translating minor forms

Introduction to TEI and its header

In our session on November 3rd, we were introduced to the technological side of the course and one of its key goals: to create TEI documents of the Kokomba folktales.

What is TEI?

TEI is an XML-based format especially used for encoding texts of the humanities, such as poetry, drama, or registers of persons, but also transcriptions, dictionaries, or critical apparatuses. It offers many tags and attributes to specify the characteristics of various text forms. The TEI documents that we are going to create can then be used to create digital visualizations, they will be searchable, and next to the folktales themselves, they will contain important meta data and additional information about the Kokomba culture in footnotes and glossaries.

Jana already gave us a quick introduction to TEI and XML a few weeks ago, and today we immersed ourselves in practice! We began with the TEI header, one of the two big parts of a TEI document. Although when visualized later the header is not shown, it is a very important part of the document since here you can find records about the text such as date, author, editor, sources, and so on – the meta data.

The structure of the TEI header

The minimal header of a TEI document

The element <fileDesc> holds multiple tags that specify the bibliographical description of a text. Within the tag is the <titleStmt> where you can find the title of the resource in a separate <title> element. Reports about people involved can be placed here, too, e.g., author, editor, or sponsor. The following <publicationStmt> tag contains the information about the text’s publication, such as date, place, or publisher. The last child element of the file description is the <sourceDesc> element, which provides us with information about the bibliographical source.

Although not mandatory, there are many more elements to be used in the TEI header that can provide relevant information about the text. These could be the encoding and revision history of the electronic text or non-bibliographical but important cultural information. If available, these should be included in the TEI header.

Getting practical

As Jana explained the various elements found in the <teiHeader> element, we also had our first round with Visual Studio Code, a program used for coding. As an exercise, Jana made us look for mistakes in the TEI header of a TEI example document. By going around and answering all of our questions, Jana and Tasun made sure everyone understood how the syntax of an XML document works and which elements are supposed to be at which spots.

Where is the mistake?

The session was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to next week’s session, when we will look at the actual text portion of a TEI document!

4 responses to “Introduction to TEI and its header”

  1. Hi Nadine! Great summary, I’ll surely come back to this post (and the respective presentation) whenever I need to refresh my memory regarding TEI headers. About the mistake: Visual Studio Code was so kind as to underline the mistake: the closing tag is – haha – in the wrong place. It should hug all the other tags and switch places with . 🙂

  2. Dear Nadine, thanks for the nice recap of the lecture! I agree that looking for mistakes was actually quite fun, though also confusing :’D All the best 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing, Nadine. This is very thorough and insightful. I’m glad you’re having fun. It gets better by the day.😊

  4. Dear Nadine, I really enjoyed reading your blog entry and it reflected well on what we had learnt in our first session on TEI! Thank you also for the information about TEI itself at the beginning of the entry, as that is something we did not cover all that much in class. 🙂

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