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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)

Cards are customizable! When this deck is imported into the desktop program, cards will appear as the deck author has made them. If you'd like to customize what appears on the front and back of a card, you can do so by clicking the Edit button, and then clicking the Cards button.
Front ἅμα
Back at the same time
Front πέρθω
Back destroy
Front διαβάλλω
Back throw across


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Potentially wonderful, but crippled
Posted on 2014-07-22

It seems mean-spirited to be anything but grateful for the work that's gone into turning this famous list into an Anki deck. But unfortunately it only underscores the showstopper problem with Major's original list: that it's ordered alphabetically rather than by frequency, so that you can't actually learn words in frequency order – which is the whole point of having a frequency list! This is just an alphabetical list of the 1099 words you need to know – but learning them alphabetically makes no sense; better to use the Dickinson College Commentaries list, even though that only runs to 512 words, because it can be ordered by individual word frequency.

mangled on android
Posted on 2014-04-22

works fine on desktop, but articles and initial alpha do no appear when using this on the android app

The only vocabulary deck that is truly useful
Posted on 2012-12-19

Learning language by vocable cards is pretty much a waste of time, EXCEPT in this case. This list, taken from Major's excellent paper on vocabulary, is gold. By reviewing this deck, you will become familiar (not, you will "know") the set of vocabulary that makes up 80% of any average Ancient Greek text. THEN, when you do actual reading and you come upon a word that you don't know, you'll be able to say "Ahhh, this is a word from the 80% Core list. I should really learn this." Other words that you don't know, you'll just look up and then look up again the next time you meet up with them (months from now). But these 80 percenters you will spend time with because you will meet them again and again. I was dearly hoping that someone had put up Major's 80% as a deck. What we need now is a smaller deck that more focused on Koine and NT Greek. That deck should only be 5-600 words long, the ideal list for a first year Biblical Greek course. I'm working on such a list, if anyone wants to help with it, contact me