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Indexing English Place Names to the Original Languages

Jason asks whether it’s possible to index the English geocoded place names to their original Greek and Hebrew equivalents via Strong’s numbers:

I’m the developer for and i’ve been planning to integrate geocoded places into the app for a while. I ran across your kml, and though its really useful the way it is now, i was wondering if you had considered adding strongs number to the entries.

The reason i suggest it is, having that number would provide an easy way to distingish between identically named places and would also provide a very fast way to index and cross reference those coords with other xml bible documents. I’m having to run a script that matches the entries by word, but differences in spelling, spacing, and special symbols makes that kind of match a little inaccurate, or at least incomplete.

Answer: I can’t think of a good way to do something like this automatically. To do it accurately, you’d have to have programmatic access to an ESV-Strong’s alignment (since the ESV was the starting point for the geocoding work). The ESV Reverse Interlinear New Testament from Logos has Strong’s numbers, but the Old Testament equivalent doesn’t. And even if it did, I’m not sure how to extract the Strong’s numbers programmatically—or even whether it would be legal to do so. (Probably not.)

Straight string-matching with the KJV text gets you 717 of the 1176 distinct ESV names, or 61%. You might be able to statistically interpolate some of the rest by looking at Greek and Hebrew words that appear in every verse where the name occurs. Unless Crossway releases a Strong’s alignment through their API, however, you’re probably stuck with doing manual work to create an ESV-Strong’s place-name alignment.

If you want to produce one, of course, go for it. Any readers with suggestions about how to create this kind of alignment should feel free to speak up in the comments. (Hey, it never hurts to appeal to the lazyweb, no matter how obscure the request.)

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