Variant control in the Archives' transcriptions is achieved with the help of so-called beta texts. Beta texts are products of the various textual substitutions recorded in a transcription. Generally speaking one beta text represents just one of the possible (and appropriate) ways in which alternative bits of text can be linked together.
Where Wittgenstein noted an alternative for a particular word or phrase, the transcription will contain a substitution code. Substitution codes enable the programs which prepare the presentation texts (such as the diplomatic or normalised versions) to select only one of the variant readings.
In a large transcription there are likely to be sentences which contain a dozen or even more substitution codes. One function of the beta texts is to help the transcriber to check whether each of the numerous permutations of these encoded elements is viable.
The program that prepares the beta texts outputs the variant readings for each transcription "segment" (usually a sentence) and concludes with a figure for the total number of variant readings of the text as a whole (a figure which is invariably too large to make an explicit display of all the readings either feasible or desirable).
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