2013 Multi-lingualism & Multi-culturalism Annual Report

ADHO Standing Committee on Multi-Lingualism & Multi-Culturalism (SC MLMC)

Report on activities and matters arising

July 2012 - June 2013

Elisabeth Burr

1. Composition of the Committee

1.1 Meeting of SC on 17th July 2012 in Hamburg

At the meeting of the ADHO Steering Committee on June 17, 2012 in Hamburg it was de­cided that the Standing Committee on Multi-Lingualism & Multi-Culturalism (SC MLMC) would be composed as follows:

  • Elisabeth Burr (chair) - (2011-2014)
  • Espen Ore (ALLC representative) - (2011-2014)
  • Glen Worthey (ACH representative) - (2012-2015)
  • Michael Eberle Sinatra - (CSDH-SCHN representative) - (2011-2014)
  • Mitsu Inaba (centerNet representative) – (2012-2015)
  • Nick Thieberger (aaDH representative) – (2012-2015)
  • Jan Christoph Meister, ex officio member, internationalization editor of DHQ
  • Dan O’Donell, ex officio member, representative of Digital Studies / Le champ numérique

During discussion of the membership it was agreed that the Committee should have a bias towards there being wide rather than narrow membership. As a rule, individuals on the committee should not wear more than one.

1.2 Co-options

At the meeting of ADHO’s Standing Committee on Multi-Lingualism & Multi-Culturalism on July 17, 2012 in Hamburg the following people were co-opted unanimously by the commit­tee for one year:

  • Jan Rybicki - (2012-2013)
  • Deborah Anderson - (2012-2013)
  • Ernesto Priani - (2012-2013)

During discussion the committee members agreed to be biased in favour of including more people rather than fewer.

In order to make the MLMC inclusive of more languages and cultures the 31st of October 2012 the chair proposed to co-opt Claire Clivaz, the co-chair of the local organizing team of DH 2014 in Lausanne.

After a unanimously positive vote, Claire was co-opted the 22nd of November 2012. She accepted the co-option with pleasure.

1.3 Reminders

In June 2013 the chair reminded

  • ADHO’s constituent organisations that their representatives on the SC MLMC are nomi­nated for a three-year term of office, reendorsed each year by their Association at its annual meeting and that at the end of a three year term the Association can either reappoint the repre­sentative or appoint a new representative. It informed the Constituent Organisations, furthermore, that none of the terms comes to an end, but that there might be Constituent Organisations that have to nominate a representative for the first time.
  • ADHO's Journals that they have the possibility to appoint an ex-officio member to the SC MLMC for a three-year term of office, reendorsed each year by the board of the journal. It infor­med the journals, furthermore, that none of the terms come to an end if the year 2011 was taken as the starting point for the new regulations about offices etc. being in place. This means that the state of the two journal representatives who have been appointed is as follows:
    Jan Christoph Meister, ex officio member, internationalization editor of DHQ (2011-2014)
    Dan O’Donell, ex officio member, representative of Digital Studies / Le champ numérique (2011-2014)

2. Protocol

At the meeting in Hamburg it was agreed that the protocol of ADHO’s SC on Multi-Lingual­ism & Multi-Culturalism needed to be changed with respect to the following points:

  • it needs to be made explicit who has a vote
  • it needs to be made clear that every ADHO publication has the possibility / right to appoint an ex-officio member to the SC
  • it needs to reflect the current name and acronym of the committee
  • “Internationalization Editor of DHQ” needs to become “representative of ADHO journals / pub­lications” and the description of the position needs to be changed

On the 10th of September the current name Standing Committee on Multi-Lingualism & Multi-Culturalism and the acronym SCMLMC were systematically inserted into the text of the pro­tocol. Between the 10th of March and the 14th of April the members of SC MLMC discussed thoroughly all the other points listed above before they came to a unanimous vote on the revised protocol. The revised protocol was sent to Neil and Ray on the 14th of April 2013.

3. Preparing for DH 2013

3.1 Revised version of the Call

The SC MLMC was very pleased when it learnt the 17th of August 2012 that the proposal to stabilise the call, which the MLMC had sent to the PC 2012 and to the chair of ADHO's Conference Coordinating Committee, John Unsworth, the 13th of August 2011, had actu­ally been taken into account when the 2013 programme committee under the guidance of Bethany Nowviskie prepared the CFP 2013. It agrees with Bethany that this type of call should not only make the work of the MLMC much easier but that it is also easier to read and to understand. The MLMC is also very satisfied that after it had proposed so many times to change the call in such a way that the content that will need to be retranslated in coming years is minimized and that the rest of the call can remain stable from year to year, a type of call which fulfils these requirements is now available. The SC MLMC expresses sincere thanks to the 2013 PC chair and programme committee for its good work.

3.2 ConfTool

The 2nd of September the chair of the SC MLMC proposed to the 2013 Programme Commit­tee to do something about the way how information about the languages reviewers feel comfortable to review papers in is collected in ConfTool. The fact was then, that all the in­formation about "languages" had to be entered into a text field which rendered it very diffi­cult to use this information. Furthermore, there was no question about the mother tongue of the reviewers. The MLMC chair felt that to use information about languages was not only vital when proposals have to be attributed to reviewers by the PC chair, but that it was also essential if ADHO wants to get a better understanding of its community.

Between the 2nd and 5th of September 2012 the chair of the MLMC and Bethany, the PC chair, discussed changes to be made to ConfTool. The result of this discussion is, that in ConfTool reviewers can now indicate the languages they can review papers in and their mother tongue in such a way that the data are saved in individual cells of the database and not as running text as was the case before. The SC MLMC considers this another step into the right direction, not only because it will make the attribution of proposals to reviewers easier for the PC chair but also because it will actually allow to collect data and get a clearer idea of the ADHO community.

3.3 Language versions of the Call

The 1st of September the chair invited the members of the SC MLMC, the former voluntary translators and quite a few of the participants of The European Summer School in Digital Humanities "Culture & Technology" to help with the translation of the CFP 2013. From the 1st of September to the 26th of October the chair had to concentrate on the organisation and coordination of the translation process which resulted in 12 language versions of the call (in the 2nd column you find the translators):




Chiara Salvagni and Raffaele Viglianti


Kiyonori Nagasaki


Isabel Galina and Jose López


Ágnest Abuczki


Corinne Welger-Barboza


Elisabeth Doulkaridou


Doron Modan


Espen Ore


Elisabeth Burr


Elena Potapenko


Irena Marinski

The aim of translating the call into as many languages as possible was as always to foster the awareness of the multi-lingual and multi-cultural nature of the community and to help ADHO to become more linguistically and culturally inclusive.

4. Policy matters

The 18th October 2012 the chair of the SC MLMC was approached by Ray Siemens on behalf of the ADHO CCC asking the MLMC to comment on a few issues of language as they relate to the DH Conference. These issues had come up in discussions among past, present and future conference chairs. The same day the chair was approached with the question about using some of the new web-based automatic translation services to reach multi-linguality (see below). The 11th of November on the SC level discussion about GO::DH started. The 17th of November Julia Flanders raised the question of a survey on conference multilinguality?

Discussions went very fast and all of them contained so many (problematic) points and opin­ions that the chair of the SC MLMC found it very hard to sum them up and bring them to the attention of the SC MLMC. The chair is after all not an English mother tongue and the sum­ming up of discussions where facts mix with ideologies, apprehensions and the like would have taken ages. Furthermore, the chair found it really difficult to discuss with the committee members discussions which had been going on outside the SC MLMC and in which none of the other members of the SC MLMC was involved. The chair decided to follow up first of all some of the matters which had arisen at the Hamburg meeting (see for example the Proto­col, Web pages) or which could be handled by doing some research (see Translation Tools and Services) and which would lead to concrete results.

4.1 Web-pages of the SC MLMC

At the Hamburg meeting it had been decided to do work on the MLMC web pages in the ADHO portal as soon as the Drupal portal had been built. After an account had been set up the 10th of February 2013 the chair updated the site of the MLMC so that it showed the ac­tual composition of the committee. The chair also welcomed Lisa Spiro’s offer to liaise with the ADHO Communications Committee in order to turn the ADHO site multi-lingual. How­ever, no real action could be taken because there was just no time to concentrate on Drupal and on possible language cooperators.

4.2 Translation Tools and Services

As Ray Siemens approached the chair of the SC in the name of the ADHO CCC asking for the MLMC’s thoughts on using some of the new web-based automatic translation services to reach multi-linguality, the chair first of all asked the voluntary translators whether they had used an automated translation tool when translating the CFP 2013. The result was that only two of the 12 voluntary translators used Google translator toolkit, all the others did the trans­lation without a tool.

The 24th of November 2012 the chair undertook some research by asking the voluntary translators and the members of the SC MLMC to look at the autotranslation from English into their own language of http://www.dh2012.uni-hamburg.de/conference/programme/ abstracts/towards-a-reference-curriculum-for-the-digital-humanities/. Furthermore she asked the members of the MLMC to have a look at an autotranslation of the French version of the Digital Humanities Manifesto into English.

The result is that the overwhelming majority is of the opinion that autotranslation of a text from another language into their own mother tongue can be a first step but that the result of it cannot be published without human intervention. The result is the same for both groups, i.e. English and non-English mother tongues.

5. Measures & Policies on the Agenda

The 16th of March 2013 the chair approached the committee members with the following list of policy matters which had arisen in the meantime or at the Hamburg meeting and had not been handled so far:

  • Conference Protocol and Annexe: requirements on the CFP and languages should be inserted (required minimum languages the CFP should be available in, launch of the different language versions, who is responsible for the translations etc.)
  • Questions put to the committee on the basis of discussion among the CCC (Conference Coordina­ting Committee)
  • ADHO Survey on Conference Multilinguality and the discussion around it
  • a room for sessions in non-English tongues (French, German, Italian, Spanish...), with an English audio translation simultaneously – (Claire's comment)
  • cultural differences in abstract writing, reviewing scores in relation to culture of submitter (extract from matters arising from the Hamburg meeting)

The discussion which followed made it necessary to try and handle the many points in different threads in order to actually come to conclusions. The following shows the complexity of the whole matter:

  1. Measures & policies directed at broadening the "diversity"-base in terms of languages and cultures
    1. the passive "diversity"-base
      1. calls, announcements, role of MLMC, policy and protocol proposals to ADHO and COs – (based on Espen's contribution)
      2. abstracts (see also Edward Vanhoutte’s comment to the ADHO Steering Committee) point - policy and protocol proposals to ADHO and COs
    2. the active "diversity"-base
      1. the survey on conference multilinguality
      2. conferences (looking to the Lausanne conference)
      3. sessions in languages other than English and simultaneous translations
      4. multi-lingual presentations (slides, handouts)
      5. poster sessions
    3. Measures & policies directed at raising critical awareness
      1. MLMC research agenda
      2. session at the Lausanne conference
      3. publication

5.1 The passive „diversity“-base

So far the SC MLMC could only discuss thoroughly the first point of the passive “diversity”-base, i.e.

    1. calls, announcements, role of MLMC, policy and protocol proposals to ADHO and COs

The need was felt, that the SC MLMC should first make clear its role again, set down re­quirements with respect to the CFP and languages, i.e. the minimum number of languages it should be available in and at what point the different language versions (including English) should be published. It should also state whose responsibility (local organiser? PC?) it is to make sure that different language versions exist.

The contents of the document to be elaborated should become part of the Conference Proto­col or the Annex.

The document called “Decision on its role in general and with respect to the CFP especially (Discussion May / June 2013; approved 15th of June 2013)” (see attached) was sent to Neil the 16th of June 2013, who distributed it via the ADHO-Steering list.

5.2 Survey on conference multilinguality

From the 17th of November 2012 until today the chair of the SC MLMC co-operated with Julia Flanders and Susan Brown with respect to the survey on conference multilinguality. The 12th of May the chair handed over her Excel file with the names of people who have trans­lated the Call in the past and some other possible voluntaries (students of the above all). The 17th of May the members of the SC MLMC were given access to the survey on conference multilinguality put together by Julia in collaboration with Susan Brown and the chair of the SC MLMC. The survey was, however, not yet discussed (see 2. the active "diversity"-base).

5.3 Data collection

The SCMLMC welcomed the fact that the Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC) had taken up the request about access to DH conference data, which not least the SC MLMC had made many times, as it cannot carry out its own research agenda without data. It wel­comed, furthermore, that the SC on the 22nd of April 2013 approved the cause of action recommended by the CCC:

  • The CCC work with the results of the survey Julia and others are leading, as well as the MLMC Ctte, to determine which data points about conference submissions would be most valuable to have, and in what contexts we might make them available for use.
  • Via the usual process of revision process engaged in annually by the PC for Conftool setup (as part of the PC workflow), the PC for 2014 include in that setup both
    • tracking of those recommended data points, and < >an SC-approved statement of use for par­ticipants relating to their provision of data to us and the use we will make of that data (includ­ing possible publication of results that include the details under construction), one that meets the legal requirements of all areas in which we operate and to which participants can agree or not agree. The website group makes this data publicly available on the ADHO website, in annual and cumulative form, as reported to the SC by the PC via updates at the annual SC meeting.
    • The CCC ask the SC to consider the risk (related to legal ethical considerations) associated with making as much past conference data, on the same data points, available such that we can offer as complete a historical data set as possible. If the risk is determined to be accep­table, the CCC will seek funds to hire a consultant to provide this data set. < >The CCC, PC, and website protocols are updated in 2013 to reflect the above, as well as any others of perti­nence.

5.4 Involvement in other Committees

ADHO Committee on Expansion: The SC MLMC agreed at its Hamburg meeting that they are interested in the work of the ADHO committee on expansion, but felt that they did not need to actively solicit a member from this committee to be part of the SC MLMC (or vice versa).

ADHO Infrastructure Committee: The committee at its Hamburg meeting had felt that the chair of the SC MLMC should join the ADHO infrastructure committee to make sure that the needs of the committee were met during the major changes that were in progress. The decision was communicated to the ADHO Steering Committee on the 6th of October 2012. After Chris Meister had given an explanation of the Infrastructure Committee’s tasks the mat­ter was dropped.

6. Other actions taken


In the discussions about whether to use AGORA (University of Hamburg) for the work of the SC MLMC or do the work by mail, the chair of the SCMLMC defended the use of AGORA strongly because it allows the chair to keep things together and running, helps to retain an overview on discussions and topics, prevents the chair from having to look through all the masses of E-mails she gets every day and to read all the mails of the members of the SCMLMC again and again in order to recall what everybody said etc. etc. She was also of the opinion that an environment like AGORA allows to build up an archive and have it ready for future chairs and committee members and to keep an eye on the history of the SC MLMC at least from the moment when AGORA was first used, whereas the earlier history of the committee remains hidden in the many mails which have been written and received over the years because they are not accessible to the committee or the larger community.

In order to render work with AGORA less cumbersome and communications more continu­ous the following rule was introduced:

  • Every Monday night (GMT) at the latest every committee member logs into AGORA, looks at the things which have changed and takes action if so requested.
  • The chair organizes herself in such a way, that Sunday evening at the latest all the things which need attention are in AGORA for the members of the SCMLMC to look at and to help the chair to keep an overview of the situation.
  • Deadlines will be established in such a way that they can be respected if the members of the com­mittee follow the first rule.
  • The chair will send out mails through AGORA to catch the attention of the SCMLMC members.

6.2 For history‘s sake

The 29th of August 2012 the chair uploaded all the reports, minutes and meeting agendas which have been produced over the years into AGORA. They are to be found under "Mate­rials".