Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Concordance Liberation Project: Freeing the data in Greek and Latin concordances for digital projects

Where have all the concordances gone? Before the rise of a certain ubiquitous search engine, the humble index verborum (an alphabetical list of dictionary headwords used in a text, with a full list of citations for each instance) or concordance (same, but with a few words of context for each instance) were respected genres of scholarship. Concordances, dull though they may seem, helped classical scholars in studying the characteristic vocabulary of the authors. They allowed the finding of passages quickly. They helped translators and commentators by allowing access to a full list of instances of a particular lemma, something dictionaries did not provide. They revealed which words did not appear in an author. And, a key factor for many classical concordance makers, they could help in efforts to establish a more authoritative text.
Now the print concordance is well and truly defunct, digital road-kill beneath the wheel of digital tools. Yet most algorithmic attempts to replicate concordances are actually lists of character strings, not, as with most of the older print concordances, lists of dictionary headwords—a crucial distinction.
But what if the painstaking work of previous generations could be freed from the book and opened to digital processing?
The Concordance Liberation Project will release the data on Github under a creative commons share alike license, as:
  • a .txt file of the professionally digitized book
  • a lemmatized text of the work (as a spreadsheet and/or csv)
  • code that allowed harvested the lemmata from the .txt and created a lemmatization spreadhsheet for final processing by human hands.
Whenever possible, these lemmatized texts will be added to The Bridge to allow readers to benefit directly from the lemmatization work of scholars long ago.
A fuller version of this manifesto can be found at Flight of the Concordances


  • Paulson, Johannes. Index Lucretianus. Leipzig: Wincornachdruck, 1926.
  • begun Fall 2017
  • completed Spring 2018
  • funding support by Dickinson College, Haverford College (Faculty Research Grant)
  • Repository


  • Oldfather, William A., H. V. Canter, Kenneth Morgan Abbott, and B. E. Perry. Index Apuleianus. Middleton: American Philological Association, 1934.
  • begun 2018
  • completed Jan 2019
  • funding support by Society of Classical Studies (Pedagogy Grant), Haverford College (Faculty Research Grant)
  • Repository


  • Moser, A. H. Index Verborum Eutropianus Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1931.
  • begun Jan 2019
  • Repository

No comments:

Post a Comment