Machine Translation and Automated Analysis of Cuneiform Languages

Machine Translation and Automated Analysis of Cuneiform Languages

From the webpage:

The MTAAC project develops and applies new computerized methods to translate and analyze the contents of some 67,000 highly standardized administrative documents from southern Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq) from the 21st century BC. Our methodology, which combines machine learning with statistical and neural machine translation technologies, can then be applied to other ancient languages. This methodology, the translations, and the historical, social and economic data extracted from them, will be offered to the public in open access.

A recently funded (March 2017) project that strikes a number of resonances with me!

“Open access” and cuneiform isn’t an unheard of combination but many remember when access to cuneiform primary materials was a matter of whim and caprice. There are dark pockets where such practices continue but projects like MTAAC are hard on their heels.

The use of machine learning and automated analysis have the potential, when all extant cuneiform texts (multiple projects such as this one) are available, to provide a firm basis for grammars, lexicons, translations.

Do read: Machine Translation and Automated Analysis of the Sumerian Language by Émilie Pagé-Perron, Maria Sukhareva, Ilya Khait, Christian Chiarcos, for more details about the project.

There’s more to data science than taking advantage of sex-starved neurotics with under five second attention spans and twitchy mouse fingers.

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