October 4, 2008

Wanakam.com is dead... long live Wanakam.com!

Marcel Barang's excellent website Wanakam.com ("Wanakam World Classics in Thai"), home to more than 200 Thai translations of English and French literature, has been offline for some time now. For most of 2008, if I'm not mistaken. I haven't tried contacting Marcel to inquire as to the reason, so I don't know if it's coming back online.

Of course, nothing's every really dead online, what with the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Their most recent backup of Wanakam.com is from December 2007, well after the site stopped actively adding new content.

In June 2006, this announcement was posted:
The decision has been taken to discontinue wanakam.com as of today, 2 June 2006.
And then in July:
Life after death 
The decision has been taken to publish a series of wanakam.com books using material from this site over the next few months. The relevant translators will be contacted by and by. Rejoice and pass the word around!
More than two years later, nothing has come of this announcement, to my knowledge, so I doubt this is related to the disappearance of the site. But you never know. Anyhow, you can still enjoy these stories on the Internet Archive.

Another way to get at stories from Wanakam.com is via the new Just Read! feature on the SEAlang.net (right now all the available texts are in one unwieldy dropdown menu, so you have to scroll down to the section titled "Wanakam translations"). Just Read! is a pared down version of the experimental Reader's Helper tool.

With these tools, the Thai text has been manually aligned* sentence-by-sentence with the original English (stories from French are out), which makes it easier to keep your place, and lets you choose from a few different layout styles. Other useful features are pop-up romanization by hovering over a Thai word, and clicking a Thai word to automatically insert it into the search box. Clicking "search" will bring up a dictionary search in a new window. (See the Just Read! screencast for a walkthrough.)

Disclosure: I worked on preparing the texts for this tool. (I'm the sucker who did the alignment, among other things.)

If you find this useful, you can also try Just Write!, or the full set of features in the SEAlang Lab. These are experimental tools supported by the U.S. Dep't of Education. Bugs are many, so remember: the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

*Automatic alignment of Thai and English parallel texts (aka bitexts) just isn't good enough yet. A colleague of mine is currently writing his Master's thesis on this topic, though, trying to improve accuracy.


  1. SEAlang.net is an amazing resource. I have it listed on my site. Due to time constraints, I haven't managed to figure it out all the way (there's a lot there, some of it confusing)

    Just Read and Just Write look more my speed, so thanks for announcing the new features.

    And thanks for being that sucker :-)

  2. Great stuff Rikker, thanks for doing this. I'm surprised there isn't a "corpusapedia" out there somewhere, given how useful bilingual texts are for language learners and their role in machine translation.