The attached screen shots are intended to illustrate (1) the basic functionality of our reading tools with any fully digitized text, and (2) some of the ways in which individual texts can be specially enhanced to provide additional features.
1- The screen shot of a web page from al-Jazeera below is intended to illustrate that our tools will work with any page in html (or xhtml) and unicode.
All you have to do is open it in the Firefox browser (after our add-ons have been downloaded from the Firefox site), select "Toggle Alpheios On" from the Alpheios icon on the toolbar, and select"arabic". Now double-clicking on any arabic word will bring up definitions and any other information that we can provide about the word. (see the Greek and Latin examples below for illustrations of other types of information)
Note that the examples show several levels of detail in definitions:
The attached html file of the famous self-characterization by al-Mutanabbi was a page that we just typed in ourselves (with TextEdit on a Mac) and saved as HTML.
al-Mutanabbi: page from-TextEdit
The only things that our tools will not work with are pages that are just pictures of text, such as pdf.
The basic reading tools can be enhanced in various ways. We should like to add an inflection table of the arabic verb comparable ones we have for Greek and Latin, and links into arabic grammars comparable to the ones you can see with our our Greek and Latin tools.
Lucretius: basic functionality
Lucretius: inflection table
Our tools permit the use of any number of dictionaries and grammars and let the user define the sequence in which they should be consulted.
Up to now we have used only free reference materials that are no longer covered by copyright, but we could easily add the ability to provide subscription-controlled access to current commercial reference works, if an agreement could be reached with the publisher. We should be particularly interested in putting up a good monolingual arabic dictionary.
2- The inflection tables and grammars, like the dictionaries, should work with any html-unicode text. However, by loading individual texts into an xml database (currently eXist) we can make possible the addition of other features.
The screen shot of the opening of The Book of Songs (al-Aghani) shows a text that we have loaded into a native xml database on our site.At the moment, we can only illustrate the same functionality we showed with the Al-Jazeera page.
Arabic literature currently loaded into xml database:
initial lookup: kAtib
Salmone display: kAtib
Lane display: kitAb
But because each word of the text is now indexed in a database, we will now have the possibility of providing features that we currently have only for selected Greek and Latin texts.
For example, the screen shots from the first book of the Odyssey show two of the most important kinds of enhancements: a tree-diagram of the syntactical structure of the sentence, and a word by word alignment with one or more translations. These are enhancements that we should very much like to add to our arabic texts, but to date have not been able to find the support necessary to do so.
Odyssey: aligned translation
Odyssey: syntax diagram
Loading a text into a database facilitates many other kinds of features, including searching and analyzing the text in ways that make it a valuable resource for corpus based learning.
The following examples, again from book I of the Odyssey, show how one can use a database to determine the frequency of vocabulary lemmas and the location of their specific forms, which grammatical categories are most likely to be indicate by a given inflection and which inflections are most representative of a given grammatical category.
Vocabulary frequency: lemmas and location of specific forms
inflection by grammar
grammar by inflection
The Alpheios tools also have a number of explicitly pedagogical features, including a variety of quizzes and learning games and a user model that keeps track of a user's developing vocabulary and matches it against his target level of proficiency. Thus whenever he wishes the user can see how far he has progressed and how far he has to go. Most of these features are currently only visible in our Greek and Latin modules, but the basic functionality of the tools is language independent, and the same pedagogical functions you see in our Greek and Latin tools could be implemented for arabic very easily.
quiz mode a:
quiz mode b:
quiz mode c:
In general, the Alpheios tools have been deliberately designed in a highly modular fashion so that individual components, such as morphological analyzers, can be easily replaced.