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“Six Things Are Said Concerning Demons” (Hagigah 16a). The System of Topic Tags Used in the Elyonim veTachtonim Inventory to Describe the Features of Supernatural Entities and Their Relationships with Humans

Today I had my paper finally published, and as its not-so-snappy title implies, it tackles the problem of the tag ontology in the Talmudic database, offers detailed descriptions of each topical tag (with examples), and outlines the theoretical and methodological basis for the classification system. As such it should be treated primarily as an extended manual facilitating the usage of the inventory. So head over to the Legacy section and enjoy!



This paper has two main purposes: to outline the methodology underlying the tag ontology utilised in the Elyonim veTachtonim [hereinafter: EvT] inventory and to demonstrate the system of topic tags used to designate recurring subjects recognised in the accounts involving supernatural entities [hereinafter: SE]. The EvT database stores over 700 such accounts, which are annotated using a complex system of tags with several categories: class and type of SE, grammatical number, literary genre, topic, and the attitude of the SE towards humans. The tags facilitate information retrieval and, thanks to the partition of text into units, allow for the creation of data models. The topic tags are organised into a hierarchy of increasingly fine distinctions, arranged into several-tier structure. There are two main groups of topics: (1) the qualities and features of the SEs such as their appearance, knowledge, and skills and (2) the relationships between the SEs and humans ranging from cooperation to antagonism. 
This paper is intended primarily for both present and future users of the EvT database who desire a more profound exposition of the system behind the inventory and would like to know the nuances of the classification process. The arrangement utilised in the project is highly flexible and as such can be deployed in different cultural contexts and applied to diverse media. This means that the present paper can also serve as a point of reference for scholars wishing to construe an analogical database within the framework of some other cultural and religious tradition.


This paper was written as a part of the project The Supernatural Entities and Their Relationships with Humans according to the Babylonian Talmud from the Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives financed by the National Science Centre, Poland (SONATA 14; Registration number: 2018/31/D/HS1/00513).