Universitas Linguarum

The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

The Languages of Berkeley

Linguarum enim inscitia disciplinas universas aut exstinxit, aut depravavit…

For ignorance of languages either marred or abolished the world of learning….

—Erasmus, 1529, De pueris statim ac liberaliter instituendis. Opera I, 377

Berkeley’s celebration of languages in the Library could not come at a better moment. We are living in a time when many Americans are smugly self-satisfied about speaking English Only, when our government has waged an ugly war against immigrants, when linguistic and cultural otherness is too often construed as a threat, and when the world of learning is narrowing to a point where it may again be falling on unfortunate times.

The national trends are clear. A recent report from the Modern Language Association shows that 651 foreign language programs in American colleges and universities were lost between 2013 and 2016. And these are not all “less commonly taught” languages: according to the MLA report, during the 2013-16 period, net losses included 129 French programs, 118 Spanish programs, 86 German programs, and 56 Italian programs. Since 2009, overall foreign language enrollments have declined by 15.3 percent nationally. A recent Pew Research Center study showed that only 20% of American K-12 students study a foreign language (as compared to 92% in Europe).

Berkeley is not immune to decreases in language enrollments, but our programs remain unusually strong and have been staunchly supported by the Berkeley administration. In any given year, between 50 and 60 languages are taught on campus, and this remarkable breadth reflects the diversity of the State of California and the backgrounds and research interests of our students and faculty. California leads the nation in linguistic diversity: 42% of Californians speak a language other than English in their homes (as of 2016), and California has more than a hundred indigenous languages. Not surprisingly, this year’s incoming students speak more than 20 languages.

Globalization is ostensibly a strong impetus for language study — and it is in most parts of the world, where knowledge of English and other major languages is viewed as a fundamental necessity for participation in the global economy. However, in the U.S., it seems that globalization has had the opposite effect, leading many Americans to adopt a complacent attitude: why study other languages when so much of the world revolves around English?

Berkeley resists such complacency. We recognize that knowing other languages opens up fresh perspectives on the world, on our relationships with others, on our own language and culture, on the various disciplines we study, and on the problems we strive to solve. Indeed, so many of the challenges we face today are global in nature and can only be approached through the multiplicity of perspectives that come with international cooperation and collaboration. While English may allow for broad sharing of information, the reality is that we will never fully understand the nuances of other peoples’ perspectives if we don’t speak their language. Furthermore, because language, thought, and identity are so intimately intertwined, acquiring languages other than our mother tongue enriches our very being, allowing us to take on new identities, adopt new attitudes and beliefs, develop greater cognitive flexibility, and understand ourselves and our culture in a new light. Seeing the world through the lens of another language and culture also fosters empathy, which is essential to counter increasingly pervasive waves of ethno-nationalism.

Our university library reflects this awareness that languages nourish our imagination, enhance our creativity, and broaden and deepen our understanding of worlds past and present. More than half of the 13 million volumes in UC Berkeley’s collection are in languages other than English. Remembering that the word university derives from the Latin universitas, signifying both universality and community, let us celebrate together the rich diversity of the Library’s holdings and of languages on the Berkeley campus.

Rick Kern,
Professor, Department of French
Director, Berkeley Language Center

The Languages of Berkeley [fan]
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The Languages of Berkeley is a dynamic online sequential exhibition celebrating the diversity of languages that have advanced research, teaching and learning at the University of California, Berkeley. It is made possible with support from the UC Berkeley Library and is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC).

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Team Awarded Grant to Help Digital Humanities Scholars Navigate Legal Issues of Text Data Mining

We are thrilled to share that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a $165,000 grant to a UC Berkeley-led team of legal experts, librarians, and scholars who will help humanities researchers and staff navigate complex legal questions in cutting-edge digital research.

What is this grant all about?

If you were to crack open some popular English-language novels written in the 1850’s–say, ones from Brontë, Hawthorne, Dickens, and Melville–you would find they describe men and women in very different terms. While a male character might be said to “get” something, a female character is more likely to have “felt” it. Whereas the word “mind” might be used when describing a man, the word “heart” is more likely to be used about a woman. Yet, as the 19th Century became the 20th, these descriptive differences between genders actually diminish. How do we know all this? We confess we have not actually read every novel ever written between the 19th and 21st Centuries (though we’d love to envision a world in which we could). Instead, we can make this assertion because researchers (including David Bamman, of UC Berkeley’s School of Information) used automated techniques to extract information from the novels, and analyzed these word usage trends at scale. They crafted algorithms to turn the language of those novels into data about the novels.

In fields of inquiry like the digital humanities, the application of such automated techniques and methods for identifying, extracting, and analyzing patterns, trends, and relationships across large volumes of unstructured or thinly-structured digital content is called “text data mining.” (You may also see it referred to as “text and data mining” or “computational text analysis”). Text data mining provides humanists and social scientists with invaluable frameworks for sifting, organizing, and analyzing vast amounts of material. For instance, these methods make it possible to:

The Problem

Until now, humanities researchers conducting text data mining have had to navigate a thicket of legal issues without much guidance or assistance. For instance, imagine the researchers needed to scrape content about Egyptian artifacts from online sites or databases, or download videos about Egyptian tomb excavations, in order to conduct their automated analysis. And then imagine the researchers also want to share these content-rich data sets with others to encourage research reproducibility or enable other researchers to query the data sets with new questions. This kind of work can raise issues of copyright, contract, and privacy law, not to mention ethics if there are issues of, say, indigenous knowledge or cultural heritage materials plausibly at risk. Indeed, in a recent study of humanities scholars’ text analysis needs, participants noted that access to and use of copyright-protected texts was a “frequent obstacle” in their ability to select appropriate texts for text data mining. 

Potential legal hurdles do not just deter text data mining research; they also bias it toward particular topics and sources of data. In response to confusion over copyright, website terms of use, and other perceived legal roadblocks, some digital humanities researchers have gravitated to low-friction research questions and texts to avoid decision-making about rights-protected data. They use texts that have entered into the public domain or use materials that have been flexibly licensed through initiatives such as Creative Commons or Open Data Commons. When researchers limit their research to such sources, it is inevitably skewed, leaving important questions unanswered, and rendering resulting findings less broadly applicable. A growing body of research also demonstrates how race, gender, and other biases found in openly available texts have contributed to and exacerbated bias in developing artificial intelligence tools. 

The Solution

The good news is that the NEH has agreed to support an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities to help key stakeholders to learn to better navigate legal issues in text data mining. Thanks to the NEH’s $165,000 grant, Rachael Samberg of UC Berkeley Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services will be leading a national team (identified below) from more than a dozen institutions and organizations to teach humanities researchers, librarians, and research staff how to confidently navigate the major legal issues that arise in text data mining research. 

Our institute is aptly called Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining (Building LLTDM), and will run from June 23-26, 2020 in Berkeley, California. Institute instructors are legal experts, humanities scholars, and librarians immersed in text data mining research services, who will co-lead experiential meeting sessions empowering participants to put the curriculum’s concepts into action.

In October, we will issue a call for participants, who will receive stipends to support their attendance. We will also be publishing all of our training materials in an openly-available online book for researchers and librarians around the globe to help build academic communities that extend these skills.

Building LLTDM team member Matthew Sag, a law professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and leading expert on copyright issues in the digital humanities, said he is “excited to have the chance to help the next generation of text data mining researchers open up new horizons in knowledge discovery. We have learned so much in the past ten years working on HathiTrust [a text-minable digital library] and related issues. I’m looking forward to sharing that knowledge and learning from others in the text data mining community.” 

Team member Brandon Butler, a copyright lawyer and library policy expert at the University of Virginia, said, “In my experience there’s a lot of interest in these research methods among graduate students and early-career scholars, a population that may not feel empowered to engage in “risky” research. I’ve also seen that digital humanities practitioners have a strong commitment to equity, and they are working to build technical literacies outside the walls of elite institutions. Building legal literacies helps ease the burden of uncertainty and smooth the way toward wider, more equitable engagement with these research methods.”

Kyle K. Courtney of Harvard University serves as Copyright Advisor at Harvard Library’s Office for Scholarly Communication, and is also a Building LLTDM team member. Courtney added, “We are seeing more and more questions from scholars of all disciplines around these text data mining issues. The wealth of full-text online materials and new research tools provide scholars the opportunity to analyze large sets of data, but they also bring new challenges having to do with the use and sharing not only of the data but also of the technological tools researchers develop to study them. I am excited to join the Building LLTDM team and help clarify these issues and empower humanities scholars and librarians working in this field.”

Megan Senseney, Head of the Office of Digital Innovation and Stewardship at the University of Arizona Libraries reflected on the opportunities for ongoing library engagement that extends beyond the initial institute. Senseney said that, “Establishing a shared understanding of the legal landscape for TDM is vital to supporting research in the digital humanities and developing a new suite of library services in digital scholarship. I’m honored to work and learn alongside a team of legal experts, librarians, and researchers to create this institute, and I look forward to integrating these materials into instruction and outreach initiatives at our respective universities.”

Next Steps

The Building LLTDM team is excited to begin supporting humanities researchers, staff, and librarians en route to important knowledge creation. Stay tuned if you are interested in participating in the institute. 

In the meantime, please join us in congratulating all the members of the project team:

  • Rachael G. Samberg (University of California, Berkeley) (Project Director)
  • Scott Althaus (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
  • David Bamman (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Sara Benson (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
  • Brandon Butler (University of Virginia)
  • Beth Cate (Indiana University, Bloomington)
  • Kyle K. Courtney (Harvard University)
  • Maria Gould (California Digital Library)
  • Cody Hennesy (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)
  • Eleanor Koehl (University of Michigan)
  • Thomas Padilla (University of Nevada, Las Vegas; OCLC Research)
  • Stacy Reardon (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Matthew Sag (Loyola University Chicago)
  • Brianna Schofield (Authors Alliance)
  • Megan Senseney (University of Arizona)
  • Glen Worthey (Stanford University)


The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

Faust, ein Fragment (1790), Deutsches Textarchiv

Although based on a legend transmitted through the popular literature and drama of German-speaking Europe from the late 16th century onward (and which found an English-speaking audience through translation of the texts and Christopher Marlowe’s dramatic adaptation), Goethe’s own version of Faust lives at the heart of the German literary canon. The play’s “pact with the Devil” narrative tells the story of Dr. Faust, who, seeking deeper knowledge than the academy can provide, strikes a bargain with Mephistopheles which requires him to serve Faust and to show him all of the truths in the world. However, should Faust ever become complacent, his life would be forfeit. A series of fantastic, and tragic, events follows, and in the end Faust finds that his life is at risk. 

Goethe calls upon a variety of meters to tell his tale, which combines elements of contemporary European society with classical themes. He worked on the play intermittently over the course of nearly 50 years beginning in the 1770s (from which a copied manuscript survives), and after releasing his early efforts as Faust, ein Fragment in 1790, decided that the full play should be published as two parts: Part I, published in 1808, and Part II, published posthumously in 1832.  Goethe’s Faust would become highly influential, inspiring music, theater, opera, film, and literature (including Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita) from the 19th century to the present. UC Berkeley Library owns numerous editions of the text, including the initial 1790 publication which was included in a multi-volume set of Goethe’s collected works and is housed in The Bancroft Library. A new project funded by the German Research Foundation called Faustedition has made Faust even more accessible by putting the full text online, and allowing line-by-line reading of variations across editions. Importantly, the project also includes an online archive of Goethe’s handwritten papers and letters, transcribed and searchable, which are related to the development of Faust.

The German language and its literature have been a fixture at Berkeley since the university’s founding. Today, the German Department offers courses at all levels and encompassing the breadth of the Middle Ages to the 21st century. In addition to Modern German, earlier forms of the language including Old Saxon, Old High German, Middle High German, and Early New High German are all taught. Goethe’s writings continue to be studied and read extensively. 

Contribution by Jeremy Ott
Classics and Germanic Studies Librarian, Doe Library

Title: Faust
Title in English: Faust
Author: Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1749-1832.
Imprint: Leipzig: Christian Friedrich Solbrig, 1790.
Edition: 1st [?]
Language: German
Language Family: Indo-European, Germanic
Source: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) | German  Research Foundation
URL: http://faustedition.net

Other online editions:

Print editions at Berkeley:

The Languages of Berkeley [fan]
previous | about | next

The Languages of Berkeley is a dynamic online sequential exhibition celebrating the diversity of languages that have advanced research, teaching and learning at the University of California, Berkeley. It is made possible with support from the UC Berkeley Library and is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC).

Follow The Languages of Berkeley!
Subscribe by email

What’s your favorite language?

Workshop: Publish Digital Books & Open Educational Resources with Pressbooks

Digital Publishing Workshop Series

Publish Digital Books & Open Educational Resources with Pressbooks
Monday, May 6, 11:10am-12:30pm
Academic Innovation Studio, Dwinelle Hall 117 (Level D)

If you’re looking to self-publish work of any length and want an easy-to-use tool that offers a high degree of customization, allows flexibility with publishing formats (EPUB, MOBI, PDF), and provides web-hosting options, Pressbooks may be great for you. Pressbooks is often the tool of choice for academics creating digital books, open textbooks, and open educational resources, since you can license your materials for reuse however you desire. Learn why and how to use Pressbooks for publishing your original books or course materials. You’ll leave the workshop with a project already under way! Register at bit.ly/dp-berk

Workshop: By Design: Graphics & Images Basics

Digital Publishing Workshop Series

By Design: Graphics & Images Basics
Monday, April 22, 4:10-5:00pm
D-Lab, 350 Barrows Hall

In this hands-on workshop, we will learn how to create web graphics for your digital publishing projects and websites. We will cover topics such as: image editing tools in Photoshop; image resolution for the web; sources for free public domain and Creative Commons images; and image upload to publishing tools such as WordPress. If possible, please bring a laptop with Photoshop installed. All UCB faculty and students can receive a free Adobe Creative Suite license. Register at bit.ly/dp-berk

Upcoming Workshops in this Series 2018-2019:

    • Publish Digital Books & Open Educational Resources with Pressbooks

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.

Digital Humanities Fair at Berkeley

DH Fair April 15-18

April 15, 2019 marks the beginning of the annual Digital Humanities Fair, a week-long series of events that offers the UC Berkeley community the opportunity to share projects at various stages of development, receive invaluable feedback from peers, and reflect on the field more broadly. This year’s DH Fair features a keynote speech from Zeynep Tufekci and a poster session with presentation opportunities for UC Berkeley students, staff, and faculty.

Continue reading “Digital Humanities Fair at Berkeley”

DH+Lib: Building and Preserving Collections for Digital Humanities Research

An English stage showing Sir John Falstaff and Mrs. Quickly, ca. 1662
An English stage showing Sir John Falstaff and Mrs. Quickly, ca. 1662


Wednesday, April 17th, 9:30 – 11:00 AM
Doe 180

This session will feature panelists building collections and tools for local digital humanities projects. Kathryn Stine, manager for digital content development and strategy at the California Digital Library, will talk about building web archive collections through collaboration, preparing these collections for discovery and use, and tapping the research potential of the resulting captured content and data. Mary Elings, Head of Technical Services for The Bancroft Library, will talk about the role libraries can play in developing research-ready digital collections to facilitate emerging research methods. And Gisèle Tanasse, Film & Media Services Librarian at the Library, will discuss her role in Shakespeare’s Staging, a DH project to help digitize, preserve, and make accessible Shakespeare performances from UC Berkeley students.

DH Fair 2019


2019 DH Fair Library Committee
Stacy Reardon, Chair
Lynn Cunningham
Mary Elings
Jeremy Ott
Liladhar Pendse
Claude Potts

Workshop: Text Data Mining and Publishing

Digital Publishing Workshop Series

Text Data Mining and Publishing
Monday, April 8, 11:10am-12:30pm
D-Lab, 350 Barrows Hall

If you are working on a computational text analysis project and have wondered how to legally acquire, use, and publish text and data, this workshop is for you! We will teach you 5 legal literacies (copyright, contracts, privacy, ethics, and special use cases) that will empower you to make well-informed decisions about compiling, using, and sharing your corpus. By the end of this workshop, and with a useful checklist in hand, you will be able to confidently design lawful text analysis projects or be well positioned to help others design such projects. Consider taking alongside Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects. Register at bit.ly/dp-berk

Upcoming Workshops in this Series 2018-2019:

    • By Design: Graphics & Images Basics
    • Publish Digital Books & Open Educational Resources with Pressbooks

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.

Workshop: Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects

Digital Publishing Workshop Series

Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects
Thursday, March 7, 1:10-2:30pm
D-Lab, 350 Barrows Hall

This training will help you navigate the copyright, fair use, and usage rights of including third-party content in your digital project. Whether you seek to embed video from other sources for analysis, post material you scanned from a visit to the archives, add images, upload documents, or more, understanding the basics of copyright and discovering a workflow for answering copyright-related digital scholarship questions will make you more confident in your publication. We will also provide an overview of your intellectual property rights as a creator and ways to license your own work. Register at bit.ly/dp-berk

Upcoming Workshops in this Series 2018-2019:

    • Text Data Mining and Publishing
    • By Design: Graphics & Images Basics
    • Publish Digital Books & Open Educational Resources with Pressbooks

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.

Art + Feminism + Race + Justice Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

Library Wikimedia Poster

Join us at the Art+Feminism+Race+Justice Wikipedia Edit-a-thon
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
12-5 p.m.
Moffitt Library, Room 405

Wikimedia’s race and gender trouble is well-documented. While the reasons for the gap are up for debate, the practical effect of this disparity is not: content is skewed by the lack of participation by underrepresented groups. This adds up to an alarming absence in an important repository of shared knowledge.

Let’s change that. Join us in 405 Moffitt Library on Tuesday, March 5 between 12noon-5:00pm for an all day communal updating of Wikipedia entries. We will provide tutorials for the beginner Wikipedian, reference materials, and refreshments. Drop in any time; trainings take place every hour on the hour.

Art+Feminism is a national campaign improving coverage of cis and transgender women, feminism and the arts on Wikipedia, and at UC Berkeley we will team up with the American Cultures program’s Race+Justice edit-a-thon. So, bring your laptop, power cord and ideas for entries that need updating or creation! For the editing-averse, we urge you to stop by to show your support. People of all races and gender identities are invited to participate.

  • People of all gender identities and expressions welcome.
  • Bring a laptop or mobile device if you can.
  • Drop in for half an hour or stay for the whole afternoon — it’s up to you!
  • No editing experience necessary; we’ll provide training and assistance.
    • Optional: Training sessions every hour on the hour.
    • Get a headstart! Create an editing account ahead of time.
  • Refreshments will be provided.

Interested? Learn more here and RSVP (encouraged, but not required). Don’t forget: your Cal ID card is required to enter Moffitt!

The Library attempts to offer programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations, please contact us at editathon@lists.berkeley.edu.

Let’s get editing!