Monday, 25 May 2009

So the first question I looked at (a little warm-up really) is: what is the frequency-ordered word-list of NT greek?

The motivation for this was partly so I could get a sense of how much I'd need to know for the different 'hint' levels at John Dyer's Readers Greek Bible. If you haven't seen the site, it allows you to get footnote hints for words that appear fewer than X times in the NT. I wanted to know roughly what my vocab size would need to be to read at each level.

The answers are:

FrequencyNumber of Words
100171
90194
80212
70238
60271
50310
45338
40377
35416
30463
25545
20636
15809
101126


This analysis ignores word forms (so all declensions of a noun count as the same word, for example). There are 5463 different words in the NT using this method of counting.

These numbers seemed very low to me. I think they make it seem simpler than it really is - with 200 greek words you would struggle to read even with help set at level 100, because you are likely to come across novel forms of words you know. And you'd have to know the words in their strict order of occurrence, which nobody does. I'm pretty sure my greek vocab has more than a thousand words in it, but I struggle to read comfortably below level 30.

But still it is interesting.

One of the questions this raises for me, is how much vocab you'd need to know to start reading the NT.

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