When I started my dissertation project a few years ago, I was looking for proper tools to transcribe handwritings like this:
Humanities tend to make things complicated. And that’s a privilege, because they have decided to describe and analyze their topic of research as exactly as possible. Skimming over complex issues leads to a loss of important details and, in doing so, to inaccurate argumentations. As humanists, our medium to transport insights and information is still a language and so – besides scientific research – we artfully string together words and produce rhetorical highly adorned sentences to convince our readers that our assumptions and arguments are unassailable. To describe details, we often need a lot of words (although sometimes we reduce a complex issue to a familiar technical term)!
“I think, yes, it’s also available with Latin texts,” Ines Rehbein and Josef Ruppenhofer answered during a lecture in one of our InFoDiTex sessions on my request. Immediately, I was electrified – to me this was a magic moment, because in most of the digital humanities conferences and summer schools, I learned to know powerful and valuable tools for English or German text corpora. Yet, my corpus covers a bundle of 252 Latin letters written by St. Augustine around the beginning of the 5th century CE. At least in my experience, useful tools for Latin texts are quite rare (I know there are many more possibilities with some skills in programming, but in this context, I’m thinking of hands-on tools for less technical researchers to start with).