Tuesday, November 17, 2015


(and help extend its support to other classical languages)
Many of the most important books ever written, the most profound and the most beautiful, were written in one of the ancient languages no longer spoken. 1 Translations can convey some part of what their authors intended, but by no means all. 
Traditionally it was necessary to devote prolonged study to each language, preferably with a knowledgeable teacher, before ever confronting the original text itself. Today, a variety of online tools can help anyone begin to appreciate the original language whenever they wish. The Alpheios Project was created to bring the latest technology to this task, and already has tens of thousands of users around the world with its reading support tools for Latin, Greek, and classical Arabic and Chinese. The software was designed to permit new languages to be added easily, and there are plans underway for its extension to other classical languages such as Persian, Sanskrit and several others.
In keeping with its mission to bring texts in the classical languages to the widest possible audience, Alpheios has always made its tools available for free and has kept its code open source for use by any other non-profit initiative. 
However, at the moment, not only the expansion but even the survival of the present Alpheios functionality is threatened by impending changes to the Firefox browser, which is currently the only platform on which Alpheios runs.  Significant modifications of our code will be needed, and at the moment we do not have the resources to make the changes in the required time frame.
We are consequently making our first public funding appeal. We are hoping to raise between fifty and one hundred thousand dollars so that we can employ professional programmers in an accelerated timeframe. Since we are a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, all contributions are tax-deductible in the United States.
If you consider this initiative worthwhile, please let others know about it, whether or not you are able to contribute yourself.
At this point we don't anticipate any insuperable technical challenges since the requirements are quite clearly defined and all the original developers of Alpheios remain available for consultation.  We just need competent hands to do the work before the clock runs out on Alpheios.
In addition to maintaining Alpheios on Firefox, the changes to the code that must be made will greatly facilitate porting Alpheios to other browsers and to mobile devices, among the most frequent requests from our users. They should also help bring an expanded Alpheios reading environment to other classical languages and provide a more convenient platform for the deployment of a greater variety of language learning games.  We believe that the supreme importance of the classical languages, and their immediate relevance to our present world,  can only be fully appreciated when they can all be studied with similar tools in a common reading environment. 
(1) (Perhaps the best known of these "classical languages" are ancient Greek, Latin, Sanskrit and classical Chinese, Persian, Arabic and Hebrew, but there are many more, including Old Norse and Old English, Old French and the Langue d'oc, Old Spanish and Old and Middle High German, not to mention the great languages of the ancient middle east, such as Egyptian, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Classical Armenian, Syriac and Aramaic, or the classical Japanese of the Man'yōshū.

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