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Facilitate Serendipitous Discovery

The other day I was in a feature design meeting for one of the new reports in the upcoming 3.0 release of Logos Bible Software, the Bible Word Study report. In attendance were a couple of Logos software developers, a few book designers and information architects, and Bob Pritchett, the president and co-founder of the company. We were going through the Grammatical Relationships section of that report line by line and commenting on the display, the information, the what-have-you.

At one point, I asked a dumb question (as I often do). “Bob,” I asked, “what is this report supposed to do? In a general sense, I mean.” I was getting at the Big Picture issues: Are we trying to find the Single Right Answer to every exegetical question? Are we just listing a bunch of unconnected information? Is this report teaching grammar? Should it?

Bob leaned back and said, “This report is supposed to do what all of our reports do: Facilitate serendipitous discovery.”

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Syntax: What’s New?

There have been a number of changes and improvements to the syntax feature of LDLS 3.0 in the last couple of beta releases. To obtain Beta 7, visit the Logos Beta Download page. You’ll need to install both the LDLS 3.0 Beta 7 download and the 3.0 Beta Resources in order to get all the functionality I describe below.

I’ll start off with what’s new with the Syntax Search dialog, which can be accessed by choosing Search > Syntax Search from the main LDLS menu. The Syntax Search dialog has seen a lot of exciting changes. If you’re interested in syntax at all, I encourage you to use and abuse these new features. If you find any bugs, log onto the beta newsgroup on our news server and let us know.

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Looks Pretty Festive Around Here

Each year here at Logos, we have an inter-departmental Christmas decorating contest. The rules are pretty simple: Each department decorates its area, judges come around at the appointed time, and a winner is declared.

For the past few years in a row, the Logos Accounting department has won both the decorating contest and the bragging rights. It’s not hard to see why: The “Accounting Angels,” as they call themselves, are a group of ladies who are serious about their Christmas Spirit. In short, the Accounting department has been something of a juggernaut in this contest.

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No, I didn’t just randomly press the V, S, and O keys. What these letters represent are the six possible arrangements of subject (S), object (O), and verb (V) within a clause. Several people have asked me, “How would I search for SVO versus VSO clauses in the Andersen-Forbes (A-F) database?” It’s pretty easy, actually.

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Syntax: Now in the 3.0 Beta!

The Andersen-Forbes syntax data is now available as part of the Libronix DLS 3.0 beta. The syntax stuff is 200+ megabytes of data, so we’ve split it out into a separate beta download.

Once you’ve installed all of that, you may want to know what to do with all of this syntax information. I’ve written a short LDLS Syntax Crash Course which is available in PDF format here. You may also want to re-read some or all of the articles in the syntax category on this blog. Or you may want to re-read my ETS paper on the subject.

We are interested in your feedback and your questions. You can leave them as questions in the comments section of the blog, or you can do it on the beta newsgroup forum at

Syntax: Andersen-Forbes Introduction

I was recently dispatched to Melbourne to visit Frank Andersen and Dean Forbes. One of the things I was assigned to discover — other than what kangaroo chili tastes like* — was the underlying linguistic/textual/grammatical philosophy of the Andersen-Forbes database (hereafter, A-F). Sure, they’ve marked the entire Hebrew Bible for syntax, but what exactly does that mean?

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Syntax: Why Graphs? Part II Consider the simple graph to the right. A graph, you will recall, is a diagram made up of labels and lines. This particular graph has some further special characteristics: (1) This is a directed graph, because the lines are arrows that indicate which labels are “on top,” so to speak; if this were a corporate organization chart, the arrows would always point from manager to employee. (2) This graph is acyclic, which is a fancy word meaning “no cycles,” which is a fancy way of saying that if you follow the arrows in the direction they are pointing, you will never visit the same label twice. Put another way, if no matter where you start, you will eventually reach the end. (3) This particular graph is a tree, because it has exactly one topmost label (the CEO in our org chart), and each label has one and only one arrow that points to it. That is, each employee has only one boss — wouldn’t that be nice?

I think that I shall never seea graph as lovely as a tree.

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Syntax: Why Graphs?

Why did we choose graphs to represent syntax instead of something else? Short answer: Because.
The long answer, however, is much more interesting: Because every method of graphically showing the syntactic form of a sentence or clause has its pros and cons. Graphs have a lot of pros, and not many cons.

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What’s a Syntax Graph Anyway?

Good question. For mathematicians and linguists, a graph is a diagram that consists of nodes and edges. For the rest of us, who must communicate using words that we hope others will readily understand, graphs are diagrams that consist of points and lines between them. For our purposes, any diagram that consists of points and lines is a graph.

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G’Day, Hebrew Syntax

You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging much lately. Mostly, I’ve been too busy working on the Andersen-Forbes Hebrew Syntax project. As part of that work, I recently went down to Melbourne, Australia to visit with Frank Andersen and Dean Forbes, the gentlemen themselves. It’s rare that the two of them are ever in the same room, since Dean lives in California and Frank lives half a world away in Melbourne. When we found out that Dean would be visiting Melbourne for a month to work with Frank, we decided that I should crash the party.*

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