Making a Timeline of Colonial Valley Zapotec Documents

Making a Timeline of Colonial Valley Zapotec Documents

As I wrote about about in July, I work as an RA on the Ticha Project (an online text database for Colonial Valley Zapotec) with Professor Brook Lillehaugen.  Most of my RA work is directly with the documents: photographing the documents (in Mexico), organizing the photographs, transcribing and analyzing the text, and copying metadata.  But lately I’ve been working on something quite different, with less linguistics and more HTML: a timeline! To do this, I’m currently using TimelineJS, which creates a timeline using data Google Spreadsheet.  The work flow goes like this:             However, while you can embed this timeline into a personal website, you can’t edit what it looks like.  To do that, you have to download the source files for TimelineJS and make a local version.  Today I got the local version working, although I haven’t had a chance to make any changes to the styling.  Here’s the new workflow:             The middle step is now a lot more intense, but I’m having a great time improving my skills in a  terminal (that’s what the green and black thing is called).  Look forward to a timeline of Colonial Valley Zapotec documents going live on the Ticha site...
Colonial Valley Zapotec Documents in the Ticha Project

Colonial Valley Zapotec Documents in the Ticha Project

Below is an example of 15th-century English writing from The University of Manchester Library Image Collections. Pretty hard to read, right?  If you’ve never looked at medieval handwriting before, you might not be able to recognize all of the letters.  The Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse has a transcribed version of the same text, although it’s from a different book — it’s still hard to read, but you can probably understand some of the words. Now imagine that you’ve never seen English written in a book before.  Imagine that you didn’t know until just now that there are English books from the 15th century.  Imagine that in order to see this book you had to go to an archive, walk past an armed guard who tried to keep you out, and then sort through four boxes of documents until you found the right one.  And you still probably wouldn’t be able to read it. For the past few years I’ve been an RA on the Ticha Project with Professor Brook Lillehaugen.  Ticha is an online text database, like The University of Manchester Library Image Collections, but for documents written in Colonial Valley Zapotec.  The Zapotec languages are indigenous to southern Mexico.  Most Zapotec languages today are purely oral; Zapotec is not used in schools, and some people believe that it cannot be written because (they say) it isn’t a “real” language.  However, the Zapotec culture has one of the longest histories of writing in Mesoamerica (dating back to a couple hundred years B.C.), and Zapotec was also written in the Roman orthography after the Spanish conquest.  The...