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108Re: [Lambengolmor] Linguistic Database?

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  • Kai MacTane
    Jul 20, 2002
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      At 7/20/02 10:27 AM , Boris Shapiro wrote:

      >Have you ever thought of creating a linguistic database of Tolkien's
      >languages, at least for Quenya? That would greatly improve scholarly
      >process, and it is especially useful for Tolkien's languages where we have
      >an extra vital parameter of the chronology of the evolvement of Quenya.

      Oddly enough, I thought of this idea about 4-6 months ago. I've since been
      implementing it, and it's nearly ready for comments and testing.

      >[A comprehensive database of all of Tolkien's languages (limiting it to
      >Quenya only would be unnecessarily limiting of its utility), at all stages
      >of their development, would be a powerful tool indeed. It would, of
      >course, require the permission of the Tolkien Estate for its publication.
      >Carl]

      The necessity of TE permission has not escaped me -- not only is it alluded
      to in a couple of FAQ questions in my database system, and in the copyright
      notice at the bottom of every page it serves up, but I've also kept the
      data-set as limited as I can at the moment, loading in just enough
      information for testing purposes and to fill the various categories and
      parts of speech.

      Your suggestion that it should cover all of Tolkien's languages is a good
      one, and one I'll have to ponder. I *think* that expanding this database
      system (which I currently call _Quettahostanie_) to include other languages
      might be fairly easy.

      I'm tidying up a few loose ends, and have a busy weekend ahead of me, but I
      should have a system fairly soon that will enable remote users (i.e., the
      rest of you) to look at the back-end, and even edit database entries if
      desired. ("Fairly soon" means "probably by Monday evening, Pacific-coast-US
      time".) In the meantime, I think the front-end is in good enough condition
      to be seen by the world (or at least by a bunch of _lambengolmor_), with
      the following notes:

      1) This is still something of a work in progress. In particular, I'd
      love to have people's reactions on the documentation, the usability,
      the interface, and whatnot. Is it easy to figure out how to use? Does
      it have sufficient functionality? Can it do everything you think it
      should be able to? (Aside from handling languages besides Quenya, or
      allowing you to edit the contents.)
      2) I have always intended that this should eventually become a collab-
      orative tool, usable by multiple scholars across the world. I am open
      to suggestions on the mechanics of validating editors, maintaining
      updates, and so on.
      3) As described in various places in the system, I am planning to seek
      the Tolkien Estate's permission before loading more of their intel-
      lectual property into the database. Suggestions for approaches to
      take, approaches to avoid, and alterations in the system that might
      make their permission more likely are also quite welcome.
      4) There are undoubtedly cases where I've missed one or more attesta-
      tions, or where there should be a green check mark in the Diachrony
      display. I do not have all of Tolkien's works, and so I only marked
      things that I could be sure of. (This is one reason for eventually
      making it collaborative -- it will allow greater sharing of schol-
      arly knowledge, and greater accuracy than I can provide on my own.)
      Please do not discount Quettahostanie on the basis of its creator's
      lack of material and knowledge! (And feel free to email me point-
      ing out such inaccuracies.)
      5) Since I wanted Quettahostanie to also be usable by the "average"
      Elfling member, and even to be comprehensible by a random Web
      surfer who wanders in, some of the documentation is extremely
      simple. (For example, descriptions of what Quenya is.) The docu-
      mentation was intended for a broad-based population, and is *not*
      what I would have written if I were only targeting members of this
      list! (In other words, if you feel like the docs are "talking down
      to you", those parts are intended for other people, like folks who
      have just seen Peter Jackson's movie and done a Web search on
      "Tolkien".)

      That being said, you can see the Quettahostanie database at:

      http://www.freaknation.com/quenya/

      I will probably not be available to answer questions (or read comments) for
      roughly the next 24 hours -- perhaps more like 36 -- but I will be happy to
      catch up on list mail then. Please use your own judgement on whether to
      send comments to this list (where they can be picked over and usefully
      added to by others), or to my personal inbox (where they won't be
      cluttering up this list). No need to send to both places.

      And thank you all in advance for whatever feedback you can provide.

      --Kai MacTane
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      "And the Devil in a black dress watches over,
      My guardian angel walks away..."
      --Sisters of Mercy,
      "Temple of Love"
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