Corpus-based Latin Word Comparison
In this exercise, students will choose from the Latin poems we are reading a single instance of a word whose meaning seems especially significant or charged (e.g., "virtus" (= "courage")). Besides their initial choice, they will also identify every other location of that word within their author's works, as well as in the works of related authors. They will then analyze how the word's meaning varies according to different context, author, and time period and use numerical analysis to determine how their chosen instance of that word relates to other instances (e.g., does their author modify the standard connotations of the word, or does one author use the word differently in love poems than in invective poems?).
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
1) Students will select one word from a text we are reading.
Example: "deliciae" in Catullus poem 2.1
2) Students will look up the various meanings the word can have using the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, the Oxford Latin Dictionary, and commentaries on their authors.
3) Students will search the rest of Catullus's work for instances of that word in all its forms using an index verborum or the Perseus search tools: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/search
Example: word appears at poems 3.4, 6.1, 32.2, 45.24, 68a.26, 69.4, 74.2
4) Students will compare the usage in each case by comparing context (e.g., genre, surrounding narrative, modifiers, etc.). Students will keep track of how often the word appears in a given context.
Example: "deliciae" is used of women in Catullus twice, of a friend once, of an object three times, of a dead individual three times, etc.
5) Students will perform the same search for one or two related authors.
6) Students will compare what seems to be the standard meaning in their author, in related authors, and in the reference books and identify any discrepancies. They will also examine their specific instance of the word and explain why it might be the same as/different from the standard meaning.