Working with Hans-Friedrich Mueller, the Thomas Lamont Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, Kyle Doney '20 designed and prototyped an IOS eReader that will simplify and digitize an edition of Julius Caesar’s “Commentarii de bello Gallico” (“Commentaries on the Gallic War”), produced by Mueller.
A staple of high school Latin classrooms, the work by Caesar, arguably the greatest general in Rome’s history, is no easy read. Doney’s goal was to create an app that displays the Latin text along with explanatory commentary specific to Mueller’s edition. And tapping on a word will call up a dictionary entry that will define the word in context.
This should appeal to younger readers teethed on technology who are more likely to read on their device than to open a paper book. “I wanted to see how such an app could best serve current students of the language,” he said. “eReaders are wonderful tools to help people read books in non-native languages, and frequent reading is a key method both to improving and maintaining ability in a foreign language.” Doney, of Lexington, Mass., used Apple-produced software to design an interface and the code behind it. He presented his research at Steinmetz Symposium his junior year. “Reading is especially important for non-spoken languages such as Latin, where it is essentially the only avenue to access the language,” he said. “Developing the app was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I came in having very little knowledge of anything related to it. But it was a fun challenge.”