Saturday, May 26, 2012

Trying to figure out searchable online databases in the service of YIddish

Sometimes when you really want something to exist you have to stop waiting for somebody else to create it. Ever since 2006 when I started translating Yiddish literature into English I have been wishing there were a centralized list someplace of what's been translated already, by whom, when, and what might be in the works. Because there are so very very many Yiddish works that have never been translated. It seems like a shame there might be two (or more) people working on the same piece because they don't know somebody else has started the same work.

I don't even know how to find a lot of the work that's been translated already. Much of it is out of print, much of it was translated pre-internet and is not listed online.

Then there's the organization problem. It turns out many of the works that have been translated are short stories or poems and they have been collected into anthologies. Without getting my hands on an anthology I don't know what's in it. Even when I do, that's not information that can elegantly be put into a static table. There should be a second-level table that keys into the book title and offers you all the works within the anthology.

I started poking around looking for a way to set this up and it just made me crosseyed. Meanwhile, just to get started, I put up a static table-based list of works I found on my first pass across the plain:

I got started on this while thinking about how an old friend of mine, who's been writing academic books and articles for decades and publishing them in a disparate bunch of baskets, could most easily pull her far-flung works together and give them a hub / home on the web.

Ideas welcome!


At 11:16 PM, Blogger FJ said...

Hi there! The National Yiddish Book Center is currently working on a database of Yiddish translations. You should be in touch with them so you don't end up duplicating work!


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