In the Middle Ages, the Romance cultural sphere, where Latin had been the dominating language of scholarship since Antiquity, sees the emergence of new, vernacular knowledge networks: The vernaculars, medieval French, Italian, Occitan, etc., are developed into languages of knowledge and scholarship within new functional areas of language that are technically and conceptually complex. The project "ALMA – Modeling of Knowledge Networks in Medieval Romance Speaking Europe Based on Linguistic Data" aims to investigate the interaction between language, knowledge, and scholarship in the Romance cultural sphere. These technical, 'scientific' languages of scholarship are a particularly important part of the intellectual, cultural heritage of Europe. In addition to this, they are major carriers of a cultural exchange in the Middle Ages that starts to establish the European identity as a knowledge society.
The ALMA project combines methods of linguistics, text philology and the history of sciences with the Digital Humanities and ontology engineering. The rich textual tradition within Romance languages – with respect to two exemplary knowledge domains, namely ‘medicine’ and ‘law’ – will be made accessible through digital, multilingual text corpora. The corpus texts lay the empirical foundation for the reconstruction of the main concepts and concept networks of these knowledge domains. To integrate the project’s historico-philological research results into the Semantic Web, they will be transferred into Linked Open Data together with new, domain-specific, historicized ontologies. These ontologies consider the specificity of medieval explanation patterns, thereby extending the circle of their potential users far beyond the field of Romance Studies to all disciplines of sciences and the humanities focusing on historical data.
«ALMA, realmente un proyecto con alma», Xavier Casassas Canals.