- Mar 2023
The TLL contains every instance of every know Latin word in every known medium from the beginning of the language down to the 2nd century CE and from then on, every lexicographically significant instance from that time until the 6th century CE. [22:32]
Dass das ägyptische Wort p.t (sprich: pet) "Himmel" bedeutet, lernt jeder Ägyptologiestudent im ersten Semester. Die Belegsammlung im Archiv des Wörterbuches umfaßt ca. 6.000 Belegzettel. In der Ordnung dieses Materials erfährt man nun, dass der ägyptische Himmel Tore und Wege hat, Gewässer und Ufer, Seiten, Stützen und Kapellen. Damit wird greifbar, dass der Ägypter bei dem Wort "Himmel" an etwas vollkommen anderes dachte als der moderne westliche Mensch, an einen mythischen Raum nämlich, in dem Götter und Totengeister weilen. In der lexikographischen Auswertung eines so umfassenden Materials geht es also um weit mehr als darum, die Grundbedeutung eines banalen Wortes zu ermitteln. Hier entfaltet sich ein Ausschnitt des ägyptischen Weltbildes in seinem Reichtum und in seiner Fremdheit; und naturgemäß sind es gerade die häufigen Wörter, die Schlüsselbegriffe der pharaonischen Kultur bezeichnen. Das verbreitete Mißverständnis, das Häufige sei uninteressant, stellt die Dinge also gerade auf den Kopf.
Every Egyptology student learns in their first semester that the Egyptian word pt (pronounced pet) means "heaven". The collection of documents in the dictionary archive comprises around 6,000 document slips. In the order of this material one learns that the Egyptian heaven has gates and ways, waters and banks, sides, pillars and chapels. This makes it tangible that the Egyptians had something completely different in mind when they heard the word "heaven" than modern Westerners do, namely a mythical space in which gods and spirits of the dead dwell.
This is a fantastic example of context creation for a dead language as well as for creating proper historical context.
Textmaterials war zunächst ein technisches Problem. Angelehnt an die Praxis des Thesaurus Linguae Latinae wurde ein ausgeklügeltes Verzettelungssystem entworfen. Die gesammelten Texte wurden dazu in Passagen von jeweils etwa 30 Wörtern Länge unterteilt und in hieroglyphischer Form auf Zettel im Postkartenformat geschrieben. Die Bezeichnung des verzettelten Texts und der aktuellen Textpassage wurden in der Kopfzeile notiert. Wo erforderlich, sind auch Notizen zum szenischen Kontext einer Inschrift beigefügt, und meistens wurde der Versuch gemacht, eine Übersetzung der Textpassage zu geben. Gerade die Lückenhaftigkeit dieser Übersetzungen zeigt deutlich, wie unsicher man sich damals noch an vielen Stellen sein mußte. Die gesamte primäre Textaufnahme hatte bis zu einem gewissen Grade vorläufigen Charakter und war nicht als abschließende Analyse der Textstelle, sondern als Ausgangspunkt eines vertiefenden, vergleichenden Studiums gedacht. Dass heute viele der damals problematischen Passagen keine Schwierigkeiten mehr machen, ist zuallererst ein Verdienst des Wörterbuches und belegt, wie dieses das philologische Textverständnis auf ein neues Niveau gehoben hat.
The structure of the filing system for the Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache was designed based on the work done for the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae started in 1894. Texts in the collection were roughly divided into passages of about 30 words and written in hieroglyphic form on postcard-sized slips of paper. The heading contained the designation of the text and the body included the texts' context (inscriptions, etc.) as well as a preliminary translation of the passage.
These passages were then cross-referenced with other occurrences of the hieroglyphics to provide better progressive translations which ultimately appeared in the final manuscript. As a result some of the translations on the cards were incomplete as work proceeded and cross-comparisons of individual words were puzzled out.
A slip showing a passage of text from the victory stele of Sesostris III at the Nubian fortress of Semna. The handwriting is that of project leader Adolf Erman, who had "already struggled with the text as a high school student".
Jean François Champollion's "Lettre à M. Dacier ... relative à l'alphabet des hiéroglyphes ..." (1822) is therefore rightly celebrated as the "birth certificate" of Egyptology, in which the decisive breakthrough in the decipherment of hieroglyphic writing was achieved.
- historical context
- context collapse
- Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache
- Zettelkasten puzzles
- historical method
- large language models
- Jean-François Champollion
- contextual clues
- key word in context
- Thesaurus Linguae Latinae
- Jan 2023
- manuscript studies
- natural language processing
- artificial intelligence
- digital humanities
- corpus linguistics
- machine learning
- handwriting recognition
Local file Local file
Transcriptions taken from Goitein’s publications were corrected according to handwrittennotes on his private offprints. The nature of Goitein’s “typed texts” is as follows. Goitein tran-scribed Geniza documents by hand from the originals or from photostats. These handwrittentranscriptions were later typed by an assistant and usually corrected by Goitein. When Goiteindied in 1985, the transcriptions were photocopied in Princeton before the originals were sentto the National Library of Israel, where they can be consulted today. During the followingdecades, the contents of most of these photocopies were entered into a computer, and period-ically the files had to be converted to newer digital formats. The outcome of these repeatedprocesses of copying and conversion is that transcription errors and format glitches are to beexpected. As the Princeton Geniza Project website states: “Goitein considered his typed texts‘drafts’ and always restudied the manuscripts and made revisions to his transcriptions beforepublishing them.” See also Goitein, “Involvement in Geniza Research,” 143. It is important tokeep in mind that only the transcriptions that were typed were uploaded to the project website.Therefore, e.g., Goitein’s transcriptions of documents in Arabic scripts are usually not foundthere. The National Library of Israel and the Princeton Geniza Lab also hold many of Goitein’sdraft English translations of Geniza documents, many of which were intended for his plannedanthology of Geniza texts in translation, Mediterranean People.
Much like earlier scribal errors, there are textual errors inserted into digitization projects which may have gone from documentary originals, into handwritten (translated) copies, which then were copied manually via typewriter, and then copied again into some digital form, and then changed again into other digital forms as digital formats changed.
As a result it is often fruitful to be able to compare the various versions to see the sorts of errors which each level of copying can introduce. One might suppose that textual errors were only common when done by scribes using manual techniques, but it is just as likely for errors to be inserted between digital copies as well.
Another problem arises from the very nature of documentary material astexts not written for posterity. When reading Geniza letters, one is often in theposition of an uninvited guest at a social event, that is, someone who is unfa-miliar with the private codes and customs shared by the inner circle. Writersoften do not bother to explain themselves in a complete manner when they
know that the recipient is already familiar with the subject. 17
17 Indeed, writers often used this shared understanding to stress the relationship they had with the recipients.
philology’s strongest tools: the ability to compare versions of the sametext.
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, The Powers of Philology: Dynamics of Textual Scholarship(Chicago, 2003), 3
This looks like an interesting read on philology and textual scholarship.
Classical scholars met in 1931 to establish a set of convention and sigla (symbols, brackets, etc.) for indicating the conditions of texts, editorial corrections, and restorations in inscriptions, papyri, manuscripts and other writing contexts.
- Jan 2016
Harpers 1873 the telegraph, pp. 359-360
Discusses the future importance of the telegraph in terms of its impact on knowledge: will free language from philology and allow us to make improvements on that. Mentions the beginnings of the typewriter.
"The immense extension of the general telegraphic system, and its common use for business and social correspondence and the dissemination of public intelligence, are far more important to the community than any of these incidental applications of the system. The telegraph system is extending much more rapidly than the railroad system, and is probably exerting even a greater influence upon the mental development of the people than the railroad is exerting in respect to the material and physical prosperity of the country. It has penetrated almost every mind with a new sense of the vastnessof distance and the value of time. It is commonly said that it has annihilated time and space--and this is true in a sense; but in a deeper sense it has magnified both, for it has been the means of expanding vastly the inadequate conceptions which we form of space and distance, and of giving a significance to the idea of time which it never before had to the human mind. It lifts every man who reads its messages above his own little circle, gives him in a vivid flash, as it were, a view of vast distances, and tends by an irresistible influence to make him a citizen of his country and a fellow of the race as well as a member of his local community.
In other respects its influence, though less obvious, will probably prove equally profound. So long as the mysterious force employed in the telegraph was only known in the mariner’s compass, or by scientific investigations, or in a few special processes of art, the knowledge of the electric or magnetic force had, so to speak, a very limited soil to grow in. By means of the telegraph many thousands of persons in this country are constantly employed in dealing with it practically--generating it, insulating it, manipulating it. The invention of Morse has engaged some one in every considerable town and village in studying its properties, watching its operation, and using it profitably. Nothing could be better calculated to attract general attention to this newfound power, and to disseminate that knowl edge of it from which new applications may be expected to result.
The tendency of scientific pursuits to promote the love of truth and the habit of accuracy is strikingly illustrated in the zeal and fidelity with which the minute and long-continued investigations have been pursued that have led to the development of this new realm of knowledge and this new element in human affairs.
But perhaps the most extended and important influence which the telegraph is destined to exert upon the human mind is that which it will ultimately work out through its influence upon language.
Language is the instrument of thought. It is not merely a means of expression. A word is a tool for thinking, before the thinker uses it as a signal for communicating his thought. There is no good reason why it should not be free to be improved, as other implements are. Language has hitherto been regarded merely in a historical point of view, and even now philology is little more than a record of the differences in language which have separated mankind, and of the steps of development in it which each branch of the human family has pursued. And as a whole it may be said that the science of language in the hands of philologists is used to perpetuate the differences and irregularities of speech which prevail. The telegraph is silently introducing a new element, which, we may confidently predict, will one day present this subject in a different aspect. The invention of Morse has given beyond recall the pre-eminence to the Italian alphabet, and has secured the ultimate adoption through-out the world of that system or some improvement upon it. The community of intelligence, and the necessary convertibility of expression between difl‘erent languages, which the press through the influence of the telegraph is establishing, have commenced a process of assimilation, the results of which are already striking to those who carefully examine the subject. An important event transpiring in any part of the civilized world is concisely expressed in a dispatch which is immediately reproduced in five or ten or more different languages. A comparison of such dispatches with each other will show that in them the peculiar; and local idioms of each language are to a large extent discarded. The process sifts out, as it were, the characteristic peculiarities of each language, and it may be confidently said that nowhere in literature will be found a more remarkable parallelism of structure, and even of word forms, combined with equal purity and strength in each language, than in the telegraphic columns of the leading dailies of the capitals of Europe and America. A traveler in Europe, commencing the study of the language of the country where he may be, finds no reading which he can so easily master as the telegraphic news column. The telegraph is cosmopolitan, and is rapidly giving prominence to those modes of speech in which different languages resemble each other. When we add to this the fact that every step of advance made by science and the arts increases that which different languages have in common by reason of the tendency of men in these pursuits the world over to adopt a common nomenclature, and to think alike or in similar mental processes, we see the elements already at work which will ultimately relegate philology to its proper and useful place among the departments of history, and will free language from those restrictions which now forbid making any intentional improvements in it. With the general use of the telegraphic system other things begin to readjust themselves to its conditions. Short-hand writing is more cultivated now than ever before. The best reporter must understand both systems, and be able to take his notes of a conversation while it passes, and then by stepping into an office transmit it at, once without writing out. There is now in practical use in the city of New York a little instrument the size of a sewing-machine, having a keyboard like the printing telegraph, by which any one can write in print as legibly as this page, and almost as rapidly as a reporter in short-hand. When we consider the immense number of people that every day by writing a telegram and counting the words are taking a most efficient lesson in concise composition, we see in another way the influence of this invention on the strength of language. If the companies should ever adopt the system of computing all their charges by the number of letters instead of words, as indeed they do now for all cipher or unintelligible messages, the world would very quickly be considering the economic advantages of phonetic or other improved orthography.
These processes are in operation all the world over, and in reference to the use of one and the same alphabet. By the principle which Darwin describes as natural selection short words are gaining the advantage of long words, direct forms of expression are gaining the advantage over indirect, words of precise meaning the advantage of the ambiguous, and local idioms are every where at a disadvantage. The doctrine of the Survival of the Fittest thus tends to the constant improvement and points to the ultimate unification of language.
The idea of a common language of the world, therefore, however far in the future it may be, is no longer a dream of the poet nor a scheme of a conqueror. And it is significant of the spirit of the times that this idea, once so chimerical, should at the time we are writing find expression in the inaugural of our Chief Magistrate, in his declaration of the belief “ that our Great Maker is preparing the world in His own good time to become one nation, speaking one language, and when armies and navies will be no longer required.”