Aardy R. DeVarque (aardy) wrote,
Aardy R. DeVarque

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Fun with foreign languages

In addition to all the normal duties that come with being a library cataloger, I also get the fun of playing around with some computer programming, to create tools that make my job easier.

One in particular I've been working on on and off since late June, whenever my normal duties allowed; now that it's "done enough" as has been publicly released, I can take a step back and talk about it. It's a suite of computer macro programs that work inside the Connexion cataloging software used by many libraries. The latest client version of the software allows catalogers to create catalog records for Russian, Greek, and Hebrew materials in the actual alphabets (in addition to the transliterated Latin-alphabet versions that are readable, pronouncable, and findable by librarians who don't speak those languages). My macros automatically either tranform the original-alphabet text into Latin-alphabet text or vice versa, using the tables & rules for doing so created by the Library of Congress. (This is very different from a translation program, like Babelfish, as the end result is still in the original language; it is just not in the original alphabet.)

In other words, catalogers can use a macro to take one of these:

Солженицын, Александр. Архипелаг гулаг, 1918-1956.

Εμμανουηλ Παπασ, αρχηγοσ και υπερασπιστησ τησ Μακεδονιασ

אטלס ישראל החדש

And transform it into the corresponding one of these:

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. Arkhipelag gulag, 1918-1956.

Emmanouēl Papas, archēgos kai hyperaspistēs tēs Makedonias

Aṭls yshr’l hḥdsh (which is the best it can do due to the omission of vowels in the original; a cataloger would have to take that and change it to its proper form of: Aṭlas Yiśra’el he-ḥadash)

and another to instead go the other direction. (There's a pair of macros for each language.) This way, catalogers don't need to enter what amounts to the same text twice; they only have to enter it once, then run the macro and check over the results for any irregularities.

This took me quite a bit of work to accomplish, but the macros now work well and I'm pretty proud of the results.

Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Tags: computer programming, foreign languages, libraries

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