Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spirited/Reasoning: The 80% Rule

I wanted to make sure that I covered the verbs that would come up most often. Egnatius pointed me to this article from CPL Online to add to the list of the most important verbs in Greek. According to the article,
"Core vocabulary tends to cluster at two levels, 50% and 80%. The percentage refers to the proportion of a text made up by a certain amount of vocabulary. Half of most English texts, for example, consist of the same one hundred or so lemmas1 repeated as the situation demands. Words like “the” “to” and “is,” for example, generate a fair amount of text by themselves. In these statistics, linguists count lemmas, so different forms of a word (“is” and “was”; “camel” and “camels”) count as a single lemma, not separate vocabulary items. Despite some irregular words (“go” and “went”) and vocabulary items of considerable flexibility (“do”), these are words absolutely fundamental to any communication and comprehension of English. The Perseus Project ( provides an invaluable database, and its vocabulary tool ( has allowed scholars to generate similar analyses for Greek. Whereas an English 50% list consists of more than a hundred lemmas, which is normal enough for languages, a comparable Greek list contains about 65 (the exact number can vary depending on whether some items are grouped together as a single lemma or separated as distinct lemmas). The list itself, with further discussion, follows later in this article, but the key points now are that Greek has a much smaller list at this level and that these are unquestionably vocabulary items a student of Greek will need to be comfortable with" (Major 2).
It seems only reasonable to make the verbs of this frequency a priority. I will start working on this right away.

One think I've bee having a little bit of trouble with is the categorization of verbs. There is some conflicting depictions of verbs in terms of whether they fall under active or deponent.

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