nuntii omnes imprimendi

My high school counselor was the first of many to bring to my attention Annalisa Quinn’s great write-up on the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae on the front page (!) of today’s New York Times. It documents the nineteenth-century origins of the dictionary project, its durability through political upheaval in the European sphere, and its omnivorous approach to Latin texts:

There is a piece of paper for every surviving piece of writing from the classical period. The words, arranged chronologically, are given in context: they come from poems, prose, recipes, medical texts, receipts, dirty jokes, graffiti, inscriptions, and anything else that survived the vicissitudes of the last two thousand years.

Most Latin students read from the same rarefied canon without much contact with how the language was used in everyday life. But the T.L.L. insists that the anonymous person who insulted an enemy with graffiti on a wall in Pompeii is as valuable a witness to the meaning of a Latin word as a poet or emperor.

Such a delight to see the spotlight on Latin lexicography in America’s paper of record!

Reading about the TLL in the paper today reminded me of the recent shuttering of Finland’s Nuntii Latini, the quirky weekly radio broadcast of international news in that most international of tongues. The last broadcast of Nuntii Latini this past June included reports on trade agreements between Putin and Xi Jinping, some exhortations to sleep more and drink less, and of course, a notice of the program’s end. “To our listeners,” the announcer pronounces, “we give our greatest thanks and wish you well” (Auscultatoribus … gratias quam maximas agimus et valedicimus). Ave atque vale!

Unfortunately, the transcripts of Nuntii Latini won’t make their way into the pages of the TLL—the dictionary’s articles catalog only examples up to the time of Isidore of Seville, more or less, so 2019 would be a stretch. But as one Latin project winds down, another starts up, and others simply keep plugging away, reliably, after 125 years.

upcoming talk on “deep humanities”

I’m presenting a lecture on Nov. 20 at 6pm at Riverside Church (120th St. and Claremont Ave.) entitled “Deep Humanities: Artificial Intelligence and the Ethics of Persuasion.” It’s my first talk on a new research project on the classical antecedents of our contemporary crisis regarding “deepfake” videos, and I argue that we can locate deepfakes in an ancient tradition of using obvious falsehoods in the service of persuasion. At odds with contemporary scientific and analytic approaches to deepfakes, which seek to test their validity by isolating some kind of criterion of authenticity, my rhetorically oriented approach sees deepfakes as examples of character-based persuasion that operate largely outside the considerations of truthfulness and “fact-checking.” I revisit some of the courtroom literature of Cicero, whose use of caricature and impersonation anticipates the strategies underlying deepfakes.

The event is on Riverside Church’s Floor 11, and it is open to the public.

Open-Access TLL PDFs and Diogenes

Although De Gruyter has long offered an electronic, searchable version of the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, access to this lexicographical database requires an institutional/library subscription (not to mention a speedy network connection). It was exciting news, then, earlier this year when the TLL offices at the Bayerische Akademie made freely available PDFs of most of their published volumes for offline access.

Downloading all these files will take up a few gigabytes of your local storage, and these open access PDFs contain uncorrected OCR text — the search function on your PDF reader might not accurately find something you’re searching for. Despite those caveats, however, it’s still worth your time to have these files on hand, especially now that the PDFs have been integrated into the latest version of Diogenes, the popular text database software for research in classical philology. (Thanks to Durham University for this great tool!) It’s worth upgrading your installation of Diogenes to the new version, released just this fall, which can automatically download all the TLL PDFs from the Bayerische Akademie website and which allows you to reference those PDFs while you browse through the PHI Latin texts.

Once you’ve installed Diogenes, you can use a handy shortcut in the menu to download all the PDFs from the TLL‘s website:

You’ll be asked for a download location, and even if you move your files around, you can always manually point Diogenes to the PDFs by clicking on Database Locations in the same menu above. For the database files of the PHI and TLG, you’ll need to ask the librarian or other specialist at your institution for access.

(Side note: You might notice that the new version of Diogenes uses Gentium, which is a great free font that correctly renders all sorts of Greek diacritical marks! It’s one of my favorites.)

When you’re browsing the texts of the PHI, you can click any word, which will bring up the dictionary entry from Lewis and Short, just like older versions of Diogenes. In the new version, however, you’ll notice a new link for the related entry in the TLL:

Assuming all goes well, clicking that link should automatically open page 102 of the PDF containing the entry for declamator: TLL vol. V 1, 180, 61. (For an explanation of the TLL‘s citation format, see this helpful FAQ).

Since the open-access PDFs of the TLL might contain some OCR errors from scanning the pages, it’s probably best to consult the hard copy or De Gruyter database version of the Thesaurus, but the convenience of the Diogenes links is a dream. Big thanks for the Diogenes developers, and happy searching!