Names: problems of nested reference

name rendition proper name phrase-level encoding
placeName persName

Discussion of the encoding of human names using persName, including criteria for identifying creatures as human, and guidelines for nesting name elements

Several special issues arise around the encoding of personal names, in cases where different name types are nested together. For projects which are not providing a unique key value for names, or which are deliberately taking a simple approach to names, these issues will be of academic interest only, but for projects undertaking a complex encoding of names this section may be important.

The most frequent problem of nested reference arises in the interaction of place names and personal names. Titles of nobility often include place names, or names derived from place names. Similarly, place names may often be derived from personal names. Attempting to do encoding justice to these nested levels of reference can become cumbersome in complex cases, may be difficult to accomplish consistently, and in any case requires a degree of historical research that may be expensive and time-consuming. For projects whose research involves tracing these kinds of references in detail, it may be worth the effort to encode the full chain of reference; the CELT project has taken this approach. But for most projects, names are of interest because of their current frame of reference, not because of the archaeology of references they may also contain. Such projects need to set a limit on this encoding.

One approach to this limitation is to encode only the most direct reference, the outermost layer of meaning. These two examples show an encoding in which only personal names and their parts are encoded explicitly; place names are not identified as such:

<persName>William Cavendish, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of
Newcastle; Earl of Ogle; Viscount Mansfield; and Baron of Bolsover, of
Ogle, Bothal, and Hepple</persName>

  <roleName>Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Newcastle</roleName>;
  <roleName>Earl of Ogle</roleName>;
  <roleName>Viscount Mansfield; and <roleName>Baron of
            Bolsover, of Ogle, Bothal, and Hepple</roleName>

Another approach is to encode references according to their explicit denotation: that is, encode place names as place names, as long as they still function as a reference to a place. This function might be signalled, in English, through words like of. Note that it is not essential that the place still exist. Thus:

<persName>William Cavendish, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of
  Earl of <placeName>Ogle</placeName>; 
  Viscount Mansfield; and Baron of <placeName>Bolsover</placeName>, 
  of <placeName>Ogle</placeName>, <placeName>Bothal</placeName>, and

  <roleName>Duke, Marquess, and Earl of
  <roleName>Earl of
  <roleName>Viscount Mansfield</roleName>; and 
  <roleName>Baron of
    <placeName>Bolsover</placeName>, of
    <placeName>Bothal</placeName>, and

Both of these approaches require that we distinguish between place names that function as part of a personal name, and those which are merely associated with the name in a given context:

<persName>William of Orange</persName>

<persName>Walt Whitman</persName>, of 
   <placeName>Camden, New Jersey</placeName>


<persName><hi rend="slant(upright)">Mr.</hi> John Doakes III</persName>, Esq., R.A.
<persName>Alfred, <hi rend="slant(upright)">Lord</hi> Tennyson</persName>
<persName><hi rend="slant(upright)">Sir</hi> Philip Sidney</persName>
<persName>William Cavendish, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of <placeName>Newcastle</placeName>; Earl of <placeName>Ogle</placeName>; Viscount Mansfield; and Baron of <placeName>Bolsover </placeName>, of <placeName>Ogle </placeName>, <placeName>Bothal </placeName>, and <placeName>Hepple</placeName> </persName>
<persName>Elizabeth, Queen of England</persName>
<persName>Queen Elizabeth</persName>
his grace <persName>Lord North</persName>, K. C., C. B. E.
her Royal Highness <persName>Queen Elizabeth I</persName>
<persName>Sir John Boggs</persName>, Chancellor of the Exchequer
the <mcr rend="slant(italic)">Prophet</mcr><persName>Isaiah</persName>