Subscribe to Blog via Email
December 2019 M T W T F S S « Aug 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
The TLG has just released a new update to its corpus. As of tonight, the automatic recognition of lemmata in the TLG which I’ve been working on has just reached 95% of all wordforms. With these two milestones, I’ll be posting a few things about the current corpus; I’ve already put up some Wordles, as you will have seen.
First, about the new texts.
- Early Modern Greek is well represented in the update. Readers of this blog will have noticed as much, because I’ve spent some time dealing with the peculiarities of those texts. Romances are the genre that attracts the most scholarly interest—they make the most sense as literature to contemporary readers. Accordingly, this update includes redaction α of Livistros and Rodamni as recently published by Panagiotis Agapitos of U Cyprus (who also writes Byzantine detective novels); the War of Troy (on which I’ve already posted); and the four redactions of the Tale of Belisarius.
- Jumping forward a couple of centuries, the update also includes Cretan Renaissance drama: George Chortatzes’ tragedy Erophile, and the intermedios from Erophile, retelling Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered.
1595 isn’t the latest date of TLG texts; the Chapbook of Alexander the Great (h/t Diver of Sinks) was published in 1750, and while the collections of monastic documents are normally late Byzantine and Ottoman, one collection goes up to 1968. But Chortatzes is the first representative of Cretan dialect, and I was quite happy to tweak the lemmatiser to accomodate it.
I’ll pause to note something which shouldn’t be an oddity, but is. Chortatzes writes his stage directions in the same Cretan dialect as his dialogue. Of course he would; our stage directions are in the same language as the rest of the text. But now that there is a Standard Greek, and Cretan isn’t it, that comes across as quizzical. If anyone now writes drama in dialect (not Cretan, but possibly Pontic, and certainly Cypriot), the metalanguage of the drama is going to be Standard Greek.
That’s because the metalanguage is the dramatist’s own voice; and while hillbilly dialect might be good enough for the dramatists’ characters, it will not do for their own directions. I’d imagine it’s the same for other Dachsprache languages (language variants under the “roof” of a prestige language), like say German or Italian dialect.
- A few texts are recent re-editions. Moeris’ Atticist dictionary has been updated. By telling us which colloquial forms not to use, Moeris and the other Atticists (Phrynichus is the main one) tell us a lot about what their colloquial language actually looked like.
There is also a new edition of Cyril of Alexandria’s Paschal Letters, and Eudocia’s Homeric Centos. The centos are rearrangements of verses from an old poem, to tell a new story—in this case, Homer rearranged into an account of the Passion of Christ. This sounds like a very postmodern thing to do. But then again, there’s nothing new in postmodernism, apart from its bankruptcy of an intellectual programme, as it magpies any flotsam that gets it out of having to tell a story.
Not that you need to hear about my cultural conservatism.
- The TLG also has an updated edition of the fragments of John of Antioch. There has been a controversy about whether the fragments attributed to John belong to one or two authors (there are two different linguistic registers in what we have); as a result, we’re in the odd situation by Classical standards of having two new editions of the author, within three years, from the same publisher: Roberto 2005 and Mariev 2008. (The Bryn Mawr Classical Review gives context in its review of Mariev.) The TLG has gone with Roberto, which considers both registers to belong to the same author; that has the added advantage of not throwing half the fragments out of the corpus.
- In gathering up bits left out from Middle Byzantine authors, the update also includes Michael Psellus’ commentary on Aristotle’s Physics, and Constantine Manasses’ Moral Poem.
- Finally, the update includes the irascible John Tzetzes’ retelling of the Theogony.
We already have the original Theogony from Hesiod; so Tzetzes’ retelling might have some interest for cultural history, but is not telling us much we don’t already know. Tzetzes’ retelling has attracted attention for different reasons. Tzetzes was Georgian on his mother’s side; and he sees fit to show off his command of foreign languages, in the epilogue to his poem. That makes his Theogony the earliest attestation of Ossetian. (And in his loose Greek translation, as linked, it may well be one of the first attestations of Greek μουνίν: er, “pudendum muliebre”.)