Harpokration On Line

About a year ago the Suda On Line [http://www.stoa.org/sol] passed an amazing milestone: all entries translated. This was an exciting moment, and one that resonated here at Duke: SOL was an inspiration for the Papyrological Editor (papyri.info), much of whose internals we call SoSOL, “Son of Suda On Line.”

Around that time I was starting to get interested in Harpokration’s lexicon, mainly for the light that it shed on Athenian law. But before long I was in deep. As Fall set in, John Paul Aldrup-MacDonald, Mackenzie Zalin, and I decided it would be a fun service to translate Harpokration. We began to meet every couple weeks over lunch, took our time, learned from each other, did not rush. At some point we figured we ought to release a few hundred entries to the web and see whether anyone else wanted to join us, in a spirit similar to that which has driven SOL.

I guess we had a little too much fun: by spring we had amassed draft translations of all but a few entries. Our colleague Ryan Baumann was kind enough to whip up a lightweight tool to support crowd translation.

So, here we are; if you would like to join us,

  1. go to http://cite-harpokration.appspot.com, click on the link to ‘authorize’; use your google address
  2. close that window and go to http://dcthree.github.io/harpokration (authentication can be a little fussy; so, let us know if you encounter problems: dcthree@duke.edu)
  3. find an entry that you would like to translate (either newly or in order to correct mistakes that we have made)
  4. click on “Add translation for urn.cts:greekLit …” above the entry
  5. This will open a form in which you may enter a translation and any (plain text) notes that you would like to leave for others.
  6. Translate, click “Submit,” move on.
  7. We have been adding pointers to corresponding Suda entries; this is not yet a feature of the translation form. We may add it later. If/when we do, you will enter simply, e.g., “alpha,302”.

This is meant to be simple, fast, lightweight; both tool and translations are works in progress. Thus,

  • There is no peer-review in the formal and narrow sense of gate-keeping and quality control; just low barrier-to-entry, collegial, collaborative, translation. There is no fine-grained version control. We do not curate translations. We have no editorial board. Rather, we concatenate multiple attributed versions. If you notice that we have gotten a word or phrase wrong, you cannot merely change that word or phrase, but if you click on “Add a new version of translation urn:cite:dc3…” the form will open with the “Translation” field already populated with the version that you would like to correct. Make your changes, click Submit. The whole will be attributed to you, but anyone will be able to see that you have only changed a few words. It isn’t fancy, but it is easy and fast.
  • You will see tags in some of the Greek entries (indicating authors, works, citations, references, Pleiades IDs). This markup is not exhaustive and may contain errors;  some day we may do something with it. At the moment, we don’t.
  • About our translations. These are drafts, a first step toward something better and more complete. You will find errors, perhaps many, perhaps serious. If you see something wrong, please feel free to fix it. We have tried to reflect the grammar and style of the work as literally as possible. This sometimes results in a bit of chop and awkwardness. If in places this seems to come at the expense of clarity, please feel free to fix it. At this stage, we make little claim to nuance. There may be more (or less) to Harpokration’s use of verb tense (esp. the imperfect), or verbs of citation/attribution (μνημονεύει, λέγει, φησί, διείλεκται, vel sim.) than we have surfaced; or to the value of δέ (sometimes ‘and’, sometimes ‘but’), and so on. If you see clumsiness, please feel free to fix it (or to email us, in case of global problems).
  • The Greek is from Dindorf’s 1853 edition, generously shared by the TLG. Where Keaney’s 1991 edition is clearly superior, such that a translation should follow it, we indicate as much. To digitize Keaney and then weigh its merits against Dindorf was out of scope.

We have now pushed draft translations of the first hundred entries. Please feel free to add, to correct, to improve. If you have a google account, you are good to go. For our part, we plan to push a new batch of drafts each week over the course of the summer–maybe 20, maybe 50, maybe 100 per week, depending on how things go.

If this succeeds, who knows what comes next. A more robust, production-oriented site supporting crowd-translation of ancient lexica, scholia, and scholarship would certainly be a great thing to have and to build and to contribute to.

In the meantime, feel free to pitch in.

Josh Sosin (joshua.sosin@duke.edu)
John P. Aldrup-MacDonald (john.smith.macdonald@duke.edu)
Mackenzie Zalin (mack.zalin@duke.edu)

a collection of parts flying in loose formation