In the following paragraphs, “TCP” refers to texts created by the Text Creation Partnership and “EarlyPrint” refers to versions of those texts corrected and enriched by various post-processing routines. Martin Mueller’s more detailed account of the processing, reflecting some of the misgivings that haunted his editorial decisions, is available here. Mueller explains that the TCP files were originally encoded in SGML according to an adaptation of the P3 TEI guidelines, that these files were converted to XML and adjusted to comply with P5 guidelines.

The basic transformations wrought on TCP texts as they pass to EarlyPrint include

  1. Standardize text
    1. long ‘s’ is replaced with the standard ‘s’.
    2. line-breaking hyphens are removed, unless the hyphen is clearly part of a hyphenated word.
    3. expand macron and other abbreviations (e.g., the symbol for 'abque').
  2. Adjust tags for font changes
  3. Refine tagging of
    1. foreign language strings
    2. structure,
    3. punctuation,
    4. lacunae
  4. Tokenize
  5. Identify abbreviations
  6. Assign token IDs
  7. “Adorn” with regularized spelling, POS, and lemma

1. Standardize text

a) Long ‘s’ is replaced with the standard ‘s’.

b) Line-breaking hyphens are removed, unless the hyphen is clearly part of a hyphenated word.

c) Expand macron and other abbreviations (e.g., the symbol for 'abque'): combining macrons are replaced with ‘n’ or ‘m’ wherever this can be done without ambiguity. Other abbreviations that have their origin in manuscript culture and survived into early printing have been expanded. The most common case is the ubiquitous suffix ‘que’, which appears in the SGML sources as the character entity ‘&abque;’.

2. Adjust tags for font changes

Font changes from word to word

Some of the typographical markup of the TCP texts poses problems for tokenization. With very few exceptions, the TCP texts recognize only two typographical states, ‘marked’ and ‘unmarked’.

The ‘marked’ state is represented by a <HI> tag, which says that a word or word sequence differ from their surrounding contexts. Without looking at a page image you cannot tell whether a word is marked by italics, blackletter, or smallcaps or whether it is set in the default type font against a surrounding context in some other font. The rules for what counts as the surrounding context are not always clear.

Font changes within words

In 16th and 17th century texts, a single word may use different fonts. Names in the genitive cases are the most common example: e.g. “Caesar’s”, tagged in the TCP texts as “<HI>Caesar</HI>’s”. But you may also run into “Caesar<HI>’s</HI>” or “Caesar<HI>’s army …</HI>”. There are also many hyphenated words where the first or second part are marked, e.g “<HI>London</HI>-bridge” or (very occasionally) “north-<HI>Mounster<HI>.”

There are also superscripts and subscripts, the latter much less common. In the SGML transcriptions, superscripts were marked with the caret sign, so that something like “Mʳ.” would show up as “M\^r.” in the SGML version. The MorphAdorned versions were produced from translations of the SGML into TEI P5 XML, where super- and sub-scripts would be expressed with rend attributes, as in ‘M<hi rend=”sup”>r</hi>.’

Given 1) the ambiguity and inconsistency of typographical mark-up in the TCP texts, 2) the relatively low significance of the typographical detail, and 3) the desirability of having a linguistically annotated text that would be easy to process by users with at best intermediate computing skills, Mueller decided to store troublesome typographical detail in attribute values, where it could be ignored or observed, depending on the needs of a particular project. He used @orig and @rend attributes to keep all the information from the TCP texts but use standard representations of the word as the value of the word element.

SGML EarlyPrint
M\^r. <w orig=”Mʳ.”>Mr.</w>
y\^e <w orig=”yᵉ”>the</w>
<HI>London</HI>-bridge <w rend=”hi-hyphen-plain>London-bridge</w>
<HI>Caesar</HI>’s <w rend=”hi-apo-plain”>Caesar’s</w>

In addition Ii transformed into @rend=”hi” all <HI> elements that enclose single words. <HI> elements that wrap a sequence of words are transformed in most cases into elements that have a structural or semantic meaning. For instance, a very high percentage of two-word <hi> elements are names. Longer strings are likely to be quotations or passages in other languages. It is possible to use the combination of pos tags and <HI> elements to assign such strings to appropriate elements with a high degree of confidence.

We do not include superscripted letters in the content of <w> elements for two reasons: first, because such inclusion would complicate simple searching; second, because the Unicode alphabet of superscripted characters is cobbled together from different Unicode ranges, and do not necessarily align.

3. Refine tagging

In the TCP XML words in Latin and other languages are often wrapped in <HI> elements because they are often typographically distinct—usually but not always in italics. MorphAdorner is very accurate at identifying Latin words. If more than two thirds of the words inside a <HI> element are identified as Latin, the EP text converts the <HI> tag to <q>, <seg> or <foreign> and adds an @xml:lang attribute. We also do this for <HI> sequences where MorphAdorner tags at least two thirds of the words as Latin.

If a TCP page begins with a block element (DIV, P, L etc) , the <PB> element marking the page break becomes the first child of the block element.  In the EP texts, the <pb> elements precedes the block element, on the theory that the page break is prior to the beginning of the paragraph.

If the last token in a <HI> element with less than seven tokens consists of punctuation the punctuation is moved outside on the assumption that in most cases the punctuation does not terminate or articular the tokens inside the <HI> element but the longer string of which the <HI> element is a part.

The TCP texts often record lacunae with the format “extent=”letter”. EP texts use @extent and @unit attributes, e.g. @unit=”letter” @extent=”1”.

4. Tokenize

The fundamental act of linguistic annotation is the division of a text stream into “tokens” that represent “words” as lexical items in some grammatical state. A modern “tokenizer” will define a token as a string of characters that are preceded by white space or nothing and followed by white space or a punctuation mark. That works for all but a very small percentage of tokens, but in a large corpus a small percentage adds up to a lot of tokens.

The TEI defines a <w> element as representing “a grammatical (not necessarily orthographic) word”. ) There are character strings without spaces that clearly consist of separate lexical items (I’ll, can’t) and there are character strings with spaces that clearly are single lexical items (‘some where’, ‘them selves’). It’s a good test of the latter to ask whether a linguistic definition of the separate sequential words makes sense. It does not make a whole lot of sense to think of “some where” as two words, an indefinite determiner followed by a “wh-word” used as a noun. It’s clearly an adverbial expression, whether it is spelled as two words or one word.

MorphAdorner uses its split routines to split and reassemble single lexical items that cross typographical word boundaries, notably reflexive pronouns (my self, myself, them selves, themselves). We enclose these alternative spellings within the same <w> element and dispense with @part attributes.

In the first linguistically annotated TCP corpus contracted forms (I’ll, i’th’ etc) were treated as single tokens with a compound description. This had some advantages because you didn’t have to decide where to split the contracted form. It had the disadvantage that compound description elaborated a set of roughly 150 basic linguistic tags into 500 or more compound tags.

Several years ago the TEI added a @join attribute with ‘right’ and ‘left’ values. That allows you to define separate tokens that have no intervening space and makes for cleaner markup. We have adopted this solution for tagging compounds. In the current EarlyPrint texts, contracted forms are therefore treated as separate tokens, with the exception of contractions that involve ‘ne’ or ‘not’. These are treated as negative pre- or suffixes: ‘ever’ and ‘never’ are respectively categorized as ‘av’ or ‘avx’, ‘do’ and “don’t” as ‘vvb’ and ‘vvbx’.

For counting purposes, we treat both “I will” and “I’ll” as bigrams.

5. Identify abbreviations:

Abbreviations were largely ignored in the TCP transcriptions. In the EP texts much work has gone into identifying them and marking the dot or colon following them as part of the abbreviation.

6. Assign token IDs

Two sets of token IDs are applied during processing, one set to accommodate POS tagging (MorphAdornment) and one to furnish IDs for the EarlyPrint corpus proper. We retain a separate record for each EP text file that maps the MorphAdorner TCP ID to the EP ID.

MorphAdorner assigns to each token a numerus currens ID that starts at the first word of the document, increases by 10 ( to accommodate minor insertions) , and runs to the end of the document. The MorphAdorner IDs are “smart” in the sense that they recognize “jump” tags and are not confused by <figure> or <note> elements that interrupt the running main text. Those elements get their own numbers in a proper order.

The ID system for EarlyPrint texts is based on the image IDs of the EEBO scans. (We use image ID numbers as part of the Token ID, so that, should we need to adjust to ID assignments on a given page opening, we can do so without disturbing the assignments on other openings.) Because EEBO offers double page images in nearly all cases, the page_id of an EarlyPrint text consists of the image_id with an -a or -b flag. The lxml script that generates the ID uses each page_id as an anchor and counts the number of words on that page. If there are less than 1,000 words, a word counter starts at 10 and generates a four-digit number with leading zeros that is concatenated with the page_id, eg. A00011-023-a-0090. If there are more than a thousand words, the word counter will have five digits.

7. POS tagging

MorphAdorner’s output includes regularized spelling, identification of part-of-speech, and lemmatization. MorphAdorner is language-agnostic and can work with any POS tagging system. The system used for EarlyPrint was designed by Martin Mueller in the context of the WordHoard project and is a hybrid of the CLAWS 5 tags and the tag set that Larry Benson developed for his Glossarial Database of the Riverside Chaucer.

The purpose of this hybrid has been to find a tag set that would do rough justice to texts from Chaucer to Joyce. Like other modern English tag sets, CLAWS does not recognize the singular genitive as an ordinary suffix, but splits off an apostrophized ‘s’ as a distinct token. This does not work very well for texts before 1700. Before 1600 you almost never find an apostrophe for a singular genitive nouns. ‘Fathers’ will be morphologically ambiguous. For feminine names, spellings like ‘Cleopatraes’ are common. The CLAWS set also has no provisions for the second person singular. Benson’s tag set has a useful “used as” feature that allows you to analyze cases in which a word is used in a different class from its ordinary use–e.g. ‘Ifs and buts’ where the conjunctions are used “as” nouns. The use of plural adjectives as nouns (‘necessaries’) if a fairly common case. So are the nominal or adjectival uses of participial forms.

The NUPOS has undergone some simplification. The original set used ‘acp’ with -p, ‘av’, and ‘cs’ flags to distinguish between different uses of words like ‘since’ and ‘as’. We determined that it was virtually impossible to maintain those distinctions across close to two billion words and have therefore dropped the flags for ‘acp’ words, as well as for ‘crq’ or ‘wh’ words like ‘when’, ‘how’, and ‘why’. Some names have been changed to make typing easier: ‘n1-nn’ is now ‘nn1’.

For more on the NUPOS tag set, see this speadsheet.