Gonçalves’ Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum

I am delighted to say that, at long last, our digital version of the Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum by Joaquim Affonso Gonçalves is available online. This was a very challenging digitization project for me as a non-Chinese speaker, because of the sheer amount of data wrangling and massaging that was necessary, and because of the large number of people involved. It was made possible by the efforts of many volunteers, and in particular by the extraordinary work of developer Lara Frymark (Dickinson ’12), whose salary was paid by the Roberts Fund for Classical Studies at Dickinson College.

Search interface for the for the dictionary.

Developer Lara Frymark created the interface with Heroku.

The source is Joaquim Affonso Gonçalves, Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum, 3rd edition (Peking: Typis Congregationis Missionis, 1936 [1st ed. Macau, 1841]). Also at Archive.org. The book was scanned at the Dickinson College Library from a copy kindly provided by the Firestone Library at Princeton University. The long process of digitization involved many twists and turn. A sketch of the process is here.
I trust this will be a useful resource for all Chinese speakers learning Latin. Still, the source work itself is quirky, old-fashioned, and imperfect. Our developer Lara Frymark, without whom nothing, has included a “suggest a translation” button for error reports and suggestions of any kind. Hopefully in the long run that will allow the community of Chinese-speaking Latinists to improve this resource. We also made the source data freely available, and others are more than welcome to build on and leverage what we have done.
This project has brought me into contact with many amazing Chinese-speaking Latinists at all levels from high school to R1 all over the world. God bless Digital Humanities for making possible this kind of joyful collaboration. My hope is that, in a time of increasing US-China tension, scholarly collaborations like this will continue and have positive effects, however small and localized. Thank you all, and onward!

A Greek Reader by Charles Anthon

This week a new project for DCC begins, the digitization and editing of A Greek Reader by Charles Anthon (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1840, with editions up through 1854). This work is itself a selection and reworking of Frederic Jacob’s 4-volume behemoth, Elementarbuch der griechischen Sprache für Anfänger und Geübtere, published in many editions in the early nineteenth century. If you believe the long, hostile, and anonymous review in the Boston-based North American Review of 1840, Anthon largely plagiarized his selection and translation of Jacobs from the 1832 Boston edition by Hilliard and Gray. But this is unfair. Anthon’s notes are new and extensive, and very useful to beginners. The review eventually admits this, but then roasts Anthon for giving too much help in the notes, a flaw that will, it asserts, utterly destroy standards of scholarship in the United States. Student friendly, this Anthon, my kind of guy. Stephen Newmeyer’s appreciation in Classical Outlook 59.2 (1981-82), pp. 41-44, gives a good summary of his remarkable career at Columbia College.

nine people in separate boxes on a Zoom call

Team Anthon as of May 23, 2023: Scott Smith, Chris Francese, Nick Morris, Haydon Alexander, Ryan Saputo, Jillienne Robinson-Warren, Mandy Porter, Barry Brinker, Meagan Ayer. Not pictured: Keziah Armstrong.

The book contains two “courses.” The shorter first course contains brief sentences exemplifying specific morphological features, such as declensions or conjugations. The longer second course consists of short to medium-length passages thematically arranged: Aesopic fables, anecdotes of philosophers, anecdotes of kings and statesmen, and anecdotes of Spartans. There is a section “natural history” (i.e. interesting critters), a section of mythology, mythological narrations, mythological dialogues (from Lucian), and a long section on geography. Then there is a series of extracts from Plutarch (“History and Biography”) mostly about Athenian statesman. There follow several poetic extracts from Homer and Anacreon, among others.

page of Greek text

The “First Course” gives short sentences which drill a particular declension or conjugation.

Our merry band of students, professors and other volunteers intends to digitize most of the work this summer using Bruce Robertson’s web-based application Lace: Visualizing, Editing and Searching Polylingual OCR Results. Once we have a digitized text we can begin editing and presenting the text with running vocabulary in DCC style. The current plan is to cut down somewhat on the geography section, which gets a bit dull, omit the Homer selections, since we already have a growing edition of Homer’s Odyssey on DCC, as well as Books 6 and 22 of the Iliad.

We plan to modernize the work by taking out some of the gendered language in the notes, and we will probably include extra passages that compensate for the reader’s masculine and Atheno-centric biases, which go back to Jacobs. This is an old work, and a resurrected Anthon will certainly not suit the needs of every teacher or student. The goal is to put a large amount of relatively easy Greek in the hands of readers with full running vocabulary lists and links to our version of Goodell’s School Grammar of Attic Greek. We are collaborating also with the Greek Learner Texts Project led by James Tauber and connected with Perseus. This will hopefully go part way to rectifying the imbalance between the sorts of lower intermediate resources available for Latin and the much smaller amount of such material available for Greek.

There are many such Greek readers from the 19th century, Greek Learner Texts Project is working on some of these. Our group consists of students from Dickinson, the University of New Hampshire, teachers, and some volunteers from the DCC community, all ably led by Professor R. Scott Smith from the University of New Hampshire. We’re very excited about this project. It’s a little different than what we have been publishing so far on DCC, but I trust that it will find a niche on our site. In the long term we could augment with other material from other Greek readers into a kind of super mega Greek reader. But for now we’re going to focus on Anthon, since his notes are so helpful for beginners. It will probably take a least a year to complete, more likely two, so if you would like to get involved in some way, please do let us know!

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.

Latin, Chinese, and Baked Goods

A nice article was recently published by Concord Academy’s website about their successful collaborative project  to translate the DCC Caesar into Mandarin. The project was led by CA’s Latin teacher Liz Penland, with help from their Mandarin teacher and many students. The article quotes Liz saying some very nice things about DCC:

Penland believes a classical education should not just be the mark of the elite. “Anyone should be able to study Latin,” she says. With its peer-reviewed, crowd-sourced approach, DCC is leading a charge to make the classics accessible to anyone with an internet connection. And despite an international trend of declining study of the classical humanities, thousands of students in China are learning Latin and ancient Greek.

Many high schools, colleges, and universities rely on DCC commentaries, as does Penland. By aggregating generations of contextual notes, they reveal “a chain of interpretation, of teaching, and of use,” she says. “They help the text feel more like a cultural object that many people have read.”

A little further down we see how many people were involved, students, administrators, and teachers:

Once Penland had recruited students, Adam Bailey, head of modern and classical languages, and John Drew, assistant head of school and academic dean, offered their support. It seemed the perfect project to encourage research and independent thinking. Mandarin teacher Wenjun Kuai agreed to consult with students. “Wenjun is such a generous colleague and a wonderful teacher,” Penland says. “She did so much work on the Mandarin. The students had responsibility and a voice in how the project ran. Their group work was self-directed. It was a highly collaborative process, a model of linguistic research.”

And then there is the crucial role of baked goods:

 A friendly but intense competition emerged, thanks to weekly “brownie challenges” that earned baked goods from Penland. Lin, who completed numerous translations, says, “I’m not going to lie. It really motivated me.”

Liz put the fundamental purposes of DCC better than I could: access, community, intellectual inquiry. I am so proud of the folks at CA who used DCC in such creative ways, as a learning resource, but also as a way to share knowledge with others and have fun themselves. It shows the potential power of getting students involved in scholarly digital projects at every appropriate level. Here’s hoping DCC can be part of more wonderful projects like this in the future!

The Concord Academy Latin-Mandarin Project team. Photo (by Rebecca Lindegren, use only with permission): Top row from left: Ben Zide, Tenzin Rosson, Ken Lin (林鸿燊), Michael Qiu (邱阳), Anna Dibble, Lysie Jones, Elizabeth Penland. Bottom row from left: Nora Zhou (周安琪), Helen Wu (吴颖怡), Rebecca Yang (杨若祺)

The Concord Academy Latin-Mandarin Project team. Photo (by Rebecca Lindegren, use only with permission): Top row from left: Ben Zide, Tenzin Rosson, Ken Lin (林鸿燊), Michael Qiu (邱阳), Anna Dibble, Lysie Jones, Elizabeth Penland. Bottom row from left: Nora Zhou (周安琪), Helen Wu (吴颖怡), Rebecca Yang (杨若祺)

Guangqi Lecture and Seminar Series

Our friend and collaborator Jinyu Liu passes on the following exciting announcement:

Dear Classics friends: On behalf of the newly founded Shanghai Normal University Guangqi International Center for Scholars, we are greatly pleased to announce the launch of the Guangqi Classics Lecture and Seminar Series. Aiming at promoting Classical Studies in China and fostering trans-lingual and trans-cultural conversations about Classics, the Guangqi Lecture and Seminar Series invites Classics scholars from around the world to share their cutting-edge research, provide master classes, and organize international conferences and workshops on diverse aspects of the ancient world. We also warmly welcome resource sharing and collaborative endeavors in various forms.

We are very grateful to Christopher A. Francese and Marc Mastrangelo of Dickinson College, who have been instrumental in putting together the program for Season I, and Lisa Mignone and Richard Billows for enriching the academic events. We also wish to acknowledge the generous support from Dickinson Classics, Shanghai 1000 Plan and Shanghai Normal University. Season II is being planned, which will feature Walter Scheidel.

Please help spread the word, and join us in this long-term endeavor in globalizing Classics.

For DCC Shanghai Seminar, please see http://blogs.dickinson.edu/…/dickinson-college-commentarie…/

Thank you,

Heng Chen (Shanghai Normal University) and Jinyu Liu (Classical Studies at DePauw University)

Note: The Guangqi Lecture and Seminar Series is named after XU Guangqi (1562-1633), one of the first literati Christians in China and the great collaborator of Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), a Jesuit missionary whose role in bringing Western Learning to China can hardly be overstated.

DCC Shanghai Seminar June 12-14

A stellar line up of Chinese scholars of the western classical tradition will meet in Shanghai next month to create Latin-Chinese and Greek-Chinese versions of the DCC Core vocabularies, and to form a plan for future collaboration and resource creation. Can’t wait! Thanks to Jinyu Liu of DePauw University for coordinating the event, and Shanghai Normal University for hosting!

2015上师大DCC注疏项目Seminar poster

A New Latin Macronizer

Felipe Vogel has released a new Latin macronizer, Maccer, and I thought I would take it for a spin and share the results. It works based on a database of previously macronized Latin texts (some provided by DCC), and is still in development.

For my test I figured I would use an unusual text I have been working on lately, Historiarum Indicarum Libri XVI, about the Portuguese exploration of the Far East in the 16th century. It was published by the Jesuit humanist Pietro Maffei in 1588, and the Latin is excellent and full of interest. Book 6 is a fascinating ethnography of China, informed by reports from Jesuit missionaries who visited and lived in China over a number of years. The last print edition was 1751: Joannis Petri Maffeii Bergomatis E Societate Jesu Historiarum Indicarum Libri XVI (Vienna: Bernardi, 1751), and thanks to a tip from Terence Tunberg (who introduced me to this text) I tracked it down on the site of the Dresden Library. Since there is no fully digitized text, my students and I transcribed Book 6 this past fall. Here is an excerpt, with no macrons.

E Sinarum provinciis maxime occidua est Cantonia. Eo priusquam pervenias, multae occurrunt insulae; quas praefecti regii praesidiis et classibus tenent: neque ipsorum iniussu progredi advenas Cantonem est fas. Fernandus Andradius, ut exponere coeperam, cum ad Tamum insulam pervenisset, post diuturnam moram, transitu aegre tandem impetrato, cum duobus expeditis et egregie ornatis navigiis, cetera classe ad Tamum relicta, Cantonis portum invehitur, ac magistratuum permissu Thomam legatum exponit, cui aedes et lautia de more attributa. Ibi Fernandus, mira lenitate ac iustitia contrahendo cum incolis, haud ita difficili negotio aditum ad ea commercia nostris aperuit.

With Vogel’s macronizer this becomes

Ē ✖Sinarum prōvinciīs maximē ✖occidua ✪est ✖Cantonia. Eō priusquam perveniās, multae occurrunt īnsulae; quās ✖praefecti ✖regii praesidiīs et classibus tenent: neque ipsōrum ❡iniussū prōgredī ✖advenas ✖Cantonem ✪est fās. ✖Fernandus ✖Andradius, ut expōnere ✖coeperam, cum ad ✖Tamum īnsulam pervēnisset, post diūturnam moram, trānsitū aegrē tandem ✖impetrato, cum duōbus expedītīs et ēgregiē ✖ornatis nāvigiīs, cētera classe ad ✖Tamum ✪relictā, ✖Cantonis portum invehitur, ac magistrātuum ❡permissū ✖Thomam lēgātum expōnit, cui aedēs et ✖lautia dē mōre ❡attribūta. Ibi ✖Fernandus, ✒mīrã ✖lenitate ac iūstitia ✖contrahendo cum incolīs, haud ita ✖difficili negōtiō aditum ad ✒eã commercia nostrīs aperuit.

The symbols mean this:

unknown word, i.e. not yet in Vogel’s database.
ambiguous: uncertain vowels marked with a tilde (~).
guessed based on frequency.
prefix or enclitic detected attached to a known word.
invalid characters detected.

I made sixteen corrections in 92 words.

21 words were flagged as unknown, 10 of those were proper names (Sinārum, occidua, Cantonia, praefectī, regiī, advenās, Cantonem, Fernandus, Andradius, coeperam, Tamum, impetrātā, ornātīs, Tamum, Cantonis, Thomam, lautia, Fernandus, lēnitāte, contrahendō, difficilī). I made 9 corrections in that group, leaving alone most of the proper names for now.

3 words were guessed based on frequency, all correctly (est, est, relictā).

3 words were marked as “prefix detected,” all correctly macronized (iniussū, permissū, attribūta)

2 were marked as having invalid characters (mīrā, ea), had tildes over the vowel, and had to be corrected by hand.

Only two words were incorrect but not flagged as in any way problematic (cēterā, iūstitiā). In both cases it was an ambiguous first-declension -a. The other vowels in those words were correct.

The hand-corrected result is as follows:

Ē Sinārum prōvinciīs maximē occidua est Cantonia. Eō priusquam perveniās, multae occurrunt īnsulae; quās praefectī regiī praesidiīs et classibus tenent: neque ipsōrum iniussū prōgredī advenās Cantonem est fās. Fernandus Andradius, ut expōnere coeperam, cum ad Tamum īnsulam pervēnisset, post diūturnam moram, trānsitū aegrē tandem impetrātā, cum duōbus expedītīs et ēgregiē ornātīs nāvigiīs, cēterā classe ad Tamum relictā, Cantonis portum invehitur, ac magistrātuum permissū Thomam lēgātum expōnit, cui aedēs et lautia dē mōre attribūta. Ibi Fernandus, mīrā lēnitāte ac iūstitiā contrahendō cum incolīs, haud ita difficilī negōtiō aditum ad ea commercia nostrīs aperuit.

I would call this very good results, and it should be possible to do even better given a larger database. In theory we could do even better than that by marrying a parser and a dictionary like LaNe that has quantities accurately marked. If all goes well I hope to embark on such a project this fall with the help of a Dickinson Computer Science senior student. The other thing I would like to see is an editing environment that would make inserting macrons as easy as clicking on the vowel. This would really help in the inevitable process of hand correction.

Thank you Felipe, for this amazing tool!

Exporting and Sharing Digital Scholarly Editions

Desmond Schmidt’s recent article in the Journal of TEI about how to create a truly portable and interoperable digital scholarly editions came at an opportune time for me. DCC is entering into a relationship with Open Book Publishers in Cambridge to exchange our (Creative Commons licensed) content. They will publish some of our commentaries as books and eBooks, and we will publish some of their book commentaries as multimedia, web-based editions. But how to actually make the transference?

We are starting by delivering Bret Mulligan’s commentary on Nepos’ Life of Hannibal. OBP needs it in a format they can use and set in InDesign and publish in EPUB. But how should the transfer happen? How can we actually share the open licensed scholarly content of DCC so it can actually be re-purposed and pe-published in different formats? Not easily, it turns out. Our commentaries are just html pages in Drupal, not XML based and TEI tagged documents, and thus, in the view of one early critic of the project, “not truly digital.” XML-TEI is intended as a universal standard for editing and tagging documents of all kinds, and not adopting that for our project was at the time a decision based on cost. Anyway, after various investigations on the OBP side it turned out the best way for us to get our commentaries is to OBP deliver the via . . . wait for it . . . Microsoft Word–with all the labor and possibilities for error that that involves.

Wouldn’t things be better if our texts were marked up in XML-TEI? No, according to Schmidt. He argues, in effect, that TEI is actually hindering the sharing of digital scholarly editions. The problem is the subjectivity of TEI tagging and the diversity of the tags themselves, which in Schmidt’s view makes true interoperability of scholarly editions in TEI a pipe dream. The solution he proposes, as I understand it, is to get all the tags and metadata out completely and into separate files, preserving the text as plain text (in multiple versions if we are dealing with revisions or variants). He is evidently developing an editing environment which ends up creating zipped files that completely separate the text itself, annotation data that points back to the text, and metadata. A few choice quotes:

Syd Bauman (2011), one of the original editors of TEI P5, has since observed that interoperability of TEI-encoded texts today—that is, the exchange of unmodified TEI files between different programs—is “impossible.” (9)

One obvious remedy to this problem is to remove the main source of non-interoperability, namely the embedded markup itself, from the text. By removing it, the part which contains all the significant interpretation can later be added or substituted at will. (21)

What remains when the markup is removed is a residue of plain text that is highly interoperable, which can be exchanged with other researchers, just as the files on Gutenberg.org are downloaded by the tens of thousands every day (Leibert 2008). However, if one suggests this to someone who regularly uses TEI-XML, the immediate objection is made that this will solve nothing, because even plain ASCII texts are still an interpretation of what the transcriber sees on the page (e.g. Sperberg-McQueen 1991, 35). This point, although valid to a degree, misses an important distinction. (22)

And it goes on in this interesting vein. I would love to hear from people who are wiser and more experienced than I am about Schmidt’s critique of embedded TEI annotation and his proposed solution. In the meantime, I need to go format some stuff in Microsoft Word.

Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop 2014 Comments


002Participants in the 2014 Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop (left to right): Christine Kahl, Will Darden, Peter Rook, Catherine Zackey, Faye Peel, Wells Hansen, Ashley Leonard, Scott Paterson, Paul Perrot, Kaori Miller, Jennifer Larson, Hugh McElroy, Janet Brooks, John Landis, Will Harvard, Daniel Cummings, Andrea Millius, Jacqueline Lopata, Bernie Gygax, and Laurie Duncan.

003We met for the week of July 13, 2014, and read selections from Lucretius, led by Wells Hansen and Chris Francese. Two new elements were a daily happy hour, with drinks and light refreshments in front of East College from 4:00-5:00; and the optional session to work on the Dickinson College Commentaries project in the afternoons from 2:00-4:00, helping harvest notes for the projected multimedia edition of the Aeneid. Here are some of the comments from participants:

Thank you! For the wonderful workshop this year. Of course–I enjoyed the reading this year–very interesting selection. I enjoyed reading and socializing with my colleagues. I think the commentary and the daily happy hour provided a great venue to get to know people better.

I very much enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with other Latin teachers. Good times.

I enjoyed the camaraderie . . . the laughter . . . the intellectual stimulus.

I enjoyed the pace and friendly collegiality

I had a lovely time–favorite workshop yet.

The readings were fantastic! I enjoyed preparing the text every day and the discussions in class. Having the afternoons free was great, too–it allowed me to prep and recharge so I didn’t get too tired out.

I enjoyed spending time with a diverse group of teachers and Latin aficionados. Getting a chance to read one text in depth with knowledgeable instructors and colleagues. Just generally hanging out with Latin people and making jokes about the Dative.