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TEI-L  August 2004

TEI-L August 2004

Subject:

Re: Why so many quotation elements?

From:

Michael Beddow <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Michael Beddow <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 13 Aug 2004 20:46:22 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (106 lines)

Alejandro Bia wrote:

> I am currently translating into Spanish the remaining markup
> mnemonics (element and attribute names, and attribute values)

I can see the triple-P value of localising TEI element and attribute names
(Pedagogy, Propaganda, Politics) but I can't suppress my belief that like
air-traffic-control, and for not dissimilar reasons, such activities are
best conducted in a single language, which -- du réalisme avant tout, wenn
ich so sagen darf -- probably means English. Attribute *values* are I think
in a slightly different category, depending on the use to which they are
put. But all this is just a preliminary aside.

> When I got to "q", "quote" and "quotation", I've realized it was
> not easy to come up with so many differentiated translations in
> Spanish, since "cita" (the Spanish equivalent) has only four lett

Sorry to bear some pretty bad news: ... you forgot about <cit> ...

> What's worse, I found that the difference between "q" and
> "quote" is very subtle. This is not only difficult to translate, but
> may be difficult to apply while encoding, I thought.

Ah, there are a lot of subtle folk in TEI land and they relish difficulty in
encoding, because  it keeps them occupied, in both the psychological and the
economic sense of that word. But there are better reasons, too, of which
more at the end.

The <q> vs. <quotation> is a staunch regular on this list. Apparently the
simultaneous presence of these two in a tagset was thought to be far too
weighty for TEI-Lite. This is one reason why I find TEI-Lite pretty
unusable, because in a lot of the material I have to handle there is a need
for the sort of distinction the GL's here gesture towards in their customary
obliqueish way.

The comment on <quote> seems clear enough: "contains a phrase or passage
attributed by the narrator or author to some agency external to the text"
at least by contrast with what is said about <q> where there is no such
mention of an "external agency".

As for the remark on <q> itself, I'd say it contains both a powerful hint
and a regrettable red herring. The hint is in the phrase "marked as". I
interpret this to refer to some sort of (typo-)graphical indication in the
base text that sets of the <q>uoted material -- it might be indentation or
smaller or more tightly-leaded type just as well as quotation marks of some
species or other. Encountering such marking, the encoder is advised to
record the fact of its presence by the use of a <q> element, and the manner
of its original presentation by the value of rend on that element.

The red herring comes in "in dictionaries, <q> may be used to mark real or
contrived examples of usage". Well, so it may, but the relevant portion of
Ch 12, after repeating this remark re <q> then goes straight on to offer
<quote>, along with the comment re an "ëxternal agency"  as an alternative
for marking up lexicographical examples or attestations, without any attempt
to comment on how the differing descriptions might influence the choice of
one or the other in dictionary markup.  From a lexicographical viewpoint I
would say that precisely the suggestion of signalling an "agency external to
the texts"  is a strong pointer towards preferring <quote>, because such
exemplifying quotations, in a scholarly context (i.e. passing fastidiously
over dictionaries that alas do indeed provide "contrived" examples of usage)
are by definition external in origin. They are the lexicographer's evidence
that his or her views on the lexis and its semantics are duly attested in
the wild.

To give a more concrete illustration of how the <q> vs <quote> distinction
is needed in projects I work on, I need only cut and paste a lexicographical
snippet from another window on my desktop

<eg>
<cit>
<quote>Malupit ang sinasabi mo <q rend="sq">Umalis ka na!</q></quote>
<trans>It was cruel of you to say <q rend="sq">Go away!</q></trans>
<bibl>AT-G 317</bibl>
</cit>
</eg>

I would say here that
(a) "umalis ka na" and "Go away", for all their differing contexts, are the
same sort of thingy (quite independently of their happening to  "mean" the
same thing), and are thus rightly encoded using the same element.
(b) Neither the enclosing <quote> nor the enclosing <trans> is the same sort
of thingy as the quoted injunctions and hence deserve markup that
distinguishes them both from each other and from the thingy they enclose.

> (IMHO) Shouldn't we suppress one of them (say "quote") in P5,
> for the sake of brevity, simplicity of use and consistency of markup?

Without wanting to claim that I have expounded the "right" interpretation of
the GLs in this or any other matter, I hope I have demonstrated that in some
projects, at least, this apparent duplication allows a semantically
significant distinction to be expressed. But beyond that, although I would
not want to quarrel with "consistency" as a core value in scholarly markup,
I am extremely suspicious of brevity (as my postings probably always reveal)
and am emphatically opposed to "simplicity of use" except where things we
are encoding really are simple in themselves. Everywhere else, complexity,
complication and difficulty, provided they aren't gratuitously created, and
aren't confused with wilful unintelligibility, are the sine qua non of
academic effort and achievement.

> Shouldn't we also rename "quotation" to something like "quotPractice",
> for clarity?

Now there I couldn't agree more.

Michael Beddow

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