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Thursday, April 03, 2008  

Determining What Gets Displayed, Part 2

Yesterday, I talked about how the settings in the Show pop-up menu of the Tools window enable you to determine what kind of information gets displayed. All text will display your search results in the context of the entire tool. That means every paragraph and article will be displayed regardless of whether it actually contains the word you were searching for. Selecting Articles will show every paragraph of any article which contains your search term. Selecting Paragraphs means that only those paragraphs which actually contain the word you were searching for will be displayed. The narrower the context you select, the easier it is to scan all your search results, but the harder it becomes to know where you are in the broader context.

I said yesterday that the default setting for the Show pop-up menu is All text. For example, if you just open Louw & Nida from the Resource palette, the Show pop-up menu will be set to All text and the entire text of Louw & Nida will be displayed. But now I'm going to let you in on a little secret: this is not what happens when you amplify to Louw & Nida.

Remember that amplifying is what we call it when you select a word before choosing a resource from the Resource palette. If I select the word ginomai in the Greek New Testament and then select Louw & Nida from the Resource palette, Louw & Nida will automatically be searched for the word ginomai. Most readers of this blog already know that. But what you may not have noticed is that when you amplify to Louw & Nida, the Show pop-up menu is set to Articles rather than All text.

Why this difference? When we develop an Accordance tool, we think carefully about how the text should display after you amplify to that tool. Should it show the hits in the context of the entire text, or should it just show the articles which contain a hit, so that you can easily scan all the words that were found?

Louw & Nida is a Greek lexicon which groups the words it defines according to semantic domain, or category of meaning. Where a traditional lexicon like BDAG will list each word once, and then list all the different meanings of that word, Louw & Nida will list the various categories of meaning (semantic domains), and then list all of the words which express each meaning. Thus, a word like ginomai, which can express a state of being, the act of becoming, linear movement, behavior, possession, etc. will appear multiple times throughout Louw & Nida, listed under those various semantic domains.

If we were to show All text by default whenever you amplify to Louw & Nida, you might be misled into thinking that the first meaning listed is the only meaning. Because of the way Louw & Nida is arranged, the first meaning listed may not even be the primary meaning of the word. So when we created Louw & Nida, we actually set a flag which tells Accordance to show only the hit Articles after you amplify. That way, someone new to Louw & Nida can easily see that there is more than one entry for the word they wanted to look up.

Now, what if you want to see each entry for that word in its surrounding context? After all, the whole point of Louw & Nida's arrangement is to show you related words within a given semantic domain. To see the surrounding context, simply choose All text from the Show pop-up menu. Because Accordance recycles windows, you only need to change this setting once. The next time you amplify to Louw & Nida, the window will update to show the new word while preserving your All text setting. Of course, if you close the window and then amplify to Louw & Nida later, a new window will open with the Show pop-up set to Articles.

In this way, we try to build our modules so that they deliver the results of a search in a way that makes sense and is not misleading. It's not many tools that we set to show Articles by default after an amplify, but there are a few which make more sense that way. That's just one example of the kind of thought which goes into the development of each Accordance module, as well as the kind of flexibility provided by the Show pop-up menu.

Have you been told "Thanks, my dear brother!" lately for putting in the background research required to publish such informative posts as these?

I'm both a Mac and Accordance newbie so the reading of posts such as this one (coupled with a steaming cup of coffee) lends itself to an ever brightening mental outlook!

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Heb 6:10)

Joyfully About Our Father's Business,

Daniel E. Burrow
Psalm 77

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