One interesting find the last couple of weeks was Demo-Man’s wonderful low-res interactive tutorial on trigonometry for games. It’s very well done and particularly close to my heart because, when I was 11, I was motivated to learn trigonometry because of games: initially just to be able to draw circles on my Apple IIe but then how to do basic wireframe animation like I saw in the original Flight Simulator I played. (I got as far as rotating cubes but never hidden-line-removal).
It also made me want to get back to my in-progress Orbits Tutorial which I started back when SpaceX launched Starman into space and I was explaining some basic Kepler-model stuff to a friend.
The team at Eldarion have recently been making a lot of really great progress on rethinking the Scaife Viewer architecturally including support for stand-off chunking and annotations. There’ll hopefully be stuff to show on that in the coming weeks. If you are interested in what’s going on with Scaife, I set up a separate newsletter just for monthly Scaife updates so I encourage anyone who’s interested in Scaife, not just for the Perseus Digital Library, but also for other digital philology projects to subscribe.
The newsletter was launched at the same time as a new landing page for the Scaife project as a whole: https://scaife-viewer.org. You can subscribe to the newsletter from there too. I’ll probably say a lot less about Scaife here as a result. Just go there if you’re interested :-)
I’ll get back to more updates on language learning and morphology in future newsletters, but I did want to give a bit of an update on another new (for me) thing I’ve been working on in collaboration with a PhD student, Sophia Sklaviadis, at Tufts: namely repeated n-grams in Homer and their interaction with meter. Last year, I started doing various visualisations of repeated n-grams for Sophia and, most recently incorporated scansion data from David Chamberlain. We submitted an abstract for the Quantitative Approaches to Versification conference in Prague later this year which, as I think I’ve mentioned before, got accepted! We just submitted our paper earlier this week. The research has (is often the case) raised a bunch more questions so there’s a lot more work Sophia and I plan to do on it.
Some of the repeated n-gram ideas (although less likely the meter stuff) will be fun later to apply to other texts, including the Greek New Testament.
As part of the paper submission, I opened up the GitHub repository where I’ve been doing the work (sorry it’s a bit of a mess still): https://github.com/jtauber/homer-ngram
One thing I will share in the area of language learning (and computational modelling thereof) is a recent paper by Mollica and Piantadosi with a back-of-the-envelope calculation on how many bits of information are involved in a human knowing a language:
Humans store about 1.5 megabytes of information during language acquisition
It’s mostly interesting just as an overview of various types of linguistic knowledge and how to size them from an information-theoretic point of view.
I’m coming to the end of my second course on music theory and composition at Berklee College of Music. A couple of weeks ago, our weekly assignment was a fun project to score a given scene from God of War. Even though we were mostly assessed on our chord analysis and use of odd and mixed meter, I decided to put a bit of effort into the actual orchestration. You can hear the result at:
I’ve toyed with doing a video breakdown of the score as there are lots of different things I tried to do in the short time I had for the cue.
Two weekends ago was the NYC Tolkien Conference. Unfortunately they sold out quickly and I was too late to register. But a few days before the conference started, it was announced that there was going to be meetup (or “mootup”) for members of the Signum community. I decided it was worth me popping down from Boston just to hang out one evening with the Signum crowd.
Totally worth it to have dinner and a pint with Corey Olsen, John Garth, Elise Trudel Cedeño, Juli Thompson and others.
I ended up getting in to the second day of the conference from the waitlist too so got to meet Marcel Aubron-Bülles and (finally) Tom Hillman.
My really big Tolkien news, however, is that my talk Tolkien and Digital Philology was accepted at Tolkien 2019, the big Tolkien conference in Birmingham later this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tolkien Society. My abstract basically pitched my Digital Tolkien project, applying the sorts of corpus-linguistic markup, annotations and analysis normally done to older texts (generally in Ancient Greek in my case but also the novels of, say, Jane Austen or Charles Dickens) to the works of Tolkien.
I confess I’m extremely nervous about presenting in front of Tolkien scholars as I’m not a real one (just like I’m not a real Classicist or Biblical Scholar but know just enough to have some ideas on how linguistics and computers can help them).
I’ve already mentioned in past newsletters some upcoming events I’ll be speaking at:
BibleTech (April 11–12), NEH Workshop at Tufts (May 31–June 1), LiLa: Linking Latin Workshop (June 3-4), Quantitative Approaches to Versification 2019 (June 24–26).
At BibleTech I’ll be talking about corpus-driven language learning and adaptive reading environments (obviously with application to the Greek New Testament).
I also recently got accepted in a panel session at the big Digital Humanities conference in July (where I’ll be talking about similar stuff to at BibleTech but with broader applicability to any historical language).
I also decided to attend (but certainly not speak at) the big mediæval congress in Kalamazoo in May. Thank goodness I’m not speaking as I’m_definitely_not a mediævalist but I’m looking forward to the Tolkien track they’ll have and also seeing what’s going on in corpus linguistics applied to things like Old English.
I’m still waiting on word about my poster submission to EUROCALL (on vocabulary ordering) and to eLex (a joint poster with other OntoLex people on modelling morphological information in electronic lexicons).
I might still attend Vocab@LEUVEN in July (even though they rejected my talk) and CALICO in late May (although clashes with LDK in Leipzig — Montreal is cheaper for me to get to, though!)