Tag Archives: German

Ethica Complementoria Digital Scholarly Edition – Revisit Pt. 1

Establishing Ground Truth

Yesterday and today, I spent some hours manually transcribing pages from the 1674 print of the Ethica Complementoria. The edition, printed in Copenhagen by Christian Wering and published by Wolf Lambrecht, survived in only one copy, held by the State and University Library Hamburg. The copy has been digitised a while ago and can be accessed and downloaded freely from their website. I have argued in my book about the print and transmission history of the Ethica Complementoria that this edition is the source for the Danish translation published in 1678 in Copenhagen. I’m preparing a bilingual digital scholarly edition of the German and the Danish Ethica.

However, with the print being digitised and available, you might wonder why I would manually transcribe it! Actually, I don’t plan to transcribe the entire print manually. I am using Transkribus to do the work for me. I have already established a transcription for the Danish print using the Transkribus app and the NorFraktur HTR model provided by the National Library of Norway. The performance was OK; however, there’s no way around a manual quality check when preparing a transcription for a scholarly edition. The NorFraktur model was trained on multilingual materials: 77 Danish-Norwegian and 23 German small blackletter prints from the mid-16th to the mid-17th century. With a CER of 2.0%, it’s quite good. However, with our print from the late 17th century in Danish, we found it underperformed a bit. We decided to improve the model by training it on manually transcribed pages from the digitised copy held by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology library. This improved the quality slightly, but a few issues remained. Since we were going for a quality check of the entire transcription anyway, we corrected all ‘misreadings’. A couple of pages are left; the first round of manual quality checks will be done by the end of September!

For the German print, we initially thought of using NorFraktur, too. However, there are now models for German print which perform significantly better than NorFraktur. Results will be significantly better. For what it’s worth, I will compare two approaches: Firstly, testing the quality of a German model, like the Transkribus Print Multi-Language model, with a CER of 1.6%. Secondly, I will train my model with manually transcribed pages to see if it can outperform the Transkribus Print model: for only this particular print.

Once I have the results, I will report back!

Training HTR-Models for a Bilingual Digital Edition of the Ethica Complementoria

In mid-June, I will start a small sub-project and finally get to work with the Ethica Complementoria again! I won a small grant from the University of Oslo’s “Teksthub+DH“, a network to support digital humanities focusing on language and textual sources. The network itself is part of a university-wide endeavour to strengthen IT in research. With the grant money, I was able to hire a research assistant. This is what we are going to do:

We aim to create a dataset to be used as the basis for a bilingual (Danish/German) digital scholarly edition of one of the most popular books on ‘etiquette’ in early modern Germany and Northern Europe: the Ethica Complementoria.

Originally written in German, the book made its way to the Nordic region through the Danish translation from 1678. This first Danish print will be published in parallel with the German version used for the translation.

The transcription project is part of a larger project on the book and revision history of the Ethica Complementoria, led by Annika Rockenberger and will be conducted by Håvard Loeng. An overview of all editions has been published digitally at the Herzog August library: http://diglib.hab.de/ebooks/ed000738/start.htm.

Manual transcription of two 300+ page texts is not feasible anymore. However, traditional Optical Character Recognition (OCR) yields inferior results for older printed books. Therefore, we aim to test, evaluate, improve, and build upon the NorFraktur model from the National Library of Norway. NorFraktur is a public Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) model in Transkribus. It was trained on the HTR algorithm developed by READ Coop to recognise manuscripts and older prints automatically.

The development project contributes to both a digital scholarly edition with open access (planned as part of the publications by the Norwegian Language and Literature Society at bokselskap.no) and to the improvement and expansion of an open HTR model that the scholarly community can reuse for early modern prints in Norwegian (including Danish and German).