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Difference between ETCBC and HMT-W4 Syntax Add-on


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Could someone please explain to me the difference in approach/theory and practice between the ETCBC and HMT-W4 syntax modules? It seems to me that they are doing similar things, but I'm not sure why one would choose one over another. Which would you choose and why?

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Thank you for those links, very helpful. I thought I had searched, but I didn't notice those.

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  • 5 years later...

Here are some info about ETCBC (formerly known as WIVU Emdros database), Andersen-Forbes database, Westminster Hebrew Syntax HMT-W4 (Biblia Hebraica with Westminster Hebrew Morph 4)database, and possible Accordance Hebrew Syntax Database aka H-A database (maybe this is still under development. Dr. Holmstedt would know the best.)


If I understand them correctly, it seems WIVU/ETCBC and A-F were the well established Hebrew databases (maybe??). The Westminster one was the third major player in the market. However, Dr. Robert Holmstedt and Dr. Martin Abegg saw there was a need for one more database, which they called it the Accordance Hebrew Syntax Database.


$$$ETCBC/WIVU database's underlying linguistic theories. More details in the linked paper:


.......the ETCBC places more attention on the method of text encoding than alternatives. For instance, some databases add parsing data about Hebrew words onto the surface of the word so that the individual morphemes within the word are simply evaluated by the researcher who is doing the encoding work (Van Peursen 2015: 299–300). The ETCBC, on the other hand, employs a set of files that contain both morpheme patterns and the explicit rules which govern their evaluation into a complete parsing. By analyzing the surface text against these rules and patterns, the parsing can be automatically generated and evaluated by the researcher. Not only is this method conducive for encoding texts more quickly, it aligns with, and is motivated by, the centre’s concern for describing formal patterns before moving to the linguistic theory. The fact that the ETCBC places so much weight on the data creation procedure as an important part of the process of understanding grammar means that describing those processes is 2 of special importance. .............




Emdros – a text database engine for analyzed or annotated text: https://aclanthology.org/C04-1172.pdf



$$$A-F database's underlying linguistic theories. More details in the linked paper:



The Andersen-Forbes database has all these features, and already differs from other databases
in this respect. But more importantly, the Anderson-Forbes database goes beyond the word level
so as to encode syntactical relationships. Various types of constructions, phrases, clauses or sentences are identified throughout the biblical text, based on the authors’ understanding of Biblical
Hebrew syntax. These underlying principles are explained in their latest volume: Francis I. Andersen
and A. Dean Forbes, Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized (Linguistic Studies in Ancient West
Semitic 6), Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2012.



$$$A Reference Guide to the Westminster Hebrew Morphology Database


Some of the characteristics of this database are:

•MORPH generally follows the Hebräisches und aramäisches Lexicon zum Alten Testament (HALAT), Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner and Johann Jakob Stamm, eds. (3 rd . Edition, E. J. Brill, 1967-96) in matters of lemmas and parsing where such matters are either unambiguous or arbitrary. However, where we feel HALAT is in (substantive or typographic) error or is inconsistent we have not hesitated to deviate. MORPH does not use or follow Strong’s lemma numbering.

•MORPH generally follows the dictum “parse what is written not what is meant.” This means we try to parse a morpheme based upon its external form apart from any consultation with the wider context in which the morpheme stands. Ambiguity frustrates this goal and often forces us to parse contextually, e.g., in the case of segholate noun state.

•Sometimes the parsing of a morpheme depends upon text-critical or philological (comparative semitic, etc.) criteria. In most of these cases, MORPH parses according to the massoretic textual tradition. MORPH attempts to vocalize and parse ketiv as well as qere. In all matters of textual reading, the Leningrad Codex is our final arbiter: MORPH is the morphology of the language attested in that manuscript.

•MORPH does not follow exclusively any one authority for grammar and parsing. All the standard grammars – ancient and modern – are consulted: GKC, Joüon/Muraoka, van der Merwe, Bauer-Leander, Bergsträsser and Waltke-O'Connor – to mention just the most commonly used sources. For Aramaic, Bauer-Leander, Segert Altaramäische Grammatik, and Rosenthal A grammar of biblical Aramaic are the most frequently consulted. ......




$$$Accordance Hebrew Syntax Database / H-A database


Although both existing databases (as well as a third database in production; the Westminster Hebrew Syntax database) are ground-breaking in distinct ways, 4 features make our project unique.


  1. 1) The Holmstedt-Abegg database covers all ancient Hebrew in the first millennium B.C.E. This will not only provide access to the non-biblical texts, it will also facilitate comparative and historical syntactic analyses (e.g., comparing the syntactic features of ‘late’ biblical books to select Qumran texts).


  1. 2) Our project has not been designed as a stand-alone database, but is native to the Accordance Bible database software. Although the data files are simple enough so that they could be easily incorporated into any existing database software, the advantages of working with an existing software package have been manifestly clear: access to programming expertise at every step of development and the luxury of not needing to use any existing mark-up language, such as html or xml, or database engine, such as Emdros. Additionally, the search interface in Accordance provides an intuitive approach to searching the data, combining morphological and syntactic elements in the same argument.


  1. 3) The H-A database is focused very tightly on clause syntax: we build on existing morphological databases (which also facilitates our schedule) and do not address semantic or discourse-pragmatic features of the Hebrew texts. In contrast, the Andersen-Forbes database, for example, includes such non-syntactic issues as semantic categories (e.g., as ‘purpose’, ‘result’, even ‘undesired outcome’) and additional issues of less grammatical import such as the time, region, dialect, register, and/or source of the biblical texts (Andersen and Forbes 2003:44).


  1. 4) The H-A database is carefully grounded in formal (generative) linguistic principles of syntax, e.g., hierarchical phrase structure and the inclusion of covert or ‘null’ constituents. Yet, in order to remain broadly usable, our approach eschews numerous theory-specific concepts (e.g., we do NOT recognize constituent movement, although we do deal with discontinuous constituents, which one may or may not ascribe to constituent movement).




A Brief User’s Guide for the Accordance Hebrew Syntax Database




I hope my two pennies help.

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