Yesterday, I was writing about the core vocabulary concept brought up at the ACL’s LXVI Institute in Memphis and the main resource point for that was Dickinson College’s core vocabulary resource for both Latin and Greek. Upon reading over their commentaries, several other resources have emerged.
First of all, it is about frequency, not about size. Several compilations were carried out regarding the frequency of words found in various texts. The Dickinson College project (let’s refer to them as DCC from here on out) used a couple of these resources to explain their tabulation:
- Paul Bernard Diederich’s dissertation at the University of Chicago (1939) compiled a list of over 200,000 Latin words based on 200 authors who appear in the Oxford Book of Latin Verse, Avery’s Latin Prose Literature, and Beeson’s Primer of Medieval Latin. Indicated in his tabulation is the number of times a word appears in the aforementioned prose, poetry, medieval Latin sources, and the final number indicates all three combined. Carolus Raeticus edited and recompiled acheter cialis this list into what I feel is gold as the entire list is broken down into the parts of speech and then compiled into subcategories based on topics (gods, earth, sky, etc.).
- Gonzalez Lodge wrote The Vocabulary of High School Latin which was a way to bridge students towards more efficient reading of Vergil, Caesar, and Cicero by doing a tabulation of the most common words found in those texts. This is a very compelling resource in light of the new AP Latin curriculum and could be put to some use there (it should be noted that this was published in 1907 originally and, more to the point, illustrates that this problem is nothing new in Latin). Lodge makes the claim in his preface, “[any] student who has at his command these 2000 words will have the vocabulary of fully nine tenths of all the ordinary Latin that he is likely to come into contact with.”
- The Dictionnaire fréquentiel used a database of about 800,000 words from texts of various popularity from the “golden” age authors generic cialis india and other canonical authors. Nearly 600,000 words were tabulated from prose authors, about 200,000 from poetry.
Both Diederich and the Dictionnaire fréquentiel are the main databases that the DCC used. They mentioned the shortcomings of using a machine-based tabulation, like the one available via the Perseus project, is loaded with some faults (such as a “double-dipping” of lemmas like genibus from genus or genu).
In short, these resources were used to create a list of the most frequently occurring words in the various Latin authors. Since the goal is to create a core vocabulary to equip students to be able to more easily transition into fluent reading of native authors, the DCC recommends that students focus on learning at least 80% of the words on this list. The best resource for immediate use would be the edited list Carolus Raeticus compiled based on Lodge and Diederich’s findings. In fact, I think I am going to make this a project of mine to incorporate this list with my chosen introductory text (Hans Orberg’s Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata) to offer my students a strong basis for reading extant Latin literature.
For more concentrated lists, the DCC has several options:
- Diederich’s top 300 words are available in PDF format.
- There is also Anne Mahoney’s list of 200 words, broken down into parts of speech as well.
Both of these lists are said to stand in for about 50% of the core vocabulary of the DCC.