Dos-based Latin-to-English Dictionary software. A relatively small free download which runs on Windows 95/98/NT etc. in a DOS-window. Linux and web-based versions are available but were not tested. No MAC version is available at this time. MAC users are directed to Mike Polis' Glossator, which uses the WORDS dictionary, but not the program. WORDS allows entry of a single word or an entire line and provides morphology (part of speech; declension, gender, number, case; conjugation, person, number, tense, etc.); the dictionary form; and meaning.
Currently WORDS boasts over 45,000 words and states that the entries A through C exceed any other Latin dictionary. It works well for a broad selection of Golden and Silver Age authors.
Some quibbles. While sometimes the definitions for basic words with a broad range of meanings are not as complete as the software allows (e.g., ago, agere offers only six choices-as many as vecto, vectare), they are certainly adequate. When identifying words with more than one possible part of speech, there is often a failure to include all: et and ut are identified as conjunctions but not as adverbs; quid as a pronoun but not an adverb; demonstrative pronouns/adjectives are identified only as pronouns. In one instance, there is a misidentification: cum is identified as an adverb instead of a conjunction. The program can at this point be easily stumped by a Plautine spelling (e.g., siet or proxumo ) or combined forms (e.g., suompte or negotist) but has no problem with quom or some unusual - even hapax-- words such as subpalparier.
The author indicates that he is not a Latin scholar and that the program is a hobby that will be updated often and indefinitely. Completion is not a desideratum. It has seen at least four versions and we look forward to continued improvement and expansion. He is urged to include more proper names, which beginning and advanced students often have difficulty identifying and defining.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
In addition to testing the program, one reviewer used it in two separate Latin courses with unanimously positive feedback from all student-users. It will not replace students' dictionaries, but expedites the seemingly endless looking up of words and greatly assists their ability to identify oblique, syncopated,
or other forms, such as mene, troublesome for the beginner and intermediate reader to find in a standard Latin dictionary.
As with any dictionary, students should be cautioned that the first meaning offered may not be appropriate. Instructors will find that the program will be more useful with certain authors than with others (e.g., Cicero, Vergil, and Tacitus more so than Plautus). Nonetheless, this is an excellent tool for anyone who wishes speedy identification of forms and meanings, and arguably a must-have for beginning Latin students, with the added bonus that it is currently a free program.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Download information: the file is easily downloadable in two separate self-extracting zip files (so winzip is not needed), and each downloaded file fits on a floppy (handy if one still needs floppies, and only slightly cumbersome to download two files instead of one). Total size after expansion on PCs is about 10 mb.
The program is extremely easy to use and runs smoothly in a DOS window. It takes up minimal system resources, allowing easy multi-tasking with a browser, online text, and anything else a system can handle. A somewhat tiresome message loads at the top of the window during each initial use. The user will find a DOS prompt allowing the entry of the word to be looked up. It runs fast on all units tested (Pentium I, II, and III; platforms: Windows 95/98/NT) and will probably do so on the most basic of units. Although it allows entry of an entire line, we find it works best inputting one word at a time, as multiple definitions are often reported, and one can get lost in the lengthy and rapid-fire output. Frequent users will benefit from creating a shortcut to this program which naturally won't appear on the start bar stem.
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