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Syntax Database Add-on Modules (any opinions)?


pedcheung

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I am a long time user of Logos Bible Software, and I'm starting to expand my searches in the original language to look at syntax and clauses and phrases, not just simple morphological word searches.

 

Does anyone have any comments on how Accordances' syntax databases compare to Logos' Andersen Forbes Module and Cascadia Syntactic Graph Databases?

 

Interested if there are users on this forum with both platforms - their general opinions.

 

Thanks!

 

Pedro

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Hi Pedro,

Most of us who use the syntax databases are not trained linguists, so we can’t discuss the theoretical differences between them without further reading/training. We come to the databases with whatever training we had, learn some of the underlying theories and terminology, and adapt our searches accordingly.

I’ve used AF, but practically I found its user interface very unintuitive, and its small print difficult to read. Things may have changed since the last time I used it over two years ago. I bought the Acc just for the syntax database - its graphical user interface is very intuitive and easy to see.

Also, Acc is in the process of obtaining more databases, possibly WIVU. On Nov 25, 2015 Rick said, “Our plans are to make more syntax databases available over time. But, this is a very complex undertaking as the infrastructure required to support each database requires app and content development. We hope to have something more substantial to report in the not-too-distant future” at http://www.accordancebible.com/forums/topic/17321-wivu/?do=findComment&comment=83800 .

I think it would be helpful if you asked Helen to move this post to Syntax Modules, or re-posted there. Then Dr. Holmstedt would see it for sure. One of the great benefits of Acc’s Syntax Module is that Dr. Holmstedt answers all questions and enjoys doing so very much. I only wish I had time to ask him more.

Regards,

Michel

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I was actually deferring to others, since my perspective as a creator of one of the databases is hardly unbiased.

 

Accordance has talked to Dean Forbes about acquiring the AF database. I believe it will happen. And it will be an excellent addition. And when Accordance has the current syntax module alone with AF and the WIVU database, it will unparalleled in Hebrew grammatical study. Moreover, we will eventually release the DSS and Epigraphic syntax modules, which will provide syntactic data for Accordance users that is unavailable in any other module. 

 

Also, since Accordance is, I believe, is drawing both WIVU and AF into the existing Hebrew construct search window, the result will be only a minor learning curve for existing Accordance users. Compared to what is in my opinion a rather difficult interface in Logos for the AF database, this will be a huge plus for Accordance.

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The ability to run queries against various syntax models in a common interface would be way cool.

 

Thx

D

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Does anyone have any comments on how Accordances' syntax databases compare to Logos' Andersen Forbes Module ...

Great Question!

 

Different Syntactical databases of the Hebrew Bible are not all created with the same underlying philosophies nor goals.  

Here is my opinion on what I think their philosophies are. I, of course, could be wrong (very wrong maybe) so take this quick and dirty explanation with a grain of salt: 

 

(1) Dr. Holmstedt database = generative linguistic theory & minimalist in approach. (in Accordance now)

 

(2) Anderson-Forbes database = descriptive linguistics theory and  a board range of other schools of thought in and outside of syntax, like discourse (sometimes) and it tags items like talking Animals. It is in short it is or can be a little bit to interpretative for my taste sometimes and in some ways, it is the opposite of the above database.

 

(3) WIVU database = aims(or at least on the aims was) to distinguish between distributional ('atoms') and functional data (phrases, clause, sentences, paragraphs) atoms are tagged with functional syntactical labels as well. Higher literary-critical issues have some tagging, and instead of simply lemma, it uses Lexeme. Takes a bottom up approach and searches are constructed based on a different logic than the Anderson-Forbes. 

 

For, me speed is a big difference, and I am not talking about how fast your computer can run a search (although Accordance is much faster than an airplane!), but rather how fast you can figure out how to construct a query. In regards to that Accordance's construct search is much more intuitive than Logos beautiful but complicated (and frustrating) syntax search window (at least in my opinion). 

Edited by bkMitchell
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bkMitchell,

 

That's a good start, but not entirely accurate. For example, the Andersen-Forbes database is strongly influenced by varieties of phrase structure grammar, along with good doses of corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, and some functionalism. Even so, they explicitly identify themselves as "generativists" in their Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized (Eisenbrauns, 2012), which is a companion to their database. To understand their database, one really must consult their book.

 

Moreover, our own "minimalism" actually has us at odds with Chomskyan generative grammar at some basic points (e.g., binary phrase structure or non-binary phrase structure). This is precisely because we, like Andersen and Forbes, prioritize the data presentation and let some theory questions reside with the user. 

 

Below are three paragraphs from the manual-in-progress I'm writing:

 

Our primary goal for the creation of the database is to produce a usable research tool for the academic community. Determining syntactic relationships, though, not only require judgment, which is necessarily subjective, but also depend on one's theory of grammar. To think that such a project can be accomplished "without" a theory would be like saying that exegesis can happen without an explicit methodology or that interpretation can exist in a vacuum, without a hermeneutical theory. It is simply not scientific reality — even if an exegete or interpreter is unaware or ignorant of theories and methodologies, there is always a framework in which analysis occurs (however coherent that framework may or may not be).

 
And yet, although one of us (Holmstedt) has situated his particular research on Hebrew syntax within generative grammar, specifically as it is articulated within the program of Chomskyan minimalism (Chomsky 1995; Radford 1997; Boeckx 2006, 2008), we knew that to base the database and its underlying tagging scheme on a fully articulated minimalist framework would be wildly inappropriate. Not only would its usability be severely limited, since it is unlikely that most users of the database will subscribe to Chomskyan linguistics, but given the ever-changing nature of linguistic theory, the database would become obsolete before it was finished.
 
To keep our balance on a very narrow beam, we sought to develop a tagging scheme that reflected what became our motto: “data primary, theory wise.” That is, while we have read broadly in linguistics, from various types of functionalism and typology to generative grammar, it was important for the project that the usability and accessibility dictated our use of linguistic theory.
Edited by Robert Holmstedt
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Thank you, Robert Holmstedt :)
 
For both the clarification (or explanation) and especially for a sneak peek of your unpublished manual!  
I look forward to reading it someday. In the meanwhile, I think I will check out Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized (Eisenbrauns, 2012)
 

 

 

... we sought to develop a tagging scheme that reflected what became our motto: “data primary, theory wise.” That is, while we have read broadly in linguistics, from various types of functionalism and typology to generative grammar, it was important for the project that the usability and accessibility dictated our use of linguistic theory.

 

 

From what I can see so far, I think you have succeeded and it is that usability that makes it even more friendly to use in Accordance. 

 

 

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Thank you! That is always encouraging to hear.

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  • 4 years later...

 

The Andersen-Forbes Morphology & Syntax for Accordance is now available.

I am very happy that Accordance Bible software is providing multiple options for sytanxtically tagged databases. And for as I am aware this means that Accordance Bible Software now has three very different syntatical database seriers for the Hebrew Bible!

 

I am sure that the Andersen-Forbes database will be much more intuitive to use in Accordance than was for me in another software. The current sale does make it an attractive offer.

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