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DATETIME  April 2011

DATETIME April 2011

Subject:

Re: internal uncertain/approximate LAST CALL

From:

Markus Flatscher <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion of the Developing Date/Time Standards <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 7 Apr 2011 07:27:38 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (41 lines)

Ray,

On Wed, 6 Apr 2011 14:17:06 -0400
 Ray Denenberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>...
>Ok, thanks for the feedback on that, Markus.  But I'll reiterate what I said to Saašha:  I would like to have specific use cases before adding this sort of complexity. 
>...

In response to your request for use cases, some preliminary remarks: my background is in archives and in digital scholarly/documentary editing, but not in library science.

In the scholarly editing community (as elsewhere), editorial practices and standards are regrettably inconsistent when it comes to the scope of the '?' qualifier used in natural-language dates; the classic example is a date of the form "7 April 2011?", in which case it can generally not be taken for granted that the low-certainty scope is on the year and the year only without consulting the editorial apparatus (assuming there is a good editorial apparatus).

I do think that editors working in a born digital environment would embrace internal scoping mechanisms for uncertain/approximate dates (a) to overcome the lack of precision inherent in natural-language based editorial conventions, and (b) to increase consistency and cohesion between different editorial projects by having recourse to a shared formal standard. In that sense, the more powerful EDTF can be, the better.

As far as the scholarly editing community is concerned, I'd say that internal uncertainty is much more common than internal approximate components are when it comes to dates; some samples:

Day uncertain, month and year certain: 21? December 1783 (The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition, eds. Oberg and Looney, Main Series, vol. 6, p. 410)

Day certain, month uncertain, year certain: 11 Sep.? 1786 (ibid., vol. 10, p. 350)

The combination of approximate and uncertain isn't rare either:

Approximate/uncertain combined:
Day approximate (but certain), month uncertain, year certain: ca. 1 Mch.? 1785 (ibid., vol. 8, p. 9)

Sidenote: another special (but not uncommon) case is the one of low-certainty scoped ranges, e.g.: "3–6? March 1775" (The Papers of James Madison Digital Edition, ed. Stagg, Congressional Series, vol. 1, p. 138); "April–June? 1786", etc. (ibid., vol. 9, p. 4)

I could come up with more examples like the above (maybe minus ranges for starters) in a more structured tabular form if that would be helpful.

Markus

[1] http://www.tei-c.org/release/doc/tei-p5-doc/en/html/index-toc.html

--
Markus Flatscher, Editorial and Technical Specialist
ROTUNDA, The University of Virginia Press
PO Box 801079, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4318 USA
Courier: 310 Old Ivy Way, Suite 302, Charlottesville VA 22903
Email: [log in to unmask]

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