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More new words

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More new words

Postby Bert » Sat Jan 31, 2004 9:00 pm

At what point did Homer start to repeat words instead of trying to use new ones?
I'm exaggerating of course, but at what point does the memory work start getting easier?
Throughout Pharr, the number of new words stays fairly constant compared to the number of lines of the Iliad. (This does not take into account the first 12 lessons where new words are introduced without getting into the Iliad.)
I was hoping to go through as many lessons as possible at 'break-neck' speed before the reading group starts its shedule.
Let me tell you; My speed is not breaking any necks.
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Postby Skylax » Sun Feb 01, 2004 1:12 pm

Hi, Bert !

Well, statistics indicate that, in every sequence of language, the words occurring only one time are the most numerous. In Tacitus' Life of Agricola, (6779 occurrences, 2031 different words), there are 6 words used more than 100 times and 1065 words used only one time (39 words used 20 times or more, 1753 words used four times or less. C'est la vie...

Yours faithfully,
Skylax
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Postby chad » Wed Feb 04, 2004 7:14 am

hi bert, milman parry showed that homer repeated words, instead of inventing new ones, wherever possible.

you'll particularly notice this in the 2nd half of lines: often homer uses formulas with stock epithets here, from the masculine, feminine caesura or the bucolic diaresis. when the wars kick off and people start dropping off (a few books into homer) you'll really notice the repetition.

also the "he said", "he replied" lines before/after dialogue are very formulaic. homer not only uses the same stock words for e.g. "he said", but puts these words in exactly the same position in the line every time, and builds up the rest of the line by putting in a stock formula name after the word, and a stock formula before it as well.

milman parry notes a whole lot of these patterns in his phd and other papers :) e.g. verbs ending -eto naturally sit just before the bucolic diaresis, so you get ...eto (short short) then a dactyl and a spondee (like dios [someone]) to end the line. such constructions often have a participle plus a conjunction or particle sitting in the first half of the line to round out the idea and fit the metre...

william harris also noted in one of his "read homer" essays that he started reading comfortably after a few hundred lines.

as a bit of trivia, milman parry also statistically compared homer's frequency of word repetition to apollodorus, virgil and others who wrote their books all by themselves (and not in a bardic tradition passed down to homer by previous epic poets)... the other writers use lots more metrically identical synonyms, whereas homer very rarely uses synonyms which are metrically identical... that's why they say homer is much more "efficient" with his vocab.

cheers, chad. :)
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Postby Bert » Thu Feb 05, 2004 12:49 am

Well.. I'll be!
Maybe after I've built up some more vocab, I'll become more aware of this.
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Re: More new words

Postby annis » Sun Feb 08, 2004 11:00 pm

Bert wrote:At what point did Homer start to repeat words instead of trying to use new ones?


The more you read, the more repeats you'll see.

I have plans to write a few articles about word formation in Greek. With a little training you can learn to recognize that the words [face=spionic]e)xqro/j[/face] and [face=spionic]o)xqe/w[/face] are related, and this with a little practice in paying attention to compounds can make Greeks apparently daunting vocabulary seem a bit less imposing.

I'm sure I'll get to this eventually.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Bert » Mon Feb 09, 2004 1:37 am

Thanks.
For NT Greek I have a vocabulary guide that lists words in cognate word groups.
This is a real help in memorization.
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Postby chad » Mon Feb 09, 2004 1:41 am

yes, and at the back of one of the docs here on textkit: i think the illustrated dictionary to xenophon's anabasis: there is something similar. it's def. worth checking out for attic :)
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