Nov 11

Making DH Multilingual

Brief version

I’d like to have a practical session for (1) identifying DH tools (or sites, though that’s a little trickier) that need multilingual user interfaces and (2) taking the first steps toward making a MUI for one or more of them.

Long version

Most technology for learning languages, in my brief experience, is not even chocolate-covered broccoli — it’s carob-covered broccoli at best (or maybe broccoli ice cream). However, engaging students with an institution’s library and museum holdings through DH work provides them a way to strengthen their language abilities and DH abilities in tandem, and to see how language learning can open up new perspectives on their studies and new options for their academic (or other) life paths.

While I am always excited to see the wonderful tools coming out of the DH hacker community, it strikes me often that they are missing multilinguality. While localizing/internationalizing an application is not simple, the success of WordPress in getting translations for the core components is encouraging. (And yet: Even WordPress does not expose the multilinguality level of a plugin, leaving users hanging when they just want to find, say, a plugin to send messages in correctly formatted Hebrew to subscribers.) In keeping with the “more hack, less yak” motto, I’d like to get together THATCampers interested in doing DH in languages other than English to identify some important tools/sites that would benefit from crowdsourced translation, and then to start taking steps toward getting this translation done. My thought is that I’m talking about tools that can be used in or hacked for use in pedagogy, but there’s no reason we can’t look at research tools or library tools or museum tools or anything else. I’m certainly not talking about tools that were designed for language learning or SLA research, such as corpora.

The big kick in the pants is that I’m green enough that I don’t really know how best to start with such a project. (What are the most widely used? What tools are targeted at multilingual users?) This session would need people either who know more about the tool landscape than I or participants willing to do a bit of discovery/exploration first.

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