The recent availability of relatively inexpensive powerful
computer systems opens up a host of new possibilities for
many fields, among them e. g., research on Oriental languages. Due to industrious collecting activities a wealth of
written material has been accumulated whose evaluation by
traditional means might. given the available human resources.
take decades or even centuries. Much of the necessary work is of clerical nature. and could well be automated.
once the material is in machine-readable form. But
the necessary software is usually not available, or not affordable, and will probably have to be developed from
scratch, preferably in a cooperation between Orientalists
and computer experts. Also the encoding of the data is a
manual process that should have to be performed only
once, and some prior consideration is advisable to avoid
the necessity of duplication of effort.
As an example, imagine the building of a catalog for a
large number of Arabic manuscripts. This could possibly
be handled by using one of the available bilingual word
processors. But the data format used will probably be private
and not easily accessible, and since these tools are
geared towards generating a printed version only, there is
no easy way to include additional descriptive information
which could otherwise be used for further evaluations.
In the sequel we present some recommendations which
we believe can be helpful, and report on first results of