Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Figuring out the status of my project

There are a large number of words in the Hebrew Bible - somewhere between 300 and 350 thousand. I'll tell you when I get there.

Here are a few higher level stats.
Books  In the Scriptures In my data Drafted sort of Chapters in 'Final' %
Complete
Chapters Verses Chapters Verses Chapters Verses
Torah 187 5853 27 455 23 303 0 5.2% 5.2%
Former Prophets 147 4317 11 82 9 68 0 1.6%
Later Prophets 166 3926 20 212 20 167 0 4.3%
The 12 67 1050 25 399 25 314 8 29.9% 5.9%
Books of Truth 223 4509 193 3624 193 3158 150 70.0%
Scrolls 39 850 39 745 39 628 13 73.9%
Other 100 2979 2 12 2 10 0 0.3% 45.5%
929 23484 317 5529 311 4648 161 19.8%

Notice the division into 7 sections - not too many to remember. And on the bottom right corner, I am 19.8% complete. A few weeks ago this was 19.4 - progress! I should be reading about Sisyphus.

I have 1350 workdays planned over the next 5 years to the middle of 2019. That leaves me a cushion of about 400 days - calculated at 3.5 hours per day, 6 days a week over a 10 month year - I should last so long. By then, I ask, will I begin to recognize Biblical Hebrew at sight? I tell you this is no slam dunk. The brain, the aged brain, makes some good guesses and knows its limits, but growing new sight reading connections is a slow process. Remember how long you spent learning English or your native tongue or how to read music? It's that long and longer.

And I am retired - I may stop on a dime. I am not bound to futility as Sisyphus even if Camus concludes he was a happy sort of fellow.

There are bits and pieces of 30 books in my data. 9 are in some state of completion: 
  • Psalms, Jonah, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Ruth, (these 5 are all more or less complete - subject to change as more data emerges), 
  • Job, Qohelet (both lacking music and the full interlinear for checking concordance), 
  • Lamentations, Song (both lacking interlinear).
There - now I too know and remember what the status is. Oh - and I am adding punctuation to my Psalms this year. That's the last stage of reading - see below, step 8.

I was going to postpone Isaiah - but we had a lecture at the University yesterday and the book is too attractive to postpone. But like a bee, I can flit from flower to flower as I choose.

This is the process I have for the data:
  1. Add an anchor point to my word table for each new chapter. This step is automated. The anchor will be deleted when the verse is expanded.
  2. Add each verse as verse, my data source is tanach.us as I have noted before. Once the verses are added, I can generate the interpretation of the accents as music.
  3. As I am adding a verse, at a minimum I mark the major cadences, atenach and ole veyored (if one of the three books). They are both easy to see once you get used to it. Then I may also draft a quick reading at sight.
  4. Add each verse word by word to the word table, replacing the anchor. This step is automated. The root, domain and subdomain of each word is guessed by the software. So as each section is added, I do a first scan to correct serious mistakes in guessing.  I drill down the root to the verb that is the base if possible.
  5. Check the grammar by another bit of automation and adjust the routine if useful.
  6. Redraft the translation or retranslate as necessary and produce the interlinear. 
  7. When this is done, another automated routine tells me when I have a conflict in gloss usage. I endeavor to reduce the number of times I cross-link a single English gloss with two distinct Hebrew roots. Obviously this is impossible, so I cut myself some slack. It does not apply to prepositions and such, but I am careful with major nouns and verbs especially over a single chapter or group of chapters. In this way, the recurring sounds of the Hebrew are matched by recurring (but different of course) sounds in English.
  8. Then I look at the whole, and add punctuation.
If you want to help, let me know. Most people though are too busy with their own readings and research, so I understand silence.

Here's where additional help could be useful and I do have some helpers (Victoria, Cambridge, New Delhi, New Zealand).
  • Readers for a chapter or two. Input to the reading process is a chapter from the database, the graph of domain usage, a table of recurring words: feedback would include criticism of pulse, gloss, meaning, and so on in English. No Hebrew skills needed, but useful if available. Criticism of theological implications is also welcome. 
  • Critics of my domains and subdomains. This is a cool and difficult process. I hope to come up with a clever way of making the choices easy using software features. Input to the process is domain, subdomain, list of roots, and glosses, together with the input for readers: feedback would be suggested moves or expansions or contractions of the subject lists. 
  • Suggestions about underlay of the music. Input from the software is the score, feedback would be how to sing it, underlay, voicing, instruments, accompaniment. 
Ideas for a book or a few hundred books could come from these exercises.
Volunteer in a comment. Chose your own chapters - I can be directed to a particular chapter.