When you discover a source that you believe will be difficult to procure or, once procured, will be difficult to consult, you may be able to obtain an easier version of it directly from the author.
Sources in these formats are usually difficult to procure or consult:
- Printed on paper
- PDF files consisting of scanned page images
- Websites that offer only lookups of words entered by the user
Getting authors’ help
You can approach authors when you have reason to believe that they have easier formats of sources that you have discovered.
Here is an example of a message that could be sent to an author:
Your document “[title]” has recently come to my attention. It is a valuable source of lexical translations.
Our team at the PanLex project (http://panlex.org) in Berkeley, California, is researching how to combine information from multiple sources in order to discover new and previously undocumented translations among all languages in the world.
We have a [format] version of your work. If you can share with us the same work in any other format, such as [better format], your help would be greatly appreciated. We would also be delighted to receive copies of any similar work, published or unpublished, documenting lexical translations for endangered or other poorly documented languages. We have some funds available to purchase such documents.
We do not publish or further disseminate any of the works that we acquire, but we combine some of the information in them with information from other sources to help the public translate any word in any language into any other language. Translations obtained from works created or provided by you would be credited to those works.
I’ll be happy to discuss this and answer any questions. I look forward to your reply.
[Title, PanLex Project]
The Long Now Foundation
San Francisco and Berkeley, California