University of Virginia Library

The Fourth Program

Since the material is now on tape, and since one may very well find errors in the text, there is a simple but necessary program that will allow the concordancer to make up cards with corrections of the errors, and to insert these cards, automatically substituting the corrected readings for the incorrect ones. The output for this program will be a list of the original readings, and the corrected ones which have been substituted. The lines with errors can easily be located since each line has a unique number in the data.

At this point one is at a crossroads: the data, including headwords and


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cross-references, could all be put onto computer tapes and the computer could be directed from a terminal how to group and categorize the words, and which to separate from which; or, human hands could manipulate a deck into the final concordance, which could then be printed out from the cards. The former plan would require hundreds of hours at an IBM terminal, feeding information into the computer. The costs of this method are very high (between $2.50 and $3.00 per hour plus the salary of the person sitting at the terminal). Furthermore, it would still be necessary for the person sitting at the terminal to type out all headwords and cross-references, a task which would complicate matters greatly and increase the amount of time considerably. The method I used, however, was inexpensive, and was, I believe, more accurate than the 'terminal method' would have been.

Using the preliminary concordance and the glossary in the text I was dealing with, I punched all headwords and cross-references on IBM cards. In this form they can easily be listed and proofread, and corrections can be made with simple substitutions of cards. One must anticipate what sort of information will be needed for these cards, and how many key-strikes he may allow himself. For example, I designed the page to be six inches in width, so the headword and cross-reference cards could not exceed sixty (or perhaps 62) key-strikes.

As Benson complains (p. 273), the Beowulf concordance does not always separate homographs, and the cross-referencing is somewhat inadequate. I suggest that every form of every word (or at least every potentially unrecognizable form) be cross-referenced. It may take a good deal of trouble (as I so painfully found out), but the ultimate benefit derived is worth-while. Users of the concordance will find it a more versatile and valuable tool if this is done.

And I think Markman and Kottler have set an excellent precedent in their method of handling headwords (a method I have slightly modified): 1) All Middle English words which have close Modern English equivalents in spelling and meaning should be glossed under the Modern English form (perhaps with a few of the basic and unusual Middle English spellings given in parentheses, and certainly with most of the various forms the word takes cross-referenced, directing the reader to the proper headword). Thus, the headword might be as follows:

Then, at the various spellings there should be entries as follows:
2) All Middle English words with Modern English equivalents in spelling only, should be glossed under their main or most common Middle English form with definitions given in parentheses, as follows:


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Listing all forms of this word under 'LORD' is misleading, for the word could also mean "master" or "husband"; the addition of a few basic meanings of the word is extremely helpful for the user of the concordance. 3) All Middle English words with no Modern English equivalents should be glossed under their main or most common Middle English form with definitions in parentheses, as follows:
The cross-reference and headword cards will be simple to punch in one large deck, using the preliminary concordance and the glossary of the text as guidelines.