[sword-devel] Strong's numbers: Numbers or strings

Karl Kleinpaste karl at kleinpaste.org
Thu Jan 27 08:27:17 EST 2022

I have a Xiphos bug <https://github.com/crosswire/xiphos/issues/1107> in 
which the facility to take a Strong's dict entry and search the Bible 
module for all its occurrences sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

The mechanism is straightforward: Take the key from the dict pane, note 
whether this is Heb or Grk, construct e.g. lemma:Hxxxxx, stuff that into 
the sidebar search, and execute the search. No sweat.

The problem is with Heb refs. Because of the ancient habit that Heb 
Strong's refs are given a leading zero prefix (e.g. "07225") as a weak 
discriminant from Grk refs in the same number space, I actually handle 
this case explicitly. Strong's module keys are fixed, 5-digit strings, 
and the dict pane always shows this. When that key is taken to build the 
lemma search, I specifically include the last leading zero in the Heb case.

This works in KJV and ESV where we find "<w savlm="strong:H07225">In the 
This fails in NASB and OSHB where we find "<w savlm="strong:H7225">In 
the beginning</w>".
Note H07225 vs H7225.

The question revolves around what a Strong's ref ontologically is. 
Seriously, what is it?
Is it a number, written naturally with minimal required digits, stored 
for convenience in a character string?
Or is it a specific and fixed string of characters?

In terms of module keys, it's a string of characters.
In terms of Bible markup, well... Opinion varies. As we see in this 
case, some Bibles encode as a natural number, occupying the normal 
(minimal) digits needed, but others take the fixed string approach so as 
to include a leading zero, but note that it's not a full, fixed, 5-digit 
string to match a dict key; it's just one leading zero, no matter how 
many natural digits follow. KJV encodes the 1st Heb ref as "01". Not "1" 
(natural number) and not "00001" (module key); just "01".

Result is that, by constructing zero-prefixed searches, such searches 
always fail in Bibles using natural/minimal digits because there's never 
a zero-prefixed match.

This is different from Grk refs, which are stored in dict modules the 
same as Heb dict keys -- fixed 5-digit -- but are always marked up as 
natural numbers using minimal digits.

As matters stand, I have no /a priori/ means by which to determine what 
to expect in a Bible's Heb Strong's markup. The dict pane's key from 
which to construct the search is fixed 5 digits. That is at first 
trimmed to natural, minimal digits...and then the trouble starts because 
I don't have anything like a module conf directive to tell me whether 
the module uses zero-prefixed Heb refs or not. I'm also not aware that 
we have any standard for such markup to which I can point to say, 
"NASB's markup is wrong because it lacks zero-prefixing on Heb refs."

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