David Bamman, David Smith, Extracting Two Thousand Years of Latin from a Million Book Library

th the rise of large open digitization projects such as the Internet Archive and Google Books, we are witnessing an explosive growth in the number of source texts becoming available to re- searchers in historical languages. The Internet Archive alone contains over 27,014 texts catalogued as Latin, including classical prose and poetry written under the Roman Empire, ecclesiastical trea- tises from the Middle Ages, and dissertations from 19th-century Germany written – in Latin – on the philosophy of Hegel. At one billion words, this collection eclipses the extant corpus of Classical Latin by several orders of magnitude. In addition, the much larger collection of books in English, German, French, and other languages already scanned contains unknown numbers of translations for many Latin books, or parts of books. The sheer scale of this collection offers a broad vista of new research questions, and we focus here on both the opportunities and challenges of computing over such a large space of heterogeneous texts. The works in this massive collection do not constitute a finely curated (or much less balanced) corpus of Latin; it is, instead, simply all the Latin that can be extracted, and in its reach of twenty-one centuries (from ca. 200 BCE to 1922 CE) arguably spans the greatest historical distance of any major textual collection today. While we might hope that the size and historical reach of this collection can eventually offer insight into grand questions such as the evolution of a language over both time and space, we must contend as well with the noise inherent in a corpus that has been assembled with minimal human intervention. Source: Questo è l'abstract anteposto all'articolo nel PDF dell'articolo stesso.

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