Yesterday I talked about the Search menu, which conveniently lists everything you need to fill in a blank search box. Among the options in this menu are the various Search Commands in the Enter Command submenu. Today I'd like to point out something about that submenu: its divider line.
This line divides the list of commands into two kinds, and we even have special names for them. The seven commands above the line are what we call connecting commands. The eleven commands below the line are known as stand-alone commands.
Connecting commands do exactly what the name indicates: they connect two search terms in some way, defining the relationship between them. Thus, if I use the <AND> command between the words "Moses" and "Aaron," I am looking for cases where Moses and Aaron appear together. If I use the <FOLLOWED BY> command between the two words, I am looking for cases where Moses and Aaron appear together, and where Moses comes first and Aaron second.
The connecting nature of these commands can even be seen in the angle brackets used to enclose them when they appear in the Search box. They essentially point to the terms they connect. (You see? There really is a method to our madness!)
By contrast, stand-alone commands do not connect other search terms, but stand alone as search terms in their own right. For example, the command [COUNT 1] can be entered by itself to find every word that appears only one time in the search text. Note how the stand-alone commands are enclosed in square brackets—they don't point to anything else.
As search terms in their own right, stand-alone commands can be joined with other search terms by connecting commands. For example, [COUNT 1] <AND> Moses would find any word appearing only one time, together with the word "Moses."
Understanding this simple distinction between connecting commands and stand-alone commands can help you to know when to use each type of command, and when to use them together.
As a writer, I have often known the mockery of the blank page. It glares at you, laughing at your struggles to fill it with something meaningful.
As Accordance users, we are constantly presented with a blank search box, ever ready to be put to use. Experienced users know exactly what to do with it, but new users may experience something of the mockery I feel when trying to fill a blank page. They may conceive of a search they would like to do, but how to construct it? They know Accordance is capable of much more than simple word and phrase searches, but how do they go about learning all the Boolean commands, wildcard symbols, and other tools that make such power-searching possible?
Thankfully, everything you need to fill in that blank search box—and I mean everything—is always readily available through one of the menus at the top of the screen. Can you guess which one?
As I'm sure you guessed, the aptly named Search menu presents you with everything you need to fill in the blank. Not sure what word to search for? Choose Enter Words…. Want to search a Bible with Key numbers for a particular key number? Choose Enter Key Numbers…. If your search text is a grammatically tagged Greek or Hebrew text, these menu items will appear as Enter Lexical Forms… and Enter Inflected Forms….
Beyond simply helping you enter words and key numbers, the Search menu also includes submenus listing every search command (AND, OR, NOT, etc.), every wildcard symbol, and (in the case of tagged texts) every grammatical and syntactical tag. You don't have to memorize these options or go digging through documentation even to realize they're available; just go to the Search menu and browse through the submenus. Not sure what a command or symbol does, but want to try it out? Simply select it from the menu to insert it into the search box.
By making all these options readily available, Accordance does its best to eliminate the potential mockery of the blank search box. And while there are still aspects of these commands and symbols which need to be learned, you always have them listed in a convenient place whenever you need them.
If you've never paid much attention to the Search menu, you now understand it's importance. Just remember to look there whenever you need help filling in the blank.