Preparing the reader’s edition and planning the colloquium

August has been as busy as ever here at Estoria Towers, especially as we are now moving into the last semester of the project before the launch of the digital edition – yes really! Everyone is working on their own part of the project. Aengus is busy collating the witnesses ready for the reader’s edition, as well as flying here, there and everywhere giving talks and lectures on the project and issues related to it. Zeth has been working towards the visualisation of the final edition. Fiona is continuing to work on the table that will allow users to find out more about the people, peoples and places in the edition and Enrique is preparing materials for the public engagement arm of the project, which Lauren is busily translating. Meanwhile, Ricardo, Christian and I have been working through Aengus’ collations and regularising the text ready for the reader’s edition version of the text which will appear alongside the transcriptions, manuscript images, diplomatic and expanded versions of the text.

At our stage of the task, regularising means we are bringing some of the punctuation and capitalisation more into line with what modern readers of Castilian might expect to see and changing some spellings to be more modern. To many purists this is just plain crazy – we are messing with Alfonso’s original text and purposely changing it! Gasp. It does grate at first to modernise and regularise when previously we had been working so hard to transcribe the manuscript text as closely as we possibly could, but the fact is that some readers will prefer a slightly modernised version of the text. Some might choose to use it as a stepping-stone until they get used to reading (semi-)medieval Castilian and choose to move to the versions of the edition that are closer to the original, and some people might be reading only for content so might choose not to read the ‘older’ versions. You could even think about it as a sort of extension of what scribes and readers (remember how many medieval readers would annotate as they read) have been doing for centuries – making a new version of the text and making some changes to the text as they go. We are working hard not to change any content, but we are making some changes to some of the spellings. Part of the regularisation task still makes me want to shudder, but there you have it. As Aengus always reminds us, the reader’s edition will, however, come with strong government health warnings.

As always in the Estoria project, as in Academia in general, there have been long debates in the office as to where is the line where our regularising becomes too much? Here is a simple example: in modern Spanish we are used to word division using good old finger spaces between each word. Not so much in the time of Alfonso – they often had a different idea of where one word ended and another began. When transcribing, our policy was to respect the word division in the image, so if the scribe has written daquel, we wrote daquel. We did not change it to de aquel, as we would write it nowadays. Daquel also has the e of de missing – it has been eaten up to form a contraction. Our policy when regularising is if the contracted vowel is different from the vowel that is still there we add an apostrophe to represent it, so we are regularising to d’aquel. We are not, however, adding an apostrophe where the contracted vowel is the same as one that is still there, such as dellos (de + ellos). Other editors do put an apostrophe here (d’ellos). Cue much debate with many cups of tea and frankly far too few biscuits, but the final decision was the one taken above. Some editors or users of the edition may disagree with some of the editorial decisions such as these – this is an unavoidable occupational hazard of the textual editor.

In other news, the December colloquium arrangements are continuing. We had hoped to be able to open registration by now, but we have faced some administrative challenges with this which coincided with holiday time, so they won’t be sorted out until September. We are really hoping to get registration open by the early autumn, and when we do we will be promoting it left, right and centre, so you will be sure to find out. If you are unsure you are welcome to drop us an email and we will let you know what you need to do and when in order to join us in December! We are hoping to see as many people as possible there. The programme is looking great, lots of interesting papers are planned, and you can read most of the abstracts here already. There are also a few people who we already know are coming but are not speakers, and we are hoping for many more, so the question and answer sessions for each panel and also the coffee breaks and dinners are sure to include lots of lively debates and questions to really make you think, as well as (hopefully) of lots of mulled wine and mince pies, it taking place at Christmas and all (I mean at the dinners, not during morning coffee break…)

As there really is no rest for the lowly PhD student I will leave this post there and return to my ever-looming thesis. Ah who am I kidding, I love it really (at least some of the time).


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