[Tellico-users] sorting and formatting

Thomas Ronayne trona at ameritech.net
Wed Nov 11 15:11:36 UTC 2009

Hi, Robby,

Not trying to be a pain but I'm thinking about the way the Big Three 
(let's say Amazon, LOC and ISBNdb) return information to you.

Just picking an arbitrary ISBN, 0-399-15504-X (Robert B. Parker, 
/Resolution/), Amazon returns "Robert B. Parker," ISBNdb returns 
"Parker, Robert Andrew" (which is actually his name) and LOC returns 
"Parker, Robert B." using the Tellico internet search function; thus 
there either is or is not delimiter in the string (in this case a comma 
to delimit surname).

Well, OK, there's one -- now, how about a toughie: George Cordon Byron, 
/Childe Harold's Pilgrimage/. George Cordon Byron, AKA Lord Byron. 
Arrgghh! One begins to see the problem; do you sort it as if it were 
"Byron, Lord" or "Lord, Byron?" What sort of rule do you write for 
titles (his first name is not "Lord," it's George but generally nobody 
knows that and, in England, he'd be called "Byron," "M' Lord" or 
referred to as "George, Lord Byron." or some such) A puzzlement. The 
Brits have all kinds of goofy fun things -- how, for example, does 
Leicester get pronounced "Lester" I do not fathom.

Then, one goes on to the doctors (either MD or Ph.D.) and deal with 
those (actually, Robert B. Parker is or has a Ph.D., but he doesn't 
bother with that Dr. stuff). Those are actually easier rules to deal 
with; when I have to for data base name parsing I just strip out any 
pattern that matches any medical or academic title; Doctor, Dr., M.D., 
MD, MA, PHD, Ph.D., etc. -- the rule being that a title is not a 
persons' name but that doesn't seem to count in England). I do the same 
with military or civilian rank -- your name isn't "General," it's Your 
Blasted Name, dang it! And, of course, if you want to be really picky 
you can append the title to the end of the name string; e.g., George  
Smith Patton,  Jr. (also George Smith Patton III), General. Searching 
for ISBN 0-395-73529-7 returns  George S. Patton Major General, /War As 
I Knew It/ from Amazon, Patton, George S. (George Smith) from LOC and 
Patton, George S. from ISBNdb. Rank only appears in the Amazon search; 
I'd be more likely to accept the LOC rule. It's kind of the same thing 
you do in genealogy: what's your name on your birth certificate.

English is bad enough -- I can't imagine (because I have zero knowledge 
of other languages' sorting rules) what one would do with French, 
German, Polish, Russian or who knows what.

Truly a puzzlement.


A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

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