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Numen - The Latin Lexicon - An Online Latin Dictionary

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Regular Progress

I like to keep the news relatively fresh, even if nothing major is happening. But even though this is a somewhat slow time for Numen development, there are still a constant stream of small updates. I'd like to keep everybody apprised of the situation.

One of the benefits of having students who actively use this dictionary is their feedback. One of the things they noticed was that sometimes an error message pops up saying, "AJAX has timed out", and it would happen relatively often -- especially on the flashcard practice tool. So I dug into the code and found the issue: I designed the site so that -- if any request took more than a few hundred milliseconds -- it would give an error. Such timeouts always involve a balance between briefness and lengthiness of waiting, and I quickly realized that I had not struck that balance. So I bumped up the timeout duration to something reasonably middle-of-the-road and. Voila! Problem solved! Gratias vobis ago, discipuli.

More: My big project with Vergil and Livy is still paying off. I continue to correct dozens of tiny mistakes and errors in the data every week, and I was able to run some statistics. Excluding proper names and place names, the parsing engine can analyze and pin down around 98.5% of all the words in these two Augustan authors. So accuracy is definitely improving daily! I can't yet account for all false positives, but they seem to be less than a fraction of a percent (anecdotally).

Speaking of accuracy, there is still room for improvement in three key areas:
  1. syncopated forms (laudaverunt => laudarunt), which Livy loves by the way!
  2. irregular forms (bobus, filiabus)
  3. proper and place names (which do not, for the most part, exist as a regular part of the Lewis Elementary dictionary).
I have been cogitating over solutions for all three issues, but it might take a while to implement them -- probably not until December or January (winter holidays, yay!).

In other news -- I guess I have more than I had first assumed -- I've almost got a word list feature finished. This is for people who prefer to work with formatted word lists as opposed to flashcard decks (which I understand are sometimes referred to as index cards). The only major problem I have with this process is that the Lewis Elementary dictionary does not provide a "core" definition for most words, so the word list would have extremely lengthy definitions. I think one of my best options is to import the data from Whittaker's Words, which have more simple, more core-like definitions. But this could be problematic as a 1:1 mapping between Lewis' forms and Whittaker's forms would be difficult to achieve. Alas, I shall continue to think on this one.

Okay, so that's enough for now! Keep using it, and please keep reporting problems and errors! It may take a few days or weeks, but I eventually do fix all the errors!

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