In principle, data can be classed into so-called "entities". These are classes of data that show each a particular kind and number of specific features. So, the cities Trento, Innsbruck and Lucerne can form for example a class "places" which is characterised by the features "place name", "degree of longitude", "degree of latitude", "state" and "number of inhabitants". The single members of such a class differ from each other in the different values of the features that characterise this class.
In a relational database, each entity is ideally saved in an own table with the values of one specific feature in each table column. The table rows contain the the individual members of the data class (entity). In most cases – also in VerbaAlpina -, a relational database represents a collection of different entities (and hence tables) between which there a logical relations. So, the entity "informant" which is defined by the features "age", "sex", "birthplace" and "place of residence" is linked logically to the entity "places" in such a way that the values of the features "birthplace" and "place of residence" have a correspondence in the entity "places". Relations between members of these two entities result from the concordance of the features' values in each entity, which are congruent in their nature. In this case, there could result theoretically an assignment from identical values of the features "birthplace" and "place of residence", by which the geographical coordinates of the birthplace could be assigned indirectly to an informant. Looking at this specific example, one can easily recognize that problems could arise due to homonyms. To avoid such problems, integral numbers are usually applied as identifiers (briefly: "ID") that mark the members of an entity unambiguously.
This system of entities and their logical relations, which was sketched above, is called entity-relationship. The data stock, which is stored in a relational database can hardly be understood and used without any explanation of the dependences between the data within the database. Usually, entity-relationship is illustrated in form of a graphic scheme.
The entity-relationship is subject to permanent adaptations (and hereby changes) during the cyclic development phases of VerbaAlpina (cf. version control). Each filed version of VerbaAlpina will be stored with the the corresponding entity-relationship model of the underlying database version in form of an ER diagram. This diagram is created using the program yEd and saved as (GraphML) and as PDF document. The following chart is based on the entities and links of the database VA_XXX as it was on 20/03/125, but it does not reproduce it completely and has to be understood as illustrating example:
From the ethnolinguistic point of view of VerbaAlpina, the basic types form the basis of the multilingual Alpine region. In the sense of a synthetic depiction, two different quantitative mapping functions are planned:
At first, the Alpine lexicon is particular interest. Its totality forms so to speak a fictitious ideal type which the single local dialects come close to more or less. The mapping of a gradual similarity corresponds to this; the gradual similarity was inspired by the representation of the champ gradient de la gasconité in the ALG 6.
Further, the relative similarity of all places among themselves is mapped by identifying the common basic types of any place and the ones of any other place as point of reference and displaying them, following the example set by the ASD.
Séguy, Jean (1973): Atlas linguistique de la Gascogne, Toulouse, vol. 6, Inst. d'Études Mérid. de la Fac. des Lettres [u.a.]
Krefeld, Thomas / Lücke, Stephan / Mages, Emma (2016): Audioatlas Siebenbürgisch-Sächsischer Dialekte , München, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
The uncovering of linguistic strata, the stratigraphy, presupposes the etymologisation. The etymologic comment starts from the basic type and pursues a triple goal:
- determination of the lexematic basis' language of origin;
- explanation of the unity of all types which share the basic type. The regularities of historical phonetics and the semantic plausibility of the underlying concept relations are crucial for this.
- reconstruction of borrowing paths if the basic type is spread in several language areas; as soon as the language of the etymon on the one hand and of the informant on the other hand do not match, language contact is automatically established.
For the inductive research of the cultural area, demographic and institutional data are interesting every time that they can be geo-referenced. Part of such data is information about the settlement history, especially regarding the membership to church or state institutions. Likewise communication, in particular pass roads, is of fundamental importance (cf. map).
Ecological as well as geophysical data are relevant in case they have a clear reference to the settlement history. This is evident for instance with regard to the vegetation zones which allow or require certain utilisations (e.g. the Alpine dairy requires elevations above the tree line (http://www.slf.ch/forschung_entwicklung/gebirgsoekosystem/themen/baumgrenze/index_EN).