Topical Vocabulary

The internet is full of Latin material which can be freely (and legally) downloaded. However, as far as vocabulary lists are concerned, there are quite a few of those covering specific text books, but not all that many covering specific topics. This is something I intend to do something about.

At first, however, I have recreated the list Collar and Daniell's Beginner's Latin Vocabulary hosted by adding macrons to all the entries. I believe that using these makes the list look better and helps with proper pronunciation.

Design considerations

  1. I am not creating mere A-Z lists but instead use some sort of inner logic to determine the sequence of the words, as I believe that this facilitates the memorizing process.
  2. I am differenting between the "Major" words and the "Lesser" ones. That way the learner can concentrate on the important words first and only later cover the lesser words as well. Of course this distinction is subjective, but it makes learning a bit easier.

Building a topical vocabulary list

In order to build a topical vocabulary list I am using the following procedure.

First I am drafting a list of English words pertaining to the topic I am trying to cover. To do so I am using a pictorial dictionary and other sources, among the latter the The Latin Vocabulary by Rev. David Williams (1829). While doing so I already assign them to the categories "Major Words" and "Lesser Words".

Next I am looking up the Latin words corresponding (as closely as possible) to the English ones selected in the first step and enter them (with macrons marked as vowel plus circumflex) separately from the English words in a spreadsheet.

My main sources for the macrons:

The third step involves choosing the inner logic for the topic, selecting the categories, and then put the words into the appropriate category. Within these categories I am doing some ''logical fine-tuning'' until I am satisfied with the order.

After the third step I have a spreadsheet with the three columns "Latin", "English", "Category", and "Major/Lesser".

In step four I am using a word processor to create the final document and then convert this to a PDF file. This last step is straightforward. However, I create two versions of this vocabulary list:

  1. "Practice"-version: for learning from scratch. The English words and its Latin translation are in two separate columns. This takes up more place than the "Review"-version but makes it easier to learn.
  2. "Review"-version: for keeping one's knowledge intact. The Latin word (in bold typeface) is immediately followed by the English one (in italic typeface).

Finished vocabulary lists

  • Collar and Daniell's Beginner's Latin Vocabulary (based on the list without macrons hosted by downloaded on June 1, 2010): Practice-Version, Review-Version
  • Paul B. Diederich's Basic Vocabulary: This vocabulary list comprises about 1,500 words. Contrary to many other word lists, however, these word literally count, as the list is based on frequency analysis of anthologies covering ancient Latin prose and poetry, and medieval Latin. According to Diederich, these words cover 83.6 % of the vocabuary of the analysed texts.
  • Paul B. Diederich's Basic Vocabulary - The "Lodge" Edition (last change: October 12, 2010): The same as above, however, with the English meaning taken from the 1922-dictionary "The Vocabulary of High School Latin" by Gonzalez Lodge. The data is also available as a TAB-limited text file so that you can do with it whatever you want.
  • Word frequency according to Paul B. Diederich's "The frequency of Latin words and their endings" (April 18, 2011): This TAB-limited text file is not a topical dictionary but rather a list of word frequencies in anthologies of Latin prose, poetry, and medieval texts as given by Paul B. Diederich in his aforementioned paper. You can use it to create your own vocabulary lists for the type of text you are interested in.
  • Walter Ripman's "Classified Vocabulary" (version 2.0) (31 August 2011): This topical dictionary is a must-have for anyone. It is the basis for Evan Millner's "Vocabulary Building" audio files and helps a lot in coming to terms with Latin vocabulary (PDF, 90 pages, file size about 700 KB). The PDF is designed to for 2 pages of the file to be printed on 1 side of a A4-sheet (thus 4 pages of the PDF-file fitting on 1 sheet of paper). Any copy shop should be able to print the file in a way that the resulting A4-pages can be cut in half and then form a booklet which can be bound using a ring binding. As for how to use it, please read the following Textkit-posting.
  • Walter Ripman's "Classified Vocabulary" - (P)LATINUM edition (31 August 2011): This version has been especially adapted to Evan Millner's "Swallowing the Dictionary" audio files accompanying his LATINUM audio course and also based on the "Classified Vocabulary". The more important mistakes in the audio files (as bought in May 2010) have been marked in the text itself and are listed in an appendix.
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