The goal of the Babylonian Talmud Translation Project is the computerized Italian translation of the Babylonian Talmud, a central text in Jewish culture covering every aspect of human knowledge: law, science, philosophy, religion and even aspects of everyday life.
The commented translation, including the facing-page original text in Hebraic and Aramaic, is supported by highly advanced tools of computational linguistics and an application specifically designed for this project.
The Talmud Translation Project not only enriches the Italian cultural heritage, but is also the key to a crucial work of the Jewish culture that has had a great influence in the European history for the last thousand years.

A glance at the past and one into the future.

The project began in 2010, initiated by Clelia Piperno, law professor at the University of Teramo, who met Antonio Agostini, at the time general director for research at the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, and rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, and shared the idea of translating the Talmud in Italian by using an innovative method: translators and computer experts would have designed a unique software based on the Turing machine principle. The Minister of Education welcomed the idea and turned it into one of the three special projects of the CNR. In order to start the project, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the MIUR (Ministry of Education, Universities and Research), the CNR (National Research Council) and the UCEI (Union of Italian Jewish Communities) – CRI (Italian Rabbinical College) signed a protocol agreement to finance the project and, most of all, gain the recognition provided by the support of the Italian institutions.

The project started and is being developed under the scientific and operational guide of rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, Chairman of the project, and by professor Piperno, today Director of the Project.

The translation is being edited by a team of about 70 researchers, among which expert and trainee translators, proofreaders, content and publishing editors, supported by a team of about 10 computer experts and the administration staff.

The innovative computerized system developed by the CNR’s Institute for Computational Linguistics of Pisa is the true key element marking the difference with all existing translations of the Talmud and other ancient texts. This system, called TRADUCO, has been designed specifically for this project to enhance the work of translators, and it’s being constantly supported by CNR’s highly experienced researchers of computational linguistics and computer experts.

A unique task.

Translating the Talmud is being incredibly challenging. This text is like a vast deposit of human knowledge; being aware of its importance and strength helped us facing such a valuable challenge.
That’s why we created the multi-disciplinary task force of professionals working as a whole on this massive translation project, supported by highly-advanced computational linguistics tools.

Italian project, international appeal.

The Italian Jewish community accepted the challenge and it’s proving to have the outstanding professional skills required to engage such a challenging work. So far, only the largest and best-established Jewish communities such as the American, Israeli, French, Russian and German took on similar tasks. This unique idea of using a smart software, developed specifically for this project, to translate the Talmud is being successful in every respect. And it’s completely Italian.

An irreplaceable partner.

Right from the very start, the Italian State realized the great importance of this project and through its authorities gave a significant contribution by providing highly skilled professionals and the resources needed.
The commitment of the Italian State to the Talmud translation project legitimates the Italian scientific community and the universal value of the Talmud, and represents a unique gift for the Nation, its citizens and for all those who love and speak our language across the globe.

One story, several meanings.

The Talmud originates from recording in writings the discussions of academics debating the Torah in Babylon; it became popular in the following three centuries, then eventually was subjected to studies, commentaries and analysis within all Jewish communities across the globe, until present days.

The Talmud translation project can be described as extremely complex and sophisticated, the result of the Talmudic culture matching computational linguistics: two different forms of knowledge held together by the Talmud, true foundation of the Jewish identity.

Therefore, the project reveals its universal value of key to access a source of knowledge that so far was not available in Italian.

TRADUCO: technology for culture.

The CNR’s Institute for Computational Linguistics developed the web application TRADUCO specifically for the Babylonian Talmud Translation Project. This system is designed to process the text and knowledge according to the principles of computational linguistics; also, it includes highly advanced editorial tools.

The system TRADUCO is:

  • accessible via web: contrary to desktop applications, TRADUCO simply needs Internet connection and can be used through a navigation browser;
  • teamwork friendly: this web-based, highly technological application allows the team of translators, proofreaders and editors to work on the same data simultaneously and share them with each others;
  • intelligent: the application includes a support system suggesting automatically the most appropriate translation for each sentence, thus delivering enhanced time optimization and homogeneous final result;
  • flexible: this application is provided with a probability-based system of text analysis and processing adapting to different languages. Also, TRADUCO can easily be modified and reused to translate any kind of texts.

 

In addition, TRADUCO allows to:

  • insert notes, commentaries and quotes;
  • highlight the text on a semantic level, according to specific categories (such as people, rabbis, nature, measures, etc.);
  • carry out complex researches on the brief text;
  • read layouts created ad hoc and export translated texts for immediate production of paper copies.

 

TRADUCO, like any other system developed by a research institute, is being constantly upgraded. The suggestion component is the core of this innovative translation system. TRADUCO is already able to automatically supply the translator with the right translation, on the base of the archive of text that has already been translated by the translator him/herself or by other translators: after three years and a half of work, its memory is now enhanced to an extent that the system is able to suggest the correct translation, one out of two times. The system can be integrated with further information levels enhanced by an evaluation process capable of improving the translation accuracy and “rating” the quality of the suggestions provided (stored in the so-called “translation memory”). Therefore, the translation memory can be enhanced with: I) bilingual dictionaries, to translate in Italian (and set once and for all) words or idioms of the different linguistic evolutions of the Hebraic-Aramaic; II) algorithms using linguistic and semantic information to improve the process of recovery of the translations to suggest; III) a software component implementing the methodology of the evaluation adopted.

Also, the ILC team skills in knowledge engineering will be useful to integrate the System with semantic-based systems for text research and browsing. Indeed, by organizing the Talmud key words in a formal structure, the base of Talmudic knowledge, encoded by computer experts, can be created (for example, through the ontology formalism) to enable the access to the text contents to answer complex questions such as for example: “where in the text do botanical terms related to respiratory diseases appear?”, “where in the text do botanical terms related to the preparation of specific seasonal food or to specific events and feast days appear?”, “which are the most relevant topics debated in the commentaries to certain passages of the Talmud discussed by a specific rabbi in a specific period?”

Institute of Computational Linguistic "A. Zampolli" - CNR

Scientific Coordinator: Emiliano Giovannetti
Technical Coordinator: Davide Albanesi
Research and Development: Andrea Bellandi – Alessia Bellusci – Giulia Benotto – Francesco Bulleri – Enrico Carniani

Delivery to the President of Confindustria of the first volume of the Babylonian Talmud Berakhòt

18 July 2019

Vincenzo Boccia, the President of Confindustria, was given a copy of the first volume of the Berakhòt Babylonian Talmud by our Chief Rabbi of Rome Rav Riccardo Di Segni and by the Director Prof. Clelia Piperno

Workshop Milano

20 May 2019

The Talmud Project: Technology for a new idea of global citizenship

Software presentation conference in Moscow

17 December 2018

Conference for the presentation of the translation software “Traduco” at the two prestigious Russian universities MEPHI – Moscow Engineering Physics Institute and Lomonosov – Moscow State University

Presentation of the tractate Ta’anìt to the Italian Embassy at the Holy See

27 November 2018

Presentation of the tractate Ta’anìt to the Italian Embassy at the Holy See with the presence of the Minister of the Public Education, University and Research Mr. Marco Bussetti.

The two new tractates Berakhòt and Ta’anìt have been presented and donated to the President of the Italian Republic

4 October 2018

The two new tractates Berakhòt and Ta’anìt have been presented and donated to the President of the Italian Republic Mr. Mattarella.

The Talmud Project has been presented during the 73th United Nation General Assembly

28 September 2018

The Talmud Project has been presented during the 73th United Nation General Assembly “Innovation and technology foster inclusion and intercultural dialogue: the Talmud Project”.

The version 3.9 of the software has been released

2 May 2018

The version 3.9 of the software has been released, now it can accomplish advanced editorial tusks.

Donation to the Senate of the first volume, Rosh haShana

6 December 2017

The first tractate, Rosh haShanà was donated to the President of the Italian Senate, Mr. Pietro Grasso.

Published the second volume, BERAKHÒT

6 December 2017

On Wednesday 6 December 2017, during an event evening held at Palazzo Brancaccio, organized by the publishing house “La Giuntina”, Berakhòt was officially presented, the second volume produced by the Babylonian Talmud Translation Project, in the presence, among others, of the President of the PTTB, Rav Riccardo Di Segni, of the Director of the PTTB, Clelia Piperno, of the President of the CNR, Massimo Inguscio,

The Talmud Project Roadshow: USA 2017

23 October 2017

From October 23rd to October 29th 2017, the Babylonian Talmud Translation Project was the protagonist of a roadshow in the United States of America, with great interest in the historical and cultural sphere of the initiative and the related technological innovation. Events staged: Library of Congress Casa Zerilli Marimò Park East Synagogue Cardozo University Consulate General of Italy

Presentation of the first tractate of the Babylonian Talmud translated into Italian: the tractate Rosh haShanà.

4 May 2016

Presentation of the first tractate of the Babylonian Talmud translated into Italian: the tractate Rosh haShanà. The first tractate was donated to the President of the Italian Republic Mr. Mattarella in the prestigious location of Accademia dei Lincei. The first tractate published is available in the bookstores.