Alien Words: Vocabulary Game for Greek and Latin

2012-06-20

Alien Words is a vocabulary game for Greek, Latin, the SAT, the GRE, and other languages. You have to defend your city from invading space aliens, who bear a strange resemblence to the words you’re learning. Give the correct definitions, and they explode. Get them wrong, and your city will soon be destroyed!

Alien Words tracks your progress as you play. It can tell when you’re starting to learn a word and when you’ve really mastered it, and it adjusts that word’s frequency accordingly. The algorithm makes sure the words you’re learning are always a manageable size. You can also see your progress in each language.

Alien Words began life as a non-graphical flashcard program I wrote for myself when I started Greek. It migrated from flat text files to a database, then to a Java Swing application. All along I was tweaking the question-asking algorithm and adding more word lists (first Homer, then the New Testament, then some Latin … ). Eventually I turned it into a game, but it was still just for my own private use. I also added features to ask Greek and Latin words in their various forms, so you could practice declensions and conjugations, too. The current version is the result of nearly 12 years of work.

Now I’ve converted it to a Javascript game and put it online. I’m still translating most of the word lists, and I temporarily removed the Greek- and Latin-specific parts, but I expect to add all that soon. I’ve also begun compiling lists for the SAT and GRE, and soon I’ll add some more mainstream languages like Spanish, French, and German. There are also a lot of features I’m planning to make the game more fun to play.

Right now, you can subscribe to the Greek and Latin languages for $10/month. I expect other languages will cost about the same. Subscribers to a language get access to all its lists, and I’ll be adding more lists shortly. Right now, subscribing to Greek gets you access to the Hanson and Quinn and Homer word lists, and Latin has a word list for Wheelock. You can also play a demo game in each language to try things out before you subscribe.

Please check out Alien Words, and let me know what you think!

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