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

Eric Inman eric.inman at wescorpflex.com
Sun Oct 28 07:59:21 EDT 2007

In the context of language learning in general, learning all of the words in
the GNT is not unreasonable. Some time ago I wrote a program to scan
Indonesian news articles and identify words that I did not have in my
flashcard program. (I filtered out proper nouns, acronyms, foreign words,
etc.) I would then learn the words and move on to the next article. I was
expecting the number of new words per article to taper off after I had a few
thousand words, but there didn't seem to be any slowing down at all even
after passing 5000! The experience made me feel that the size of a
reasonable vocabulary probably exceeded 10,000 words and that I'd be better
off relying more on reading and listening than on brute force memorization.

To say this another way, our minds seem to have a capacity for very large
vocabularies, and fluent speakers and writers use that capacity. It's
important, however, to find an effective approach to acquiring a vocabulary
of that size. In my limited experience, that would involve a lot of time
spent in the natural use of the language (reading, listening, writing,
speaking), supplemented to a lesser degree (after the basics are learned) by
formal study and memorization. 

Eric Inman

-----Original Message-----
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of James Bowick
Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2007 10:12 PM
To: JMonte2000 at aol.com
Cc: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] 2nd year NTG on my own / followup

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
> 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
> ************************************** See what's new at
> http://www.aol.com
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
> B-Greek mailing list
> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek
B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
B-Greek mailing list
B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org

More information about the B-Greek mailing list