Varangian Rus’ Digital Environment

Principal investigator: Svetlana Sokolova

Project title: Varangian Rus’ Digital Environment

Summary of the project:

i rěša sami v sebě poiščemъ sobě knjazja iže by volodělъ nami … i idoša za more kъ varjagomъ k rusi…
‘They said to themselves: “Let us seek a prince who may rule over us…” So they went overseas to the Varangian Rus’…’

According to this quote from The Primary Chronicle, a venerable source of information on the earliest history of East Slavic people, Rus’ reflects the name of a group of Scandinavian Vikings (Varangians) used by Finno-Ugric tribes in Northern Russia and adopted later by their Slavic neighbors. The Varangian Rus’ Digital Environment provides a computationally enabled representation of the Varangian Rus’ that allows students and researchers to navigate among a network of texts enhanced by expert annotations.

The Varangian Rus’ Digital Environment presents an annotated teaching resource for 12th-17th century Russian texts. The texts are interwoven with commentary on their phonological, morphological, syntactic, historical, and cultural features and accompanied by a glossary and interactive practical exercises. This design makes the intricacies of the history of Russian accessible, both to future specialists in training and to non-specialists. The teaching resource brings the study of the history of Russian into the era of the digital humanities and fosters individual student research projects.

The project also included:

  • Long-term student mobility from HSE to UiT (2 students, Fall 2015)
  • Varangian Rus’ Digital Environment seminar, UiT (September 14-15, 2015)
  • RUS-3091 Special Course in Russian Linguistics II, UiT (10 credits) (Fall 2015)
  • Varangian Rus’ Digital Environment workshop, UiT (November 28, 2016)
  • Conference “Russian Historical Linguistics: Theoretical and Corpus-based Challenges” (November 29, 2016): https://uit.no/tavla/artikkel/495291/novemberseminaret_2016_russian_historical_lingui
  • Special Intensive Course on Corpus Historical Linguistics, UiT (November 30 – December 2, 2016).

Other team members on this project:

  • Hanne Martine Eckhoff (University of Cambridge): Selection of texts, Coordination of the text annotation, Coordination of the electronic dictionary resource, Concept and design for the interactive exercises, text commentaries for Old Russian texts, Development of RUS-3091 Special Course in Russian Linguistics II, UiT (Fall 2015), and the Special Intensive Course on Corpus Historical Linguistics (Fall 2016)
  • Olga Lyashevskaya (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Coordination of the electronic dictionary resource
  • Roman Krivko (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Content of the electronic dictionary resource
  • Marina Bobrik (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Content of the electronic dictionary resource
  • Aleksandrs Berdicevskis (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Coordination of the electronic dictionary resource, Development of the Special Intensive Course on Corpus Historical Linguistics (Fall 2016)
  • Elena Galinskaya (Lomonosov Moscow State University): Text commentaries for Old Russian texts
  • Sergey Knyazev (Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Lomonosov Moscow State University): Dialectological text commentaries
  • Tore Nesset (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): General concept and design, Text commentaries for Old Russian texts
  • Laura Janda (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): General concept and design, Text commentaries for Old Russian texts
  • Svetlana Sokolova (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): General concept and design, Selection of texts, Coordination of text commentaries, Text commentaries for Old Russian texts, Concept and design for the interactive exercises, coordination of the Varangian Rus’ Digital Environment seminar (Fall 2015), the Varangian Rus’ Digital Environment workshop (Fall 2016) and the mini-conference “Russian Historical Linguistics: Theoretical and Corpus-based Challenges” (Fall 2016).
  • Anna Endresen (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Translation of text commentaries on dialectological and diachronic text characteristics
  • Franziska Maag (University of Zurich): Text annotation
  • Jelena Borise (Harvard University): Text annotation
  • Catherine Sykes (University of Cambridge): Text annotation
  • Alexey Kozlov (Kolomna, Russia): Text annotation
  • Marius L. Jøhndal (Cambridge, UK): Design and programming of the electronic dictionary resource
  • Eduard Schaf (Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen): Design and programming of the interactive exercises
  • Lars Tiede (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Design and programming of the browsing mode for the text comments
  • Stig Wennevold (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Design of the browsing mode for the text comments
  • Thorgeir Berre (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Design of the browsing mode for the text comments

Link to the project page: Project page on DIKU https://espresso.siu.no/projects/?12

Link to the project result: Old Russian dictionary http://syntacticus.org/browse

Project duration: 2015 – 2017

Funding: SIU/DIKU UTFORSK (UTF-2014/10074)

Key publications:

Berdicevskis, Aleksandrs, Eckhoff, Hanne Martine; Gavrilova, Tatjana (2016). The beginning of a beautiful friendship: rule-based and statistical analysis of Middle Russian. Komp’yuternaya Lingvistika i Intellektual’nye Tekhnologii (Proceedings of the International Conference “Dialogue 2016”); Volum 15. ISSN 2221-7932.s 99 – 111. Available at: http://www.dialog-21.ru/media/3384/berdi%C4%8Devskisaetal.pdf

Eckhoff, Hanne Martine; Berdicevskis, Aleksandrs (2016). Automatic parsing as an efficient pre-annotation tool for historical texts. Proceedings of the workshop “Language Technology Resources and Tools for Digital Humanities” (LT4DH), Coling, Osaka. ISBN 978-4-87974-708-2.s 62 – 70. Available at: https://www.clarin-d.net/images/lt4dh/LT4DH-2016.pdf

Eckhoff, Hanne Martine; Berdicevskis, Aleksandrs (2016). From Diachronic Treebank to Dictionary Resource: the Varangian Rus Project. Proceedings of the XVII EURALEX International congress, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. ISBN s 335 – 340. Available at: http://euralex2016.tsu.ge/publication2016.pdf

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