Re: reading for vocabulary

From: G. Ross (
Date: Tue Sep 22 1998 - 17:07:29 EDT

-----Original Message-----
From: Trevor Jenkins <>
To: Biblical Greek <>
Date: Tuesday, September 22, 1998 6:48 AM
Subject: Re: reading for vocabulary


Gordon Ross said:

>> the goal of students learning NT Greek is not listening comprehension.

Trevor replied:

>The major blockage to my own language learning has always been the sound of
>words whilst reading. Even when I reading I'm hearing. So if I don't know
>the language should be spoken then I'm sunk. I may be different from others
>I "hear" the text when I read something. The use of a non-Latin alphabet
>Greek only compounds my problem; at least with languages that are written
>Latin letter I can make a stab how the language is spoken---albeit with an
>English pronunciation.

Yes, I can appreciate your experience. When attempting to read Greek, I
still subvocalize or even, with longish words, have to sound them out
syllable by syllable. However, when reading French, in which I am fairly
fluent, I seldom subvocalize. And when reading English, my native language,
I never subvocalize. My experience has been that the more often I read a
language, that is, the more familiar I have become with the writing system,
the less I feel the need to subvocalize and the faster I am able to read
(although the speed with which I choose to read depends also on the type of
reading I am doing, along the range from intensive, e.g., the analysis of a
literary work. to extensive, e.g., reading though a newpaper or magazine in
one sitting).

If one wishes to develop the skill of fluent extensive reading, however, one
needs to learn not to vocalize or subvocalize. That is, one needs to learn
NOT to hear in one's mind how each word is pronounced. It took me a few
thousand hours of reading French to reach this goal. How many people spend
that amount of time learning to read biblical Greek? Few, I would say,
since I presume the goal for most people who want to read biblical Greek is
not to learn to read it extensively, e.g., the book of Romans in an hour,
say, but to learn to read it intensively -- with close attention to the
meaning of key words and phrases -- so as to be able to translate it as
accurately as possible into one's native language (or into some target
language) for the benefit of other people (parishoners, etc.) who do not
know how to read biblical Greek or, perhaps. if one wants to be a scholar,
to be able to discuss biblical Greek with other scholars.

Anyway, good luck, Trevor, with your renewed studies of this magnificent

Gordon Ross

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