- Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts
The Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts (hereafter DLOST) represents the logical development of the Text and Concordances series of the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies (HSMS). First published on microfiche, then in CD-ROM, the HSMS is moving towards full online accessibility to its transcriptions and concordances of medieval Spanish texts. Since 2011, the team led by Francisco Gago Jover has made three corpora available, at the pace of one per year: the corpus [End Page 303] of Prose Works of Alfonso X el Sabio (http://www.hispanicseminary.org/t&c/ac/index-en.htm), the corpus of Spanish Medical Texts (http://www.hispanicseminary.org/t&c/med/index-en.htm) and, most recently, the corpus of Navarro-Aragonese Texts (http://www.hispanicseminary.org/t&c/nar/index-en.htm). Their content being based on paleographical transcriptions and concordances already published by the HSMS, the greatest contribution to the above online corpora, and to the DLOST in general, is interactivity, a declared aim of the project and a feature that was missing in the previous formats. Therefore, this is the aspect that will be reviewed in the greatest detail.
All three on-line corpora share the same graphical interface, which is available in both English and Spanish. However, there is no indication of the websites being available in two languages, and switching between the English and the Spanish version is only possible through the address bar, by substituting the suffix “en” (English) for the suffix “es” (Spanish) in the URL, and vice versa. Similarly, the three corpora appear in isolation, without links or references to the other two, although the common graphical interface evidences their belonging to the same wider project. By contrast, the DLOST site lists and links all three corpora, but uses a different graphical interface and is not backlinked from the corpora sites. The result is a loss of the sense of relationship between the DLOST project site and its individual components, as well as among corpora, which could easily be solved by introducing the corresponding missing links in the corpora sites.
The layout of the graphical interface of the corpora is clean and clear, rather intuitive, and shows a single navigation menu on top and a single central frame in which the content is loaded. The menu provides quick access to the frontpage (“Home”), a brief presentation of the contents of the corpus (“Intro”), a summary of the transcription norms used (“Transcription Norms”), a visual guide to the use of the interface (“User’s Guide”), a search facility (“Search”) and, finally, the interactive index, concordances, and text (“Text & Concordances”). The first four sections are fully informative and almost identical in all three corpora. Differences concern, as expected, authors, editors, titles of the corpora and of the transcribed texts, the amount of transcriptions, and the number of concordance entries. Special attention is due to the excellent visual help guide, as it is an example of clarity that reflects the importance conceded to simplicity of use in the DLOST. The same applies to the precision with which the summary of the transcription norms is written, although this section could have benefited from a link to the full version [End Page 304] of the transcription norms, downloadable from the HSMS website (http://www.hispanicseminary.org/manual-en.htm) but not backlinked.
The search facility is the first interactive section of all three corpora websites. It allows one to search the entirety of the corresponding corpus and, despite the high amount of entries, the response time is surprisingly short. Search results are not returned individually, but grouped by text where the search string appears, so that clicking on the title of any of the returned items forwards the user to the corresponding concordances. However, when doing so, the query string is not transferred to the newly loaded frame and the search has to be repeated using the search facility of the text and concordances section. Search supports affix wildcard characters, free search, and exact search...