The National Endowment for the Humanities has chosen to highlight our “LeBoullenger Dictionary” transcription project in a recent report on funded initiatives. The project has been active for nine months and is progressing well. The article by the National Endowment for the Humanities is available here.
In a report Center staff published in the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma’s newspaper, we wrote the following about the project.
In August of 2012, the Myaamia Project was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant funded through the Documenting Endangered Languages program of the National Science Foundation. The project, entitled “Inokaatawaakani,” is designed to transcribe, translate, and make available the contents of a document called the Le Boullenger dictionary. It is an 18th century Miami-Illinois language document that contains 185 pages of Miami-Illinois to French language.
The objective of the three-year funded project is to make the data contained within the Le Boullenger document available and useful to students of the Myaamia language, researchers, and the general public. Due to the early time period in which the dictionary was compiled (1720 – 1725), Myaamia Project researchers expect to find important cultural and language information that directly contributes to our community revitalization efforts. Early examinations of the Le Boullenger dictionary show information about Myaamia uses of plants, seasonal activities, and diet, as well as climate information.
The project is in its initial stages now. The original document has been scanned by the John Carter Brown Library (where it is permanently housed) and digital files have been sent to Myaamia Project researchers. Carole Katz was recently hired as the newest team member of the project. Carole’s position is funded through the grant and she will be working for the next three years to transcribe the information from the original document and organize the data for translation.
As Carole completes the transcription work it is then passed onto Michael McCafferty from Indiana University at Bloomington. Michael specializes in Old World French and will be handling the French to English translations. After Michael completes his work, Dr. David Costa will translate the Miami-Illinois. As the grant moves along, an online database will be implemented to permanently archive the information gleaned from the document, including modern Myaamia translations, along with the original data. This database is being developed by a computer science student at Miami University under the direction of Dr. Douglas Troy. Dr. Troy has been assisting the Myaamia Project on computer-based projects over the last several years.
This three-year funded project will result in a searchable website that includes an image of the original document, French to English, and Miami-Illinois to English. The Miami-Illinois translations will continue well beyond the three year grant goal, and will be releasing new information well into the future.