Today for the international Day in Digital Humanities event, digital humanists have been asked to document what we do in a day. It’s a great idea, and I expect the comments will be as varied as our research.
My training is as a historical linguist. I am mainly interested in the development of the Japonic language family, which is the language family consisting of Japanese and Ryukyuan languages. I came to Oxford to work on the AHRC-funded Verb semantics and argument realization in pre-modern Japanese (VSARPJ) project, and in order to do the research for the project we soon realized we needed to build a corpus. I attended the Digital Humanities Summer School in Oxford in the summer of 2009, and that’s where I learned to do much of the necessary skills for this kind of work, including how to use XML, XPath, XSLT, etc. (As it happens, I’ll be co-teaching the Text to Tech workshop in the Digital Humanities Summer School this year, and registration is still open.)
When I wrote my dissertation, a few years before coming here, I had to rely on dictionaries and the few available indices to get information about words attested in Old Japanese, the oldest stage of the Japanese language (8th century). Now that we have a corpus, the Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese (OCOJ), it’s so much easier, faster, and more accurate to get data about any given word.
In addition to the corpus, I am also working on the development of a bidirectional Old Japanese – English dictionary, making it possible to group words together by their meaning. It’s also possible to jump from the dictionary to examples in the corpus, and from the corpus to the dictionary. But more on that later.