Speaking out of tongues

With my father in a coma since last week, my continuous state of panic has had an unexpected side effect: I seem to have lost all ability to speak one language at a time or, for that matter, any language correctly. German and French mix up in my head and I am not able to speak or write either German or French. My boarding pass is not a boarding ticket (as the French would have it), but a board card, after the German expression. The right word came to me half an hour after the moment I would have needed it (thankfully, I still managed to get on board using the wrong word…). The words from one language crash the other language’s syntax.  I suppose this will pass, at some point. I figured that it might help me to write in English, a neutral language in which my stylistic ambitions and the unconscious associations are in no way comparable with those I have in French or German, to get back on track.

Since I left suddenly for France last week, we did not have the planned meeting of the the digital edition group. Still, I have had time to sum up for myself which aspects we need to get settled until our official launching in July:

– try and see if we can modify the color of the manuscript background so that it would harmonize with the rest of the page; we should in any way keep the manuscript background as it gives a clear connection to the material itself;

– improve the visualization of the metadata: select important elements that do not appear now; give German and English formulations for some important elements we have as plain text and normalize them;

– manage to track down all the missing line breaks (!);

– enrich the index of persons so that we can provide more information on each and every known person;

– add notes to precise the content of the Beausobre letters; refine the tagging concerning the material aspects of the manuscripts in the Tieck letters;

– make sure the work manuscripts (“Roxane”, “Sandmann”) are similarly presented so that the coherence of the tagging, etc., appears clearly;

– add a “Search” and an “Impressum” button at the bottom of each page;

– have the whole thing run through the legal department of the University.

After that, we will be able to think more precisely about the form in which we will present the Boeckh corpus (a mix of metadata and transcribed documents); the improvement of the search engine; the development of a collation systematic that could fit all the types of documents we have. Step by step…


Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université. My areas of research include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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