Trivia: Which chapters have the most obscure words?

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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Trivia: Which chapters have the most obscure words?

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 8th, 2015, 1:01 am

Emma Ehrhardt wrote:I personally doubt that finding a chapter with a higher percentage of rare phoneme combinations will be of much use in pronunciation training.
No that question is purely trivia, not relevant to the phonemic training per se, and probably if it is Matthew chapter 1, the regular Greek phonemic patterns wouldn't help in many cases in the names.
Emma Ehrhardt wrote:if you want to practice lots of sound combinations, is it necessary to use attested GNT forms? Especially for 1-2 syllable words, why not just create a list of possible phone combinations, regardless of whether they're attested? (e.g. "aba,ada,aga,apa,ata,aka...ebe,ede,ege", etc.) And if this is also intended for use by students who aren't yet very proficient in the language, they won't recognize words from non-words yet anyway.
There are enough real examples, so far as I can see, but having a way to find them and list them is what I was after. Not listing and just making them up is an easy way I suppose.
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Trivia: Which chapters have the most obscure words?

Post by Shirley Rollinson » February 8th, 2015, 10:58 pm

Emma Ehrhardt wrote:It sounds like you've done a considerable amount of work on this already. I think I get the gist of what you're aiming for, but I wonder, if you want to practice lots of sound combinations, is it necessary to use attested GNT forms? Especially for 1-2 syllable words, why not just create a list of possible phone combinations, regardless of whether they're attested? (e.g. "aba,ada,aga,apa,ata,aka...ebe,ede,ege", etc.) And if this is also intended for use by students who aren't yet very proficient in the language, they won't recognize words from non-words yet anyway.

I personally doubt that finding a chapter with a higher percentage of rare phoneme combinations will be of much use in pronunciation training. When we talk about lexical items, some are rare enough that it's worth seeking them out for special practice if we want to learn them. But the phoneme inventory of a language is quite small. Some combinations of phones may be less common, but they will still be covered in general usage. That said, you're probably right to emphasize that it is desirable to practice phone combinations in context, so maybe short sentences with a tongue-twister flavor could be useful, perhaps.

If I understood correctly that you're primarily looking for shorter words, why the drive to combine enclitics with the word they lean on? Just for more data?
I do use Matt. 1:1-17 (or parts of it) as pronunciation training with beginning students - almost as soon as they've met the alphabet and written it out while pronouncing it a couple of times.
It is very repetitive, but with some variations which help to keep the students interested. It helps to introduce them to what happens when words in one language (Hebrew) are heard and written by someone using another langauge (Greek). It introduces them to how one translates, or does not translate, δε, and shows the use of the definite article with personal names (which are potential pit-falls for beginners)
I tell them what ἐγεννησεν means, and then off we go, reading a generation at a time and stopping to talk about what's going on.
It also helps to build confidence that the GNT is accessible (and then we get a bit of fun with things such as ἐκ της του Oὐριου being like a brood mare registry)
By the end of that exercise all the students have had a turn at reading aloud alone, the ice has been broken, and there are fewer inhibitions about speaking up and reading aloud.
So several birds get killed with one stone :-)
Shirley Rollinson
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ed krentz
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Re: Trivia: Which chapters have the most obscure words?

Post by ed krentz » February 10th, 2015, 12:59 pm

I suggest that the term "obscure" for rare words in NT texts is unfortunate. In ancient Greek the words are NOT obscure.

Take Acts 27, for example. This is the only chapter in the NT that describes a sea voyage. But the terms are strange only to people who read only LXX and NT in Greek. Read ancient historians' accounts of sea battles, e.g. the battle of Arginousae in Thucydides or the Periplus pontos erythrae and you learn that words that occur rarely in the NT are not obscure at all. BDAG and LSJ would make that clear.

Oscar Wilde was doing the Tripos i classics as a brilliant student in Cambridge University. Hoping to take him down a peg examiners asked him to translate Acts 27 at sight. (He was not a frequent reader of the NT in Greek.) He translated brilliantly. Half way through they said hte had done well and suggest4d he stop. He answered that he would like to continue; he wanted to find out how it turned out. He had not read Acts 27 before, but he did not find the vocabulary obscure.

Hapax legomena, or words occurring rarely in the NT, are not obscure; just not familiar to people who read a very limited corpus of Greek texts.

Having said that, I suggest that students might find the list of the jewels for the twelve gates of Jerusalem in the Apocalypse difficult. But they are not obscure. The vocabulary of 2 Peter "stinks of the scholar's lamp", as someone has put it; many NT students find it difficult; but the terms are not obscure. The same is true of the vocabulary of Hebrews 11-12.

Students who find such passages full of "obscure" language simply need to read more extra biblical Greek texts.I read Philo's De Opificio Mundi with PhD candidates in the fall semester. They found it difficult, full of philosophic terminology and unknown terms. But the text was not obscure!

End of my rant. Ed Krentz
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Trivia: Which chapters have the most obscure words?

Post by Stephen Hughes » February 10th, 2015, 7:49 pm

ed krentz wrote:I suggest that the term "obscure" for rare words in NT texts is unfortunate. In ancient Greek the words are NOT obscure.
Looking at it from that point of view, I would agree with you. The language was phrased relative to a person who only read the New Testament.

By way of an apology, I could say that I, unfortunately, am a person who can sometimes manage to put put two feet in their mouth at the same time.
ed krentz wrote:Take Acts 27, for example. ... Oscar Wilde was doing the Tripos in classics as a brilliant student in Cambridge University. Hoping to take him down a peg examiners asked him to translate Acts 27 at sight. ... He translated brilliantly. Half way through they said hte had done well and suggested he stop. He answered that he would like to continue; he wanted to find out how it turned out. ...
A few days I ago, I was wondering how long that chapter would continue, and whether it would stop.
ed krentz wrote:Hapax legomena, or words occurring rarely in the NT, are not obscure; just not familiar to people who read a very limited corpus of Greek texts.
Sorry and thank you, you have re-orientated the thread's perspective on vocabulary and phrased it much better than I could.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Trivia: Which chapters have the most obscure words?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » February 11th, 2015, 4:28 pm

Having started in Classical before NT, I found that I often recognized low frequency NT vocab better than many of the high frequency words...
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