Thursday, August 29, 2019

Perseus Digital Library News: Beyond Translation -- new possibilities for reading in a digital age (DH Level 3)

Gregory Crane
Professor of Classics
Tufts University
August 29, 2019

I am writing to report that the Perseus Digital Library had the honor of receiving support for an NEH Digital Humanities Level 3 Project: “Beyond Translation -- new possibilities for reading in a digital age.” While this is just one project with limited funding, it reflects a larger potential shift for the study of Ancient Greek and other languages. When I began my career as a graduate student, more than a generation ago, specialists in languages such as Ancient Greek could only direct full scholarship at other specialists. Now, however, we are in a position to frame our understanding of such languages in a form that makes sources immediately accessible to non-specialists. From my perspective, this reflects a fundamental shift in the audience and the realizable goals for those of us privileged to earn a living as specialists on earlier languages from the human record.

The basic premise of the funded project is simple: the rapid evolution of reading environments has begun to open up a third path for reading, one situated between mastery of a language and dependence upon translations. For me personally, the need for such a third path weighs on me every time I log into Netflix and confront offerings not only in French, German, (various forms of) Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin and other widely taught languages but also in languages such as Turkish, Korean, Malaysian, and Hindi. Even if I had access to classes in each one of these languages, I would never have time to master them -- and there is always another language. ..
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