Concordance (publishing)
A concordance is an alphabetical list of the principal words used in a book or body of work, with their immediate contexts. Because of the time and difficulty and expense involved in creating a concordance in the pre-computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 era, only works of special importance, such as the Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 or the works of Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, had concordances prepared for them.

Even with the use of computers, producing a concordance (whether on paper or in a computer) may require much manual work, because they often include additional material, including commentary on, or definitions of, the indexed words, and topical cross-indexing that is not yet possible with computer-generated and computerized concordances.

However, when the text of a work is on a computer, a search function can carry out the basic task of a concordance, and is in some respects even more versatile than one on paper.

A bilingual concordance is a concordance based on aligned parallel text.

A topical concordance is a list of subjects that a book (usually The Bible) covers, with the immediate context of the coverage of those subjects. Unlike a traditional concordance, the indexed word does not have to appear in the verse. The most well known topical concordance is Nave's Topical Bible
Nave's Topical Bible
Nave's Topical Bible is a book written by Orville James Nave and published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nave was a chaplain in the United States Army and referred to his work as "the result of fourteen years of delight and untiring study of the Word of God." It is a topical concordance of the...


The first concordance, to the Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

 Bible, was compiled by Hugh of St Cher
Hugh of St Cher
Hugh of St Cher was a French Dominican cardinal and Biblical commentator. He was born at St Cher, a suburb of Vienne, Dauphiné, and while a student in Paris entered the Dominican convent of the Jacobins in 1225....

 (d.1262), who employed 500 monks to assist him. In 1448 Rabbi Mordecai Nathan completed a concordance to the Hebrew Bible. It took him ten years. 1599 saw a concordance to the Greek New Testament published by Henry Stephens and the Septuagint was done a couple of years later by Conrad Kircher in 1602. The first concordance to the English bible was published in 1550 by Mr Marbeck, according to Cruden it did not employ the verse numbers devised by Robert Stephens in 1545 but "the pretty large concordance" of Mr Cotton did. Then followed Cruden's Concordance
Cruden's Concordance
A Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures, generally known as Cruden's Concordance, is a concordance of the King James Bible that was singlehandedly created by Alexander Cruden...

 and Strong's Concordance
Strong's Concordance
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, generally known as Strong's Concordance, is a concordance of the King James Bible that was constructed under the direction of Dr. James Strong and first published in 1890. Dr. Strong was Professor of exegetical theology at Drew Theological Seminary at...


Use in linguistics

Concordances are frequently used in linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, when studying a text. For example:
  • comparing different usages of the same word
  • analysing keywords
  • analysing word frequencies
  • finding and analysing phrases and idioms
  • finding translation
    Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

    s of subsentential elements, e.g. terminology
    Terminology is the study of terms and their use. Terms are words and compound words that in specific contexts are given specific meanings, meanings that may deviate from the meaning the same words have in other contexts and in everyday language. The discipline Terminology studies among other...

    , in bitexts and translation memories
  • creating indexes and word lists (also useful for publishing)

Concordancing techniques are widely used in national corpora such as American National Corpus
American National Corpus
The American National Corpus is a text corpus of American English currently containing 22 million words written and spoken data produced since 1990. The ANC may at some point of time include a range of genres comparable to the British National Corpus...

, British National Corpus
British National Corpus
The British National Corpus is a 100-million-word text corpus of samples of written and spoken English from a wide range of sources. It was compiled as a general corpus in the field of corpus linguistics...

, and Corpus of Contemporary American English
Corpus of Contemporary American English
The freely-searchable 425 million word Corpus of Contemporary American English is the largest corpus of American English currently available, and the only publicly-available corpus of American English to contain a wide array of texts from a number of genres.It was created by Mark Davies, Professor...

 available on-line. Stand-alone applications that employ concordancing techniques are known as concordancers . Some of them have integrated part-of-speech taggers and enable the user to create his/her own pos-annotated corpora to conduct various type of searches adopted in corpus linguistics.

Inverting a concordance

A famous use of a concordance involved the reconstruction of the text of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

 from a concordance.

Access to some of the scrolls was governed by a "secrecy rule" that allowed only the original International Team or their designates to view the original materials. After the death of Roland de Vaux
Roland de Vaux
Father Roland Guérin de Vaux OP was a French Dominican priest who led the Catholic team that initially worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was the director of the Ecole Biblique, a French Catholic Theological School in East Jerusalem, and he was charged with overseeing research on the scrolls...

 in 1971, his successors repeatedly refused to even allow the publication of photographs to other scholars. This restriction was circumvented by Martin Abegg in 1991, who used a computer to "invert" a concordance of the missing documents made in the 1950s which had come into the hands of scholars outside of the International Team, to obtain an approximate reconstruction of the original text of 17 of the documents. This was soon followed by the release of the original text of the scrolls.

See also

  • Back-of-the-book index
    Back-of-the-book index
    -Introduction:A back-of-the-book index is a collection of entries - often alphabetically arranged - which are made in order to allow users to locate information in a given book ....

  • A Vedic Word Concordance
    A Vedic Word Concordance
    A Vedic Word Concordance is a multi-volume concordance of the corpus of Vedic Sanskrit texts. It has been under preparation from 1930 and was published in 1935-1965 under the guidance of , with an introduction in Sanskrit and English...

  • Bible concordance
    Bible concordance
    A Bible concordance is a verbal index to the Bible. A simple form lists Biblical words alphabetically, with indications to enable the inquirer to find the passages of the Bible where the words occur....

  • Bitext
  • Concordancer
    A concordancer is a computer program that automatically constructs a concordance. The output of a concordancer may serve as input to a translation memory system for computer-assisted translation, or as an early step in machine translation....

  • Cross-reference
    A cross-reference is an instance within a document which refers to related or synonymous information elsewhere, usually within the same work. To cross-reference or to cross-refer is to make such connections. The term "cross-reference" is often abbreviated as x-ref, xref, or, in computer science,...

  • Index
    Index (publishing)
    An index is a list of words or phrases and associated pointers to where useful material relating to that heading can be found in a document...

  • KWIC

External links

  • Shakespeare concordance - A concordance of Shakespeare's complete works (from Open Source Shakespeare)
  • Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts - The Alex Catalogue is a collection of public domain electronic texts from American and English literature as well as Western philosophy. Each of the 14,000 items in the Catalogue are available as full-text but they are also complete with a concordance. Consequently, you are able to count the number of times a particular word is used in a text or list the most common (10, 25, 50, etc.) words.
  • Hyper-Concordance - The Hyper-Concordance is written in C++, a program that scans and displays lines based on a command entered by the user. The main advantage of the C++ program is that it not only identifies the concordance lines but the words occurring to the left and the right of the word or phrase searched. It also reports the total number of text lines, the total word count and the number of occurrences of the word or phrase searched. The full text of the book is displayed in a box at the bottom of the screen. Each line of the text is numbered, and the line number and the term(s) searched provide a link to the full text.
  • Concord - Page includes link to Concord, an on-the-fly KWIC concordance generator. Works with at least some non-Latin scripts (modern Greek, for instance). Multiple choices for sorting results; multi-platform; Open Source.
  • ConcorDance - A concordance interface to the WorldWideWeb, it uses Google's or Yahoo's search engine to find concordances and can be used directly from the browser.
  • Chinese Text Project Concordance Tool - Concordance lookup and discussion of the continued importance of printed concordances in Sinology
    Sinology in general use is the study of China and things related to China, but, especially in the American academic context, refers more strictly to the study of classical language and literature, and the philological approach...

     - Chinese Text Project
    Chinese Text Project
    The Chinese Text Project is a digital library project that assembles collections of early Chinese texts. The name of the project in Chinese literally means "The Digitization Project of Chinese Philosophy Books", showing its focus on books related to Chinese philosophy...

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