On Wed, 24 Jun 2009, Martin Holmes wrote:

> Hi all,
> We're encoding a text which is a philosophical dialogue. It's not intended to 
> be a "proper" drama, with believable characters, and not intended to be 
> performed in any way. Should we be using the drama module's <sp>, <speaker> 
> etc. to do this, or should we be encoding it some other way?

I'm not sure of the 'should' (I suspect that every project defines
the scope of the drama tag set differently), but FWIW, we certainly
do not restrict the drama tagset to works intended to be performed
or suitable for performance--an unanswerable question in many cases.

We use the drama tags for almost anything that uses the formal dramatic
conventions of speech and speaker, including:

-- ordinary plays and masques, of course.
-- descriptions of processions etc., in which narrative description
    is often intermingled with a more 'dramatic' representation. Some
    of these describe the event after the fact; some are sets of
    instructions before the fact. In some cases, one can't tell which.
-- trial narratives, whether fictional or drily historical,
    in which the speeches are typically those of defendant,
    prosecutor, judge, and witnesses, and in which again
    editorial narrative (or commentary) is often intermingled amongst the
    dramatic representation.
-- debate narratives, e.g. descriptions of actual formal academic
    or religious debates, debates in Parliament, etc.
-- philosophic or political or theological dialogues, so long as
    speakers of some kind are present and speaking in their own
    voice. These include speeches by allegorical characters or
    idealized roles (<speaker>master</speaker> <speaker>pupil</speaker>).

The only quasi-dramatic works that we generally *exclude* from
use of the drama tagset are those in which the speakers are
purely variants on "question" / "answer". E.g. catechisms,
FAQ-lists, and the like. And we're not always sure where to draw
the line between these and the idealized speakers of the last
group listed above, or whether we even should draw such a line.

Are we wrong in interpreting the scope of drama so widely?

Paul Schaffner | [log in to unmask] |
316-C Hatcher Library N, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI 48109-1205