Programming Help for Terry Bird

A message from Terry Bird, of running vocabulary fame, who would like to find someone to help him with some programming…

“I became interested in computers in the early 80’s and produced Latin and Greek programs (with much help from friends and students). I programmed in BBC Basic. This was turned into BBC Basic for Windows by Richard Russell, a BBC man  who is now retired. They work easily on my PC but giving them to other people seems pretty hard. They don’t work on Macs, are often blocked by college IT managers, Microsoft etc I have 9 Latin students at roughly upper sixth level, and they can’t get them to work.

I am not a proper programmer and too old to learn new computer languages, but I still think my programs have a good deal to offer students. In lockdown I have converted the Latin program to Italian, and since I am learning Italian I have been able to see whether they are good for a learner. In fact they are very successful for learning vocabulary, and I have programmed testers for the Italian indicative and separately for the congiuntivo and condizionale, regulars and iregulars alike.  In a couple of hours I have thoroughly revised lots of tenses, and there is great flexibility in choosing or adding tenses.

I think I was the first person ever to produce programs for ancient Greek. Some things are nowhere else – I produced a syntax tester which takes you through all the major constructions including conditionals. The Greek verb programme, indicative only, can test all tenses active middle and passive. I cracked the irregulars but never did -mi verbs because I never got round to it. I always remember John Barsby  cancelling perfects and pluperfects passive – beyond his memory.

I rather hoped that the BBC Basic community would help me out, but this is not so. I need someone who could understand Basic (which I could readily explain) and programme in a really modern language that would work on PC or MAC, even create an app. Some redesigning of how it looks and some addition of illustrations would be helpful.

I would be willing to pay someone competent. Of course ideally it would be someone sympathetic to Latin and Greek (or even Italian). I am rather out of schools these days but I wonder if this could be an IT project for an A Level student.

This problem has long bugged me. the running vocabularies are very successful but I think that programs that would enable students really to conquer noun endings, verb endings and vocabulary  would be very useful.”

Contact Terry at