Χαῖρετε ὦ φίλοι -
I am posting this note on several Latin/Greek sites. It is a modest proposal as follows:
In resurrecting my Latin and Greek over the last few years, one thing I had to do was beef up my vocabulary. I did that pretty well for Latin, but I still need to do it for Greek. For Latin I used a number of aids, but by far the most comprehensive and effective was Comenius's Orbis Sensualium Pictus
along with Evan Millner's recording of the same. Orbis
, which has about 1,000 words, is a simplified and illustrated version of Comenius's Janua Linguarum Reserata
, which has about 8,000 words. In the Janua
, Comenius set out for the benefit of young Latin pupils to name and describe in very simple sentences virtually everything known about the universe in his time (seventeenth-century) - not something we could even dream about doing today, Wikipedia notwithstanding! His intention was for the Janua
) to be translated by qualified scholars into one's native language, so that the young pupil could learn about the world itself, res ipsae
, in their native language and then how to name the same in Latin (the vocabulary is especially rich in nouns). Comenius was methodical to a fault. The original version of the Janua
consists of exactly 1,000 sentences distributed over 100 topics. I find it especially effective because it introduces related words topically (at least for me a far more effective method than frequency lists, though I use those too).
If you're unfamiliar with Comenius but curious, please check out http://latinandgreekselftaught.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html
on my blog.
Since listening to Evan's Orbis
maybe a million times and occasionally dipping into (though never finishing) the Janua
, I've taken several graduate seminars at the nearby Bryn Mawr College classics department, most recently on Lucretius' De Rerum Natura
. Coincidentally, Lucretius covers much the same universe as Comenius, so it was an interesting way to validate my vocabulary acquisition. I rarely had to look up a word.
In turn I was excited to discover on Google Books that among other European languages, someone had translated the Janua
into ancient Greek. [And I'm thrilled to learn from Mark L and Paul N just yesterday that Google Books also has a Greek translation of the Orbis
.] I thought this would be a cool way to acquire the same rich vocabulary in Greek, as well as get some good Latin-to-Greek and Greek-to-Latin practice. Unfortunately, I hit a brick wall. That wall was the Greek minuscule script, which is ornate to the point of being, at least at first glance, impenetrable (the Latin also takes a little getting used to but is much easier and has also been transcribed into html). I set this project aside a couple years ago, but recently have been taking another stab at it. What I find is that with the application of practice and some other tips & tricks, it is not impossible but, at least for me, impossibly slow. [Again, just today, Paul has pointed me to a dynamite site for lessons on deciphering the minuscule script.]
So here's my thought: How cool it would be to have this topically-organized goldmine of Latin and Greek vocabulary digitized, legible, and editable.
And here's my proposition: If enough people thought they too would benefit from this and were willing to bite off just a piece of the work - divide and conquer -, as a team we could knock this thing out and benefit all of present and future mankind! I have seeded a table in MS Word with the Latin and Greek titles of the 100 sections and a row for each of the 1,000 sentences. I included some sample Latin and (painfully deciphered) Greek text from the opening and closing sections. I have put this document and three version of the Comenius cum Greek on https://www.dropbox.com/sh/vu6hw1pvwhbcn0e/n47UUhUOzL
, so people can check it out.
I'm realistic and know many who might find the end result useful will have too many competing priorities, or will take one look at the Greek and say "fuggedabout it." But please respond if you are interested.