Computing the Dharma: New Digital Tools to Explore Buddhist Sanskrit Literature
A talk on how Buddhist Studies intersects with Digital Humanities through the Visual Dictionary and Thesaurus of Buddhist Sanskrit
This talk will discuss an exciting new contribution to the fields of Buddhist Studies and Digital Humanities, namely, the Visual Dictionary and Thesaurus of Buddhist Sanskrit, part of the ongoing Buddhist Translation Workbench (BTW) at Mangalam Research Center. Ligeia Lugli, Director of the BTW, will offer a brief history of the project and its vision, highlighting how new digital methods of natural language processing will complement traditional methods of close reading and philology in the study of Sanskrit Buddhist texts.
These new digital tools will help identify keywords characteristics of a certain school of Buddhism, detect variation in the distribution of words over time, and pinpoint distinctive word and phrase use patterns – all information that may lead to a better understanding of the texts’ doctrinal affiliations, relative position in the context of Buddhist literature, and perhaps even authorship and dating. While other digital tools focus only on words and not on their meaning, Ligeia and her team are developing methods to study how the meanings of the same words and phrases may change over time and become imbued with new meanings through commentarial explanation and context.
Ligeia Lugli (she/her) holds a PhD in the study of religion from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages. Since completing her PhD in 2011, she has participated in a number of digital humanities and lexicographic projects. She has worked on an online reference resource for Indian Philosophy (Śastravid, University of Oxford), and on digital dictionaries of Buddhist Sanskrit (as the Director of the Buddhist Translators Workbench, Mangalam Research Center) and Tibetan . She is currently a Visiting Professor in applied linguistics (lexicography) at Sao Paulo University in Brazil (UNESP).