Le projet de recherche ALIENTO  El proyecto ALIENTO  ALIENTO Project 


(Linguistic analysis, intercultural aspects of sapiential statements and their transmission from East to West
and West to East)

Initiates file downloadNew booklet 2015 (.pdf)

In the ninth century the rich Arab tradition of the adab finds its way into Spain, or rather al-Andalus, a country that played a prominent role in the exchange of knowledge from the East to the West in the 11th and 12th centuries especially via the monasteries in the North of the Iberian Peninsula. It is also in al-Andalus where the adab literature meets the Jewish sapiential tradition of the Midrashic literature. New collections are composed, including original works from the 10th and 11th centuries, and from the 12th century on exempla and philosophers’ sayings are translated into Hebrew, Latin and the Romance languages. Much of this complex heritage is found in the extensive Spanish paremiological literature, which is at its highest in the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as in contemporary Spanish, Judeo-Spanish and Maghrebian collections of proverbs.

Although the main lines of these exchanges are well-known, we still lack specific information on the circulation of these short sapiential statements (our basic research units) as well as on the successive translating choices made by the translators, their cultural reinterpretations or the importance of some loanwords over others. If sapiential textual filiations and translation sequences should be treated cautiously, this is particularly true of the sapiential statements to be found in these texts. Due to the difficulty in understanding them, these volatile elements, whose categorisation varies with time and cultures, have never been the subject of a comprehensive textual study which could recount their sources, circulation and evolution across the different spoken or written languages of the three cultures living in the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle-Ages. The paremiological studies have mostly produced compilations of proverbs (thesauri), critical editions and erudite studies dedicated to a single work, a single language or a single culture, except for the remarkable ground-breaking work on the Philosophical Quartet (1975) by D. Gutas. The few existing databases are for the most part monolingual contemporary corpora of paremiae or otherwise have a translation-based perspective.

Therefore the aim of the ALIENTO project is to work out concordances, even partial, close or distant connections, in order to reassess inter-textual relations by comparing a great quantity of data and by interconnecting encoded texts written in different languages.

This is why the project, which needs a close interdisciplinary collaboration between computational researchers (ATILF), linguists and specialists in literature (MSH Lorraine + INALCO and the international network of collaborators), will develop a piece of software transferable to other similar texts to be used with a large reference corpus made up of 8 related texts which circulated in the Iberian Peninsula (in Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish and Catalan), that is 582 pages for an estimated 9,570 sapiential statements.

This software programme, which will extract and connect short sapiential units through concordances generated by the specific encoding system, will be scientifically developed and written in an encoding manual XML-TEI. The choice and the type of annotations used are the result of a common consensus among the members of the project, specialists in paremiology and ancient texts, design engineers of textual databases and computational researchers reached during special scientific sessions.

At the end of the project we will have:

  • a body of texts in a multilingual corpus, digitised, tagged in XML/TEI and publicly accessible, linked to a set of data about the texts and their authors.
  • a set of short sapiential units with their XML/TEI annotations, accessible free of charge.
  • a trilingual questioning interface that will display the concordanced statements contained in these works, with information that could be used to study them irrespective of the language.
  • an encoding methodology and a piece of software for matching data that could be used with other similar corpora.