Harry Gaylord and Michael Sperberg-McQueen have said pretty much what
I would have wanted to say, only better. A tailnote on encoding of
ambiguous abbreviations: the Text Criticism draft explicitly proposed
a mechanism for this. First, you represent the character itself with
an entity reference. Second, you use either the "expan" or "abbrev" tags
to indicate just what you think the charachter represents. If you think it
could mean several different things, then you group the various
interpretations "in parallel" within an app element.
Suppose we have a ms. with p_underbarred_vert. Various authoritie
s differ as to whether this should be expanded as "provert", "pervert"
or "parvert". The proposed mechanism would let you encode this thus:
<app> <rdg> <abbrev expan=per>p_ubar</abbrev>vert</>
<rdg> <abbrev expan=pro>p_ubar</abbrev>vert</>
<rdg> <abbrev expan=par>p_ubar</abbrev>vert</> </app>
You could also attach to each abbrev element an attribute "resp" naming
the person responsible for each expansion (<abbrev expan=per resp=Skeat> etc)
etc. The same mechanism could be used for grouping alternative conjectures
Of course, like everything else about TEI the sands are shifting
under this. There has been chatter about using the already-legendary
feature structures to capture such information (they could well take
over everything). In the meantime, this will serve a lot of us a lot of the
Finally: I am amused by Michael's remark that if we stopped to encode
*every* abbreviation we would not reach the colophon. I have been encoding
every abbreviation some years now in Old Norse and Middle English manuscripts
and we are well past the colophon. It is horses for courses, a reminder
that what some people do in one corner can't stand as a model for us all.
Peter Robinson, Oxford.