TEI by Example Module 6: Primary Sources Ron Van den Branden Edward Vanhoutte Melissa Terras Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (ALLC) Centre for Data, Culture and Society, University of Edinburgh, UK Centre for Digital Humanities (CDH), University College London, UK Centre for Computing in the Humanities (CCH), King’s College London, UK Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) , Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature, Belgium
Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature Koningstraat 18 9000 Gent Belgium
Edward Vanhoutte Melissa Terras
Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) , Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature, Belgium Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) , Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature, Belgium Gent
Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature Koningstraat 18 9000 Gent Belgium

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

9 July 2010
TEI by Example. Edward Vanhoutte editor Ron Van den Branden editor Melissa Terras editor

Digitally born

TEI by Example offers a series of freely available online tutorials walking individuals through the different stages in marking up a document in TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). Besides a general introduction to text encoding, step-by-step tutorial modules provide example-based introductions to eight different aspects of electronic text markup for the humanities. Each tutorial module is accompanied with a dedicated examples section, illustrating actual TEI encoding practise with real-life examples. The theory of the tutorial modules can be tested in interactive tests and exercises.

en-GB technical revision release corrected typos editing authoring
Editorial Interventions
Unclear, Supplied, Omitted Text

Depending on the quality of the source material or the handwriting, transcription of primary source texts may be more or less straightforward. As any further interpretation of an electronic transcription depends on this first interpretative act, it may be desirable for an encoder to indicate places of uncertainty, either for further inspection or to take intellectual responsibility. Text for which the reading is uncertain can be encoded in an unclear element. The reason for the unclear reading can be stated in a reason attribute, which takes either a single keyword, or a white space separated list of keywords. If the legibility is affected by damage, the cause of the damage can be described in the agent attribute. For example, as our previous transcription of the word dioxide as diacxside was quite uncertain, this could be indicated with the unclear element:

There and Back Again: digital edition Hanna Renton The TBE crew

di ox acx side

Signalling unclear text with unclear.

Similarly, if we decided that the damaged dateline at the start of the document could still be deciphered, the uncertain status of this part of the text could be indicated with an unclear element:

26/ 8/08 Combining damage with unclear.
...or without the damage element, if this is deemed less important to the transcription:
26/8/08 Indicating damage in a reason attribute on unclear.

Notice, however, that the use of the unclear element implies that the text it encloses must still be present in the document source, and still be legible to some degree. If the encoder considers text too unclear to be transcribed in any way, he or she may opt to omit this part of the text, and indicate this editorial intervention with a gap element. This is an empty element, whose sole purpose is to indicate the omission, possibly with characterisation of the reason (reason), or the cause of the damage causing this omission, if any (agent). As with the damage element, the extent of the omission can be specified implicitly with the extent attribute, or more explicitly by combining the unit and quantity attributes.

For example, on page 3 of our sample text, the phrase Yess!! The door!!! is followed by some words that can’t all be deciphered confidently, as they appear to have been erased by the author. When transcribing this passage, we could opt to encode an informed guess and mark it with the unclear element, while leaving out the truly illegible words. This omission can be marked with gap:

Yess!! The door!!! I got out. Omitting illegible text with gap.

Similarly, the damage in the dateline could be deemed too destructive for a confident reading of the day, which may motivate the encoder to leave it out. In this case, too, a gap element can be used, either within or without a surrounding damage element:

8/08 Omitting illegible text in a damaged region.

In contrast, the editor may wish to make a stronger intervention, by supplying text that is lacking from or illegible in the document source. This can be done by wrapping the added text in a supplied element. In a reason attribute, the reason for this editorial addition can be given. For the dateline example, if the text is considered illegible, but the encoder feels able to reconstruct the date, this can result in following encoding:

26/ 8/08 Encoding editorial additions with supplied.

This allows us to encode other lacking text as well: at the end of page 2, a couple of final words on some lines are incomplete due to xeroxing. These can be reconstructed fairly straightforwardly for the transcription. However, these reconstructions are best signalled with the supplied element:Notice, the crucial difference between the encoding of text added or deleted by the author or editor of the source document on the one hand, and by the encoder of the electronic transcription on the other hand. Additions or deletions present in the source may only be encoded respectively as add and del, while text that has been added or deleted by editorial emendation must be encoded as supplied or gap, respectively.

Nothing was happening. Then, Hello, dearie, an old woman answered. Who is it? I hung up. Uh, oh. How do I get back then?

Providing a reason for an editorial addition, with reason on supplied.

When text in the source document is still partly legible, but needs interpretation in order to be transcribed, this uncertainty can be expressed by enclosing the text in an unclear element. If text is deemed totally illegible, it can be omitted from the transcription, but signalled with a gap element (without any content). Both elements can indicate the reason for the editorial intervention (reason), and the nature of the damage (agent). An editor wishing to supply text in the electronic transcription for illegible or lacking text in the source text, can encode this supplied text with the supplied element. In a reason attribute, the reason for this intervention can be stated.

If we look back at the comparison between the facsimiles (see ) and the initial transcription (see ), we notice that a lot of words have been silently corrected by the transcriber. Although some errors had been corrected by the teacher (who can be considered an editor or corrector of the source document), many have slipped through. Depending on the aim of the transcription, such apparent errors may be transcribed unmediatedly, corrected silently, marked explicitly, or corrected explicitly. All of these practices are perfectly legitimate as long as they are applied consistently and motivated in the editorialDecl element of the electronic document’s header. An encoder adhering to a more explicit practice would like to at least signal apparent errors, editorial corrections, or both. The TEI provides specific elements for this purpose: sic, for indicating apparent errors, and corr, for indicating editorial corrections. For example, the sentence Now I know what all the black air is: all the polution. on page 2 could be transcribed as follows:

Now I know what all the black air is: all the polution. Encoding an apparent error with sic.
...if the encoder would be interested in transcribing the source text as accurately as possible, or:
Now I know what all the black air is: all the pollution. Encoding the correction of an apparent error with corr.
...if the content matters most (perhaps to ease searching operations in a digital edition of the text). However, both views on the text can be combined in a choice element.Again, a crucial distinction must be pointed out between encoding of corrections present in the source document, and editorial corrections in the electronic transcription. The latter must always be encoded using sic and corr, possibly wrapped in a choice element. Corrections present in the source document must be encoded using combinations of del and add, possibly grouped in a subst element, and preferably specified with attributes identifying the responsible document hand (hand), and the editor responsible for this identification (resp). This enables an encoder to express alternative encodings of the same text. Both views could thus be combined as:
Now I know what all the black air is: all the polution pollution . Combining errors and corrections in choice.

The sic element may contain all elements that are necessary to represent the original source text, like deletions, damage, and so on. The diacxside fragment on page two can thus be corrected as follows:

di ox acx side dioxide Encoding authorial phenomena inside sic.

Apparent errors in the source text may be indicated explicitly in a sic element, or corrected with a corr element. Both the original and the correction can be included in the transcription, if they are wrapped in a choice element.