7.0278 R: Tag, Codes, & Encoding (1/70)

Mon, 1 Nov 1993 08:26:42 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0278. Monday, 1 Nov 1993.

Date: Tue, 26 Oct 93 16:53:25 -0700
From: edwards@cogsci.Berkeley.EDU (Jane A. Edwards)
Subject: Re: 7.0267 R: Tag Terms Definitions (1/106)

Regarding this query:
>Does anyone have any strong ideas about terminology for:
>Mark Markup 'Standard generalized markup language'
>Tag Tagging 'Starter set of tags'
>Code Encoding 'Text encoding initiative'
>What's the difference? What's the same?

While I found Michael Sperberg-McQueen's response highly useful as
always, there is one point that I wanted to elaborate on a little. As
editor of a book with "Coding" in its title (Talking Data:
Transcription and Coding in Discourse Research, 1993, Hillsdale, NJ:
Erlbaum) - I wanted to note that "code" is indeed widely used, but
distributed across different disciplines, and largely synonymous with
"tag." There are probably historical reasons for this, and I know of
no substantive consequences. Where "codes" is used, the process of
adding them to a text is called "coding the text" rather than "text
encoding." Here again I think that it is a matter of disciplinary
differences, since "coding" has a different specialized sense among
computer scientists (i.e., that of writing programs or lines of code)
than it has among linguists and psychologists.

At an abstract level, whether called markup, coding or tagging, the
goal is the same: the quest is for precision and uniform treatment of
the contents of the text. So it seems to me that the original writer
is probably safest to simply choose whichever term is the one in vogue
in his particular discipline and to demonstrate it with example for
readers from other disciplines.

In closing, for interest's sake, I wanted to elaborate a bit more on
codes. They may be of any of various levels of abstraction or
specificity and are typically defined both verbally and by example.
They are typically contrasted with other categories in the same domain
and then illustrated by core and boundary examples (to bracket the
concept). The following are a couple of examples from different
domains or levels of abstraction. More details would be needed for
them to be fully specified for actual use, and would be found in the
full documentation of the coding system.

Code Category Category Definition Example
D Directive or An action is required or Can I have some of that?
Positive Request requested of the hearer,
involving goods or services.
These may have similar surface
forms to codes of Topic 10, but
unlike that Topic, the focus here
is who is going to act. If it is the
addressee, it is a directive.
Category: Clause
Definition: ... any unit that contains a "unified" predicate. By "unified,"
we mean a predicate that expresses a SINGLE situation (activity, event,
state). Predicates include finite and nonfinite verbs, as well as predicate
adjectives. [etc.]
Single Clause example: "He stopped running"
Two Clause example: "He thought he could get the bees."

Code Category
N Noun
P Preposition
T Particle

In practice, it is common to have multiple researchers assign the codes
to the text and to double-check the reliability of their assignments
(methods and statistics are discussed in a chapter by Lampert & Ervin-Tripp).

Hope this helps,

-Jane Edwards