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How to read books in Latin

 
Friday, November 9, 2007, 14:39 - Books, dictionaries and texts, Latin Language, Reviews, Software
Posted by Administrator
Obviously, you need to know Latin. There is no cutting corners here, and this is not what I am going to discuss. Instead, I will share my experiences with paperless books. Classicists are particularly blessed with a large number of Latin texts available free of charge on the Internet. It would be ridiculous to even talk about the many sites where you can download Virgil, Ovid, Catullus, Cicero, Sallust - you name it. For years I have been using Casio E100 - probably the first full color PDA that every came out (Windows CE). I still have it and it works great, except there is just not enough memory (16mb) and dealing with serial connections in the world of USB is kinda silly. So, not too long ago I upgraded to T-Moble MDA (aka HTC Wizard, if I am not mistaken) - A Windows Mobile device. I have a 2gb card in it, so there is a lot of space for my books. I also have a 4gb card, but apparently I have to wait for a firmware update in order for MDA to support mini SD cards over 2 gb. Something about the limitations of the file system... Anyway, I use a program called Haali Reader. It supports a lot of different formats. You can even open compressed files with it. Of course, there are many readers out there, and I have a few of them installed on my MDA: Mobipocket, AlReader. However, Haali has one very neat feature. You can make a simple dictionary and go to it with a tap of a stylus (or a finger, really) if you just can't remember some rare word. I don't have a very good Latin dictionary in plain text format, but I used one of those wordlists that have been floating around for years. It's been somewhat helpful, although personally I would not mind some "real" Latin dictionary. Maybe I will compile something one day using one of the old Latin dictionaries that are starting to appear in the public domain.

Now, there is also a program called Antiquarium which is supposed to work on any Windows Mobile device with TLG and PHI. I am a lucky owner of PHI (and so should be anyone who is into Latin at all, because it only cost me $50). Unfortunately, the demo version of Antiquarium for Windows Mobile did not seem to work on my device.

So, that's the present. In the future I hope to upgrade to one of the Sony Readers. Like the currently available Sony PRS-500 Portable Reader System. I am not too crazy about the quality, but I am sure it will improve. Most likely, I will wait for a technological breakthrough, just like in the case with Casio E100. The biggest advantage of this device would be easy access to PDF files. This would probably solve all my ebooks-related problems once and for all.

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