Beginner greek principle parts.

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Beginner greek principle parts.

Post by ascanius » Fri May 10, 2019 3:53 pm

I'm using "Introduction to Attic Greek" by Mastronarde and Have come to unit 5. It goes over the principle parts but leaves it up to the instructor on how to approach memorizing them.
So what is the best way to go about memorizing them. I'm guessing that I should memorize principle parts as I encounter new vocabulary and treat them as part of the word itself. However, So far it is complete agony trying to memorize them especially because i'm not using them. There has to be some better way to go about memorizing them.

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Re: Beginner greek principle parts.

Post by Andriko » Fri May 10, 2019 6:33 pm

I would start by reading the appendix that he has included on principle parts, as it will give you some clues as to how to work out which verb a principle part belongs too (though principle parts can be highly irregular).

As for how many to memorise, the first 3 are the ones that come up most often in actual Greek (from what I have experienced), so it may be worth focusing just on them for the moment.

What has helped me a lot has been the exersises on - I am not sure what your day to day schedule is like, but I am lucky enough to have a job where there is enough downtime to go through the drills that have been put on there.

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Re: Beginner greek principle parts.

Post by truks » Sat May 11, 2019 9:47 am

I agree with Andriko that the best place to start is the appendix. Drill the main patterns there.

I started out trying to learn the principal parts by rote, but that was way too hard for me. Things got a lot easier when I drilled the patterns at the back of the book and made Cloze deletion cards in Anki for each principal part of every verb (i.e. cards where you just have to supply one part and can see/review all the others at the same time, which helps to reinforce everything).

I also recorded the principal parts and put them on my phone so that I could listen to and repeat them while walking the dog, doing the washing up, etc.

All these things together helped me a lot.

Good luck!

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Re: Beginner greek principle parts.

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Sun May 12, 2019 3:24 pm

Hi ascanius,
What is the purpose of your learning them?

Are you going to recognise them when reading, or do you need to do unseen composition exams, or do you need to reproduce them in an exam, or do you want to use them when speaking Ancient Greek at a Summer School, or do you want to recognise them when listening to recordings of Greek being read? All of those aims require different ways of knowing the principle parts.

You do not need to abstractly "learn" the principle parts, you are learning individual elements that fit into a skill set that you need to practice applying to the language.

For example, if you need to produce them for an exam, you will need to very accurately reproduce them and to closely associate the with their grammatical categories. Another example, if you need to use them in speaking, you will need to produce them very quickly and accurately in speech, but you don't need to care too much about accuracy in the written form.

Reading is different for different people. Some people start at the root then decode what has been added to it. Others first spot the syntactic relationship expressed by the endings then slot a lexical meaning into it. Some people read from left to right. Some from the verb out. Others back and forward with their eyes dancing about on the words. It is difficult to say exactly how you will use the principle parts in reading, without knowing your reading style the steps you (personally) go through when reading. Let's suggestnthat there are three types of readers; translation readers, grammar readers and comprehension readers. All three types of readers exist on this forum.

Most of us who have taken formal courses in Greek are trained at one point or another to be translation readers - seeing the Greek, then thinking in English to ourselves an English translation -unlocking the secrets of the ancient texts and leaving us able to think about their cintents in English too. Historians and philosophers who read Greek to get the content. For them, a knowledge of principle parts has to produce a meaning. Seeing a form, should remind them of both lexical and grammatical meaning.

Grammar readers think abstractly about the grammar as they read, along with doing other things to understand it. The members Callisper and Hylander (to mention just two, whose posts you can search to see that understanding expressed) seem very good at parsing and understanding the Greek in terms of the language's own grammar system. To use principle parts within that system, seeing a form of a verb should evoke a grammatical understanding of the verbs - both accidence and syntax.

Comprehension of a text in a language is a rich and highly personal process. You may need to reflect o the way you are using principle parts and develop personalised methods of using the knowledge to help you read. You can search through the posts of RandyGibbons and Marcos (among others) to see two quite different understandings of this approach, two quite different examples if this in action.

I'm sure that over those first 5 lessons, you have developed a rythm and an approach to reading the example sentences. You may approach the text in a particular order, and you may look at grammr or meaning first. Asking yourself, "What did I just do when I read Greek", is not such a difficult thing. Ideally, your instructor woukd try to identify your values, expectations, preferences and strategies in interacting with Greek, and to tailor an individual learning plan for you for "mastering" principle parts for your needs. As it is now, you can do the best you can yourself, and adapt your strategy as time goes by and needs change.

As a self-instructed learner you have much greater freedom to develop your own style. There is richness to be found in knowing the principal parts in all the possible ways that they can be known, but it is also a wearisome, demotivational and time-consuming experience. I suggest that expedite your learning by honing up on the most useful skill set for your own personal style of interacting with the Greek, accrding to the expectations that you put on yourself and that others put on you.

Rote learning to recite or to write them out in a half trance-like state is not very useful at all, because there is no skill associated with the learning. Break down the work-flow of the tasks that you will be using them for, them learn "them" as you apply yourself to mastering the skill. Of course later, you will become multi-skilled, and will need to learn and know the principle parts in many diverse ways - but like other great and experienced readers here, you can still have your own preferences.
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: Beginner greek principle parts.

Post by Diachronix » Sun May 12, 2019 6:06 pm

I have a Memrise course on Principal Parts of Ancient Greek Verbs: ... eek-verbs/

I created it using a number of appendices from various textbooks and reference material. I found that many tables omit certain forms that are not widely attested, but that doesn't mean the forms didn't exist. So I tried to make my lists as inclusive as possible.

I also have a Memrise course on Paradigms of Ancient Greek Verbs, which is a bit more popular than my Principal Parts course, for some reason: ... eek-verbs/

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