Pyrrha's Roman

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meet Pyrrha

mosaic making

Roman gardening

Bignor villa

Roman tombstones

Roman inscriptions

Latin poetry

Latin language

Spoken Latin

Harry Potter Latin Quiz

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[the real Medusa!]
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What does ICT owe to Latin and Greek? - slide the mouse over the words opposite to find out . . . (but don't click!)

The British Computer Society's 'Glossary of Computing Terms' defines a computer as an "automatic, programmable, digital data-processor".
See below for the origins of 'cyberjargon' like this!

Notice with Greek words that sometimes k is transliterated to 'c', u is 'y' and h can be 'a' or 'e'.

Classical Computers Quiz

Think carefully about your answer, use the clues in the 'mouseover' box and then click on the 'check your answer' link, which will give you more information.


What is the link between the control systems of computers and ancient Greek ships?
(Black ship picture used from David Claudon's Iliad website with permission).

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[computer innards]

A 'microprocessor' is used in the CPU (Central Processing Unit) to analyse binary data and power the computer.
Is the root of this word Latin or Greek?

('micro' has become an accepted term for a home computer, since computers are always becoming smaller).

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3.What is a program?

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An icon (or ikon) is a useful device which is independent of language for conveying its meaning. Computer users can click on an easily-recognisable sign to choose a course of action - but what does this icon have in common with the statue of Hermes holding the infant Dionysus (from an ancient Greek temple in Olympia?)

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What is the origin of the word 'computer'?

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What is the connection between these?

(Eudora is the name of a popular e-mail program).

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'digitus' is the Latin word for 'finger'. Why does it also mean 'number' - the root of such words as 'digital' and 'digitise'?

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Other software companies protest at cost of binary data ...

What is amusing about this article in the satirical publication 'The Onion'?

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What are Peripherals and why are they so called?

Look at the 'answers' section for some derivations which might surprise you.

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10. a) How can Latin help you to identify the differences between Internet, Intranet and Extranet?

b) Why is a link 'hyper'?

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- and (bonus question!)

'automatic' - the first word in the definition of a computer at the beginning of this quiz.

Could the Greeks and Romans possibly have had a word for 'automatic'?

(Surely they had slaves to do all their work so they didn't need machines?)

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Congratulations! You have finished the quiz.

Harry Potter Latin Quiz

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answer 1

Cybernetics is the study of automatic control systems, such as those found in computers and in the nervous systems of animals.

It is derived from the Greek word for the captain of a ship!

Cybercafe, cyberspace, cyberpunk, cybernaut ('nauta' is both Latin and Greek for 'sailor')
- or perhaps you suffer from cyberphobia - extreme terror of computer technology !
(phobia comes from the Greek word for 'fear')

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answer 2

Both Latin and Greek are used in this word!

'mikros' is Greek for small, and 'processus' is Latin for 'a setting out' or 'series of steps' (from procedo = I set out).

'microchip' - the tiny wafer of semi-conducting material used to make an integrated circuit, turns to Middle English for the 'chip' part of its name!

'Microsoft' is the name chosen by Bill Gates for his software company.

(N.B. 'makros' is Greek for 'long', so a macro is a longer sequence of commands which can be activated by pressing a single key.)

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answer 3

'Program' is the US spelling of the English 'programme' and is 'something written in advance' - a series of coded instructions which can be obeyed by a computer.

'pro' means 'before' in both Latin and Greek, and 'gramma' comes from the Greek word for 'written'.

(N.B. 'grapho' is the Greek verb meaning I write or draw
- you can see that the word 'graphics' comes from the same root.)

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answer 4

'eikon' is the Greek word for a statue, or any sort of representation like a picture.

Have you ever used an 'emoticon' :-) ?
This is an icon used in typing to convey emotion of some kind.

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answer 5

It means 'working (something) out together'.

'com' or 'cum' is Latin for 'with' or 'together with', and 'putare' means to settle an account, consider or work out.

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answer 6

'eu' is Greek, meaning 'well' or 'good'
'dora' are presents or gifts.

If only all email were like this, with no unsolicited and unwanted items!
(Apparently the program 'Eudora' was named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Eudora Welty, but it is a very lucky choice of name!)

(N.B. 'e-mail' is short for electronic mail.
'electrum' is the Latin word for amber, which produces electrostatic phenomena when rubbed.
'mail' is from a Middle English word for a travelling bag or wallet.)

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answer 7

Digitus came to mean 'number' because of the practice of counting on the fingers!

In computing, all data has to be converted into number, or digitised, so that the computer processor can 'read' it.

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answer 8

Apart from the implication about ruthless business methods, this article refers to the fact that digital data is supplied to the computer using the binary system - just the numbers 0 and 1.

A 'Bit' is a single digit from a binary number (ie it will be either 0 or 1) and it stands for BInary digiT. A 'Byte' is a group of bits, typically 8, which represents a single character.

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answer 9

Peripherals in the computing sense are appliances capable of being attached to a computer - devices which the computer 'has around it'.

Some peripheral devices with Classical origins are :

video (Latin = I see)

audio (Latin = I hear)

microphone / headphones (Greek phone = a sound)

disc (Latin : discus)

photo (Greek = light)

fax / facsimile (Latin = 'make a similar one!')

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answer 10

You are looking at this website on the Internet, but many schools and organisations have their own Intranet (their own 'mini-internet' which just operates within the building).

An Extranet is the facility for accessing an institution's own Intranet from the Internet!

(N.B. The words for 'net' and 'web' both come from Old English rather than Latin or Greek).

A Hyperlink will take you beyond the confines of the page you are on to a different Internet location.

- but don't confuse the prefix 'hyper' with 'hypo' which means 'under' as in 'hypothermia' and 'hypodermic'.

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answer to bonus question

The Greeks and Romans did indeed possess 'automata'. The Greeks invented the steam turbine but limited its uses to ornamental toys, and the Romans used automatic weapons as well as garden ornaments!

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Harry Potter Latin Quiz

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