A syntactical database of the NT

From: Randy LEEDY (Rleedy@bju.edu)
Date: Thu Nov 19 1998 - 09:14:03 EST

I may have posted about this idea a couple of years ago, but some
things are happening that weren't happening then, and I want to try
again. If I have my way about it (and a recent response to my efforts
shows a little gleam of hope), there will be in coming years some
attempt to compile a NT database that, along with parsing data for
each word, will include at least some basic syntactical links. This
database will enable one to specify as search criteria syntactical
connections between words (an adjective modifies a noun, a substantive
is the subject of a verb, etc.).

I'm interested in reactions to this idea, especially its feasibility
given the degree of ambiguity that syntactical analysis encounters. I
foresee being able to tag words with several options to cover as much
of this ambiguity as possible. I do not foresee going into the kind of
detail that tags genitives, for example, with specific categories such
as subjective, descriptive, apposition, etc. I do, however, foresee
tagging a genitive as adnominal or adverbial and connecting it with
the word it modifies. While I recognize that such a database cannot be
perfect, I do think it can be good enough that it will mark a huge
advance over anything currently available, assuming that one of the
prominent software vendors would be willing to write and incorporate a
search engine for it (my recent gleam of hope relates to this issue as

If my efforts to develop this kind of database find a committed
sponsor among the popular software publishers (and, as I say, I have a
little something in the works that may or may not end up
materializing), I'll be looking for two kinds of help. First, I would
put together a document setting forth the working principles to govern
the tagging so that there is a consistent approach throughout the NT.
I would want feedback on the scope and validity of the tagging scheme
to insure the widest possible acceptance of the final product. The
next stage would be to recruit capable volunteers to work on the first
draft of the tagging.

If there is significant interest in this idea, I may put together a
draft of the "working principles" document over Christmas vacation.
Enthusiasm for this idea from across a spectrum of Greek students and
teachers such as B-Greek represents would do a lot to confirm my
potential sponsor's willingness to proceed with the work. If, on the
other hand, good reasons can be put forth why the idea is unworkable,
then I'll drop it with no further waste of resources.

In love to God and neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC

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