Accordance Blog
Feb 22, 2011 David Lang

Teaching "Grick" to my Children, Part 2

In my previous post, I explained how I've been teaching my children Greek (or "Grick" when I impersonate the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding). After protesting too much that I'm not really one of those overly ambitious homeschool dads, I described how we're currently learning Mounce's first noun paradigm chart. This chart covers the nominative and accusative singular and plural endings for second declension masculine and neuter nouns, and first declension feminine nouns. The example nouns it uses are λόγος, γραφή, ὥρα, and ἔργον. In order to show them how learning the case endings will enable them to parse and translate Greek words, I decided to find examples of those four words in the nominative and accusative cases. Here's how I did it:

To search for a group of words like this, the easiest thing to do is to select Enter Lexical Forms from the Search menu. A dialog box will appear listing every lexical form in the Greek New Testament. You can begin typing in the Go To box to advance to the corresponding section of the list. Type l-o-g to scroll the list to where you can see the word λόγος. Click the word λόγος to add it to the list of "Words to enter." Next type e-r-g in the Go To box to scroll to where you can click ἔργον. Repeat this process until you've added all four lexical forms to the list of words to enter, then click OK or hit Return to dismiss the dialog.

Your search argument should now look like this: (=λόγος, =ἔργον, =γραφή, =ὥρα). A series of words in parentheses like this will find every occurrence of any of those words, just as if I had inserted an OR command between each of those words. The advantage of the parenthesized list is that it is a single search argument that can be modified further. In this case, I didn't want to find any form of those nouns, but only the nominative and accusative forms.

To do that, select Noun from the Enter Tag submenu of the Search menu. In the dialog box that appears, you can select the tag details you want from any of the pop-up menus. To select more than one detail from a given category, hold down the shift key while selecting the additional criteria. In this case, you would select nominative from the Case pop-up, then shift-select accusative from that same pop-up. Click OK to dismiss the dialog box and insert the proper search syntax into the search entry box. Your search argument should now look like this:

A search for four Greek nouns in the nominative or accusative

Performing this search gave me plenty of examples which matched the forms my kids are learning. I then went through some of those examples, asking each child to parse a given word. For example, the first hit from this search is ἔργα in Matthew 5:16. So I asked one of them to tell me whether this word is masculine, feminine, or neuter. Then I asked whether it is singular or plural. Finally, I asked whether it was nominative or accusative. When that child guessed one or the other, I asked how they could tell that from the case ending. Since both the nominative and accusative use the same ending, they couldn't determine its case from the ending, so that gave me an opportunity to explain how one would determine the case from the surrounding context.

I found this exercise to be extremely helpful. We worked through numerous examples, and I was able to alert them to a number of potential points of confusion—all using words and forms they are memorizing in their paradigm chart.


Feb 21, 2011 David Lang

Teaching "Grick" to my Children

As a homeschool dad, I've prided myself on not being one of those fanatical homeschoolers who tries to overdo things: you know, the ones who want their babies to be reading Aristotle, their toddlers to be concert violinists, and their kindergartners to be experts at pre-algebra. I've largely succeeded, but I do have a confession to make: I am trying to teach my children Greek. Yes, it sounds like I'm one of those smart-alecky fathers who wants his kids to know the original languages of the Bible better than their pastor does, but honestly, my reasons for doing it are largely pragmatic. They need to learn a language, and the ones I know best are Greek and Hebrew.

At any rate, now that you're convinced I "doth protest too much" about being an overly ambitious homeschool dad, I want to talk a little about how I'm using Accordance to teach "Grick" to my children. By the way, that's my best impersonation of the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, whose accent I mimic in order to inject a little humor.

The text I've been using is Bill Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek, the second edition of which has long been available in Accordance. (We're working on the third edition, which should be available fairly soon.) I'll read from the text on my screen with my youngest daughter seated beside me. The three older kids sit across from us and share a printed copy. Jo Jo, age 2, is exempted for the time being! We're basically just working our way through the text slowly, and I'm really trying to make sure they understand the concepts behind what they're learning. I figure at the very least, this will help reinforce their English grammar even if they don't go on to become Greek scholars.

At this point, we've just gone over the first set of case endings which Mounce introduces. I had them write out Mounce's paradigm chart and begin memorizing the endings, but I wanted to make sure they understand how to use those endings to parse and translate individual words. Mounce's initial chart covers the nominative and accusative singular and plural endings for second declension masculine and neuter nouns, and first declension feminine nouns (a total of 12 endings). The example nouns he uses are λόγος, γραφή, ὥρα, and ἔργον. So I decided to do a search of the Greek New Testament for any of those words in the nominative or accusative, and then we all looked at various examples together. In an upcoming post, I'll tell you how I constructed the search and how I conducted the exercise. It ended up working pretty well. (Would I be blogging about it if it had bombed?) :-)