TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2004-03 > 1079192424
From: Darrell Martin <>
Subject: RE: [TMG] Date Modifiers
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 2004 09:40:24 -0600
At 02:41 AM 3/12/04, Dennis Lee Bieber wrote:
>On or about 23:47 03/11/04 a carrier pigeon from Darrell Martin delivered:
>>I find it interesting, if nothing else, that my own mental impression of "circa" is about plus or minus a year,
> Out of curiosity, what do you have specified in the TMG preferences (my memory is faulty, I might have changed the default values) for the meaning of "circa"? Mine shows +/- 10 years; and the manual for TMG states "...comprises a range of plus or minus twenty years from the given year...." (page 137)
I do not recall ever changing the value in File --> Preferences --> Current Project Options --> Advanced. The present values are +/- 20 years, which is consistent with the manual as you quoted it, and with my recollection.
The default of a 40 year range for "circa" or "about" seems to me *way* too large. In the genealogical literature I have read, these terms are often used to indicate a birth year (for example) derived from evidence which consists only of ages in years at the time of certain events. Such evidence is accurate within roughly a year.
1860 census, age 18
1866 marriage, age 25
1870 census, age 29
1880 census, age 38
1899 death, age 56
I would expect to read that this person was born "circa 1842". It is also clear (*if* the researcher determines that the evidence is reliable) that the conclusion is accurate within no more than two years.
Normally I would not regard any genealogical conclusion which purports to be accurate only within a 40-year span as being of much value. Anything that vague -- even half that vague (+/- 10 years) -- deserves a "say" qualifier, as in, "Let's 'say' for the sake of comparison and discussion ..."
All of this is subjective, I readily admit. Practically, as I have said, it is more important for me to be consistent in my own use of terms and to explicitly define them in any output provided to others. TMG is uncharacteristically inflexible in this case, in that: it severely limits the number of available qualifiers related to date precision that can be used in a regular date; and, it changes some common qualifiers to others, during data entry, without the user being able to control that behavior and still use a regular date.
Darrell A. Martin
a native Vermonter currently in exile in Illinois