I hate spamming engines!

Yesterday was a quiet day on the blog. There were fewer than 1000 visitors, which is unusual these days. So I scanned through the list of referrers, to see where the visitors had come from.

Out of 814 visitors, the vast majority were bona fide people using Google to find information of all kinds. Instructions on making and wearing a toga are very popular at present. But 157 visits, no less, were from machines looking for chances to advertise on-line poker, and there were half a dozen hoping to link us to pornography.

That is why I have had to limit comments on the blog to people who register. In addition, I have been flooded with emails from the same mix of unwelcome spammers via the ARLT site, and so we have added a simple password to the form that you can use to contact me. Anyone with the most elementary knowledge of Latin will be able to work out the password, but we hope that spamming machines will not.


A hard day in the recording studio

Five ARLT members gathered yesterday in Loughborough to record Latin and Greek texts set for the current year's A level and GCSE exams.

We came from as far away as Winchester (that was Roger Davies), and met at the parental home of Richard Dawkins, who works for the BBC in London and is a wizard with recording equipment. He is a former pupil of Hilary Walters and Pat Bunting, who, with Rachel Thomas and myself completed the reading team, and generously gives his time and expertise each year so that Classics departments can have high quality recordings to help teachers and students in their preparation for public exams. In addition to the day's hard work with the microphones Richard will spend hours over the next few weeks removing our stumbles and mispronunciations and making seamless final tracks from our best efforts.

The recordings may be downloaded free, or bought for something like cost price, if teachers want the highest quality. When this year's offerings are ready, I shall post the good news here on the blog.

We as an Association are old hands at Latin recordings. We had a go at recording some Greek yesterday, but I personally was not satisfied with my effort with the opening of Euripides' Ion, so I'm not sure whether any Greek will be published.

There are many problems to be tackled when reading Latin aloud, foremost among them the question of elision. Should the elided vowel disappear entirely? Should it make a token appearance, as happens when singers sing in Italian? Or should the elided syllable be spoken in full?

If Latin presents its problems, Greek has its own. How does one pronounce iota subscripts? (We tried to read them as if they were full letters.) Should one emphasise the syllable that carries a written accent, as modern Greeks do? Should one even attempt a tonal accent? (We didn't.) So many things to think about while trying to bring the drama of Vergil or Euripides to life.

We hope you will find the results, when they are ready, both useful and enjoyable.