[tei-council] FR 3106829 on <quote> and <floatingText> (was Re: (no subject))

Martin Mueller martinmueller at northwestern.edu
Sun Apr 17 10:09:43 EDT 2011

I am not sure whether this language really resolves the issues. How
floatingText relates to quote is one issue. But the deeper issue may be
when and whether to use floatingText in the first place. Is it a necessary
condition for floatingText that it "emanates from somewhere external to
the current text text" and what does "external" mean?

Martin Holmes sidestepped the issue of "external" by saying that it was a
purely syntactic matter. Paul Schaffner in private correspondence talked
about "raisins in the oatmeal." Thus floatingText functions like the skin
of a raisin. Use it whenever you come across a raisin-like thing in your

Defining floatingText in such purely formal a manner suited me fine
because it solves a problem of encoding recurring patterns in
libretto-like texts, but I confessed to a "lingering sense" that this was
not quite right. I was comforted by Kevin's reassurance that nobody else
shared this lingering sense. But Lou seems to share it when he says that
"I don't like the implication that we cleanly distinguish 'semantic' and
'syntactic' elements.

Lou's revision postulates 'discrete inclusion' as a necessary condition
and the cited examples confirm that floatingText is something that comes
from the outside. If that is right, what do you do with textual "raisins"
that are not like enclosures or attachments but have a "rich internal
structure" that is not easily modeled within existing element rules?

Let me return for a moment to an exchange from last October where I raised
the question how to encode something like the following, which is very
common in comic opera texts of the 18th century

(Dialogue, unmarked)
A : I love you
B: I love you too

Duet (with title and typographical changes to mark its special staus)
A: I will love you forever
B: I will cherish you forever
AB: We will love and cherish each other forever

(Dialogue, unmarked)
A: Let's get married
B: Tomorrow

Here the dialogue is the "oatmeal" and the duet is the "raisin." I
suggested three possible encodings, all of which parse:

1. Turning the dialogue and duet sections into distinct div children to
get a fully tesselated structure
2. Using floatingText to encode the duet
3. Using <q type="duet"> with some combination of <sp> and <lg> and
possibly <label> 

Lou said that using q was tag abuse and that the duet wasn't really a
separate text. I agree with both of these judgments. Lou then made a
proposal for a "speechgroup" element, which has languished so far on
SourceForge.  It provides a particular solution for a particular kind of
raisin, but it does not offer a general solution for the recurring
phenomenon of bits of text that that have a 'rich internal structure' but
do not come from the outside.

Putting the definitions of q and floatingText next to each other
highlights some aspects of that problem. What is the difference between
floatingText, which "contains a single text of any kind, whether unitary
or composite, which interrupts the text containing it at any point and
after which the surrounding text resumes"  and q, which "contains material
which is marked as (ostensibly) being somehow different than the
surrounding text for any one of a variety of reason including but not
limit to direct speech."

Coming back to my musical numbers problem, you can model them as either q
or floatingText in ways that quite accurately represent the structure of
the particular "raisins." But neither feels quite right, and my sense is
that there areas of textual articulation or "set-offness" that are not
well served by the current elements and their rules.

On 4/16/11 8:13 PM, "Kevin Hawkins" <kevin.s.hawkins at ultraslavonic.info>

>This is good, but I think "or appear within  an explicit quotation"
>should be "or simply appear as an explicit quotation".  I've posted my
>slightly revised version in the ticket in SF.
>I think if there are no further objections, this is ready for
>On 4/15/11 3:37 PM, Lou Burnard wrote:
>> I don't like the implication that we cleanly distinguish "semantic" and
>> "syntactic" elements. All elements are both in some sense. So here's my
>> revision...
>> The semantics of<quote>  imply that its content emanates from somewhere
>> external to the current text. The<floatingText>  element, on the other
>> hand, is used whenever the richer content model it provides is required
>> to support mark up of a  document or part of a document which is
>> presented as a discrete inclusion within the text. Such an inclusion
>> might resemble an enclosure or an attachment, or an embedded story
>> within a framing narrative, or appear within  an explicit quotation.
>> Hence the two elements may be used in combination: a<floatingText>  may
>> appear within a<quote>, and may also of course include a<quote>  as
>> part of its own structure.
>> On 12/04/11 14:29, Kevin Hawkins wrote:
>>> I've done some further revisions, so this is the latest version of the
>>> proposal for how to handle feature request 3106829.
>>> ###
>>> Replace:
>>> The floatingText element should only be used for complete texts which
>>> form a part of the text being encoded. Where a character in one
>>> narrative quotes from some other text or narrative, fully or in part,
>>> the quote element discussed in 3.3.3 Quotation should be used instead.
>>> with:
>>> It is important to distinguish the use of<floatingText>   and<quote>.
>>> <quote>   is a semantic element for a passage attributed to an external
>>> agent, whereas<floatingText>   is a syntactic element and is used to
>>> provide rich internal structure for a text or part of a text which is
>>> included within the main text, such as an enclosure or attachment or
>>> simply a story within a frame narrative.  These elements may be used in
>>> combination. In the case of an extended quotation,<floatingText>   may
>>> used as a child of<quote>.  On the other hand, there may be cases where
>>> a<floatingText>   includes one or more<quote>   elements as part of its
>>> structure.
>>> If there are no further comments in the next week, I can add this as a
>>> comment on the ticket.
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