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Vocabulary acquisition

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Vocabulary acquisition

Postby Lina » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:28 am

Hi,

I need some advice.

As I begin to use readers and anthologies, what is the best way to decide which unknown vocabulary words to commit to memory?

I feel that for each reading that I do, I should try to pick up a certain number of new words, but it can be very difficult to decide which to learn. I have a poor memory and I have to be very intentional about learning vocabulary (I use memory tricks that are non-visual because I cannot visualize well), so I feel that I need to have a strategy.

Do the greek learners here try to memorize all glossed words when you do a reading? How about principal parts? Do you depend on repeated exposure to gradually pick up unknown words? Do you choose some words that seem important to learn?
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Re: Vocabulary acquisition

Postby IreneY » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:37 am

I'm not the best person to reply to your questions but I would venture to say that verbs, conjunctions, prepositions and such should be the first. As for nouns, well, go by what appears more often I guess.
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Re: Vocabulary acquisition

Postby LSorenson » Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:23 pm

It depends on what you are planning to read: Homer, classical or NT or secular Koine . You need about a 2000 word vocabulary to become fairly fluent. Memorizing words which have a low frequency is usually unfruitful. Most beginning Greek books for the NT teach only about 300 words, which is inadequate. The NT scholars have produced many vocabulary books. Trench's Complete Vocabuarly Guide lists words by common roots. That can help.

Mastronard's beggining grammar has a lot of vocabulary. Going through his list would also have good rewards. Threre is also a book called Greek Word Building by Matthias Stehle. It was translated into English by Scholar's press in 1976 from the 10th German edition. http://books.google.com/books?id=UWpJAAAAYAAJ&dq=greek+word+building&lr=

I'm not sure what is available for secular Greek as far as vocab books. Perseus does have word frequncies and lists for a specific book or author. You could use those lists and then read the entry, first in the Middle LSJ lexicon, and then in the larger LSJ lexicon. Reading lexicon entries is a great way to get a good feel for the range of words.

Many Foreign language teachers say not to look up words until you see it three times. They want you to learn the meaning from context. It takes discipline to do that though.

Just some ideas,

Louis S.
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Re: Vocabulary acquisition

Postby Lina » Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:34 am

Thanks for the tips. I'm getting better about inferring meanings of words from context, but I still compulsively look everything up, because what if I'm wrong?

For a short, say 100 word passage from Nairn/Colson/Morice, I'm looking up 10-20 words. Whether this is normal, I don't know.

I found this list of vocab frequency by Wilfred Major, and I was surpised at the number of words I don't know:
http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:cp ... clnk&gl=us

I was also sort of suprised that words like "I obtain by lottery" and "trivial" show up on the 80% list.
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Re: Vocabulary acquisition

Postby Gil » Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:27 pm

I don't know about 'trivial' but 'obtain by lottery/lot' is pretty common in Homer.
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Re: Vocabulary acquisition

Postby Kasper » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:20 am

Lina wrote:Thanks for the tips. I'm getting better about inferring meanings of words from context, but I still compulsively look everything up, because what if I'm wrong?

For a short, say 100 word passage from Nairn/Colson/Morice, I'm looking up 10-20 words. Whether this is normal, I don't know.


Hi Lina,
what is 'normal' should be no concern to you. What matters is that you are enjoying reading Greek. I think the best way to acquire vocabulary is to read, because context is so important. For example, you memorise the rather huge dictionary entries that exist for words like 'kata' or 'epi', or 'lambanw' but what does that really tell you? You will still need to figure out its meaning by reference to the context. In addition, idiom is at least as important as vocabulary, and you learn this by reading.

Looking up only 10%-20% of words sounds pretty good to me. And the more you read, the less this will become.

I am reading Acts of the Apostles at the moment, and my habit is to read one chapter without any dictionary help at all, and the next one with a dictionary handy to look up words where I have doubt as to the meaning of a part of the story. I don't look up every word to find out its exact meaning as long as I can comfortably follow the story.

Then again, I'm not a linguist, and am neither 'studying' the Greek language nor the new testament; i just like to read books as they were written.

Just my two cents worth.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Re: Vocabulary acquisition

Postby thesaurus » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:41 pm

Lina wrote:I found this list of vocab frequency by Wilfred Major, and I was surpised at the number of words I don't know:
http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:cp ... clnk&gl=us


I just want to say thanks for this super useful resource. I like taking a scientific approach to language study.

It's surprising how small the 50% list is. The 80% list will definitely be my new focus--it will give me a word list for composition practice, too.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Vocabulary acquisition

Postby Scribo » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:11 pm

It depends on what you read. First off you need to work at getting the prepositions and particles down, you don't have to sit there ALL at once and do it, but do it over time. During unseen translations this is life saving. Likewise learning how these prepositions change when compounding verbs.

If you have Morwood's grammar the back as the principle parts of the top 101 irregular verbs. Believe it or not you REALLY need these. As for nouns and verbs in general, you can learn by topic (i.e military, domestic etc) or find a word frequency list and learn the top few hundred or something. You can occasionally partially infer from mod Greek/English derivatives.

Erm other than that? Just read and enjoy Greek. I find that words I require for composition stick more readily,so crack open a copy of Sidgwicks?
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