Spring 2019. American Indian Studies Research Institute. Week 9.

One surprisingly fun thing I stumbled into learning more about is formatting issues between FieldWorks software and Microsoft Word. FieldWorks has the dictionary database that AISRI linguists have entered throughout the years, so it’s essential for accelerating the pace and accuracy of translations. The FieldWorks document has to be formatted in Word, and each time the document goes back and forth, the researcher has to reformat it. There is potentially a setting which AISRI’s IT specialist can adjust, but I quickly became more interested in observing FieldWorks. In Digital Humanities, we recently discussed the automation of translation, but we didn’t have any real-world examples available. The AISRI staff I work with offered that his average text is relatively brief and the amount of changes relatively few, so the program is a much greater help than a hindrance. But, of course, human researchers are responsible for initial translations of new recordings, so the program doesn’t even begin to work until they correctly enter that data. So, there are some things that can and have been automated, and there are some things that probably need to be automated eventually, and there are things that can’t and should not be automated. The broader theoretical question at this point is not whether translation can and should be automated, but to what degree.


AISRI is participating in the online fundraiser called IU Day, created by the IU Foundation. Our presence on the crowdfunding site, however, exists only in very rudimentary form so far. I was tasked with drafting more engaging and informative text, so I have submitted 2 paragraphs, which are currently circulating among staff for revisions and additions. Once the text is finalized, we also have photos sent from the schools served by AISRI. I think the final result is going to be something very helpful to AISRI and I look forward to sharing it soon.

I was informed that AISRI’s IT Specialist is purchasing a new version of ABBYY FineReader, which means I may soon have the chance to complete some more optical character recognition for the Ella Deloria Archive project. In the meantime, I get to compile a list of all the activities I’ve been involved with during my internship because my supervisor is going to write me a letter of recommendation! That is the type of reward we are earning in these internships, and I want to confirm to all students that we should be accepting them when they are offered, and even asking for them when they are not. I will post the list in my next entry.

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