How can I...
The Alpheios Reading Tools can be used with any text or with texts that have been enhanced with aligned translations and sentence diagrams.
They can also be used in two different modes: one for simply reading a text and one for turning the text into the basis for a language quiz.
Since the Alpheios Reading Tools can be used with texts that have different resources associated with them they will attempt to detect which resources are available and adjust the interface accordingly. (It will also attempt to detect the language of the text it is displaying so that it can consult the appropriate dictionaries, grammars etc.)
When no special resources are associated with the current text, the only tool bar visible is a small one at the top of the screen with the Alpheios icon on the left.
The Alpheios icon brings up a menu for:
This small toolbar also has icons that take you directly into independent reference resources such as Inflection tables and Grammars- ones that have no specific relationship to the current text.
Furthermore when no text-specific resources are available, selecting a word brings up a new box with only two icons, one that provides a more complete definition, and one that takes you into the inflection table where that specific inflection appears.
When some text-specific resources are available, as is currently only possible on our own website, a second, much larger toolbar appears below the Firefox toolbar at the top of the screen. It draws attention to the fact that you are accessing enhanced texts on our site and adds some new icons that are needed to use the additional resources.
When the Alpheios reading tool detects that a translation is available, a translation icon appears on this toolbar that permits the user to open and close the translation pane.
When the Alpheios reading tool detects that a sentence diagram is available, selecting a word will bring up a box that includes a "Diagram" icon that can be used to display the sentence diagram.
In addition to working with two different kinds of texts, texts that have been enhanced by the association of resources with them such as translations or sentence diagrams, and texts that have not, the Alpheios reading tools can also be used in two different modes: Reading Mode and Quiz Mode.
In Reading Mode, as we have seen, selecting a word brings up a box that provides information about the word, while in Quiz Mode selected a word brings up a series of questions about that word.
You can switch back and forth between the modes by clicking on the relevant icons at the upper left of the screen. The Quiz mode icon is a lightbulb. The Reading mode icon shows an open book.
At present, Quiz mode is only available with Alpheios texts that have translations and sentence diagrams associated with them.
Customization to the individual user:
You will readily see that we still have a good deal of work to do to make bring even the current functionality up to the level of a beta release, but we hope that the next release will include the ability to further customize the application to the needs and interests of individual users, so that the user can specify what and how he wants to learn and the program can keep track of how well he is doing.
Tools for user participation:
Quite legitimate differences of opinion may arise about the the definitions, the interpretation of inflections, the sentence diagrams and alignment of the translations with the original text, and in future releases we hope to provide opportunities for users to suggest alternatives and discuss them among themselves.
This is only an alpha release, with many features still incompletely or, what is worse, imperfectly implemented. But we hope it gives you enough of an impression of the intended functionality to enable you to comment and help direct our next steps. Thank you for your interest in the Alpheios Project.
The tools will work with any web site in which the text is displayed in correct HTML and Unicode, even text you have created yourself (assuming you have downloaded the Alpheios plugins from Firefox) if you open it in the Firefox browser, click on the little Alpheios icon in the upper left and choose "Toggle Alpheios on". You will then be prompted to chose the language. For the texts and sites that appear on the Alpheios homepage, Alpheios will enable itself automatically and try to choose the correct language itself.
If you double click on any Greek or Latin word, a new box with a short definition in bold type should appear next to the word, along with some other grammatical information.
If you want a more complete definition, you can click on the little icon within the short definition box that is labeled "Define". That will open another box with a much longer definition.
If, instead of a definition, the box that comes up when you double click on a word simply asks you to define it yourself, you must somehow have gotten out of Reading mode and into Quiz mode. Just click on the Reading Mode icon represented by an open book in the Alpheios toolbar near the top of the screen to return to Reading mode.
If you happen to be reading an Alpheios-enhanced text for which an aligned translation is available, you can also see what the translator considered an equivalent English expression: if you move your cursor over the Greek or Latin text, the corresponding English words in the translation panel should light up in yellow. (You can do the same from the English side) But remember that this "contextual meaning" reflects the translator's interpretation of what the Greek or Latin means in this particular context,and that this may differ significantly from the more general or typical meanings that a dictionary provides.
In the Options tab you can see which dictionaries are available and alter the sequence in which they are consulted if no suitable entry is found in the first. (When you are not reading Alpheios-enhanced text, Options appears in the menu that opens when you click on the Alpheios icon at the top of the screen in the Firefox toolbar. When you are reading Alpheios-enhanced text, it also appears directly on the additional Alpheios toolbar)
In the Options tab you can also change the way that a word is selected when in Reading Mode, from double-clicking to just mousing over it. Experiment to determine which option you find most useful. (In Quiz Mode you only have the double-click option)
Next: In the future we hope to add several more dictionaries, including specialized ones, and make our use of our current dictionaries significantly more reliable.
Double-clicking on a word will bring up not only a short definition but also an explanation of what the inflection of the word indicates about its grammar. (In the future we expect to allow the user to choose from the options menu whether he wants to see both the meaning of the word and the meaning of the inflection at the same time, or just one or the other.)
If you want to see a definition of the grammatical terms used in the description of the inflection, you can click on them to see their definition in a standard grammar. If you want to see the other possible inflections of the word, or compare its inflection to that of other words, you can click on the small "Inflect" icon in the popup box. This will take you to an inflection table that by default shows only the more common inflections and the type that your selected word represents, but which can be expanded to include all possible inflections of all words.
Alternatively, for beginning students, a display can be chosen that shows only the most common forms together with the type represented by the selected word.
The inflection tables are somewhat different in Greek and Latin, reflecting differences between the languages, especially the greater number of variations in Greek. One feature currently only available for Latin, is the ability to permute the sequence of voice, mood, conjugation when displaying verb inflections.
We hope that our tools can help students to see the inflections of Greek and Latin as invaluable clues for the appreciation of these amazing languages rather than as problems or hurdles.
Currently this option is only available when a sentence diagram has been prepared for the text manually.
If a diagram is available, the box that comes up when you double-click to select a word will now contain a special "Diagram" icon. Clicking on this icon will display the sentence at the top of the screen with a tree diagram of all the word dependencies below it.
The selected word will be highlighted in yellow, with the word on which it is immediately dependent in light red, and any words that depend on it in light green. These colors are redundant in the diagram itself, but can be very helpful in the display of the sentence at the top of the screen, where dependent words may not be contiguous.
Mousing over words in the sentence at the top of the screen will move the highlighting in the diagram as well.
Moving the cursor away from nodes in the diagram will allow one to see a color scheme based on the word's part of speech rather than its dependency relations. See the guide to the color scheme at the bottom of the panel (It may be necessary to scroll down with larger sentences).
Mousing over an arc rather than a node will also identify the nodes at either end of the arc.
If you double-click on a word in the diagram, you will get the same informative popup box that appears when reading the original text.
Next: We hope to provide tools for creating and editing your own tree diagrams.
For more information about the definition of the relationships and the guidelines for defining dependency relationships see The Ancient Greek and Latin Dependency Treebank.
This mode is currently only available with the specially prepared texts that have an aligned translation and sentence diagrams associated with them. The availability of Quiz mode is indicated by the light bulb icon in the large Alpheios toolbar near the top of the screen.
Click on the light bulb to enter Quiz Mode.
Once you are in Quiz Mode, clicking on any word will start a quiz about that word.
If the translation panel is open, you will be asked to click on all the English words that you think the translator used to translate the Greek.
When you have chosen all the English words that match correctly, a new dialog box will appear that asks you to choose the correct part of speech. After you make the correct choice, if the word is an inflected one such as a noun, verb or adjective, you are asked whether you would like to answer questions about the word's inflection. If you say yes, you are shown a grid of grammatical options where you can choose the correct option either directly, by clicking on a cell in the grid, or sequentially, by clicking on the radio buttons on the left one after the other. If you guess a wrong form, you are shown not only an error message but a display of what that form would be. If you choose the sequential option, you may select the radio buttons in any order. (Verb forms are so numerous that the quiz is currently condensed by omitting the sequential option)
You can then either close the panel and return to the text, or further explore the word's meaning, inflection, and use in the sentence with the icons for diagrams, definitions and inflections.
If, on the other hand, the translation panel is not open, when you double click on a word you are asked to choose the correct meaning from a list as well as the correct part of speech. The questions then continue as they did when you started with the open translation panel.
The Alignment Editor has two empty boxes, one for the original text and one for the text you wish to align with it, typically a translation. After you have typed or pasted text into both boxes, you must click on the small blue button in the lower right that says "align". This tells the application that it should prepare the texts to be manually aligned, a process that is illustrated in the accompanying video. After you have aligned the words and phrases you can export the text as an xml document for display or review and further editing.