Paolo Monella, La tabella dei segni nell'edizione scientifica digitale: un approccio saussuriano

In principle each textual document features a specific writing system. This applies very clearly to handwritten documents: medieval manuscripts, modern handwritten notes, diaries and drafts such as those left by Saussure or Wittgenstein. Peculiar features include the very composition of the graphematic and alphabetic systems (u/v, i/j), allographs (s/ſ, u/v, i/j, c/σ/ς), abbreviation systems, punctuation and other conventional marks. Let us assume that manuscript A has two distinct graphems 'u' and 'v', while manuscript B has only one 'u' grapheme. If we identified both the 'u' of the first manuscript and the 'u' of the second manuscript with the same Unicode codepoint (U+0075), our encoding would imply that they are the same grapheme, while they are not. Each of them, instead, is defined contrastively by the net of relations in the context of its own writing system, as Saussure taught us, and the net of contrastive relations of manuscript A is different from that of manuscript B, because the latter does not have a 'u/v' distinction. This is even more evident with other graphic signs such as punctuation, whose expression (shape) and content (value) varied enormously through time. Tito Orlandi ("Informatica testuale", 2010) suggests to create a "table of signs" to declare and define formally, for each document, each graphic sign that the encoder decides to distinguish, identify and encode in his or her digital edition. After discussing this issue at the 2013 TEI yearly conference, I came to the conclusion that the very nature of XML, which is the current technological framework of TEI, requires that the encoder formally declares only "non-standard" graphemes that are not already declared in Unicode. So in my prototypal critical digital edition of the "De nomine" by Ursus from Benevento (IX century), I implemented a GToS ("Graphematic table of signs") as an independent CSV file, probably the simplest digital format for a table. I then created software (in JavaScript) that processes the GToS as an essential component of the edition model.

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