Dickinson Classics China-related activities

The Dickinson Classical Studies department has been privileged to be involved with a number of interesting initiatives related to the now flourishing study of the Greco-Roman classics in China. People sometimes ask me what all is going on, so I thought I would summarize where we are at this point, and think about what is coming next.

Dickinson and Columbia University co-sponsored a conference at the Columbia Center in Beijing in May, 2019.  Full program. It was organized primarily by Gareth Williams at Columbia. Their classics program (and the university as a whole) has a long history of sponsoring Chinese scholars. Jinyu Liu (DePauw U., pictured bottom right in the first link above) is in many ways the linchpin. She’s the leader on the large grant-funded project to translate all of Ovid into Chinese. This project was the subject of the conference.

This summer I made contact with two dynamic Latin teachers at Beijing Foreign Studies University, Li Hui (Rosina) and Luciano Romano. They teach entirely in Latin, using Oerberg’s textbook and techniques honed in Italy, where Rosina and Luciano were trained. I also made contact with and visited the classroom of Dr. Hendrikus A.M. van Wijlick (Rik), who teaches in a more traditional (English) mode at Peking University.

Dickinson Classics Online presents resources for Chinese readers of Greek and Latin. This is hosted at Dickinson with a far-flung editorial board. The officers are myself, Marc Mastrangelo (Dickinson), and Jinyu Liu (DePauw). This developed starting in 2015. The idea was Marc’s and mine (after seeing Jinyu and Harvard’s Michael Puett give talks at the 2014 APA). Jinyu is again the key connecting figure acquiring content, whereas I take care of the web development.

Dr. Elizabeth Penland, Upper School Latin Teacher, Wyoming Seminary, Kingston, PA, has been organizing her students to translate DCC Caesar and Vergil commentaries into Chinese. The Caesar is already published (actually made when Liz was at Concord Academy), and the Vergil is in process. The SCS published a blog post by her about forging connections between the ancient Mediterranean and modern Chinese culture. One of her students, Lixiang (Andy) Lin, also helping this summer with the following related project.

Digitization of Goncalves’ Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum. I have a recent blog post about that. I have been leading this effort since 2016, but have had help from a number of students, some Chinese, some not. A preliminary test version is already up on DCO, and a mobile app is ready to launch as soon as we have the data cleaned. Hoping to be done by the end of this calendar year.

Digitization of the Cursus Litteraturae Sinicae (1879-1882) by Angelo Zottoli. This four-thousand page work, presented as a Latin introduction to the written Chinese language, is actually a synoptic guide to the Chinese tradition, encompassing a vast range of texts from the Shijing 詩經(Book of Songs) to Qing-era examination essays, poetry, and letters. See Nicholas Morrow Williams, “Angelo Zottoli’s Cursus Litteraturae Sinicae as Propaedeutic to Chinese Classical Tradition.” Journal of Oriental Studies 63.2 (2015), pp. 327–359. I am collaborating in the long-term endeavor of publishing this on DCO with Chinese scholars, especially Kang Kai and Wang Chen (both from Shanghai). Work is in early stages.

My main base in Shanghai is Shanghai Normal University, and the Guangqi International Center for Scholars, where Marc Mastrangelo and I are honorary fellows, and Jinyu has a regular appointment. This research institute is headed by Heng Chen, a dean at SHNU, and sponsors an active series of lectures and seminars in classical studies, organized by Jinyu.

Once I write it all out like that, I see there is a lot going on. The publishing projects alone could occupy me full time from here on out. I am finally learning Chinese myself, partly to be able to cope with Zottoli, which is a truly amazing work. Check out the Williams article cited above if you have the chance. For my own teaching, my goal is to take better account of comparative perspectives and read some Chinese and Latin classics in tandem. I’ve got an idea for a course on writing about war, with Homer, Sun Tzu, and Julius Caesar.

My contacts in China are at the university level, but I can see there is a lot of potential to promote Latin for high schoolers as well. I had a conversation at the Conventiculum Dickinsoniense with David Bonagura of Regis High School, who went on a mini-tour of a number of high schools in China promoting Latin, a tour initiated by one of his Chinese-born students and his family. There is real potential for establishing summer Latin programs in Beijing and/or Shanghai to further promote the subject. Conventiculum Pekinense, anybody?

Digitizing Gonçalves’ Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum

I’ve been working with others for several years now to digitize a large Latin-Chinese dictionary, but I realized that I have never blogged about the effort and publicly recognized the people involved. I just got back from China, where I discussed the project at a colloquium in Beijing, and work will intensify this summer, so now seems like a good a time as any to let people know about this exciting project.

Book title pages in Chinese and LatinThe goal is to create a large Latin-Chinese dictionary as standalone mobile application and as a database freely available on the website Dickinson Classics Online, which collects resources for Chinese readers of Greek and Latin texts. The source of the dictionary data is the Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum of Joaquim Affonso Gonçalves, first published in 1841. The author was a Portuguese Jesuit professor working with Chinese collaborators in Macau. No similar resource exists, and the increasing numbers of students of Latin in China have little access to the books and references resources familiar to students in the West. The overall goal of the DCO project of which this is a part is to globalize the study of classical texts and the pre-modern humanities.

sample of dictionary

A sample showing Gancalves’ distinctive lemmatizations

Work Already Done

  • The book itself is very rare. In 2016 Don Sailer and the staff at the Waidner-Spahr Library at Dickinson photographed a borrowed copy (thank you, Princeton libraries. They had one of the three existing copies of the last edition, and it was checked out at the time!). In 2016-17 Dickinson students Siyun Yan and Seth Levin  ran the scans through the text recognition program ABBYY, hand-corrected and created an Excel spreadsheet of the result.
headshot photos of two students

Dickinson Students Siyun Yan and Seth Levin carried out initial editing of the ABBYY output.

  • Seth Levin began coordinating Goncalves’ headwords with the large list of Latin dictionary headwords known as Morpheus, used in the Perseus Project. The purpose of this was to make it easier to share and coordinate the data with other large Latin dictionaries, like those available on Logeion. At the same time the headwords were coordinated with the lemma list of The Bridge, a dictionary application created by Bret Mulligan that can create custom vocabulary lists for classical texts. The Bridge list largely overlaps with the Morpheus list, but includes some better definitions and “display lemmas,” the full forms of the dictionary headwords.
screenshot of ABBYY

correcting ABBYY output

Corrected output from ABBYY: single column

Corrected output from ABBYY: single column


screenshot of spreadsheet

Combinng Goncalves’ definitions with Morpheus lemmata and shortdefs

screenshot of spreadsheet

lemmatization problems

  • In 2017 Qizhen Xie, a classics graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, continued the editing of the Chinese and the Latin headwords, and made considerable headway on this very large set of lemmas.

headshot photo of Qizhen Xie

  • English definitions and display lemmas for most items were added from the Morpheus and Bridge data sets. As part of the digitization I made the decision not to preserve Goncalves’ display lemmas, since they are idiosyncratic.
  • In spring 2019 Eli Goings (Dickinson ’18) and I worked on adding missing display lemmas and English definitions for words that are in Goncalves but not in the Morpheus list, or for which the Morpheus display lemmas are inadequate.
  • Most recently, developer Lara Frymark (Dickinson ’12) created the Android mobile application that will carry the data, and Ryan Burke, our Dickinson Drupal specialist (without whom DCC and DCO could not exist) created a content type for it on DCO.
website screenshot

DCO sample

Android mobile app screenshot

Android mobile app screenshot

Work Remaining

  • This summer we plan to finish creation of missing display lemmas. These number in the several thousands. They need to be created in a specific standard format, used in the Bridge, based on information in Gonçalves’ book itself, and added to the Excel spreadsheet. There will also be proof-reading to be done.
  • If time allows, edit and improve the Morpheus English definitions, which are often missing or faulty. 

Gonçalves digitization workflow chart

For those who are interested, here is some English bibliography about western classics in China, and details about Gonçalves’ work.

Western Classics in China

Bartsch, Shadi. “The Ancient Greeks in Modern China: Interpretation and Metamorphosis.” In The Reception of Greek and Roman Culture in East Asia: Texts & Artefacts, Institutions & Practices, ed. A-B. Renger.  Forthcoming from Brill. Pre-print available on Academia.edu.

Coleman, Kathleen. “Nondum Arabes Seresque Rogant: Classics Looks East.” Society for Classical Studies Blog, October 16, 2016. https://classicalstudies.org/scs-blog/kcoleman/blog-nondum-arabes-seresque-rogant-classics-looks-east

Li, Yongyi, “A New Incarnation for Latin in China.” Amphora, October 4, 2014. https://classicalstudies.org/amphora/new-incarnation-latin-china-yongyi-li

Liu, Jinyu. “Virgil in China in the Twentieth Century.” Sino-American Journal of Comparative Literature I (2015): 67–105. Available on Academia.edu.

Goncalves, Macau, and Missionary Scholarship

Gonçalves, Joaquim Affonso. Vocabularium latino-sinicum: pronuntiatione mandarina latinis literis expressa. Macao: A Lauriano Hippolyto typis mandatum, 1836. 246 pages; 17 cm. Repr. 1886. 246 p.; 17 cm. (OCLC: 419787323)

                             . Lexicon manuale latino sinicum continens omnia vocabula latina utilia et primitiva, etiam Scripturae Sacrae. Macai, in Collegio S. Joseph ab E. Rosa typis mandatum, 1839. ii-vii, 498 pages, 23 cm (OCLC: 7482643). Available on Hathi Trust and Google Books. Approximately 10,500 lemmas. 6th ed. Pekini: Typis Lazaristarum, 1937. viii, 446 pages ; 22 cm.

                             . Lexicon magnum latino-sinicum ostendens etymologiam, prosodiam, et constructionem vocabulorum. Macai, in Collegio sancti Joseph. ab E. Rosa typis mandatum, 1841. (OCLC: 39488723). iv, 779 pages 32 cm. Available on Google Books. 3rd edition, Pekini: Typis Congregationis Missionis, 1892 (OCLC: 663670553). Repr. 1936 (OCLC: 42878372).

Lach, Donald. Asia in the Making of Europe, vol. II: A Century of Wonder. Book 3: The Scholarly Disciplines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Tang, Kaijian. Setting off from Macau: Essays on Jesuit History during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Leiden: Brill, 2016. Ch. 2: “Macau and the Spread of Catholicism in Mainland China during the Late Ming and Early Qing Dynasties.”

Tiedemann, R.G. Handbook of Christianity in China. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

Summer 2016 Paid Research Internships in Classical Studies

Dickinson students are encouraged to apply for any of three 8-week paid research internships in Classical Studies in summer 2016 (the second of these positions is contingent on a pending funding decision by the Dickinson Research and Development Committee). The pay is $350 per week, plus housing on Dickinson’s campus. The work will be carried out under the supervision of Prof. Francese, and result in substantial credited contributions to the Dickinson College Commentaries and Dickinson Classics Online Projects.

Dates: May 30–July 22, 2016

Location: Carlisle, PA

Application deadline: March 11, 2016

Positions 1 and 2 Description: Digital Latin-Chinese Lexicon

Work on the digitization of the Latin-Chinese dictionary of Joaquim-Affonso Gonçalves (Lexicon magnum: latino-sinicum 1841, 779 pp.), which will eventually result in a mobile application, and a database that will form an essential part of the infrastructure of the project Dickinson Classics Online. Begun in 2015, DCO is intended to provide better access to the Greco-Roman classics to Chinese speakers. One student (position 1) will edit Gonçalves’ Chinese definitions to make sure they are properly transcribed and modernized; the other (position 2) will edit the Latin headwords to make them correspond to those of the base dictionary published by the Laboratoire d’Analyse Statistique des Langues Anciennes (LASLA). In many cases Goncalves’ headwords will have to be split or combined to conform to the LASLA headwords, and in every case the format of the Latin headwords will have to be expanded to meet modern lexicographical standards.

Positions 1 and 2 Requirements

Position 1 requirements:

  • strong written Chinese, familiarity with both classical and simplified characters
  • attention to detail
  • interest in languages
  • facility with Excel

Position 2 requirements:

  • upper-intermediate or advanced Latin
  • attention to detail
  • interest in languages
  • facility with Excel

Positions 1 and 2 Schedule

Week 1 (May 30-June 3): orientation to the project:

  • The basics of Latin lexicography, and the similarities and differences between existing dictionaries and their source material
  • Introduction to primary resources that will be used in this project: Joseph Denooz, Nouveau lexique fréquentiel de latin, Logeion, and Goncalves’ Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum.
  • Explanation of LASLA’s working methods and their style of lemmata
  • Examination of the LASLA list of homonyms, and explanation of their labeling conventions and French abbreviations
  • Practice creating dictionary forms in Excel in the existing DCC style, based on
    • LASLA lemma
    • Goncalves’ lemma
    • Lemmas available in Logeion, especially Woordenboek Latijn/Nederlands (2011)
  • Practice typing Latin characters with macra (long marks over vowels) using the Maiori keyboard in Windows, and explanation of where that is necessary, and where to find accurate information about vowel quantity
  • Analysis of the Chinese OCR to determine the extent of the revisions needed to modernize it
  • Practice editing Chinese definitions to conform with edited Latin lemmata, splitting and combining as needed.
  • Practice formatting Chinese definitions to include Latin idioms as in Goncalves

Weeks 3-8: work on creating the database, going alphabetically.

Position 3 Description: Multimedia Edition of the Aeneid

Work on a forthcoming DCC multimedia edition of the Aeneid, which will include

  • Notes, drawn mostly from older school editions, that elucidate the language and the context
  • Images, art, and illustrations, annotated to make clear how they relate to the text
  • Complete running vocabulary lists for the whole poem
  • Audio recordings of the Latin read aloud, and videos of the scansion
  • A full Vergilian lexicon based on that of Henry Frieze
  • Recordings of Renaissance music on texts from the Aeneid
  • Comprehensive linking to Allen & Greenough’s Latin Grammar
  • Comprehensive linking to Pleiades for all places mentioned in the text

Positions 3 requirements:

  • familiarity with the Aeneid in Latin
  • attention to detail
  • familiarity with Adobe Photoshop

Position 3 Schedule

  • Weeks 1–3: gathering, editing, and posting of images medieval manuscripts of the Aeneid
  • Weeks 4–5: transcription, upload, and linking of Aeneid scholarship excerpts
  • Weeks 6–8: creation of RDF file for linked data synching with Pelagios Project, for all places mentioned in the notes

TO APPLY: please send a letter of interest with a curriculum vitae to francese@dickinson.edu by March 11, 2016