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Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

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Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

Postby Ursinus » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:23 am

One of the best things that every happened to my Latin vocabulary was learning about "Iversen's word lists." I find his method-- at least for my purposes-- far superior to flashcards. Plus, I usually retain an active knowledge of the words, not just passive recognition. Now, please don't let this become a debate about vocabulary acquisition. That's not the point.

Anyway, when learning a verb in Latin, it typically was never hard to learn the four principle parts. Many verbs are regular, and some are irregular in predictable ways. With Greek's seven principle parts it is not so. I find trying to learn and reproduce the seven parts difficult. It may be that I have not internalized the "rules" (in fact, that was in part what made the word lists a useful exercise in Latin).

I want to know the parts in part because it is useful when you are trying to use the language actively. Also, words more meaningful when you understand them as standing in relation to the other forms of the same word.

Would learning only the aorist stem be a good compromise?
In hoc enim fallimur, quod mortem prospicimus" -- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Re: Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:20 am

Six, not seven principal parts. I would say not, because you have too many radical stem changes in too many verbs. The advantage of knowing the principal parts is that you can predict any form from knowing those principal parts. If it helps, the principal parts of ἄγω may be sung to the tune of "Good King Wenceslas."
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Re: Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

Postby mwh » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:02 am

Would learning only the aorist stem be a good compromise?

Well it’s a start, and if you want to start with only one stem the aorist is probably the one to go with—along with the present too, since that’s the dictionary form. But what you say about Latin, that “Many verbs are regular, and some are irregular in predictable ways", is no less true of Greek. There are morphological consistencies that make it all easier—not that it’s easy.

Whatever works for you in Latin should work for you in Greek. It may take you a bit longer, that's all.
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Re: Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

Postby jeidsath » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:33 pm

I recently benefited from a month or two where I created cloze deletion flashcards on Anki of the principal parts.

For example, αἱρέω, αἱρήσω, εἷλον, ᾕρηκα, ᾕρημαι, ᾑρέθην

Cloze flash cards test you by hiding one of the words, and you are responsible for typing in the answer:

αἱρέω, αἱρήσω, <????>, ᾕρηκα, ᾕρημαι, ᾑρέθην

Answer to be typed:

εἷλον

I went through adding 5 new verbs every so often. (This is 30 different cloze cards, of course.) That was about 30-40 minutes of study a day.

You get a real feel for the parts this way. It's worth learning them all, because there are a number of reinforcing patterns. Trying to just learn one chunk is harder, because you don't get a feel for these patterns.
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Re: Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

Postby anphph » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:56 pm

jeidsath, would you be willing to share those cards? I fully understand if being your own work you'd prefer to keep them private.
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Re: Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

Postby jeidsath » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:21 pm

Here you go: Cloze Verbs

However, I'd recommend that people make their own cards. Use the Dickinson Core Words list and create cards as you need them, as I did. Studying the cards takes 95% of the time, and making them yourself gives you a lot of control. There are various instructions and videos on how to make Anki cloze cards if you search.
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Re: Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:42 pm

mwh wrote:
Would learning only the aorist stem be a good compromise?

Well it’s a start, and if you want to start with only one stem the aorist is probably the one to go with—along with the present too, since that’s the dictionary form.

Whatever works for you in Latin should work for you in Greek. It may take you a bit longer, that's all.

I think that I think that learning the pricipal parts all at once as a beginner is not such good return for effort spent as learning vocabulary more extensively.

When you say "learning only the aorist", the question left begging is how that is structured. Because the aorist is a word with both lexicosemantic and grammatical meaning, it is useful to incorporate both of those into chosen vocabulary acquisition process. Depending on the capabilities of your software to intelligently prompt you, if you started learning all forms from first the present and aorist, I would recommend learning the following "definitions", ie perform the following memorisation acts as a start:

ἀναφέρω - "I am presenting"
ἀναφέρω - "I am referring to"

ἀνήνεγκα - aorist of ἀναφέρω
ἀνήνεγκα - "I presented"
ἀνήνεγκα - "I referred to"

In that way, you will be learning the words relationally, through whatever convenient method of memorisation that you prefer. Simply learning to parrot the six forms plus a gloss, which requires a huge ammount of rote learning effort, only serves as a precursor to analysis and sorting of the forms into the patterns of actual usage.

Eventually, though, all the form will need to be learnt for the verbs you encounter. Hard-wiring the relationships deliberately, those others would be:

ἀνοίσω - future of ἀναφέρω
ἀνοίσω - "I will present"
ἀνοίσω - "I will refer to"

...

ἀνηνέχθην - θη- aorist of ἀναφέρω
ἀνηνέχθην - "I was presented"
ἀνηνέχθην - "I was referred to"

That seems like a large overhead for the learning, but until you build up fluency in using your knowledge, learning principal parts along with the knowledge of how they fit into the verbal system, you will leave yourself in need of analysis of the forms and derivation of their place in the verbal system every time you use them. In fact, what you will end up with at the end of learning is sub- (non-) conscious recognition of tense and meaning when the learning process is over. You will see a form like ἀνοίσει for example, and depending on the way you structure your learning will either translate it directly, parse it, or another response.

Competencies that can be expected from this way of structuring the learning are:
  • Recognition of the dictionary form of a verb.
  • An ability to quickly supply a meaning to the various verb forms, when reading.
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Re: Learning Verb Morphology for Vocabulary

Postby anphph » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:01 am

jeidsath wrote:Here you go: Cloze Verbs

However, I'd recommend that people make their own cards. Use the Dickinson Core Words list and create cards as you need them, as I did. Studying the cards takes 95% of the time, and making them yourself gives you a lot of control. There are various instructions and videos on how to make Anki cloze cards if you search.


Thank you very much. I second making your own cards, but was curious about how Cloze would work for the Greek.
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