Monday, September 08, 2014

Review(s): Greekpod101 update, ParseGreek, FlashGreek Pro, Anki


I have still been making good use of this and have pushed my way mostly through the roughly 2,000 vocabulary words.  My focus is mainly on vocabulary, but it seems they have been busy updating their lessons.  When I get some time, I should probably take a look.

One gripe with the vocabulary from my last review was the lack of gender, but I may have been mistaken in my earlier review because gender is included now, albeit in small print which is impractical for self-drill.  The vocabulary flashcards web site has generally been stable for many months, providing me a large cumulative number of practice hours.  At the moment there are a bunch of words that lost their sound track which causes me some annoyance when the sound recognition comes up.  Then there are a few words that have been changed in the course of my studies.  For example, the word for "priest" was changed from "παπάς" to "ieréas", which changes the meaning from a Catholic priest or padre to a more generic priest.  It might be nice to get a notification when a word has changed.  Then there was a brief time when the card images were being erroneously flashed before the word. I am still anxiously awaiting the expansion from 2,000 words to 20,000.  What is done well and what is missing should be more apparent from the next three reviews.

First, a note on pronunciation.   Modern Greek pronunciation is very different from Western Academic pronunciation use for classical Greek.  My original interest in Greek was to learn Biblical Greek and perhaps to be able to decipher Attic Greek along with other classical forms.  Any westernized pronunciation of a foreign language grates on my ears, so I am entirely sympathetic with the French who must put up with ignorant Americans who pronounce "garçon" as "gar-kon".  Thus, I would much rather attempt to pronounce words in a way that doesn't offend the locals.  The counter argument is that many of the vowels in modern Greek are indistinguishable by sound, whereas the academic form is more precise in maintaining distinct sounds for each vowel.  The counter-counter argument is that very few Greek students will ever sensibly master the meaning of Greek, but the Greek accent sounds cool while the Americanized Greek sounds dorkish, even if you do understand it better.  Of course neither position is to die for, since my Hebrew professors have already pointed out that the language of Heaven is Hebrew, therefore, Hebrew is the only language that needs to be mastered both in terms of understanding and pronunciation.


The challenge of learning Greek vocabulary is as much in the memorization of the words as it is in the mastery of the parsing.  ParseGreek is for Biblical (Koine) Greek, so it isn't relevant for modern Greek.  Yet it has proven a great help to me in drilling me over and over on the various transformations that occur to nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc., depending on whether they are used in the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, vocative, feminine, masculine, neuter, or whatever form.  My workbooks only have a handful of parsing exercises which have no hope of bringing me to any level of reliably recognizing forms, while the ParseGreek program patiently drills.  And drills.  And drills.  Until I fall asleep.  So far it only seems to have one item that I have objected to, where the parsing of (τις,τι) ("who, what" or "a certain one") was not matching my textbook (Mounce) on one of the two forms of this word.  The other was OK, but I couldn't figure out which one it was.  What this program doesn't have is the ability to go from English to Greek, which would be needed for any modern Greek drill program.  Something I would like to be able to get is a full display of the lexical forms for a particular word.  Now if only there were a ParseHebrew program ...

FlashGreek Pro

This is the vocabulary drill equivalent to ParseGreek.  I really wish I had a choice of getting a modern Greek pronunciation of the words.  The program allows you to go Greek to English or vice versa, but not in the mixed mode that features nicely with GreekPod101.  I would like to have an audio Greek recognition mode also.  What this does well with the nouns is that it has the lexical form of the word, the genitive singular, and the article front and center so that the memorization focuses on what you need to fully parse the nouns.  Adjectives likewise are listed in their masculine, feminine and neuter forms so that the proper endings will be picked up.  Given that the entire New Testament vocabulary is included, it has more words in it than GreekPod101, yet they are not organized with the spaced repetition that has made GreekPod101 so attractive to me.


What can I say?  Anki has it all.  Sumerian.  Ugaritic.  Middle Egyptian.  Taiwanese.  And a gazzilion other things.  And it is free.  And it is customizable.  And it supports spaced repetition.  But I still have some gripes.  The interval choices somehow seem much more sensible with the GreekPod101 setup.  The data sets are also wired to one mode of operation, such as language A to language B, but not vice versa.  I haven't yet figured out how to change the order, but it doesn't look like it can mingle things up easily, which is something I also like from GreekPod101.  Maybe a little more time would make me more comfortable with this system, but I would prefer just to re-program it to my liking.


Ursula said...

I bow to you. Here I am brushing up my dormant French, and how to order "Gambaretti' in Italian.

Per favor, Signor Looney, may we meet in Babylon.

Aristophanes greetings,


Looney said...

No doubt we will meet "in Babylon"!