Dear Herbert,

Thanks for posting the excellent example from Faust.

It is indeed a philosophical as well as a technical question whether 
text encoding should even try and capture the "underlying meaning" or 
implicit semantics of typography, or whether it should simply aim at 
making a facsimile for reproduction, using a presentational format (such 
as HTML).

Yet that (the former) has tended to be the approach of TEI, for better 
and for worse.

I believe part of the reason for this is historical: that this is what 
SGML systems tended to try to do. The assertion of regularity in a text 
in order to conform it to an abstract pattern is necessary if we want to 
automate processing and especially if we wish to publish the "same" text 
in different formats -- which is what SGML systems were designed for (as 
are many XML systems).

Yet this rationale is in some ways alien, and some ways entirely 
inimical to, the aims of scholarly text encoding -- or can be, depending 
on what those aims are in a given case. This doesn't mean that 
descriptive encoding is entirely inappropriate for scholarship -- far 
from it -- inasmuch as the ascertainment and representation of 
underlying patterns and rationales is also a worthwhile scholarly 
endeavor in itself. But it does complicate things.

I know that readers familiar with my conference papers on the topic will 
feel I repeat myself. Yet I continue to see a great deal of confusion 
and "one size fits all" thinking, as if design problems never presented 
fundamental tradeoffs.


On 8/30/2011 9:34 PM, Dr. Herbert Wender wrote:
> In einer eMail vom 28.8.2011 22:13:25 Westeuropäische Sommerzeit
> schreibt [log in to unmask]:
>> [...] Once upon a time we
>> might have supposed an HTML 'dl' would be assigned (and only assigned)
>> to definition lists, and blockquote to block quotes. But that moment was
>> fairly short; finally a dl is what a dl does, and likewise for
>> blockquotes and the rest. HTML, notwithstanding efforts to get it to do
>> more, is rather like SVG or XSL-FO, a tag set more or less meaningless
>> outside its own application domain. [...]
> Isn't it usual in human activities to use all menas for whatever
> purposes? And in writing or printing jobs, I think, this is even more
> likely to happen than otherwhere. F.e. take a look at our national hero
> Goethe and his strange (mis?)use of the typographical conventions to
> exponate speakers in a dramatic text. Preparing a garden scene at the
> beginning of "Faust II", a maskerade scene, after a series of figures or
> groups of figures mentioned as "Gärtnerinnen", "Olivenzweig mit
> Früchten", "Ährenkranz (golden)" etc., suddenly he exposes the next
> group of verses via the headline "Ausforderung"*, and the 7th verse of
> this group is split to introduce a new group of masks, the
> "Rosenknospen", natural plants as opposed to artificial ones
> ("Phantasiekranz", "Phantasiestrauß").
> <>
> Goehte's Werke. Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand. Bd. 41, p 26. This is
> the first posthum print of "Faust II", but it conforms to a prior
> printing of the scene controlled by the author himself.
> It's quite simple to transmit the intended 'Rätsel' to the reader via
> HTML, but I guess that's challenging to disentangle the 'semantics' of
> the headlines here, isn't it?
> BTW, the TEI book longed for should contain a chapter "Dirty Tricks",
> not least to honor Donald Knuth and his deep insights in the muddle of
> typesetting.
> Herbert
> * In mss. occurs "Ausfoderung" too. - The mss. situation for this
> "Ausforderung"/"Rosenknospen" verses is rich because they were vendored
> in isolation fpr humanitarian purposes in the years after the
> anti-Napoleon war. And in the archive of the printing house there is
> remained the ms. for the first print in the beginning of the 1820s - the
> situation equals to the print of 1832 shown above via the link to
> GoogleBooks. Eventually the Genetic Faust Working Group can show the ms.
> situation on the TEI Wiki?

Wendell Piez                            mailto:[log in to unmask]
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.      
17 West Jefferson Street                    Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
Suite 207                                          Phone: 301/315-9631
Rockville, MD  20850                                 Fax: 301/315-8285
   Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in SGML and XML