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Difficulty of Building Greek Vocabulary

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Difficulty of Building Greek Vocabulary

Postby chodorov » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:40 am

As I continue studying Latin, learning new vocab continues to get easier. It feels like most of the words (especially verbs) that I am learning now are either compounds of words I already know or English cognates.

My question is, Is learning Greek vocabulary more difficult than this? I imagine it is because there won't be as many cognates (and cognates will be harder to recognize because of the different alphabets), but I would appreciate other opinions.
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Re: Difficulty of Building Greek Vocabulary

Postby Grochojad » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:36 pm

I find learning Greek vocabulary a bit harder, for the reasons you have given and at the beginning when you don't know the alphabet so well and cannot "visualize" the words in they graphic forms. And by cognates you surely mean loanwords (mainly through French), which are abundant from Latin but the number of cognates is quite limited and you wouldn't even recognize them as such because of the sound changes they undergone.
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Re: Difficulty of Building Greek Vocabulary

Postby Craig_Thomas » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:36 pm

I find memorising the vocabulary of Greek much harder than that of Latin, which for a native English speaker must be the friendliest of any language. But, according to Wilfred E. Major, there is some solace:
One area where Greek is quantifiably easier than other languages is vocabulary, or, more exactly, frequency of core vocabulary. In English, the 100 most common lemmas typically constitute nearly half of a text. Thus words like “the,” “an” and “is” appear many times, while words like “paraclausithyron,” sadly, occur infrequently. Furthermore, 80% of English texts comprise fewer than 2400 words. This total is not unusual; many languages have a core vocabulary of 2000–3000 lemmas which generate 80% of written texts. Latin, for example, is comparable to English in this regard.

Greek is atypical, but in a useful way. 65 or fewer lemmas generate half of Greek texts, so I suggest that students should learn these words early and practice them often. Students are certain to encounter these lemmas constantly, and comfort with them will provide a reasonable basis as they negotiate original texts. Experienced readers of Greek will find no surprises on this “50%” list, but students in Beginning Greek may. Verbs such as γίγνομαι and δίδωμι, nouns such as ἀνήρ, pronouns like οὐδείς, and the host of prepositions and conjunctions are rarely introduced early and reinforced often.

An 80% list for Greek also repays attention. A vocabulary list generated by Perseus yields between 1000 and 1100 words, less than half of the standard 2000–3000 for many languages.

That quotation comes from this pdf. The 50% and 80% vocabulary lists can be found in this pdf.
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Re: Difficulty of Building Greek Vocabulary

Postby chodorov » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:38 am

Thanks, Craig Thomas, that's going to be a really helpful post for me.
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Re: Difficulty of Building Greek Vocabulary

Postby Sinister Petrus » Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:59 pm

Craig_Thomas wrote:That quotation comes from this pdf. The 50% and 80% vocabulary lists can be found in this pdf.


Thank you for those links. I've been trying to find information in this vein for some time. Vocabulary list found. Now for the grammar analysis.
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Re: Difficulty of Building Greek Vocabulary

Postby jaihare » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:29 am

+1 Thanks
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