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80 Percent Greek Vocabulary by Frequency

0.10MB. 0 audio & 0 images. Updated 2012-08-25.


About this Vocabulary List The goal behind compiling this list of words is to provide a set of words which are likely to be a core vocabulary for a wide range of ancient Greek texts. The "80%" Idea Although speakers of any language know a great many words, in practice they repeat some words a great many times and these words are crucial for any comfort level with a language. In English, for example, a hundred common words make up half of an average text (think about how many times the word "the" would appear). In many languages, 80% is a rough boundary between core standard words and more specialized vocabulary. In other words, 80% of the words in a typical passage of English would be repetition of a relatively small core vocabulary, while the remaining 20% contains most of the more specialized vocabulary. So, if you read a book about, say, boats, 80% of the book is likely to be made up of words everyone would know, but a portion of the remaining 20% would be more specific vocabulary referring to naval vessels. The 80% List in Greek: As students of ancient Greek know, some Greek words can appear in multiple forms. Did the Greeks have a memory vastly superior to speakers of other languages? No. They knew multiple forms of many words but Greek uses a smaller number of different words. Many languages have a core of about 2,000-3,000 words generate the 80% portion (in English it's about 2,300). Greek, however, reaches the 80% mark with half the number of vocabulary items. The goal, here, then is to capture those words which make up 80% of most Greek. Generating the List: The Perseus Project ( includes 3.8+ million words of text from many ancient sources. It also has a tool for generating vocabulary lists based on these texts. An 80% list based on these texts yields a list of 1,193 words (compiled September 2, 2004). The current list modifies the raw list in three ways: (1) proper names have been removed (2) some rarer words which appear simply because they resemble more common words have been deleted (3) a few words have been added, such as culturally important words or uncompounded forms of verbs whose compounds are very common. The resulting list contains approximately 1,100 words. Taken from

Sample (from 1099 notes)

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Front ἅμα
Back at the same time
Front πέρθω
Back destroy
Front διαβάλλω
Back throw across

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