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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Friday, November 03, 2006  

Compare Text Preferences

Last week, I talked about the Compare Texts feature which is new in version 7. Today I want to highlight the different ways you can customize the way Accordance compares texts. To do this, you simply need to open the Preferences (command-comma) and select Compare Text in the list at the top left corner of the dialog box. You'll see something like this:

Let's start from the bottom and work our way up. At the bottom of the window, you can specify which color you want to use for "replaced," "inserted," and "deleted" words. Personally, I played around with different colors and found myself going right back to the defaults. Cyan is light enough to highlight a word without making it hard to read, yet dark enough to stand out. I found other colors either to be too dark or too light. Red and blue are bright enough to make the vertical line and underline styles stand out, so I've kept them as well. But hey, if you find other colors work better for you, the option is there to change them.

In the middle section of the dialog, you can specify whether or not you want certain word attributes to be ignored. At times, you may want to highlight differences in case (is it "Lord" or "lord," for example), but in most cases, it's an incidental difference that should be ignored. The same goes for punctuation, Greek accents and breathing marks, Hebrew vowel points, and Hebrew cantillation. Depending on what kinds of differences you want to focus on, you can include or exclude any of these attributes from consideration.

Where things really get interesting is with the Compare pop-up at the top of the dialog. The default setting is to compare Words. That means that Accordance will highlight the differences in words as they appear in the text. Here's an example of a text comparison of Matthew 1 in the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (GNT-T) and the Textus Receptus (GNT-TR).

Because I have the Compare pop-up set to Words and the Ignore Greek accents and breathing marks unchecked, Accordance highlights words like egennesen in the GNT-T and egennese (lacking the final nu) in GNT-TR. It also highlights names like Phares and Zara in verse 3, which only differ in the way they are accented in each text.

Now look what happens when I change the Compare pop-up in the Preferences from Words to Lemmas.

As you can see, there are far fewer differences highlighted, because Accordance is only looking for words which differ with respect to their lemmas or lexical forms. Consequently, the eggenesen/eggenese difference is ignored, because both words are tagged with the lexical form gennao. The names which have remained highlighted are those in which the lexical form differs between texts.

Not only can you compare Words and Lemmas in grammatically-tagged texts; you can also compare the tagging itself. Here's what happens when I choose Tags in the Compare pop-up of the Compare Text Preferences:

Here, even though the Words and Lemmas may differ at many places, the only differences which are highlighted are those words which are actually tagged differently. In this case, that only includes the GNT-TR's addition of ho Basileus in Matthew 1:6. For a somewhat different example, take a look at Luke 2:14:

In the GNT-T, eudokia, "good will," appears in the genitive case, while in the GNT-TR it is nominative. This little difference in case is why the KJV (which is based on the TR) reads "peace, goodwill to men," while newer translations based on the Nestle-Aland text read something like "Peace among those with whom he is pleased" (literally: "peace to men of goodwill").

The ability to change the basis of text comparisons from the words as they appear in the text to the lexical forms and grammatical characteristics with which they have been tagged is perhaps the most powerful aspect of Accordance's text comparison feature. If you're interested in comparing parallel texts and translations, be sure to play with all the options in the Compare Texts Preferences.

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