3.512 stylistic Macs? (55)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Thu, 28 Sep 89 19:18:56 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 512. Thursday, 28 Sep 1989.

Date: Wed, 27 Sep 89 17:30:41 EDT
From: Brian Whittaker <BRIANW@YORKVM2>
Subject: Re: 3.496 Ph.D.s and more about Humanist (107)

Macs and Stylistics

I would like to mention what appears to be something of a paradox and to
pose a question.

Most of the language and literature people of my aquaintance who use
Macintoshes chose this particular system in part because it seemed
close to their prior work habits: the Mac screen looks more like a book
page than does an IBM screen, the graphic interface encourages the
interplay of words and diagrams as in a notebook or on the blackboard,
and the way the Mac displays text as pictures of letters that can be
modified or replaced with simple software makes it adaptable to a wide
variety of languages. To many of these people the "look and feel" of the
DOS system often seems to reflect the habits and thought of the engineer.
(Let me say parenthetically that I do not wish to start a discussion of
whose computer is better or of the differences and similarities between
literati and engineers. I am simply making an observation about the nature of
the appeal of the Macintosh to at least some humanists.)

The surprise, then, is that when software for analysing language and style
is mentioned by name on HUMANIST, the specific programs are usually Unix or
DOS. Or rather, I know enough about programming to understand that it is
much easier to write text searching and sorting routines for those systems
than it is for the MAC; I have worked through a part of Nancy Ide's splendid
book _Pascal for the Humanities_ and have learned how much extra code (and
tribulation) is required to turn her utilities into Macintosh style
applications or desk accessories. Nonetheless, the task is by no means
impossible, even for the weekend programmer.

Now the question: is anyone doing linguistic or stylistic research using the
Macintosh for lexical or syntactic analysis? If so, what software are they

I am aware of a GREP desk accessory, another searching and sorting
utility named _Gopher_, and a text editor named _QUED/M_ with its sibling
word processor named _Nisus_, both of which have GREP functions built in.
Are these the tools to be explored and adapted, or are there others which
are more appropriate?

Brian Whittaker
Department of English, Atkinson College, York University
Downsview, Ontario, Canada.