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Narrative Structure

There are many uses for narrative text but the two most important categories are for transcriptions and for generating new narrative work (e.g. essays, reports, inference, etc.). These have markedly different characteristics that STEMMA tries to streamline:


  • Transcriptions — requires support for anomalies (uncertain characters, marginalia, footnotes, interlinear/intralinear notes), indications of original emphasis (e.g. italics), indications of alternative spellings/meanings, and semantic mark-up for references to persons, places, groups, events, and dates. The latter semantic mark-up also needs to clearly distinguish objective information (e.g. that a reference is to a person) from subjective information (e.g. a conclusion as to whom that person was).
  • Narrative work — requires support for layout and presentational mark-up. It needs to be able to generate references to known persons, places, groups, and dates that result in a similar mark-up to that for transcriptions. The difference here is that a textual reference is being generated from the ID of a Person entity, say, as opposed to marking an existing textual reference and possibly linking it to a Person with a given ID. Also needs to be capable of generating citations and general reference notes.


The basic structure of a narrative block is as follows:




<Narrative [Key=’key’]>

            [ <Title> narrative-title </Title> ]






<Text [Key=’key’] [Language=’code’ | Locale=’code’]


[ <Title> text-title </Title> ]




<FromText Key=’key’/>


A single <Narrative> element may be divided into separate <Text> segments, each of which has independent properties controlled by the attributes listed below. The optional Language or Locale value is discussed in the section on the overall Document format.


The Text segments can reference the Keys of arbitrary main entities using the semantic mark-up defined below.


The <Narrative> element has an optional Key attribute that allows it to be referenced from elsewhere to create a reference note. Its component <Text> elements each have an optional Key attribute for cases when those references need to be more specific. The <FromText> element also allows a named <Text> element to be re-used as though it were physically present in the current <Narrative> container.



<Text Key=’tDemiseJessamine-en’ Language=’eng’>

<Title> Demise of Jessamine Cottages </Title>

<PlaceRef Key=’wJessamine’ Mode=’Hierarchy’/> were demolished in <DateRef Value=’1956’/>.


<Text Key=’tDemiseJessamine-fr’ Language=’fra’>

<Title> Disparition de Cottages Jessamine</Title>

<PlaceRef Key=’wJessamine’ Mode=’Hierarchy’/> ont été démolies en <DateRef Value=’1956’/>.




This text could be referenced from another Text section using the appropriate Key name in a <NoteRef> mark-up element. It might generate the following English text on the screen when loaded by an appropriate viewer:


Jessamine Cottages, Nottingham were demolished in 1956


The nature of the text in a Text segment may be characterised using one-or-more of the following attributes:





Flags a <Text> section as an abstract, or summary, of a cited source. The default is ‘0’ (i.e. False).



Flags a <Text> section as an extract or quotation from a cited source. The default is ‘0’ (i.e. False).



Flags a <Text> section as a header section for the main body. Although this may be used for transcriptions (e.g. of a letterhead), it is primarily designed for the header containing authorship, title, etc., in a narrative work (including essays and reports). The default is ‘0’ (i.e. False).



Flags a <Text> section as a transcript of data from a cited source, e.g. handwritten text or voice, etc. The default is ‘0’ (i.e. False). This setting also affects the default value of several other elements: see Semantic Mark-up.



Marks transcribed text as originally being in manuscript form rather than typescript (the default). Within the <Text> element, it can be switched using the ts/ms presentational mark-up.



Flags a <Text> section as a translation of a cited source from its original language, as specified by the given ISO 639-2 three-letter language code, to the current language of the enclosing <Text> element.







The values for ‘level’ are: Public (default), Family, Private, and Sensitive. Access is granted based on which 'family' the requestor belongs to. Hence, public is OK to everyone, family is OK to an appropriate family member, private OK to ad hoc people selected by the owner, and sensitive to no one but the owner. These values are part of the controlled vocabulary associated with the namespace.



Some percentage of how certain the data is. Default=100%. The surety of a datum or inference is more specific than the confidence in a data source or the information derived from it. See Probabilities.



Indicates the text or datum is inferred from other data. Inference, as used here, implies the reasoning (or proof argument) as well as any conclusion. The default is ‘0’ (i.e. False) implying information rather than reasoning or conclusion. In conjunction with Surety, a value of ‘1’ (i.e. true) can therefore represent conjecture, an educated guess, or even pure speculation.



Part of a details-link that connects conclusions to their explanation, evidence, and original information. See Source for more information.



For instance:

<Text Sensitivity=’Private’ Surety=’20%’>...some sensitive comment that I'm not sure about...</Text>