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Funding will digitize
historic German texts

Cavalier Daily, (June 5, 2001).

Sprechen Sic Deutsch? For those speaking German, a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to the University Library's Electronic Text Center will enable the University to partner with the University of Trier in Germany to create a Web site titled "Middle High German Interlinked."

A collaborative effort made by the universities will digitize about 100 medieval German texts and associated dictionaries. The project is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Division of Information and Intelligent Systems and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

The dictionaries will help scholars trace the history of German literature and language.

"This collaboration between U.Va. and the University of Trier will show how the Web makes it easier to deliver complex literary and linguistic electronic files, thus facilitating more international cooperation," E-text Center director David Seaman said.

The University of Trier's expertise lies in the information of the texts, and the E-text Center start will use their Extensible Markup Language skills to digitize the texts, Seaman said.

Middle High German is the basic means of written German from the 12th to the 14th centuries, University German Prof. William McDonald said. McDonald teaches a class on medieval German literature.

"I would be very excited about such a Web site and would try to use it," McDonald said.

The effects of the project should go beyond merely the Web site, Seaman said.

"The project will explore and demonstrate the possibilities of international collaborative efforts in the creation and delivery of new, valuable digital content to multiple user communities," said Steve Griffin, program director of the Digital Libraries Initiative with the National Science Foundation.

According to University Library spokeswoman Melissa Cox Norris, the E-Text Center averaged 40,890 individual users per day in February.

Norris said the University Library and humanities departments have long been committed to digitizing texts.

Ann-Woods Isaacs.