The Polyglot Project

I just received an e-mail from James Alonso about the Polyglot Project, a relatively new website designed to encourage people to read and appreciate classic literature in its original language. In their own words:

The idea behind the Polyglot Project is simple. We want to help you get fluent in whatever language you’re trying to learn. And we believe the best way to get fluent in a foreign language is to put in time exposing yourself to that language as it’s actually used by native speakers. Here, we’ve pulled together a library of foreign language content for you to work with, starting with classic literature from all over the world. You can work on your Italian by reading Dante’s Inferno, or your Spanish by reading Don Quijote, or choose any other language and learn it from the best writers that language has to offer.

We’ve made it easier for you to immerse yourself by building a translation tool that will help you learn new vocabulary without interrupting your reading flow. Just double click on a word and the English translation will briefly appear and then get out of your way so you can keep reading (and you won’t need a dictionary in your hand or another browser window slowing you down).

It’s an interesting idea, and I can see how this could work pretty well. Looking up a lot of words in a dictionary can be a complete pain in the ass—much more 21st century to be able to just highlight and get a simplistic translation. Obviously, this wouldn’t help with getting the nuance of a phrase, and some colloquialisms would probably remain mysterious, but as a way of encouraging language-learners to dive in, it’s pretty interesting.

The site really is new, so there aren’t a lot of texts available yet, but still, it’s worth taking a look at.

Most importantly, James is looking for some feedback, and thought all of you would be able to help. So if you’d be so obliged, feel free to comment via the Polyglot Project website or to simply post your thoughts below. Thanks in advance . . .

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