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A Few Words About Vocabulary

Vocabulary is one of the most difficult problems for beginning students: by now you have a pretty good grasp of Latin grammar, but your vocabulary -- especially your active vocabulary -- is very very small. How are you supposed to know what words to memorize and make part of your active vocabulary? The trick is to work with Latin Word Frequency Lists. There are thousands of Latin words that you will encounter during this semester - you are not going to be able to commit them all to memory. But if you can concentrate on the words which are statistically more common, you will be better prepared for any new text that you meet.

Latin Word Frequency Lists

The vocabulary for this course has been chosen from the Medieval section of Paul B. Diederich's Frequency of Latin Words and their Endings. The words that you are being asked to learn each week all occur with a frequency of 15 instances or more in the Medieval sample used by Diederich. The goal is to better prepare you to read any Medieval Latin text, not just the texts that we will be covering in this course.

Luckily for all of us, James Dee has digitized Diederich's Classical and Medieval frequency lists, and combined them with the Gonzalez Lodge Latin frequency list which is based strictly on Classical authors. You can download the entire spreadsheet from Dee's website: A Dual-Source Database of Word Frequencies in Latin. If you intend to continue your Latin studies, especially if you will be working with Classical texts, you will find these frequency lists to be incredibly valuable.


Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM