3. eagle-winged

The architecture of a complex textual information system can often best be explained and experienced in a sample session. We use a typical user query as a starting point and navigate through the Shakespeare Database architecture showing some of the possibilities on the way. The user himself does not need to know anything about the underlying database structure. On the contrary he will certainly be surprised to learn how many database entities and database relations are envolved in a simple query. A simple straightforward query may result in quite an elaborate retrieval-path in the system architecture.
In a sequential reading of a literary text it is often a poetic passage or a peculiar combination of words which leads to an interruption and a closer examination. In such a situation a hypertext link has a good chance to be actually followed up. In  The Tragedy of King Richard the Second  Richard himself speaks the following sentence in a longer passage in the first act:


And for our eyes do hate the dire aspect
Of civil wounds plough'd up with neighbors's sword
And for we think the  eagle-winged  pride
Of sky-aspiring and ambitious thoughts,
...

R2 1.3.129 [in modern spelling]
© The Riverside Shakespeare

The verbal image, or the word-formation  eagle-winged  may be such a typical starting point. The user of the Shakespeare Database can, of course, look up the word in the dictionary area of the database. But such isolated information is hard to assess. This is why the user interface to the database suggests a more comprehensive, structurally oriented presentation of the data where the user is able to compare and integrate. Figure 1 is an example of such a query report. The user learns from the table that  eagle-winged  is indeed a special wordform. It appears only once in Shakespeare and there is no lexicographical evidence of prior usage. The user also learns that Shakespeare seems to have been fond of compounds with  winged  as a second element. There are eight examples for the pattern, all of them without earlier attestation. One option to continue the query session is, of course, to jump into the respective passages in the text of the plays in order to explore the contexts. A further query may address the factual basis of the tabular information itself, especially the factual basis for chronological information and first occurrence flags. In the morphological family  {wing}  there are ten such cases. The fourth column in Figure 1 gives the respective works using the customary abbreviations.

Lemma Word-Class Dating Work Frequency
wing   
wing   
swift-winged
fleet-winged
slow-winged
eagle-winged
clip-winged
light-winged
sea-wing
strong-winged
full-winged
wing-led
n.
vb.
adj.
adj.
adj.
adj.
adj.
adj.
n.
adj.
adj.
pwf.
OE
1486
> 1589
> 1593
> 1593
1595
> 1596
1604
> 1606
> 1606
> 1609
> 1609
 
 
1H6
LUC
SHR
R2
1H4
OTH
ANT
ANT
CYM
CYM
65
48
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
Figure 1
A query for eagle-winged results in an integrated information structure: the morphological family {wing}, a chronological ordering, frequency data, and information about first occurrences in Shakespeare's works. This is, of course, only a tiny fraction of the information available in the Shakespeare Database for this example.