[open-humanities] TEXTUS Translations

Sam Leon sam.leon at okfn.org
Sat Feb 25 19:17:49 UTC 2012

Hi All,

One of the use cases that has been discussed for TEXTUS is translation.

This was initially envisaged as side-by-side collaborative translation,
much like side-by-side collaborative transcriptions. The end product of
this translation process would be a new openly licensed translation
discoverable through TEXTUS.

There are various problems with this model. As translations can be
approached in such different ways it is difficult to collaborate widely on
them given that authors will have differing ideas about how faithful or
transparent their translations should be. Unlike transcriptions there is no
'right or wrong' translation and as such it might be harder to crowd source
them. You could easily get the scenario where any instance of TEXTUS filled
up with lots of partial translations each taking a different approach but
none ever getting finished.

How you would manage all the many partial translations of varying quality
would become a big issue. I'm not sure that I would want them all to be
discoverable as separate texts through TEXTUS. I think this would dilute
the quality of the content and risk losing the faith of the scholarly
community a given instance of TEXTUS was targeted at.

One idea that came up at the first user requirements workshop was to have a
class of annotations that were translations. A user could highlight a
section of text and write a translation of it that could be reviewed and
searched by others interested in partial or full translations of a given

The beauty of this would be that there would no longer be the problem of
having to treat translations as a new class of texts. It would support
people doing bits of translations at a time, and looking at the work of
others, without necessarily forcing these fragmentary translations
together. On this model TEXTUS could of course be a useful tool for those
wanting to collaborate on full translations of a work but a new full text
would not have to be the end product.

It would also be very interesting to look at the different approaches
translators had to a given section of text. You could pick a section of
text and bring up all the various translation annotations, or a sub-set of
them, that had been done on a given section. Of course, some thought would
need to go into how translation annotations would be displayed alongside
one another as they would be longer than many other types of annotation.

It would be great to hear people's thoughts on this idea and if anyone knew
of systems that currently do this kind of thing.



Sam Leon
Community Coordinator
Open Knowledge Foundation
Skype: samedleon
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