Dear List Members,

I have been thinking about variant textual traditions and a model to
represent variant texts. One possibility is that each text is a
self-similar structure that can be divided into units at various scales,
say book-like, chapter-like, paragraph-like, sentence-like, and "meaning
unit" levels. One could continue with more levels at either end (i.e.
larger than book and smaller than meaning unit) but this will do for
now. In a variant textual tradition, substitutions and transpositions
can happen between levels but typically happen at the same level. Thus,
it is more common for one chapter to be substituted with another than
with, say, a paragraph. By far the most common mode of variation in the
material I work with (New Testament) is that one meaning-unit is
substituted for another.

By "meaning unit", I mean something comprised of one or more words that
basically stands apart from its neighbours. If you have enough witnesses
in a variant textual tradition, a "meaning unit" has a life of its own.
Typically, it's bigger than a word and smaller than a sentence. It might
be a phrase or clause but is usually smaller. When many witnesses are
compared, the things that happen at one meaning unit are pretty much
independent of what happens at adjacent meaning units. If forced to
define a meaning unit, I would say in my ignorance that it's a sequence
of words that functions as a part of speech; a verb-, adverb-, noun-,
adjective-, preposition-, conjunction-, or interjection-like group of

Now to the point.

1. (Off topic.) For the linguists, what is the right term for the
meaning unit thingy? A reference to a standard work would be much
appreciated. I found this, which might be what I'm after but I don't

2. (On topic.) What would be an appropriate TEI way to tag a meaning
unit thingy?

I looked at chap. 17 of the Guidelines and <seg> seems to me the best
choice. If so, what would be an appropriate @type to call a "meaning
unit" <seg>? If not, what element would you suggest? It would be handy
to be able to point to and from it.


Tim Finney