Vocabulary

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Bart
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Vocabulary

Post by Bart » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:50 pm

After nearly sixteen books of the Iliad my reading speed has improved dramatically (as well it should after many thousands of hexameters). What's slowing me now is mostly vocabulary and unusual/ irregular forms of verbs. But most of all vocabulary. Even after so many pages there are still many, many words I don't know the meaning of, often several in one sentence. That's frustrating. Lately I have begun to jot them down and put them into a memrise course (a kind of online flashcard program), but this takes effort and time. I have the impression it helps at least a bit, but I'm not sure it's the most efficient method. Maybe I should just read on and somehow the vocabulary will slowly grow on me.
How did you, Homerophiles, master this enormous vocabulary? Just by reading or did you use some more active method?

mwh
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Re: Vocabulary

Post by mwh » Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:33 am

I used to keep pocket-sized lined notebooks, in which I entered vocab that I could review and test myself on. Today I’d use sets of flashcards.

Memrise, though, is the most effective, at least in principle, since it’s structured to optimize retention/renewal both short- and long-term. That’s its advantage over simple flashcards. The principles are very sound, I’ve been assured by experts on memory. That’s what I use—or would, if I weren’t always so impatient—for mainstream European languages, or any that have well developed memrise courses. (So much depends on how they’re constructed. I tried Vietnamese, but none of them are any good.) But I’d never make my own, just too much trouble. I’d prefer to make flashcards, even though you then have to manage your phasing, trying to renew your memory of a word just before you forget it. The phasing (steadily increasing length of time between revisiting and retesting words learnt) is key for efficiency.

Whatever you use it should be in a form you can access anywhere, any time. And it’s always best to see a word in its context (especially with Homer), which is relatively easy with Perseus or the TLG.

Rare words you don’t need to learn. There’s no shame in looking things up, and very few (among whom I certainly don't include myself) have a total grasp of Homeric vocabulary. But if you find yourself looking up a word more than once or twice, it’s worth making a note of it and learning it. You’re likely to see it again.

And it’s always a good idea to read over any stretch of text you’ve just read, for reinforcement, defying the impulse just to read on. Maybe an hour or a day inbetween? It’s surprising what you can see that you missed on first reading. But of course you don’t want to lose continuity.

I’m full of advice, but really you should do whatever works best for you.

Bart
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Re: Vocabulary

Post by Bart » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:25 am

I have used note books and handwritten flashcards in the past, but my handwriting is just too atrocious; even more so when writing Greek (you should see my zèta!).
Agreed, reviewing text you've read is essential. It requires discipline though to start every day with reviewing yesterday's text. Especially on days that I'm short of time I tend to just push on.

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Re: Vocabulary

Post by Markos » Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:26 pm

Bart wrote:How did you, Homerophiles, master this enormous vocabulary? Just by reading or did you use some more active method?
I did use flashcards, and I also recorded myself speaking the vocab and the glosses, both when learning GNT vocab and later when (trying to) learn the Homeric. It's hard to know the relative effectiveness of the methods because one lacks a control group. My sense is that, pound for pound, reading and re-reading with a Reader's Edition is the most effective method.
mwh wrote: Rare words you don’t need to learn. There’s no shame in looking things up, and very few (among whom I certainly don't include myself) have a total grasp of Homeric vocabulary.
No, there is no shame, but if one knows Attic/Koine (I don't remember if Bart does or not) there is an alternative--Nikolaos Theseus' edition of Homer and Gaza's Greek paraphrase on facing pages. If I open up a page of the Iliad at random, there will indeed be rare words that I never mastered. But 95% of the time, a quick glance at Gaza's more familiar equivalents will spare me a trip to the lexicon. This is a form of "cheating," I suppose, but since my larger goal is to master Koine, it is a benign form of cheating, like a bigamist cheating on his wife with his other wife.

I'm sure I have already mentioned Bedwere's giant print Lulu edition of Gaza:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/theodorus-gaza ... 07939.html

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jeidsath
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Re: Vocabulary

Post by jeidsath » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:16 pm

I'm sure I have already mentioned Bedwere's giant print Lulu edition of Gaza:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/theodorus-gaza ... 07939.html
I received this just the other day. It is rapidly becoming my favorite copy of the Iliad. The paraphrase seems to be fairly simple Attic (since I can read most of it). It is clearly a product of tremendous learning. If you can't recognize a word in context, you can glance to the right and read the Attic paraphrase. If you think about it, that's basically a flashcard -- and the best sort, too.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

Bart
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Re: Vocabulary

Post by Bart » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:39 pm

Markos wrote: I'm sure I have already mentioned Bedwere's giant print Lulu edition of Gaza
Yes, you have. What's more, I actually own a copy, but haven't made use of it yet. Mainly I think because I'm very happy with the commentary by Ameis and my desk is already overcrowded when reading Homer (Ameis, Homeric dictionnary, Homeric Grammar, I-pad + Attikos-app, notebook, Iliad in the Loeb edition). Also, though I do know Attic (I've read 3 dialogues by Plato so far and some Lysias), I've much more Homeric Greek under my belt by now, so I don't know how much a paraphrase in Attic will help.

On the other hand, I always like the paraphrases you give. So, yes, I do plan to use Gaza, but maybe when I'm reading the Iliad a second time, or, alternatively, when starting with the Odysey (if such a paraphrase of the Odyssey exists of course)

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Re: Vocabulary

Post by Markos » Wed May 13, 2015 5:58 pm

jeidsath wrote:
I'm sure I have already mentioned Bedwere's giant print Lulu edition of Gaza:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/theodorus-gaza ... 07939.html
I received this just the other day. It is rapidly becoming my favorite copy of the Iliad. The paraphrase seems to be fairly simple Attic (since I can read most of it). It is clearly a product of tremendous learning. If you can't recognize a word in context, you can glance to the right and read the Attic paraphrase. If you think about it, that's basically a flashcard --and the best sort, too.
@ jeidsath

I thought of this quote of yours, Joel, today, as I read my Tanakh Ram. This is a Modern Hebrew "translation" printed on pages opposite to the Hebrew Bible. Since Modern Hebrew is extremely close to Biblical Hebrew, the Tanakh Ram is a type of monolingual paraphrase, at once both simplified and expansive. It is quite similar to what Gaza does to the Iliad.

Quite often, the Modern version renders a Biblical word or groups of words with a synonym, but that synonym itself is almost always a word found elsewhere in Biblical Hebrew. Sometimes the Modern word is less rare, sometimes more rare, than the Ancient equivalent. By scanning one's eyes back and forth between the synonymous word/phrases, one learns/re-enforces the vocab, without every leaving the target language. It is similar to L2-L2 flash cards, but less artificial, since the vocab learning takes place in the context of real reading of two texts.

I've been doing the same thing with Doukas' Ancient Greek paraphrase of Sophocles

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=n ... 2up;seq=46

and it works very well, as he consistently renders Sophocles' rare words with better known equivalents.

So, I agree with you, this method of using intra-lingual "diglots" (if you can call them that) is an improvement of, or at least an alternative to, bilingual flash cards.

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Re: Vocabulary

Post by strnbrg » Sat Jul 11, 2015 12:05 am

I use this free Android flashcard app: http:/strnbrg59.com/cardation.html
It works for me ;)

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Re: Vocabulary

Post by Tertius Robertus » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:05 pm

I do not know if this helps of not, but there is a list for the most frequent words in Homer, homeric vocabularies, by William Owen and Edgar Goodspeed, which can be found at archive dot org ou google books.

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Re: Vocabulary

Post by a reader of Homer » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:57 am

I found Owen and Goodspeed essential. Beyond that, I use the Loeb edition with English on facing page, and use that to grab the obscure vocab. Doesn't always work so trusty Cunliffe is always close by.

One page of Owen and Goodspeed per day is a good way to reinforce what I've read in the text.

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