Historical Languages eLearning Project

of the Open Philology Project

Anyone, anywhere, regardless of their linguistic or cultural background, whether they are a student in a formal curriculum or not, should be able to learn as much of a historical language as they need to work directly in original-language primary materials. Work in this context entails not only learning but contributing early and in increasingly sophisticated ways: students can add new, or correct existing, data as they learn to type in an unfamiliar language, while they can, in the language of gaming, “level up” to tasks such as linguistic annotation of new materials and the production of aligned, modern language translations, and see their growing proficiency concretely visualized in a way that permits them to compare it to that of others and documents it for use in e-portfolios and other records of their achievement.

In the short run, building upon existing collections and services, we will support students working with Greek, Latin and Classical Arabic texts in a system readily localized for speakers of multiple modern languages (with Croatian, English, German and French emerging as initial languages of interest). The Historical Language e-Learning Project is based upon the existence of extensible richly annotated corpora. Learners draw from the start on existing richly annotated corpora and on images of sources such as manuscripts and inscriptions. They use morpho-syntactic annotation, dictionary links, and aligned modern language translations, so that they immediately work with primary sources in the original. They learn grammar by comparing their morpho-syntactic analyses with vetted analyses already available, by creating their own aligned translations, and by using annotations and alignments to develop active as well as passive mastery of morphology, syntax, and vocabulary. They demonstrate advanced ability by expanding the corpus of richly annotated materials, proposing new annotations of their own and reviewing annotations proposed by others.

Ancient Greek, Latin and Classical Arabic Large collections such as Gallica, Google Books, and the Internet Archive have already made billions of words in Greek and Latin available to aglobal audience — a far larger collection than the small handful of advanced researchers can document and a far broader collection in terms of genre and style than the classical corpora on which current programs in Greek and Latin still focus. While the amount of openly licensed Classical Arabic is not yet as extensive, more than enough sources are available and require documentation and analysis. We need to train a new generation of students, who can directly analyze sources in the original languages and make substantive contributions earlier and on a wider range of sources than has previously been feasible.

Traditional programs of Ancient Greek and Latin are not designed to support students who first develop an interest in these languages during their undergraduate careers — by the time students are able to begin interacting proficiently with the primary sources, they are ready to graduate. Traditional class schedules are rigid and rarely can an institution offer more than one section of an ancient language. As for Classical Arabic, few institutions offer any formal instruction at all — Modern Language Association statistics report only 285  students enrolled in Classical Arabic in the United States in 2009.

At the same time, Ancient Greek, Latin, and Classical Arabic must also compete for students with fields where students regularly contribute as members of laboratory teams and can often expect to develop their own research projects as undergraduates. The strongest academic programs not only demand that students master complex disciplinary knowledge but also provide students with an opportunity to use that knowledge to make substantive contributions and to develop significant research projects of their own.

Open Greek and Latin creates an inexhaustible range of substantive activity to which any student of these languages can aspire — whether working on manuscripts of well-known authors (e.g., the Homer Multitext Project), creating the first modern language translations of Greek and Latin sources  (e.g., Tufts’ Medieval Latin), or adding critical linguistic annotation (e.g., the Perseus Greek and Latin Treebanks).


The Historical Languages eLearning Project Team

                Project News

                Latin and Greek Texts: What Are We Reading in Schools and Universities?

                Research post authored and posted by Emily Franzini. School and university curricula love Homer. This is a fact. You don’t need to be a student of Classics to know who Homer was and what he wrote. Even Hollywood is familiar with his Iliad and Odyssey. What we’re interested in finding out, however, is who else and what else […]

                Different Cultures, Different Perceptions: HELP ME BY COMPLETING THIS SURVEY!

                People from different cultures have different ideas about one single event, or even a historical figure in the ancient world. This may have an influence on how people interact while they are learning a historical language collaboratively. I am trying to understand if this hypothesis is true. HELP ME by completing this survey. Just click on the following link […]

                Thank you for your feedback!

                Authored and posted by Emily Franzini. The Historical Languages eLearning Project would like to extend a warm thank you to all of you who came to the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften to learn and play with Ancient Geek. Your feedback was invaluable and has helped us bring our research and development to the next level!       […]