Web Editing Thirith's Linguistic Paper

The making of the web file that contains Thirith Dragon's linguistic paper, began long ago by usenet standards. IIRC news of Thirith's paper was first heard when he asked permission to use people's posts in it. Soon after he announced he was done (as the date of his paper attests this would have been novemeber of 1997). Many wished to see it and ideas of webhosting it were bandied about but little came of it. Two years later as the year 2000 approached the subject came up again, I offered to host the paper on my webpage. However, things were far from easy first it turned out that Thirith had erased his word file and at one point it looked as though Thirith would mail me a photo copy which I would have scanned into my computer. The months dragged on and Thirith was unable to locate the final good copy in the library. Finally in June of 2000 Thirith e-mailed me a copy of the paper which he typed from the copy that had been marked. After some intial problems with the attachment file I had a copy. Now my work began.

The paper was in Microsoft Word 97 format and weighed in at nearly one Megabyte of data. Intially I tried to use MS word 97 to convert the file to HTML but I found that it dropped the footnotes out completely. Instead I used Corel 8 to convert the file into HTML to retain the footnotes as end notes, although it did create some rather interesting format variations. However, this was not enough, I wanted to make the web version as close to the original format as possible, while also being as clean and compact as possible. The HTML file was much smaller than the word file only about a quarter of a megabyte. However, as I fired up pico I began to realize the daunting task that lay ahead.

I had decided to remove all specification of particular font styles (ie Times New Roman etc.) but to retain bold, italization and font size as seen in the original. I found not only that each section was surrounded with a font specification (usually Times New Roman) but that there were often redundant font tags (ones that closed as soon as they were opened). Also, I had no idea how to render the usually convention of offsetting and single spacing long quotes in HTML. Instead I resorted to using emphasis (italic) font tags or using a slightly smaller font size (some quotations were in slightly smaller fonts to begin with but this may have been an artifact of the translation to HTML) or both. The work was slow and boring and I worked on it slowly with little regularity. The Tables in particular were massive and required careful editing. I finally finished the work on the night of September 1st (or the morning of September 2nd). The total editing time was probably in the range of a dozen or two dozen hours but it is hard to say. The final file was now a mere 110 KB and I was satisified with its appearance.

I hope people enjoy Thirith's paper as much as I enjoyed the satisifaction of bringing it to you. I hope you do not mind me including this self-indulgent little piece. Please feel free to send me feedback.

Ultima Found

Reach me at allan_olley@yahoo.ca

Last Updated September 27th, 2005.