A fundamental working tool for the joint RuneS project will be a comprehensive database for documenting, describing and analyzing all research results of the three research centres. At the heart of this database the file “find” will compile necessary primary information on the runic inscriptions themselves comprising, among other things, the name(s) of the respective runic objects, a basic transliteration, a German and an English translation, as well as further specifications on find context, object type and material, dating and inscription type etc. Since the first research module of the RuneS project will deal with questions of runic graphemics, the database has to be designed and structured to comply with the above-mentioned three functions, i.e. 1. to document the runic graphs of the inscriptions which form part of the selected research questions, 2. to describe the individual graphs applying a consistent description language which will allow for different types of database searches, and 3. to display the results of the investigations. As the database is to be bilingual in German and English, it will at the same time be necessary to accommodate some historically evolved differences between German and English terminologies in the areas of runology, archaeology and linguistics, so as to ensure linguistic compatibility of all entries.
The presentation will address selected problems encountered in this process both on the structural and the linguistic level, highlighting some of the strategies implemented for their solution. E.g., the first basic decision to be made was whether we should construct a) two parallel databases (one in German, one in English) or b) one screen with ba) two separate fields for the two languages or bb) one field with both linguistic versions. The reasons in favour of a mixed system combining the possibilities ba) and bb) will be discussed. An example from the linguistic level concerns cases where one language has at its disposal a word as a received term which is at a level of generalization/specification different from the other language. A decision in such cases has to made for either further elaboration, on the one hand or reduction of complexity of the category, on the other. These matching processes, minor as they may seem in individual cases, are of utmost importance to ensure equivalence and searchability of all entries to the database. In addition, the terminological discussions involved in this process may uncover differing categorizations, thus ultimately leading to more precise conceptual definitions in both languages.