New Studies

Two new studies have now appeared officially as part of the joined LREC / COLING conference in Torino.

A paper by Robert Forkel, myself, Christoph Rzymski and Guillaume Ségerer presents Linguistic Survey of India and Polyglotta Africana: Two Retrostandardized Digital Editions of Large Historical Collections of Multilingual Wordlists.

The Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) and the Polyglotta Africana (PA) are two of the largest historical collections of multilingual wordlists. While the originally printed editions have long since been digitized and shared in various forms, no editions in which the original data is presented in standardized form, comparable with contemporary wordlist collections, have been produced so far. Here we present digital retro-standardized editions of both sources. For maximal interoperability with datasets such as Lexibank the two datasets have been converted to CLDF, the standard proposed by the Cross-Linguistic Data Formats initiative. In this way, an unambiguous identification of the three main constituents of wordlist data – language, concept and segments used for transcription – is ensured through links to the respective reference catalogs, Glottolog, Concepticon and CLTS. At this level of interoperability, legacy material such as LSI and PA may provide a reasonable complementary source for language documentation, filling in gaps where original documentation is not possible anymore.

A paper by Michele Pulini and myself presents First Steps Towards the Integration of Resources on Historical Glossing Traditions in the History of Chinese: A Collection of Standardized Fǎnqiè Spellings from the Guǎngyùn.

Due to the peculiar nature of the Chinese writing system, it is difficult to assess the pronunciation of historical varieties of Chinese. In order to reconstruct ancient pronunciations, historical glossing practices play a crucial role. However, although studied thoroughly by numerous scholars, most research has been carried out in a qualitative manner, and no attempt at providing integrated resources of historical glossing practices has been made so far. Here, we present a first step towards the integration of resources on historical glossing traditions in the history of Chinese. Our starting point are so-called fǎnqiè spellings in the Guǎngyùn, one of the early rhyme books in the history of Chinese, providing pronunciations for more than 20000 Chinese characters. By standardizing digital versions of the resource using tools from computational historical linguistics, we show that we can predict historical spellings with high precision and at the same time shed light on the precision of ancient glossing practices. Although a considerably small first step, our resource could be the starting point for an integrated, standardized collection that could ultimately shed new light on the history of Chinese.