Textkit Logo

vocabulary size of classical Latin and Attic Greek

Textkit is a learning community- introduce yourself here. Use the Open Board to introduce yourself, chat about off-topic issues and get to know each other.

Moderators: thesaurus, Jeff Tirey

vocabulary size of classical Latin and Attic Greek

Postby vir litterarum » Sun Oct 16, 2005 10:28 pm

Does anyone know the approximate number of words in classical Latin and Attic Greek?
vir litterarum
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 721
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2005 4:04 am
Location: Oberlin, Ohio

Postby edonnelly » Sun Oct 16, 2005 11:42 pm

I don't know the answer for sure, but as far as Latin goes, there's a nice doctoral dissertation from Dr. Paul Diederich (1939 U. of Chicago Press) online. He wasn't addressing your question. I like it because he comes up with the 1,471 most useful words to know (and puts them in meaningful groups to help you remember), but from his dissertation comes:

The Frequency of Latin Words and Their Endings wrote:This count Is based on 202,158 words in selections from over two hundred Latin authors, from Ennius to Erasmus. It yields a "recommended basic vocabulary" of 1,471 vords, arranged in groups of related words., which enable one to recognize 83.6 per cent of the words in the literature examined in this study.


So, that may give you some idea, or at least a starting point. You could also look through his references which would cite similar research. I have no idea on the Greek.

Interestingly, choosing every latin text in Perseus (which includes some non-classic stuff) for the Vocabulary Tool gives only 61,892 unique words.
User avatar
edonnelly
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 959
Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:47 am
Location: Music City, USA

Postby tZeD » Mon Oct 17, 2005 1:42 am

For some reason, I've always remembered this since reading it, probably because it's pretty surprising. It's from William Harris's "The Intelligent Person's Guide to Latin".

Latin has a relatively small vocabulary, with less that four thousand words in general, current use. Greek has three times that number, modern English prescribes 10,000 for a college student, 50,000 for a teacher, and there are half a million words available one way or another.


That seems to also fit in with edonelly's 1471 number.
tZeD
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 11:17 pm
Location: Toronto

Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Mon Oct 17, 2005 3:13 am

Are you asking about Greek from a specific dialect, or Ancient Greek in general? If the latter, the numbers would be inflated by dialect specific words. There are also words which have practically the same meaning, and only a slight variation in spelling (such that one could, in context, easily figure out it was merely a variation). Do these count as one word, or as two?

I know that the Epic dialect has rougly 10,000 words, a good number of them only appearing once (known as happax legomena). I know Attic Greek has a larger vocabulary, perhaps because we have more extant works, but I don't have any numbers off the top of my head.
User avatar
GlottalGreekGeek
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 903
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 3:37 am
Location: Mountain View

Postby ThomasGR » Mon Oct 17, 2005 7:07 am

Some people speak of up to 50 million words in Greek, but I wonder how have they counted all those words? I doubt that a human person can handle more than 10 thousand words, and in our daily life we are comfortable dealing with one to three thousand words. Do words formed by sticking suffixes and prefixes to other words count as new words? That's what happens all the time in Greek.
ThomasGR
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:49 pm

an attempt

Postby elis » Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:14 pm

hello

perhaps i could attempt a rough estimation based on lexicon entries. The biggest dictionary i know is a greek translation and adaptation of Liddel/Scott.
It has 14 volumes, each volume around 600 pages, each page roughly 25 entries. Since the lexicon includes inflected forms etc, let's say 20entries per page. so, 14x20x600=168000 words . So if this method is somehow valid, the greek vocabulary is at least this big..


Some people speak of up to 50 million words in Greek


I dont know about that. perhaps if we count inflected forms - given that a verb has ~500 forms. The only people i know of, that support that 50mill. thing, are extreme-rightwing tv personas that come on tv between gym-o-matic informercials and persian carpet tv-auctions.

A Thesaurus is something else though. Diels said:
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057

Any one who bears in mind the bulk of Greek literature, which is at least 10 times as great [as that of Latin], its dialectical variations, its incredible wealth of forms, the obstinate persistence of the classical speech for thousands of years down to the fall of Constantinople, or, if you will, until the present day: who knows, moreover, that the editions of almost all the Greek classics are entirely unsuited for the purposes of slipping, that for many important writers no critical editions whatever exist: and who considers the state of our collections of fragments and special Lexica, will see that at the present time all the bases upon which a Greek Thesaurus could be erected are lacking.

But even if we were to assume that we possessed such editions and collections from Homer down to Nonnus, or (as Krumbacher proposed in London) down to Apostolius, and further that they had all been worked over, slipped, or excerpted by a gigantic staff of scholars, and that a great house had preserved and stored the thousands of boxes, whence would come the time, money, and power to sift these millions of slips and to bring Nous into this Chaos ? Since the proportion of Latin to Greek Literature is about 1:10, the office work of the Greek Thesaurus would occupy at least 100 scholars. At their head there would have to be a general editor, who, however, would be more of a general than an editor. And if this editorial cohort were really to perform its task punctually, and if the Association of Academies, which, as is well known, has not a penny of its own, were to raise the ten million marks necessary for the completion of (say) 120 volumes; and if scholars were to become so opulent that they could afford to purchase the Thesaurus Graecus for (say) 6,ooo marks-how could one read and use such a monstrosity?
[/url][/quote]
Last edited by elis on Mon Oct 17, 2005 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
elis
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:04 pm

Postby Kynetus Valesius » Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:26 pm

Friends,

It's difficult to pass by without commenting on the suggestion that some Greeks may have a vocabulary of 50 million words, which on it's face seems ludicrious, or that American college students scrape by on a measly 10,000. I will nevertheless restrict my comments to what I've read about two latin online dictionaries. The Whitaker's "Words" program has about 8,000 headword entries (nisi fallor). This does not count the additional inflected forms that it is capable of generating. Once again, nisi fallor, the program contains about all of the words that would have been current in the golden and silver ages of latin letters. The other big trove that I know of is on the French site that I cited recently. It supposedly has 40,000 headwords and would include most accretions from the middle ages and renaissance but not from perhaps the last two centuries.

Beyond these putative factoids, there is a huge project at the Vatican which is called something like "Lexicon recentioris latinitatis". I would be surprised if this doesn't contain at least 100,000 but can't recall having read anything.

Ken
phpbb
Kynetus Valesius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:34 pm
Location: Washington DC

Postby ThomasGR » Mon Oct 17, 2005 6:10 pm

Years ago, there where some reports in newspapers about a university of New York that started the ambitious project of compiling a CD dictionary that will contain 50 million Greek words, the biggest dictionary so far of all languages. I don't know though what became of this, I guess they couldn't find any sponsor.
ThomasGR
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:49 pm

Postby Kynetus Valesius » Mon Oct 17, 2005 6:32 pm

Well, then perhaps 50,000,000 isn't a ludicrous figure at all - live and learn.
Ken
phpbb
Kynetus Valesius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:34 pm
Location: Washington DC

50 millions !

Postby elis » Mon Oct 17, 2005 7:25 pm

well, how can the vocabulary of greek be 50 million words, when its corpus itself (8bc-4ad) is 91 million words?
Interesting language that is, an ocean of hapax legomena!

In April 2001, the TLG® became available Online to subscribing institutions and individuals. The web version currently provides access to 3,700 authors and 12,000 works, approximately 91 million words. It is updated quarterly with new authors and works.


source:
http://www.tlg.uci.edu/

I bet those newspaper reports - which i also remember- reproduced the ramblings of these extreme rightwing lunatics in greece who in turn were either unable to understand a simple english sentence or spreading propaganda.
elis
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:04 pm

Postby chad » Mon Oct 17, 2005 10:39 pm

hi, i think the TLG number is a word count, not a "lemma" count, e.g. kai/ would be counted 1000s of times in that number.
chad
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 757
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 2:55 am

Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Mon Oct 17, 2005 11:53 pm

chad wrote:hi, i think the TLG number is a word count, not a "lemma" count, e.g. kai/ would be counted 1000s of times in that number.


Which is exactly the point. Since we have a word count of only 91 million words from Ancient Greek Literature, there can't be 50 million lemma.
User avatar
GlottalGreekGeek
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 903
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 3:37 am
Location: Mountain View

Re:

Postby Ambrose » Wed May 30, 2012 5:21 am

edonnelly wrote:I don't know the answer for sure, but as far as Latin goes, there's a nice doctoral dissertation from Dr. Paul Diederich (1939 U. of Chicago Press) online. He wasn't addressing your question. I like it because he comes up with the 1,471 most useful words to know (and puts them in meaningful groups to help you remember), but from his dissertation comes:

The Frequency of Latin Words and Their Endings wrote:This count Is based on 202,158 words in selections from over two hundred Latin authors, from Ennius to Erasmus. It yields a "recommended basic vocabulary" of 1,471 vords, arranged in groups of related words., which enable one to recognize 83.6 per cent of the words in the literature examined in this study.

I just checked this site, and it seems that it has disappeared! This is really unfortunate, since I wanted to use the list as a resource for learning vocabulary. Anyone know where it went, or if there are any other resources that are similar?
Ambrose
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:46 pm

Re: vocabulary size of classical Latin and Attic Greek

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Wed May 30, 2012 6:28 am

Ave!

You can download Mr. Diederich's list (in a version created by me) from here.

The "202,158 words" represents a word count of the anthologies Mr. Diederich's paper was based on. Which makes me go "wow". Just imagine: Mr. Diederich assigned every single one of them to a lemma. For his way of doing things have a look at the archived version of his papers.

Vale,

Carolus Raeticus
Carolus Raeticus
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:46 am

Re: vocabulary size of classical Latin and Attic Greek

Postby Ambrose » Thu May 31, 2012 6:52 pm

Yeah, I got it in the wayback machine, and saved it with DEVONthink. Thanks for the reply!
Ambrose
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:46 pm

Re: vocabulary size of classical Latin and Attic Greek

Postby rustymason » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:53 pm

I have read that the Liddell-Scott Greek lexicon has over 100,000 entries and 500,000 notations. Taking the second page of 64 entries and multiplying that by a page count of 2300 gives 147,000 total entries. Using the Middle Liddell's second page of 60 entries and guessing about 850 dictionary pages, it has 51,000 entries.
User avatar
rustymason
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:26 pm
Location: Sugar Land, TX


Return to Open Board

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: hangkyabt, Polyidos, Yahoo [Bot] and 27 guests