hist-games: Alfonso Transcription looks real...

Mark Waks justin at intermetrics.com
Wed Jan 21 08:30:03 PST 1998


So -- last night it finally arrived, a neat little CD-ROM of "The
Electronic Texts and Concordances of the Prose Works of Alfonso X, El
Sabio".

It's distinctly no-frills -- no fancy install programs, no graphics
(sadly), just lots and lots and lots of text files. (60 Meg worth.) It
doesn't include quite the entire Alfonso corpus, but it does have most
of it. Someone had altogether too much fun with a computer: not only
does it include the text of each source, but it also has for each:

-- A concordance of word use;
-- An alpha index of words used, with frequency counts;
-- The same, ordered by frequency (which turns up some interesting
tidbits); and
-- The same, ordered by *reverse* alpha order (that is, end of the word
to front), so that like suffixes group.

The transcriptions look quite rigorous, and have an extremely
well-defined syntax for describing columnation, locations and sizes of
capitals and minatures, mention of blank spaces, and so on; while the
text is entirely in ASCII Classic, they also have well-defined ways of
expressing fancy Spanish letters. I'm tempted to write a Perl program to
transform the text into corresponding HTML, to make the thing more
readable; it wouldn't be very hard.

It is, of course, all in medieval Spanish. However, this doesn't look
too daunting; despite knowing no Spanish (much less period Spanish), I
can translate about a third of it off the top of my head, just from
knowing Romance language style and cognates. I begin to believe the
people who tell me that Spanish hasn't changed all that much; I may well
take this on as a long-term translation project.

Anyway, the ordering information for the CD-ROM can be found at the
homepage for the disk:

	http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/text-tools/alfonso.html

Note that the ordering info listed is scanty and incomplete; they give
the price as $40, but fail to mention the $6 shipping and handling.
(However, they did ship me the disk anyway, with an invoice for the
additional $6.)

				-- Justin

Random Quote du Jour:

Re: Translation for the masses
"Ah.  `Avaritia commoda est.'  Latin for `my bird is a toilet.'"
		-- Duncan MacCullagh

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