I use Mnemosyne to help me memorise Greek and Latin morphology and vocabulary, including P. B. Diederich's Recommended Basic Vocabulary (http://users.erols.com/whitaker/freq.htm
), and am certainly interested in using the program to expand my vocabulary further.
But there are problems with the Perseus Vocabulary Tool. It produces lists which are rather naked: they show no macra, no principle parts for verbs, no genitives for nouns, no other genders for adjectives, no cases for prepositions. These things would have to be added to each of the many flashcards. It also offers only a brief definition of each word; brief enough, often, to be unhelpful. It is also quite often incorrect.
Let's look at what it tells us are the seven most frequent words in the Res Gestae
et -- also, too, besides, moreover, likewise, as well, even: Ph
in -- unequal
sum -- to be, exist, live
is -- he, she, it, the one mentioned
ego -- I, me, we, us
quis -- plur
For "et", we are given "Ph" as one possible definition; for "in", a definition that is entirely wrong, and no hint of what cases it takes; for the irregular verb "sum", no other principal part and so no way of recognising any
other of its forms; for "qui", no definition at all, and no genitive or other genders, and so no way of knowing its stem or how it declines; for "is", again no genitive or other genders; for "ego", no way of knowing how it declines, and three definitions that are likely to mislead the beginner; for "quis", the baffling "plur".
Copying and pasting from a freely available dictionary like Lewis's Elementary Latin Dictionary
would of course supply much of what is missing, such as macra, principal parts, genitives, and adequate definitions.
But it would be far more work to correct what is not just missing, but wrong. And indeed, if Perseus is misreading words, it must also be producing false frequency counts, and so lists that are both unreliable and uncorrectable.
Far better, I think, to create a deck based on Diederich's list of the 1.471 most common words in the corpus. Though this list was not drawn from nearly as large a selection of texts as Perseus hosts (but merely from three anthologies), and is almost as naked as Perseus's lists, it is, I believe, reliable.
And, as I said above, I have already created such a deck. But my deck, as it stands, is a little too idiosyncratic to be shared. The idiosyncrasy is mostly in the dictionary entries I included on the answer side of each card (see footnote), so I could with reasonable speed prepare a publishable deck without the dictionary entries (but including still the principal parts and such). A deck that included dictionary entries from Lewis or another (most likely another, as Lewis is too much for the beginner for whom the deck would be most useful) would take some time longer, as dictionary entries are scarcely readable when unformatted and even simple formatting (like bold and italics) is a chore in Mnemosyne.
I will happily prepare this deck and share it here and at the Mnemosyne website, but I am a student and will not begin until the end of the semester, which is five weeks away.
In the meantime, if someone would suggest a suitable dictionary from which I might copy and paste the entry for each word (so, it must be available online), or would discourage me or offer some suggestion, that would be most helpful.
* This is partly because I typed these entries (from Traupman's The New College Latin and English Dictionary
) and could rarely be bothered to complete the longer ones, and partly because I have marked out with italics those senses of each word which I have yet to encounter.