McIntyre, Dan and Walker, Brian (2012) Annotating a corpus of Early Modern English writing for categories of discourse presentation. In: Unité et diversité de la linguistique. Universite Jean Moulin, Lyon, Lyon, France, pp. 87-107. ISBN 978-2-36442-013-7

This article discusses the process of annotating a small corpus of Early Modern English
writing that we have constructed in order to investigate the diachronic development of
speech, writing and thought presentation. The work we have done so far is a pilot
investigation for a planned larger project. We have constructed a corpus of approximately
40,000 words of Early Modern English (EModE) fiction and news journalism and
annotated it for categories of discourse presentation (DP) drawn from a model originally
proposed by Leech and Short (1981). This has allowed us to quantify the types of
discourse presentation within the corpus and to compare our findings against those from a
similarly annotated corpus of Present Day English (PDE) writing (reported in Semino and
Short 2004). Our results so far appear to indicate developing stylistic tendencies in fiction
and news texts in the Early Modern period, and suggest that it would be profitable to
extend the project through the construction of a larger corpus incorporating a greater
number of text-types in order to test our hypotheses more rigorously. In this article we
concentrate specifically on describing the annotation phase of the project. We discuss the
criteria by which we defined the various discourse presentation categories in order to
make clear our analytical methodology, as well as the issues we were confronted with in
trying to annotate in a systematic and retrievable way. We conclude with some
preliminary results to illustrate the value of this kind of annotation and suggest some
hypotheses resulting from this pilot investigation.

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