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Bar Ilan Software Support - Specifying Distances Between Words / Words in Varying Order


Sounds confusing? The following examples should help make things clear:

1.  In Bar Ilan Responsa to find a word occurring up to n words after another word, type the first word, a space, and then type [n:1]. (Remember that you’re typing in Hebrew, so you start by typing the right bracket, then 1, and then the colon, the second number, and the closing bracket.) Then type a space before typing the second word.

    For example, to search for נר שבת, נר של שבת, and נר שהדליקו לכבוד שבת (note that in this last ex pression, the word שבת occurs three words after the first word), type:

נר  [3:1]  שבת

•    When typing a query,  the Bar Ilan Responsa Project may reverse the order of the numbers on screen, so the query appears on the search bar as:
נר [1:3] שבת

If this happens, don’t worry; what matters is how you typed the query, and not how it appears on screen.

    When specifying distances, you can also use grammatical prefixes, suffixes, etc. Thus, to find ex pressions such as הנרות שהדליקו לכבוד שבתות, type:

#נר#  [3:1]  שבת#

2.     With Bar Ilan Software to find words which can appear in varying order, where the second word can appear up to m words before the first word, while the first word can appear up to n words before the second, type [n:m-] as the specified distance. Once again, you start by typing the right bracket, and continue with the minus sign (i.e., the hyphen), m, etc.

    For example, to find the ex pressions תקנו חכמים, חכמים תקנו, and שתקנו אותם חכמים (in the last ex pression, תקנו appears two words before חכמים), type:

#תקנו  [1:2-]  חכמים

    This will locate all instances where תקנו (or שתקנו, ותקנו, etc.) appears up to two words before חכמים (such as תקנו חכמים, שתקנו אותם חכמים) and up to one word after חכמים (such as חכמים תקנו).

•    In Bar ilan esponsa if you find this daunting, even after studying the example, try options 3 and 4 below. While you will locate more forms this way, some of them presumably irrelevant, the “syntax” of this option is much easier to master. Alternatively, you might prefer performing a Regular search.
3.    Often you’ll be looking for ex pressions composed of words which can appear in either “correct” or reverse order, with an equal number of words separating them. For example, if you’re looking for information about קידוש השם, you’ll probably be interested in both לקדש שם שמים and ששם שמים יתקדש. To search for such forms, type:

#שם  [2:-2]  %קדש

4.    In the Bar Ilan Responsa Project a simpler way to specify equal distances between words which can appear in either “correct” or reverse order is to type the distance (in words) between the words you’re searching for, followed by a colon, a space, and finally the words you’re looking for.

    For example, to locate both לקדש שם שמים and ששם שמים יתקדש, type:

2:  %קדש  #שם


2:  #שם  %קדש

    Since only two search components are specified here, it doesn’t matter what order you specify them in.

Specifying Distances For Complicated Searches: Tips For Advanced Users

 With the Bar Ilan Responsa Program you can specify more than two search components in varying order by following the rules described above. For example, you can type:

6:  נר  שבת  חנוכה

which is equivalent to

נר  [6:-6]  שבת  [6:-6]  חנוכה

    You can also specify distances in different ways in a single query. For example, you can type:

5:  נר  ערב  [2:1]  שבת

which is equivalent to

נר  [5:-5]  ערב  [2:1]  שבת


Expressions Within A Single Sentence, Paragraph, or Document

    You can search for a group of words, all of which appear in the same sentence, paragraph, or document. Using this option will locate all such words, regardless of the order in which they appear or the exact distance between them.

1.    To locate words in the same sentence, type משפט: (don’t forget the colon!), a space, and the words you are looking for. For example, to find material about Shabbat customs in synagogues, type:

משפט:  מנהג  שבת  ביהכ"נ

•    Here too, it’s advisable to specify alternative forms, prefixes, etc. in your query. For example, you’d probably be able to locate more material on Shabbat customs in synagogues by typing:
משפט:  $מנהג  $שבת  $(ביהכ"נ/כנסת)

since this query will locate forms such as לביהכ"נ, and not just ביהכ"נ.

Note that there’s no need to specify the word בית in the expression בית כנסת, since occurrences of בית כנסת will automatically be retrieved along with other occurrences of כנסת (indeed, you can’t specify בית כנסת as an alternative to ביהכ"נ even if you wanted to; see above, p. 39).

2.    To locate words in the same paragraph, type פסקה:, a space, and the words you are looking for, e.g.:

פסקה:  $מנהג  $שבת  $ביהכ"נ

3.    To locate a group of words in the same document, type מסמך:, a space, and the words you are looking for, e.g.:

מסמך:  $מנהג  $שבת  $ביהכ"נ

•    The precise definitions of “sentence,” “paragraph,” and “document” vary from database to database. Hence, you may have to experiment with this option to derive maximum benefit from it.

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