Tom (goliard) wrote,

Programming advice, please

If you know something about talking to computers, I'd appreciate your advice on how to go about the following project.

I want to write a program that can scan Ancient Greek verse - specifically, the Iliad and Odyssey - and produce statistics about various metrical features. There are e-texts of these (though the ones I've found so far are suboptimal, since they don't show the accents, which are often informative about vowel length). Scansion is largely, but not completely, mechanical, and depends on vowel length (which is sometimes marked but often not) and syllable structure.

I want the program to be able to answer questions like "In the Odyssey, what proportion of metrically heavy syllables are heavy by virtue of containing a long vowel, and what proportion are heavy because they're closed syllables? Is this significantly different from the corresponding numbers for the Iliad?" (If the answer is yes, that might be an argument for separate authorship.)

Now, I don't know anything about programming, but I'm hoping this project is simple enough that I can successfully tackle it eventually, if I give it a couple of hours a week. So: what would be a good language to start learning (I assume you can do this in BASIC, so the question is really which language has the gentlest learning curve), and how?
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