Near-Term Plans for Work on Readability

read·a·bil·i·ty noun the quality of being legible or decipherable.

Beginning in the spring of 2020, I began investigating how measures of readability can be applied to the analysis and teaching of historical languages, especially Greek and Latin.

Current Elements

  1. Latin Vocabulary Knowledge and the Readability of Latin Texts: A Preliminary Study. The article, written with John Gruber-Miller (Cornell College), is forthcoming in a special edition of New England Classical Journal. In the article, we review the current state of readability as applied to SLA; how standard metrics of readability might apply to Latin readability; analyze several commonly taught texts; and propose a new readability score for historical languages (HL), LexR, which incorporates data on a text’s (1) average word length; (2) word frequency or the percentage of high frequency words in a text; (3) lexical sophistication or the percentage of low frequency words that provide more precise and more nuanced meanings; (4) lexical density or the ratio of content words to function words; and (5) lexical variation  or the variety of different words used in the text.
  2. Expanded Analysis of Latin Text Readability with Refinement of HL Readability Scores. In this article, I plan to expand the analysis to the more than 200 texts in the Bridge Corpus. I also hope to incorporate measures of grammatical readability to create a standard score of grammatical difficulty (GramR) — and combine this with LexR into a single readability score of Readability (SynR).
  3. Development of user-friendly web dashboard for HL Readability (see description of Bridge/Stats). A prototype of this dashboard is planned for the summer of 2021, in collaboration with students at MethtA+’s Digital Humanities Bootcamp.
  4. Analysis of Readability in Existing Latin Textbooks. This paper will analyze lexical acquisition in most major Latin textbooks, looking at the amount, distribution, and frequency of vocabulary, as well as the readability of readings in these textbooks.
  5. {Repeat with Greek}

Longer Term… we need to begin student-oriented trials that can help refine these readability measures for historical, heavily inflected languages.

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