Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Backup My Data?
As with all your files, you should of course make regular backups of your APiCS data file. The only file that stores information entered by you is the file "APiCS_data", so you need to backup only this file. If you provide audio examples, please read the Note on Audio files in the Guidelines.
If you backup by duplicating the "APiCS_data" file in the regular way, make sure to move it out of the APiCS folder to avoid confusion, especially if you work with the runtime version.
Another possibility is to backup by clicking the blue "Backup" button in the main layout of the Questionnaire, below the "Help" button. This exports all the data in your tables (features, examples, references, segments) to a text file that the editors can later reimport for you if necessary. (You cannot do this yourself, and you cannot easily read this file.) We created this procedure because some people apparently had problems with the normal procedure for making backups.
How Do I Unzip and Use an APiCS_data File Received by Email?
If you do not have Filemaker Pro 8 installed, your data will be mailed to you in a zipped file called APiCS_data.zip. You will need to unzip the file and replace the old APiCS_data.USR inside your APiCS runtime folder with the one just unzipped.
If you are not sure how to do this, please refer to these step-by-step instructions:
Why Do I Get The Message "At least one example record is incomplete"?
If you completed all the Example records for the current Feature but the Progress Report field keeps showing the above message, then probably there are incomplete Example records hidden from you in the Main layout. Maybe you accidentally created a link to an empty Example record or, for prior users, there are links to (incomplete) Examples which belong to another Value. (see this section)
To see those hidden Examples, use the scroll button on the right as illustrated. To get rid of the incomplete Examples or Examples illustrating another Value, delete their number from the white field on the left. This doesn't remove the Example record itself, it just unlinks it.
Category labels in glosses: General category name or contextual meaning?
A frequently asked question is which grammatical category label should be chosen when a marker is polysemous.
Suppose you have a tense-aspect marker that can express either progressive aspect or future tense. Should you gloss it "FUT" when it means future, and "PROG" when it means progressive? Or "FUT-PROG" in all cases? or perhaps "FUT" in all cases or "PROG" in all cases? After all, there is no question that this is the same marker, which happens to have different interpretations depending on the context.
The answer is that it does not matter. The Leipzig Glossing Rules are deliberately silent about this, because a general rule would be counterproductive. The purpose of the glosses is not to give a full analysis of the properties of the various morphemes -- this would be quite impossible anyway. The purpose is to give the reader a succinct, one-line characterization of the individual morphemes, to help her/him understand the example's structure. So authors should choose those glosses that they think will be the most helpful to the readers.
When the morpheme has a widely known name, it's probably most helpful to use that name (e.g. IMPF for the French Imparfait), regardless of the contextual meaning, but if not, it may be more helpful to indicate the current interpretation of the morpheme. For more detailed explanations, the comment field is of course always available.
Tense-aspect marker vs. adverb
It may not always be clear whether an element is a tense-aspect marker or an adverb. In the questionnaire, we have not given criteria for distinguishing between these two. We have been wondering in the case of Chinuk Wawa, for instance, where Anthony Grant gives the following example of a preverbal tense marker:
- ánqati náyka mákmak
- previously 1SG eat
- ‘I ate’, ‘I was eating’
This is glossed by an English adverb, but this is of course irrelevant. But how do we tell whether it is an adverb or a tense marker in Chinuk Wawa?
Unfortunately, we do not have a good set of cross-linguistically applicable criteria for distinguishing between adverbs and tense markers. All we can say is that adverbs should behave like lexical elements, i.e. they should be stressable, perhaps occur on their own in elliptical answers, they should not be obligatory, and they should belong to a relatively large class of items. Tense markers, by contrast, should show the hallmarks of grammatical items, i.e. they should have a highly abstract meaning, a short form, and belong to a small class of items. To some extent, the distinction will have to be made on language-internal grounds.
Some questions on examples
The contributors are asked to provide examples for the 120 main features, and to help them get an idea of how many examples are required, the questionnaire gives two types of information: Some prose information in a special example request field (just above the example fields, below the light green feature source field), and a number-of-examples field for each of the nine values, to the left of each of the example fields. Ideally, this information should complement each other, though we are aware of a few minor errors where there is a contradiction (e.g. in feature 50). (In such cases, the information in the value-specific number-of-examples field takes precedence.) You'll need to give as many examples as the number-of-examples field requires in order to get a "complete" message.
Now we've become aware that there are a few cases where it's simply not reasonable to ask for as many examples as we did. A case in point is Feature 21, indefinite pronouns. Here the contributors are asked to provide two examples for each value, because we are asking about the structure of two indefinite pronouns ('someone' and 'something'). But what if the two don't behave in the same way, e.g. if 'someone' is generic-noun-based (cf. German je-man(d)) and 'something' is interrogative-based (cf. German et-was)? In that case, both value 1 and value 2 should be chosen, but of course you cannot give two examples for each value. In order to still get a "complete" message, you could create a dummy example (called "DUMMY", with a brief explanation in the comments field of the example record).
More generally, quantifying examples is sometimes tricky, because it's not well-defined what exactly counts as an example. In the prototypical case, an entire utterance or sentence would be an example, but for many features, you just need to give a single word, or perhaps a short list of words (such as a paradigm). When what you need is a list of words, you could either put them in different example records, or in a single record. Please do what seems most reasonable to you; we have no hard and fast rules.
And please keep in mind that you can give as many examples as you want. The main layout has space for just two examples for each value, but you can click on the little scroll arrow on the right-hand side of the examples portal, and you'll see another empty example with a "go" button.
A question may arise concerning the example for feature 108, Paralinguistic usages of clicks. How to write clicks? Well, it seems that the most frequent kind of click is the dental click (also used in English, and spelled "tsk" or "tut"), and this is written with the pipe character (|) by Khoisanists, so ideally you would use this character, too (unless there is another established way of writing clicks in your language). For more information on clicks, you can consult the article on clicks.