[B-Greek] 2nd year NTG on my own / followup

James Tauber jtauber at jtauber.com
Sat Nov 3 16:04:43 EDT 2007


The sort of numbers you have below can be misleading because they  
don't tell you want proportion of verses you could read, only what  
proportion of words.

Reading theorists (e.g. I. S. P. Nation) have suggested that you need  
to know 95% of the vocabulary of a sentence to comprehend it. So a  
more interesting list of statistics would be how many verses can one  
understand 95% of the vocab of if one know a certain number of words.  
Of course, there's a lot more to reading comprehension than knowing  
the vocab. But it was enough for me to decide to write some code this  
afternoon to run against my MorphGNT database.

To first of all give you a flavour in the specific before moving to  
the final numbers, consider John 3.16, which is, from a vocabulary  
point of view, a very easy verse to read.

To be able to read 50% of it, you only need to know the top 28 lexemes  
in the GNT. To read 75% you only need the top 85 (up to KO/SMOS). With  
the top 204 lexemes, you can read 90% of the verse and only a few  
more: up to 236 (AI)W/NIOS) gives you the 95%. The only word you would  
not have come across learning the top 236 words would be MONOGENH/S  
but even that is in the top 1,200.

This example does highlight some of the shortcomings of this sort of  
analysis, but I still think it's much more useful than the sort of  
statistics listed below.

So let's actually run the numbers on the complete GNT. If you know the  
top N words, how many verses could you understand 50% of, 75%, 90% or  
95% of...

(hopefully this table will come out)

		any		50%	75%	90%	95%	100%

100 	99.9% 	91.3% 	24.4% 	2.1% 	0.6% 	0.4%
200 	99.9% 	96.9% 	51.8% 	9.8% 	3.4% 	2.5%
500 	99.9% 	99.1% 	82.3% 	36.5% 	18.0% 	13.9%
1,000 	100.0% 	99.7% 	93.6% 	62.3% 	37.3% 	30.1%
1,500 	100.0% 	99.8% 	97.2% 	76.3% 	53.5% 	44.8%
2,000 	100.0% 	99.9% 	98.4% 	85.1% 	65.5% 	56.5%
3,000 	100.0% 	100.0% 	99.4% 	93.6% 	81.0% 	74.1%
4,000 	100.0% 	100.0% 	99.7% 	97.4% 	90.0% 	85.5%
5,000 	100.0% 	100.0% 	100.0% 	99.4% 	96.5% 	94.5%
all 		100.0% 	100.0% 	100.0% 	100.0% 	100.0% 	100.0%

What this means is *purely from a vocabulary point of view* if you  
knew the top 1000 lexemes, then 37.3% of verses in the GNT would be  
95% familiar to you.

I should emphasis that learning vocabulary in frequency order isn't  
necessarily the fastest way to get this proportion of readable verses  
up. I blogged about this fact three years ago, see http://tinyurl.com/2cmnmo 
  for example.

James Tauber



On Oct 27, 2007, at 11:11 PM, James Bowick wrote:

> Speaking not as a scholar but as a fellow student, it seems to me  
> that the
> amount of vocab you want to learn can be determined by how many  
> words you
> are prepared to look up as you read on avera.  But there is a  
> diminishing
> return in terms of reading speed.  I used Ken Penner's Flash!Pro  
> data to run
> some numbers and find the point of diminishing returns.  (Ken's  
> program is
> designed for memory, not for statistical study, so he knows better  
> than I
> how suitable his data is for that, but it at very least should give a
> pragmatic guide.)  So here, very roughly rounded off, are the results:
>
> Words Learned     Word Frequency     % of total words in text
> 500                               27 times or more              85%
> 1000                             11 times or more              91%
> 1500                             6 times or more                94%
>
> In other words, the first 500 words covers words that occur 27 times  
> or
> more.  When you have learned them you will still be looking up 3  
> words in
> 20, or 1 1/2 in 10.   The next 500 words brings you to looking up  
> less than
> 1 word in 10.  But the next 500 gains you only a minor increase in
> frequency.  To get to the point of looking up 1 word in 20 you need  
> to learn
> well over 1500 words.  I would suggest, based on this, that the  
> returns of
> vocabulary memory drop off at around 1 in 10 to the point where you  
> are
> better to learn by reading than flash cards or such.
>
> James Bowick
> McMaster Divinity College
> Hamilton, Ont.
>
>
>
> On 10/27/07, JMonte2000 at aol.com <JMonte2000 at aol.com> wrote:
>>
>> a message dated 10/27/2007 8:49:37 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
>> gfsomsel at yahoo.com writes:
>> You failed to mention it, so I must ask whether you have BDAG.  If   
>> not,
>> you
>> should get it.
>>
>> george
>> gfsomsel
>>
>>
>> Hi George, yes I do have the 2nd edition of BDAG. I have many other  
>> Greek
>> helps, I just didn't mention those.
>> I have also Vincent's word study's, The Exhaustive Con. of the GNT  
>> &  the
>> NID
>> of NTT by Colin Brown & other things like this. Also many of the   
>> NIGTC
>> commentaries.
>>
>> While I'm back answering you. What is a realistic goal for word  
>> frequency
>> memorization? Some mention 20 + Others mention 10 + which is about a
>> thousand
>> words. I was amazed the other day I was looking through Trenchard's  
>> Vocab
>> guide.  I saw as the words get lower they go up in count. a word  
>> that is 3
>> x in the
>> NT,  I think was 470, 2 x goes up to 600 & something but 1 x (hapax
>> legomena
>> words) are over 2100!
>> Does many every get to know all the words in the NT?
>> What goal is realistic for an average NTG reader, expositor?
>>
>> Jim  Montesano
>> NJ
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
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