17 August 2009

Using colors for multilingual texts

William Faulkner wanted his novel The Sound and the Fury printed in multicolors, each color belonging to one character's point of view (the novel has several points of view acting simultaneously, leading to immense confusion for unschooled readers). Technology has now given multilingual writers the solution that Faulkner desired, not in terms of different points of view, but for different languages in the same literary text. There is now software that can print, if you are reading on a computer, words in different colors (one for each language).

"Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a simple mechanism for adding style (e.g. fonts, colors, spacing) to Web documents."

"For one example of using CSS, in Patrick Hanrahan’s novel NUNC, set the stylesheet to Number Two ('The author’s choice'). Stylesheet 2 uses the before: property to insert the characters’ names before their lines in a white #FFFFFF font on the black background. Patrick’s multilingual novels could be read by multilingual voice technology; language HTML font tags are included for each character’s lines, Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, German or Russian. Each character in the novel has their own font and color. They could also have their own voice accents."

Not being much of a techie, I haven't myself tried out this software, but it seems like an ideal solution for multilingual writers. Set the software to color the words according to the language (if you wish, per character as in Faulkner's novel). That will make life much easier for the reader.

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