Philology and Digital Humanities: Getting in touch with HyperMachiavel and LERA

June 13, 2017

On May 15th, there has been a MPIeR Jour Fixe and an ensuing workshop concerned with methodological questions of comparisons between different variants of a text. Séverine Gedzelman and Jean-Claude Zancarini from Lyon (ENS/CNRS) have presented the first results of their work on the French translations of Machiavelli's Prince and the tool HyperMachiavel, in which they have been doing this work. In this tool (which provides a parallel view) scholars are able to compare the original version of a text with its translations - e.g. the "editio princeps" by Blado (1532) and the first four French translations. Proposing functionalities coming from lexicography and linguistics, which allow analysing the act of translation, the tool provides a visualization of the effects of the translation in the target culture and, in return, helps in rethinking about the complexity of the original text.

In the workshop that was ensuing on the Jour Fixe, the guests from Lyon led the audience through a more detailed tour of their tool "HyperMachiavel", after which Jörg Ritter and Marcus Pöckelmann, both from the Working Group of Information Science in the Humanities at the Martin-Luther-University of Halle, presented an alternative tool working on similar tasks. Their tool Locate, Explore, Retrace, and Apprehend complex text variants (LERA) has grown out of a project on semi-automatic analyses of differences between variants and while the tool is not meant to work across languages, it offers automatic or semi-automatic functions to the user.

Beyond an agreement to further pursue these abstract questions in view of concrete technically facilitated methods, both teams offered their help and willingness to share their tools. A few researchers of the MPIeR have already expressed their interest in trying one or the other of the tools and we will see how these ideas can be further developed.

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