Louw-Nida Annotated Texts and False Hits

The OpenText.org project is rendering an excellent service to students of the Greek New Testament. We will be referring to their syntactically analyzed GNT (currently available in Logos 3) in some detail soon. But today what I have in mind is one of its less talked-about features: the annotation (tagging) of each Greek word in the New Testament according to the semantic domains and subdomains set out by Louw and Nida in their Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Damins.

Personally, I have always thought that Louw-Nida’s approach would be an extremely useful one for computer-based Bible study and research (cf. my article Advantages of Bible Software: Louw-Nida’s Lexicon as a Test Case). The first attempt to make use of these domains as part of Greek searches was carried out by BibleWork‘s GSE (then known as ASE – Advanced Search Engine). There was no Louw-Nida tagging involved, but domains could be used as inclusion-exclusion lists (IEL) and plugged into a graphical search query. This, of course, is still the case in BibleWorks 7. It is a useful approach, but not ideal.

With the recent partnership between Logos and OpenText.org, a whole new avenue of research has opened up, and the new Louw-Nida tagging is one of the added/enhanced levels of annotation one can find (along with the classical morphological tags and the brand new syntactical tags) in the electronic incarnation of the OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament. I immediately felt this would allow us to perform unprecedented powerful searches. And I was right… in part.

We now have the whole text annotated with Louw-Nida’s domains, but since each word is attached to all the domains it can belong to, quite frequently we are bound to get false hits in our searches. Let me give you an example. The Greek word φυλακή* is found across four different domains (7.24, 37.123, 67.196, and 85.85), some of which have widely different meanings, but how do we choose one and exclude the rest? That is the question!

OpenText.org is well aware of the challenge this poses to the user. In Andrew W. Pitts‘ own words, “a process of semantic domain disambiguation must be undertaken before the analysis is performed – at least if one is using annotated texts.”

So, it seems to me that we have made a lot of progress, but there is still work to do. Tagging will have to be refined, so that words are assigned to a single domain, attending to their context(s) (rather than leaving the door open to all possible meanings, and thus domains — see the current implementation here by simply passing the cursor over any Greek word of your choice), and/or search engines will need to be able to exclude a word when it is attached to a specific domain we are not interested in. In the meantime, as it is often the case, user will have to manually weed out false hits. Obviously, this will always be much better than not having the possibility to perform these types of searches at all. However, users need to be aware of certain shortcomings so that the accuracy of their research is not jeopardized.

* I am using this particular word because it was brought up in a recent thread on both BibleWorks User Forums and Logos Newsgroups.

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Printed Manuals, Anyone?

A couple of years ago I commented on the advantages of having a printed manual that one could refer to (see earlier posts here and here), particularly in the case of the more advanced Bible software packages.

In light of the general trend to drop printed manuals entirely, and stick to the online help and, in some cases, video tutorials, I would like to revisit the issue. What are your thoughts on the matter? Have we reached a no-return point, or are printed manuals still desirable?

I have set up a poll on the General Bible Software Discussion Forum so that you can voice your opinion, not only by voting, but also by leaving your comments and interacting with one another. After all, that is what the forums are for. Registration is absolutely free, of course, and you’re welcome to stop by anytime.

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Please Update your Bookmarks

I know it is a little bit of a pain, but well worth the effort in the long run. So, if you happen to have this blog in your blogroll, aggregator, browser bookmarks, etc., please take a minute or two to update your links. For the time being, all links pointing to the older website will be redirected, while the previous blog will stay online for a while. But this situation won’t last forever ;-). Thank you!

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Blog Content and Links Updated

Most of the old blog contents and links have been already updated. Also, except for a few entries, everything has been categorized. This should greatly improve your browsing experience. And don’t forget to use the Search feature, which works great.

Please let me know if you come across any broken links or any other technical problems. Thanks!

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Printing Articles and Reviews

One of the enhancements we have recently implemented is the ability to print any article or review available. If you click on “Printable version,” a pop-up window will appear and you will be able to print it. Should there be any notes, they will display as end notes.

For best results, please choose A4 paper size. Otherwise, you may find that graphics and tables appear truncated. This is a very international site, so we have to try to accomodate to standard formats as much as possible.

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