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VMs: RE: Numbered transcription

Rene wrote:
> Two observations:
> 1.
> In the end, it depends on how one wants to use a
> transcription file. The XML can be generated
> automatically from a straight text file,
> just like GC's PDF file is a product of some tool
> that reads something from either an ASCII file
> or some kind of database table.
> The requirements coming from the desire to
> visualise the page in VMs-lookalike form
> are completely different from the requierements
> to allow automated text processing.
> So it is just my old-fashioned opinion that the
> 'meat' is the transcribed text and the file format
> is 'dressing'.
> 2.
> The problem with the item 'word' is that it is
> not uniquely defined. Since lines are not too
> long, I am in favour of keeping that as the
> smallest unit (actually: the definiton of a
> locus as it is used in the interlinear files of
> Gabriel and Stolfi).

Herein lies our fundamental disagreement.  In my opinion, the
letter or character is the smallest unit of information
transmission (known in font-sets as 'glyphs').  Without these one
cannot write words, the smallest unit of meaning, or sentences,
the smallest unit of cohesive thought.  Whether you view the VMS
as language or cipher, the glyph still needs to be understood.

Formatting a transcription dataset in interlinear fashion is one
of the simplest of tasks, but remains the final task to be
performed, IMHO, and translating it into EVA offers few obstacles
if this suits your personal use requirements.  This again is the
final stage, not the beginning stage.

EVA has already made the assumption that an <a> is not a combined
<c,i>, or that an <o> is not a 'c, backward-c'.  In fact EVA
relies on assumptions that several multiple-stroke glyphs are
clearly units.  Is <iin> and {m}, or <sch> a glyph unit?  EVA
offers no view on these and many other extremely common glyph

It's not about whether something is written <daiin> or {8am},
although the two of these do reflect different concepts.  It's
really about determining to some degree of certainty the
intentions and mindset of the author.  Are there signs that it is
a constructed 'alphabet'?  Does the construction follow any given
set of rules?  Do variants and compounds follow sets of rules?
What is the base 'alphabet'?  Can the glyphs be sourced to known
systems?  Every one of these questions and more can be answered to
some degree of certainty, and with each answer we add to our
understanding of the author and his/her intentions and background.

We can't get these answers if we don't ask the questions, but once
they're answered, we can move on to glyph counts, 'word' counts,
word lengths, line lengths, paragraph association, and an entire
set of questions that have yet to be asked and answered.

The author's intentions is an area we have only glanced at, yet an
area that can provide a wealth of information.  I simply can't
accept the naysayer's "we can't know..." as an answer to any of
these questions.  We CAN know the answers to many of these
questions to a degree of mathematical probability and human
judgment (the two can't be separated when dealing with humanistic
works), but we won't know these answers until we ask the basic

My first observation is that the author was visually oriented in
his presentation.  Great care is taken in the drawing of the
plants and figures, and to the compilation and appearance of the
script.  If we all agree that this assumption is valid, then it
stands to reason that we should be examining the VMS through
visual means not available in ascii.  If a person can type in a
character that represents <ch> and sort through an imaged set of
all associated forms, she/he can go down and check each occurrence
for visual connectivity, form or division, and then offer their
judgment on this glyph form.  I've stated that my effort is an
opening effort, not a final effort.  Open discussion and
subsequent revelation are what the vgbt presentation is designed
to invoke, something I believe will benefit every member of this

D'Imperio once observed that each transcription theme is deeply
grounded in personal theory, an observation with a great deal of
relevance to our current discussion.  EVA is deeply rooted in
construction theory, beyond a doubt.  EVA has even 'interlineared'
previous transcriptions according to EVA rules, a useful tool to
some, but also one that effectively removes (for the newcomer at
least) any historical view of previous theories of glyph
construction, many of which were devised by persons with a great
deal of knowledge and expertise (but without the copies and images
we now possess).  My position is that there is common ground for
all of these transcriptions to exist, to be built upon and more
fully understood in their context and original form.  Indeed, when
the question is glyph construction and theory, these original
transcription efforts play an important historical role in this
analysis and should be revived.

The VMS is a humanistic work, open to theory and interpretation.
My previous suggestion that a proper interlinear should represent
the actual work of the investigator without translation into one
or another scheme is based on my belief that any research
conducted needs to be viewed in its original form and context,
without trying to bend it to our own pet theory.  (We had this at
one time early on).  As you've pointed out, those who wish to may
write programs that translate from one transcription theme to
another based on keys located in the interlinear file, but I
maintain that the file itself should reflect all historical
information necessary to determine the original researcher's
intentions and understanding.  These items have IMHO such bearing
that they should not be relegated to footnotes.

You have thousands of hours invested in EVA, with an astounding
effort on the part of many to produce.  I would never discount
that effort or attempt to demean it, even in disagreement.  I have
thousands of hours invested in the VMS as well, locked up in my
little cave without the benefit of the sharp objects of technology
:-), but the time has come when technology and theory have come
together in such a way that I can express my experience and
insight in a meaningful way.  To me this is not a question of
whether VGBT will supplant EVA.  The EVMT team has proven
themselves beyond doubt to be wholly devoted to the study of the
VMS, and I know beyond doubt that you will continue your interest
and devotion.  I don't believe that you ever intended EVA to be
written in stone, rather a stepping stone to greater and more
meaningful revelations.  I believe you intended EVA to be a
flexible tool, subject to change and revision as new ideas

Glyphs are the individual bricks, and 'words' the mortar that
holds them together.  I must disagree that the line is the
smallest unit, when obviously the glyph is the smallest unit.  No
two lines are identical, and only a handful of 'words' are
repetitive.  The glyph is the unit to be concerned with, the brick
that needs to be identified, the smallest unit of information
transmission.  Start with the brick, and build your foundation
from there if you want to build a house.