Cultural Parallels: Study and promotion of the cultural inheritance of the neighbouring areas in Greece and Bulgaria through internet technology

Start Date: 01/10/2005
End Date: 30/09/2007
Funding: INTERREG IIIA / PHARE CBC GREECE – BULGARIA
Project Leader: Glaros Nicholas

“Cultural Parallels” is the short name of the project “Cultural Parallels: Website and CD-ROM for the study and promotion of the cultural inheritance of the neighbouring areas in Greece and Bulgaria”, which was implemented by ILSP as part of the Community Initiative Program INTERREG IIIA / PHARE CBC GREECE – BULGARIA.

The “Cultural Parallels” project led to the development of modern and technologically advanced platforms that provide extended capabilities for study and promotion of the cultural inheritance of the neighbouring areas in Greece and Bulgaria (Thrace region and bordering Bulgarian provinces Smolyan, Blagoevgrad, Kardjali, Khaskovo), starting with the literature, folklore and language of the two peoples. For this purpose a novel digital literature and folklore text collection was created as well as a thematic website and a CD-ROM in favourite of both the general and the specialized public, and for scientific, educational and cultural use.

Specifically, this collection includes literary works created either by authors originating from or referring to the regions mentioned above. It also includes local folk tales, fairy tales, story legends and myths. A dedicated website was created to promote the literal, folklore and linguistic cultural heritage of the neighbouring areas and provides easy access to the entire collection for the end-user (the general public, specialist researchers and other scientists). The literature and folklore texts are displayed in both Greek and Bulgarian (original language and translation language) on the same webpage, being aligned at sentence level via software especially developed for this purpose. This feature is very important for the scientific comparative study of the texts; the latter is moreover facilitated by the original scientific documentation of the collection, which has also been produced during the project and which includes a bilingual glossary, among others. The entire web application, both in terms of content and functionality, was duplicated and encapsulated in a CD-ROM for the shake of users who wish to access the digital collection on their own computer without having to be connected to the internet.

All literature works of the collection were scientifically documented so the end-user can obtain information of the various authors, their biography, their other works, reviews etc.). This documentation material was structured according to international documentation standards, such as CIDOC/CRM, and was entirely translated in English and French. The structure, documentation and annotation of the digital text collection was done according to the international standard Corpus Encoding Standard (CES), which is compatible to the Text Encoding Initiative standard (TEI) and the guidelines of EAGLES (Expert Advisory Group on Language Engineering Standards).

The website (www.gcparb.gr) of “Cultural Parallels” text collection was designed so that to meet requirements related to managing and accessing cultural content; furthermore, it integrates some important technological innovations. In particular, the website supports multi-facet information search and retrieval mechanisms, speech-enabled user interface and intelligent content-access techniques (e.g., fuzzy matching search techniques, morphological dictionary based search by lemma and by word, concordance tables for every word, linguistic statistics, innovative assistive technology for visually impaired people which allows users to navigate through the website and hear selected parts of a given web page in high quality synthetic voice, Greek and Bulgarian languages are supported). Both the website and the CD-ROM (limited quantity) are available free of charge.

Overall, the project provides significant tools that can assist specialists in their work (teachers, linguists, philologists, translators, literature historians, folklorists, scholars, researchers, students etc.), whereas at the same time it raises general public’s awareness in relation to the central role of the national cultural inheritance of the two countries, as this is manifested by of the literary production and language.