learning principal parts

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hlawson38
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learning principal parts

Post by hlawson38 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:48 pm

While some know the principal parts so well that, given any form of any common verb, they could recite all six principal parts, I seek an intermediate knowledge that falls short of that, but is still useful.

Mastronarde has about 300 verbs in his principal-parts tables (393-404, second edition). So here's a goal I'm considering for the time being:
Given any principle part of a verb in the tables, identify the first principle part well enough for lexicon lookup.
What do you think?
Hugh Lawson

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Re: learning principal parts

Post by Hylander » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:08 pm

I think that’s a good goal. As you read Greek, you’ll pick up a passive knowledge of the verb forms you need to know, and you’ll begin to recognize the various ways the principal parts are formed. Learning all theprincipal parts of all 300 verbs by rote wouldn’t be a productive use of your time.

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: learning principal parts

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:08 pm

The goal of learning the principal parts is precisely that, to be able to identify the lexical form of the verb. If you can do that from any principal part, you've obtained that goal. I always found it best simply to memorize them completely. Besides, if you know all the principal parts for ἄγω, you can sing them to the tune of "Good King Wenceslas."
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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Re: learning principal parts

Post by Aetos » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:07 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:08 pm
Besides, if you know all the principal parts for ἄγω, you can sing them to the tune of "Good King Wenceslas."
You know, Barry, I just tried it - I don't think I'll ever forget them now! Thanks!

Hugh, in Claxton's Intermediate Classical Greek, there is a section in each exercise called a "dictionary drill", where you do pretty much what you're describing, except the other parts of speech are thrown in, but in the course of reading and looking up words, you've already engaged in that process, so carry on!

hlawson38
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Re: learning principal parts

Post by hlawson38 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 5:46 pm

Many thanks for the comments. Mastronarde's study web page is here;
http://atticgreek.org/

Here may be found all kinds of drill exercises, including several for verbs, which I've started using.
Hugh Lawson

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Re: learning principal parts

Post by cb » Thu Dec 05, 2019 2:02 am

Hi Hugh, there's a middle ground you could consider, between (1) memorising the first principal part only, and (2) memorising all of them: (3) memorise the first principal part only, plus learn the principal part patterns on pages 390–2 of Mastronarde 2nd edition—a one-off exercise and so it wouldn't drastically change the work required.

You can then build up over time your knowledge of the other principal parts, not by memorising them all, but simply memorising their deviations from the pattern (e.g. ἄγω is only irregular in the third principal part—2nd aor.—and otherwise follows the pattern).

Cheers, Chad

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Re: learning principal parts

Post by Hylander » Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:20 am

Chad’s suggestion is good. The material in Mastronarde's Appendix B is very useful and well worth studying. It will help you see the regularities behind the apparent irregularities of Greek verbs, and will make the task of memorizing principal parts much easier to the extent you decide to do so.

I would add that over time you’ll develop the ability to recognize important irregular principal parts as you read more. At this stage, don't let yourself be overwhelmed by the seemingly wild irregularities, and don't overdo the rote memorization.

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Re: learning principal parts

Post by jeidsath » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:52 am

The principal parts aren't really as regular as they look in Mastronarde. And some are far more important than others. If you form any practice around reading, the most important words will get the most practice, and the least important the least.

The habit of looking up from the page, and restating what you've just read in an alternate grammatical form or tense can be a great way of anchoring the different forms.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: learning principal parts

Post by hlawson38 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:07 pm

This has been very helpful, Chad, Joel, and Hylander. I had been putting off doing much about the principle parts due to dread of the immensity of the task. But the discussion has helped. As always with big jobs, it's a matter of "divide and conquer".
Hugh Lawson

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: learning principal parts

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:34 pm

hlawson38 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:07 pm
This has been very helpful, Chad, Joel, and Hylander. I had been putting off doing much about the principle parts due to dread of the immensity of the task. But the discussion has helped. As always with big jobs, it's a matter of "divide and conquer".
Take it in small chunks. It's the old joke, how do you eat a whole elephant? One bite at a time... Also, as you work with it, you'll start intuitively recognizing patterns even in formations that at first glance look irregular, and seeing them in context as you continue your reading will help even more.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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