικῆς ἐστι φωνῆς, ὦ φίλτατε, τί ἐστιν ὃ λέγει Νικο-
φῶν ὁ τῆς ἀρχαίας κωμῳδίας ποιητὴς ἐν τοῖς Χειρο-
γάστορσιν; ἐγὼ γὰρ καὶ τοῦτον εὑρίσκω μνημονεύοντα
τῶν μύστρων ὅταν λέγῃ (I 779 K)·
μεμβραδοπώλαις, ἀνθρακοπώλαις,
ἰσχαδοπώλαις, διφθεροπώλαις,
ἀλφιτοπώλαις, μυστριοπώλαις,
βιβλιοπώλαις, κοσκινοπώλαις,
ἐγκριδοπώλαις, σπερματοπώλαις.
τίνες γὰρ ἂν εἶεν οἱ μυστριοπῶλαι <ἀλλ'> ἢ οἱ τὰ
μύστρα πωλοῦντες; μαθὼν οὖν ἐκ τούτων, ὦ καλέ μου
Συραττικέ, τὴν τοῦ μύστρου χρῆσιν ἐμφοροῦ τοῦ
χόνδρου, ἵνα μὴ λέγῃς ‘ἄκικύς εἰμι κὠλιγοδρανέω.’
Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Places where there is a lack of detail in the Greek

Post by Stephen Hughes »

In the context of an exercise, having vocabulary at hand is useful.

I've read / heard a few different ideas about the efficiency of various methods of presentation and strategies for teaching & learning. Personally, I prefer everything random and all over the place. But those debates are about small differences in degree. It's like optimising performance by using one or other carbutetor arrangement.

In fact, the surest way of students not learning the words is by not presenting them at all. Expanding, as you suggest, the list will allow the presentation of more words and more possibilities that learning could take place.

Given the foibles of learners, complete vocabulary mastery is not an achievable goal. I find that it is like the always only ever jumping half the remaining distance image. To cope with that, setting the distance peg further than the goal is a good way to attain the comptency.

I guess that to learn 15,000 words, 25,000 should be available. To learn 5,700, then 8,000 could be presented.

My another question about anchovies stemmed from wondering which of the non-fantastic sellers would have sold them, fresh or dried. I guess fresh because they are a common fish, but perhaps salted because that's how we buy them today.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)
Posts: 61
Joined: October 17th, 2014, 11:04 pm
Location: Australia, Victoria, Geelong

Re: Places where there is a lack of detail in the Greek

Post by TimNelson » ... l-sets.pdf

Paul Nation, whom I believe to be the author of the linked article, is an expert in the field of second language learning, although I think I recall reading that he has simply summarised and correlated the research of others, rather than doing his own. One nice thing about the above article is that it talks about which kinds of lexical sets are helpful, and which are interfering.

I'll now add a quote from the project I did for my M. Div.
None of these studies cover what happens when easily-confused words are carefully distinguished and then memorised together. I believe many language learners remember stories about Spanish learners who confuse “embarazoso” (uneasy or embarrassed) with “embarazada” (I am pregnant)1, or the student who translated Matthew 1:19 as “[Joseph] decided to kill [Mary] quietly”2. A study on the pedagogical effects of this kind of distinction might be useful.


Further research in this area might investigate whether learning words which are all derived from the same morpheme, but have different meanings, is useful. It is expected that this would initially be confusing, but once some basic familiarity with the affixes was gained, that it would then be extremely useful. However, as Nation’s Lexical Sets article makes clear, intuition is not necessarily applicable in this area, so testing is needed for this.
The only thing I'll add is that I was the student who translated "Joseph decided to kill Mary quietly", but that I realised my mistake in about 2 seconds, before I'd told anyone. :)
Tim Nelson
B. Sc. (Computer Science), M. Div. Looking for work (in computing or language-related jobs).
Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Places where there is a lack of detail in the Greek

Post by Stephen Hughes »

TimNelson (quote from thesis) wrote:the student who translated Matthew 1:19 as “[Joseph] decided to kill [Mary] quietly”
TimNelson wrote:The only thing I'll add is that I was the student who translated "Joseph decided to kill Mary quietly", but that I realised my mistake in about 2 seconds, before I'd told anyone. :)
An Hey-that-can't-possibly-be-right! moment.

A reader from an honour-based society who had not read a translation (or was not familiar with the story in another way) might think would be a reasonable course of action. My meaning is that there are a lot of subtle - this is of course not subtle - misunderstandings that can be made in even our own language.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)
Post Reply

Return to “Word Meanings”