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Tips for learning principal parts?

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Tips for learning principal parts?

Postby Xyloplax » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:11 am

So this is actually the 2nd time I am learning Ancient Greek. The first time I half-assed it and then got bogged down from carrying too many books. Now that I've got a writeable tablet, I am set and making good progress. I am using Mastronarde (again) and I figured that learning all the principal parts for each verb saves me a step really, so I am not just learning 3 and trying to shoehorn in the rest later. Anyway, I am having trouble. I get them mostly right (I'm on Chapter 5), but it's not quite sticking. I have used Smyth and Goodwin to learn the consonant rules and such, and those help, and I have read how Future, the Aorist, and the Perfect are formed and that helps, but it seems that there are as many exceptions or what could be mistaken as exceptions as there are adherents to the rules. Apart from just brute force memorizing and hoping it "sounds" and "looks" right when you write it or see it, any tricks to get you seasoned folks through memorizing the PPs? I am fine with the ol' keep-writing-them-out-until-your-hand-cramps and flashcards method, but I want to get a sense of scope before I take a deep breath and dive in. Thanks.
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Re: Tips for learning principal parts?

Postby klewlis » Sat Aug 23, 2014 2:10 am

when I was taking greek in college we were given a page of common irregular verbs and their principle parts, and told to memorize them.

yes we wrote them out repeatedly. I also recorded them into audio and listened to them repeatedly.

I'm not sure there is a better way!
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Re: Tips for learning principal parts?

Postby Scribo » Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:13 pm

You're half way there in trying to learn how verb forms are put together. Keep that up, be sure to learn the differing (phonological) rules for augment combinations and the various perfect passive formations thoroughly.

Just practice and read and write. You might find the book Tutti I Verbi Greci helpful. It's a thick book of paradigms.
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Re: Tips for learning principal parts?

Postby daivid » Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:43 pm

I certainly can't claim to have cracked this. I started off trying to memorize most of the forms I met and found that except for the ones that I met often they got forgotten after a little while.

So I suggest concentrate on the ones you meet often.

Read lots so you meet more more often which means reading stuff that is easy for you.

Memorizing sentences is probably more useful than learning lists as then the word is in context and less dull. Dullness is the enemey of memorization.

Try putting up labels with the forms of verbs round the house in places that you associate often which means reading stuff that is easy for you.

Memorizing sentences is probably more useful than learning lists as then the word is in context and less dull. Dullness is the enemey of memorization.

Try putting up labels with the forms of verbs round the house in places that you associate with the verb shown.
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Re: Tips for learning principal parts?

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:31 pm

daivid wrote:
Memorizing sentences is probably more useful than learning lists as then the word is in context and less dull. Dullness is the enemey of memorization.



I agree.

An hour spent reading will give a long term payoff — getting so you automatically see the word in context and parse the clause without any pause for analysis, in other words you read it like a modern language you have reading proficiency in. Paradigms are useful to disambiguate, use them when you get stalled and eventually you will acquire the forms from reading and eliminate the "analysis" phase in the process. Randall Buth's approach is a little too radical for my tastes but I generally agree with his basic hypothesis. It is difficult to implement in individual study however. Works better with groups who have actual face to face contact. Without dialogue partners second language acquisition is still born.

I am not trying to start a pedagogy thread. B-Greek has thousands of posts on that subject.
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Re: Tips for learning principal parts?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:21 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:
daivid wrote:
Memorizing sentences is probably more useful than learning lists as then the word is in context and less dull. Dullness is the enemey of memorization.



I agree.

An hour spent reading will give a long term payoff — getting so you automatically see the word in context and parse the clause without any pause for analysis, in other words you read it like a modern language you have reading proficiency in. Paradigms are useful to disambiguate, use them when you get stalled and eventually you will acquire the forms from reading and eliminate the "analysis" phase in the process. Randall Buth's approach is a little too radical for my tastes but I generally agree with his basic hypothesis. It is difficult to implement in individual study however. Works better with groups who have actual face to face contact. Without dialogue partners second language acquisition is still born.

I am not trying to start a pedagogy thread. B-Greek has thousands of posts on that subject.


Thousands may be an underestimate... :lol:

What worked best for me was straight memorization combined with reading the texts. The more you see the forms and deal with them in context, the better you *really* learn them - to use is to muse - but having memorized them made recognizing them in context easier and helped make sense out of the abstract word formation rules.
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Re: Tips for learning principal parts?

Postby Xyloplax » Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:46 pm

These are all great suggestions! I have All The Greek Verbs, but I hope to keep it relatively unused. Finding the verb forms in context will be interesting. I should spend more time forming my own phrases, as thinking in Attic is really hard for me. Some verbs are so irregular, I actually find I learn them quicker because they are truly unique, like φέρω. Thanks guys!
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