University of Virginia Library

The Sixth Program

The next to last program needed by the concordancer is one which has the computer punch out a deck of concordance cards, on which are 1) the word being glossed, 2) the complete line of text which will be concorded (either a single line of verse or the specific context 'surrounding' the word for a KWIC concordance), and 3) the line number or other designation which will identify the location of this line. The first item of these three will eventually be deleted from the final print-out of the concordance, but will be most helpful in the sorting of the cards. This deck of cards — large though it may be (I had nearly fifty boxes of cards) — is much less costly to work with than a computer terminal, and keeps the concordancer closer to his text, because he can see each line individually while organizing the cards, and can easily insert the headword and cross-reference cards and rearrange others to their proper places in the deck. That is, one can carefully consider any form of a word which might not belong in the alphabetical sequence in which it automatically fell. Making the separations and gatherings of forms by hand during this phase of the project is no more difficult than doing it at a terminal.


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One thing must be added here. The program which I used to produce the concordance cards was modified by Mr. Rompot in such a way that I could delete from the deck before it got punched any word or words which were to be deleted from the final concordance.[11] Thus, before submitting the program to punch out concordance cards for all the words beginning with the letter a, I inserted into the program a small, alphabetized deck of cards with the words 'a,' 'an,' 'and,' and so on, which were never punched by the computer. The few occurrences of, say, 'æ' which were words that I wanted to include in the concordance (e.g. where it meant 'river' or 'ever') I was able to locate and punch myself. And it would not be necessary to search through the scores (or hundreds) of occurrences of such words if one makes note of such individual occurrences during the proofreading stage. It is just such a thing which must be anticipated before beginning the proofreading.

During this hand-sorting stage it is advisable to have an extra box for IBM cards nearby in which to place cards the computer had fed out in alphabetical order, but which belong in the deck under a headword which falls later in the alphabet. For example, one will have many past participles beginning with the letter i which should be glossed under their root words; ITAKEN should be given under TAKE, and at ITAKEN there should perhaps be a cross-reference to TAKE. Until one gets to the sorting of the t's, he should store the ITAKEN's apart. This is the method I used, and I found it to be most effective.