Names: problems of multiple reference [177]


Discussion of encoding personal names that refer to more than one person


There are many cases where a single name or phrase refers to several different people. These cases can be divided into three categories:

1. Phrases which specify multiple individuals: for instance, “A. & J. Johnson”, “Mr. and Mrs. Barbauld”.

In cases like these, where both names are present in some form (albeit abbreviated) and it is clear who is being referred to, the WWP encodes the phrase using two separate <persName> elements. If keys are being used, each should receive a separate key referring to the person named. <abbr> should not be used in either case, since eventually the key= value will identify the person sufficiently. Thus the encoded result in this kind of case would be:

<persname key="">A.</persName> &amp; <persName key="">J. Johnson</persName>

2. Names which refer to a family, a lineage, or a group of family members: for instance, the Guelphs, the Jetsons, the Tudors.

Cases like these should be treated as collectivities, and encoded with <name>, even if we believe we can infer the exact membership of the group. We do not use multiple key values to specify the exact people referred to, even if we believe we know exactly who is meant; e.g. “we had the Smiths to dinner on Saturday” (we know this means Jim and Betty Smith, but we only use <name> without a key= value).

3. Names which refer allegorically to some person other than the ostensible person named: for instance, "To Katherine Philips, our British Poet: Fair Sappho, sing again!"

In cases like this, where a name like “Sappho” both names an actual person (Sappho) and refers symbolically to another person (in this case, Katherine Philips), the question is what value to use for the key= attribute. The WWP’s policy is to key only the primary reference (in this case, to Sappho) and to regard the secondary reference as an editorial judgment which we will refrain from making. Thus the example should be encoded:

To <persname key="KPhilips.bku">Katherine Philips</persName>, our British Poet: Fair <persName key="Sappho.ith">Sappho</persName>, sing again!

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