Text Encoding Initiative
Women Writers Project
At the WWP, names of people are encoded with <persName>, names of places with <placeName>, and names of other things with <name>. For example
<q>Therefore,</q> said <persName>King Arthur</persName> unto <persName>Sir Bedivere</persName>, <q>take thou here <name>Excalibur</name> my good sword and go with it to yonder water's side …
We encode a person's name with a particular element in order to facilitate searching for occurrences of the name. There are other possible advantages, however; e.g., allowing a brief biography to be linked to the name as it is displayed on your screen.
During the period covered by the WWP textbase, names (and many other words) were inconsistently spelled, and many individuals have more than one name. Identification of names is a particularly pertinent issue when dealing with women writers, who may have written under both married and maiden names, or under pseudonyms. People searching the WWP textbase may be looking for references to a given person, regardless of which name was used and how it was spelled.
Luckily, the TEI provides a mechanism that simultaneously facilitates both searching by person and linking a brief biography to a person's name. Many TEI elements (those in the "names" attribute class) have a special attribute declared for this very purpose: key.
The key attribute can be used to provide
"an alternative identifier for the object being named,
such as a database record key" P3, p. 156. The details of the format and meaning of
the value of
When encoding a passage using keys, you might see, for example
<cit><quote lang="la">Officium Dominorum con <persName key="EDV01">Elleanorum Tichet</persName>, alias <persName key="EDV01">Davyes</persName>, alias <persName key="EDV01">Douglas</persName>.</quote> <bibl>Davies, The Blasphemous Charge Against Her, p. 7.</bibl> </cit>
Here, all occurrences of a specific person's name (in this case, Lady Eleanor Davies), even if an alias or misspelled, are brought together by associating a particular string with each. In order to ascertain who is really being referred to, a user (or her software) would need to look up the record keyed "EDV01" in a database provided along with the encoded text. Conversely, and probably more commonly, if a user wants to ask her software to find all references to Davies, whether she was called "Davies", "Touchet", "Audeley", "Lady Eleanor", or even rendered in Latin as "Elleanorum Tichet", she (or her software) would need to look up the correct key in the database and search for it.
This paper discusses the how, where, and why of the WWP's use of key. Here is a quick summary.
Complete paper including proofs and programs to generate & check keys are available at http://www.wwp.brown.edu/project/newsletter/vol02num03/nameKey-home.html
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